I recently drove nearly four hours to visit an exhibition in Swan Hill. The exhibition entitled Mallee Routes is a 3 person show and I know two of the exhibitors in the show personally, Gary Sauer Thompson, and Gilbert Roe, the third Photographer was Eric Algar, who I have yet to meet. I am collaborating on a joint exhibition this year with Gary.
Originally my intention was to drive directly to Swan Hill spend some time in the exhibition then meander back using only C roads, as part of my C Roads and other Adventures, project.
However, instead, on impulse I decided to drive further North to a small town I had not seen since my final years in high school. So it turned into more work based on the idea of psychogeography, [another project]. I spent some time there in the summer either 1976 or 1977, the details are fuzzy. I went there at the time to visit relatives who lived there. I have vague memories of the whole trip most of which are positive. The town is called Nyah West. It is about 25 minutes north of Swan Hill off the highway.
Even Google considers it an out of the way place as the Google mapping car has not been there for 10 years!
The Malle Routes exhibition was excellent. The work strong and the messages and ideas clear all while being aesthetically pleasing . Some of the issues covered in the Mallee Routes Exhibition dealt with the declining populations and economies of the wheat belt region. Nyah West which is on the edge of this as well as the fruit and vine growing region, was a perfect example. Currently in Nyah West there is, a Post office, a Primary School, a Pub, an IGA Minimart, a Pharmacy and a Hair Salon, about 7/8ths of the other shops were shuttered or being used as residences. Remarkably there was what appeared to be a newly built large backpacker hostel in town, catering to the seasonal demands of fruit picking which is the other main agricultural activity in this region, I guess? The pub itself was large and sprawling, a magnificent piece of Architecture [from the Victorian era I suspect].
I didn’t spend as much time as I’d like in Nyah West, the light was beginning to take on that extraordinary appearance it does this time of year in the Southern Hemisphere, but as I was now over 4 hours way from home I need to head south to arrive home at a reasonable hour.
I photographed around the silos a little as there were two trees that caught my attention, and I made a handful of digital images as well. What is it about abandoned buildings that draws me and so many other photographers?
The gallery below is not indicative of the township which seemed lively for a Friday afternoon. If I had planned my day differently I guess I could have stayed longer. I feel another visit is in order.
We shall see.