The extremes in Australia are celebrated in poetry and song, and have been embedded in our psyche for thousands of years. The elements here – earth, air, fire, water – are the basis of life and culture.
Aboriginal society knew the importance of the elements and of looking after the earth. Secret and sacred waterholes were looked after carefully and celebrated for their life giving qualities, fire was an important part of managing the land and its resources, and the air and skies above were a source of stories as well as a guide to the seasons and songlines.
The first white settlement almost died before it started because of the extreme conditions, but many new Australians came to love them, and celebrated them in poetry and song.
“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges, of drought and flooding rains”
So when I heard about the Thomas Cook Explore the Elements photography contest I was excited. There’s so much to say and show about the land I love.
Earth – that red, red, earth of central Australia. Uluru was formed in the dreamtime and is a sacred place for the Pitjantjatjara. It’s a place of collectivity, where clans gather to rest, to hold ceremonies and pass on cultural traditions
Air – the wide open spaces have wide open skies that seem to go on forever and expand even as you watch. The sunsets seem to reflect the red earth, and at night a million stars light your way. The magnitude of the skies is like a temple above and all around you, guiding you and calming your spirit.
Water –essential to life and a scarce commodity in outback Australia. Permanent waterholes are few, and are sacred in the desert. The hidden waterholes of Watarrka are sacred men’s places for the Martutjarra people, the traditional owners of the land.
Fire – a campfire in the outback, far from the madding crowds, while you watch the sunset and a million stars appear. A place so remote you wonder if anybody has ever set foot there before you. It revives your spirit after a day exploring the elements, and imbues you with its energy to explore some more. What could be better?
I now nominate some of my favourite travellers to enter this competition, but you’d better be quick, it closes tomorrow.
@campeeAus – campee.com
@AustraliaCamper – gocampingaustralia.com
@RedNomadOZ – redzaustralia.com
@CampaGlam – Campaglam.com
@HoneyTrek – HoneyTrek.com