Saturday, May 19, 2007

Belshaw's Favourite Blogs - Gordon Smith's Look and See: a pictorial journal of life in rural Australia

Photo: Gordon Smith, Shearers' Quarters, Hillgrove Station

Gordon Smith's photo blog is one of my all time favourites, one that I visit every day.

Gordon works in IT at the University of New England, Armidale, and lives on a country block some twenty minutes drive to the east of the city.

An inveterate photographer who seems to carry his camera with him everywhere he goes, Gordon posted his first photo on February 29 2004. Since then he has posted nearly every day. This regular posting is one of the blog's attractions because it means that there is always something new.

The photos provide a picture of the life and the countryside on the New England Tablelands with a special focus on the area around Armidale.

For those who do not know the Tablelands, they are a major land form - roughly six hours driving time north-south, three hours east-west - with great variety in scenery from the rugged escarpment in the east to the farming plains of the western slopes.

In the east, the high rainfall escarpment provides the headwaters for major coastal rivers that have cut huge gorge complexes through the ranges, creating spectacular scenery that forms the heart of world heritage listed national parks. In the west, the Tablelands forms a significant part of the Darling River headwaters.

Sadly, the New England Tablelands have receded in Australian popular consciousness.

Sixty years ago, all north-south road and rail traffic between the southern metro cities and Queensland passed through the Tablelands. With the bridging of the coastal rivers, traffic has switched to the coastal route.

The NSW portion of the Great Northern Railway, at its time one of the world's major engineering feats, lies rotting and abandoned, although Queensland has kept its line open to the junction at Wallangarra.

Part of the reason I like Gordon's photos is that they remind me of home. However, you do not need to come from the area to enjoy them. Each photo is accompanied by a short description that makes them accessible to all. I also very much like Gordon's habit of running photos in small series, building a picture of an area or activity.

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