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Queensland’s Outback Catches City Chick

June 6, 2010

By Augustine Mathews

It seems that Danielle was worried about sending this town mouse into the country. After her recent trip to Hughenden teaching some classes she was a bit concerned about how this city chick would deal with the country life. To be honest I did wonder that myself. Turns out, there is not as much city in this mouse as there is country. 

I am loving this trip. (I think Danielle breathed a huge sigh of relief when I told her). For anyone that has never been “out west” I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The people here are amazing.

I spent yesterday in the main pavilion judging the photography competition (more on that further down). When I walked in at 10am I was thinking quietly to myself that this show must not be very big as there were not too many vendors set up and seemingly not much in the way of exhibits. When I re-emerged at 6pm the showgrounds had been transformed. There was a miniature tent city off to one side where the “showies” were prepping sideshow alley, their camp fires casting a glow over the frozen faces of the clowns that will spring to life tomorrow.

Under a tin roof all the baby animals were happily being fussed over by kids eager to touch the piglets and pet the puppies. In a region where livestock is commonplace I was surprised that the kids were still so excited. I had thought that they would be immune to the charms of baby chicks but love for baby animals seems to stay strong even for those that grow up with farm animals as a part of their everyday lives. And my day… well what a surprise that was.

I am up here to judge the show entries for the photography competition and frankly I had visions of a couple of dozen happy snaps that would take me no more than an hour to carefully scrutinise. Oh boy – was I wrong. There were over 400 entries in 60 classes!!! I nearly fell over.

For anyone that thinks that all the talented folk up and head to the “big smoke” let me tell you, there is a heap of talent living right here 350km inland from Townsville.

I had a great time looking over a big slice of country life in the fantastic images that people had submitted for the competition. Everything from cows being herded by kids on dirt bikes to brilliant red outback sunsets, perfect reflections of towering gorges to family pets staring lovingly at their owners. The photos were truly a joy to behold.

I think one of the things that truly awed me were the children’s submissions. The kids are split into age divisions with 5-7, 8-10, 11-14 and 15-17 year groups. Some of the shots that these children were taking were amazing. One thing that especially struck me was the portrait work that these youngsters were presenting. They seem to have an innate ability to “fill the frame”. Their friends are all there in marvellous close up detail with no extra irrelevant bits taking up photo space. They aren’t afraid to poke a camera in their friends face and say smile. I loved it.

The overall winner was breathtaking – a line of trees fiercely aflame all rendered in fantastic clarity taken by Pauline Schaefer. Hopefully tomorrow when the show starts I’ll be able to meet some of these talented people and express my gratitude for such incredible images.

Speaking of brilliant red outback sunsets I have to let my fellow photographers into a little secret. I hang my head in shame because I broke the cardinal rule. Last night when I took my walk into town for a cheeky glass of red I didn’t take my camera. Yes, I know. Rule 1 – how can you get the shot if you don’t have your camera? Well, I wasn’t going to take pictures, I was going to get some wine. What could possibly justify carrying my camera into the pub? As I was walking east I noticed a definite pink to the sky and inwardly groaned. I thought “if it’s pink like this in the east, what is happening in the west?” Knowing this would hurt, I turned west and there it was … the most amazing red sunset I have seen in ages. The sky was lit up with brilliant red clouds that stretched from here to eternity. They do say that outback sunsets are some of the best and this truly was. Kicking myself for not taking the camera? You bet!!!

The grand champion image at the Hughenden Show 2010


Every image entered was a 5×7″ image.
There were over 400 entries across 60 sections


 And who can pass the clowns?

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