I photographed this landscape. It is one of my favourite images. Landscapes such as these are uniquely Australian and almost without parallel on Earth. Their value is recognised by tourists from the heavily populated Northern Hemisphere countries, more so than by most Australians. The Europeans and Japanese, in particular, flock here as tourists to experience and enjoy the freedom and the solitude of an empty land and the intrinsic interest of pristine arid ecosystems. Landscapes unsullied by human influences just do not exist in Europe.
It is a paradox that the spiritual value of The Bush is only poorly recognised by Australians. We are surrounded by it but as urban dwellers we ignore it. Certainly most of us are aware of the more famous places, such as Uluru and Kakadu, but want to visit only them. The great beauty, enrichment and renewal that can be enjoyed almost anywhere in the empty Outback is not widely appreciated.
There is at least one exception to the lack of appreciation of the Outback prevalent amongst us. Those Australians who have travelled to the arid lands of Africa, India, Asia and the Middle East and have seen degradation of landscapes so severe that it is unbelievable, know the value of the arid core of this continent. These travellers on return take up the cause for the conservation and preservation of the Outback with a fervour that their friends cannot understand. I count myself among this converted group.
I use such images of the remote and empty Outback to capture an audience's attention with its stark beauty. The scene is empty of all signs of human activity. Yet this is used land. These landscapes are subject to the landuse of livestock grazing. There are sheep and cattle to be found. Yet these landscapes appear uninhabited.
The answer lies in the very low density of animals; often as low as one cattle beast per square kilometre. This landuse is livestock production on a very extensive basis. These landscapes are the rangelands, the pastoral zone, the Outback.
This is the land without people. The rangelands are where I have spent most of my professional career, and I have come to love its singular, haunting beauty and the charm and generosity of the few people who live there.
In this Chapter I want to share with you my understanding of this part of Australia.