Gippsland recently played host to an outback photographer whose star is rising.
Ann Britton lives on and operates, together with her husband Rick, a half-million-acre cattle property, Goodwood Station, near Boulia, in far western Queensland. Boulia, population 230, is 1717 kilometres inland from Brisbane and 289 kilometres south of Mt. Isa. Ann Britton has been declared a rising star of outback photography and recently a collage of her photos was used behind the closing credits of the ABC rural affairs program Landline. Ann will be hosting an exhibition of her photography in the Cardinia Cultural Centre, Pakenham, from 15th February-15th April next year. The exhibition will highlight the unique aspects of Boulia Shire, Queensland’s Channel Country and life on an outback cattle station.
Boulia sits on the Burke River, named after Robert O’Hara Burke, of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition of 1860. Boulia is famous for its annual camel races, a part of Australia’s camel racing circuit. Ann has been a photography enthusiast for over 30 years, but began to use her photographic skills more broadly to ‘tell my story’’ as part of her move onto social media four years ago. Ann’s website www. annbrittonphotography. com.au has attracted widespread acclaim for its collection of astonishing outback photography and its blog, in which Ann writes poignantly of life on an outback cattle station. “I aim to portray my love of the land and the bush way of life in photographs.
Capturing natural light is my passion and challenge, in the wide-open spaces and big sky country I live in”, says Ann. The Britton’s immense outback cattle station, Goodwood, is home to between 5000-6000 Drought Master-Santa Gertrudis beef cattle. Ann’s husband Rick is the other half of this famous outback couple, whose property has been showcased for its innovative and sustainable land use practices. Rick is Mayor of the Boulia Shire. His constituency is 600 people spread over the Shire’s 61,176 square kilometres. Gippsland, by contrast, is 41,556 sq. kilometres and home to over 250,000 people. Goodwood Station has a workforce of 5 full time, plus contractors with helicopters, motor bikes and horses at mustering times. Ann rose to national prominence in October 2013 with a blog entry titled “A Perfect Storm’’, in which she captured the public’s attention and imagination by movingly writing about the devastating effects of the Live Export ban of 2011. Of her visit to Gippsland, Ann said she found the area astonishing. “Gippsland is brilliant; the Pakenham Cultural Centre is brilliant”, said Ann. “I’m a country girl, so I found the history of Gippsland fascinating and the farming is just so very different”, said Ann. “And it was so cold!”, she declared.
Ann enjoyed a whirlwind tour of central and western Gippsland, travelling over 400 kilometres and passing through 16 towns. “Back home a 400-kilometre trip might let you pass through just one town.” Ann was particularly enthralled by the mountains and rolling hills of Gippsland and how far she could see. Ann operates a studiogallery in the main street of Boulia, after refurbishing what used to be the town’s butcher shop. Passing tourists can view and purchase some of Ann’s exquisite photographs and enjoy a cuppa with an engaging legend of the outback. According to Ann, quite a few Victorians have dropped in during the tourist season from March to August. Tourists to Queensland’s channel country are advised to travel between the wet seasons which bring the channel country of western Queensland to life with grandiose displays of running rivers and channels, wildflowers, birdlife and green grass; all captured by Ann in her photography. Manager of the Pakenham Cultural Centre, Mr. Mark Fawcett, expressed great excitement over holding an exhibition of outback photography. ‘The colours in her photography are so different from what we see in Gippsland,’ said Mr. Fawcett. ‘The vivid blues of the outback sky contrast starkly with the vivid red earth of outback Queensland.” “We are thrilled to bits to have this opportunity to showcase Ann’s work.” Mr. Fawcett said the exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase an Australian landscape that is not readily accessible to many Australians. Mr. Fawcett explained that the population growth around Pakenham has been extraordinary and the population is now so diverse that many residents have not been exposed to the diversity of landscapes Australia has on offer. Mr. Fawcett said that photographic exhibitions resonate with the community far more than contemporary artwork and he thinks Ann Britton’s exhibition will be a hit with the community. During the exhibition, Ann will be giving what Mr. Fawcett describes as “Floor Talks”. Ann will speak to locals of her life on an outback cattle station and of what motivates her as a photographer.
It sounds like something not to be missed.