WORDS & IMAGES: DANIELLE LANCASTER
Outback Queensland Lifestyle
Life in the outback can be tough and incredibly rewarding. Is it eco-friendly? Travel photographer Danielle Lancaster shares some views.
Annabel Tully gently works the soft yellow-coloured piece of crusty earth into a moistened mix. Her fingers stained, her nails discoloured, she laughs and asks me how many city girls would do this?
The yellow mush forms a fusion for her palate – a cut off piece of corrugated tin salvaged from the sheep yards. Her easel is an old ironing board. This rough draft will form the base of her next masterpiece. Her works depicting the arid landscape and its colours are held in private and public collections around the world.
Fifth generation custodians of Bunginderry Station, a sprawling 90,000 hectares, west of Quilpie in Queensland, Annabel and husband Stephen are only one example of the many employing environmental practices.
From water to waste-safe practices, our outback farmers envisage seeing many more generations supplying us with some of Australia’s best organic beef and wool and protecting the native flora and fauna. It is what gives artists like Annabel inspiration.
Eco-practices are not new in outback Australia. Did you know, Thargomindah was the first town in Australia, and the third in the world, to produce hydro-electric power for street lighting by using the water pressure from the Artesian Basin in 1898. Today you can see the hydro power plant in operation at a daily demonstration at 4.30pm from April to October.
Nothing is wasted or disposed of, and everything reused: time and the cost of getting supplies is expensive being so far from any major destination.
Even recreational sports like fishing are kept in close check with only live bait caught in the area allowed to be used and fines apply. On most outback waterways, lakes and billabongs, all jet skis and motorised boats are not permitted.
Australia’s boasts 65 Ramsar sites, many of these in the outback. These areas protect wetlands and conserve remaining important plant and animal habitats. There’s even a World Wetlands Day celebrated each year on the 2 February.
Currawinya Lakes, in far western Queensland, was listed as a Ramsar site in 1996 for its outstanding wetland values and features. It fulfilled all six of the nomination criteria available at the time. The wetlands support an amazing diversity of flora and fauna including rare, endangered and threatened species, such as the nationally threatened and listed as endangered bird Rostratula benghalensis (painted snipe).
With over 200 bird species, 17 amphibian species, 24 mammal species and 58 reptile species (more are estimated to be recorded) the waterways also supports eight native fish species from seven families.
Not far from Currawinya’s expansive lakes Peter McRae is checking the bilby fence. Numbers inside the enclosed fence within Currawinya National Park are growing. This exquisite little marsupial looks a little like a rabbit with big ears and soft fur. While the bilby enclosure at Currawinya is not open to the public, you can see these cute little Aussie animals up close in Charleville at the Bilby Experience.
Back to families like the Tully’s and land management. Every tree, standing or fallen could be a home for something, so it is preserved. Vegetable patches are fed from waste water from the house or sub-artesian water and provide the basis for the upcoming station menus. Everything is recycled even down to the ladies stockings – perfect for mechanical repairs and supporting young tomatoes and beans.
Our vote on the subject is that the majority of outback citizens are most probably more eco-friendly then many of their city cousins. Why don’t you head out west and see for yourself?
Images courtesy © Danielle Lancaster
Danielle is a photojournalist based at Mt Tamborine, just outside Brisbane. She is a winner of several photography awards, with her most recent being the ‘Best Travel Book Writer’ at the 2014 Travel Journalism Awards held in Fiji. Danielle loves nature and the outdoors, and particularly loves photographing the Australian outback. Danielle is the author of ‘Out Around the Bulloo’ which is a unique collection of her photos taken in Outback Queensland, inclduing the Bulloo Shire and ‘Corner Country’. We have 2 FREE copies of ‘Out Around the Bulloo’ to giveaway to readers – enter the competition here on our website.
Danielle is also the judge of our photo competitions and owns Bluedog Photography: www.blue-dog.com.au