Originally posted on my old website in November, 2021:
Last week, early Nov 2021, I drove out west from Melbourne for another drone photo shoot among the salt lakes of Victoria's volcanic terrain. It was a pitch-perfect day. Blue skies, warm weather, and virtually no wind. I use an app called UAV Forecast that tells you if it's a good day to fly or not. It shows you precise wind speeds across all levels of the atmosphere.
What I didn't take into account was the fact that it was spring. That meant the lakes were full this time of year. My previous series was shot during summer when the lakes had partially evaporated in the heat. This evaporation leaves behind colourful salt encrusted salient lines in the mud that gives my work its distinctive detail and form. This time however, these salient lines weren't visible. They were under water.
On a positive note, this also means that each fine art print I create for your walls is unique and will never be repeated again. Nature will always run its course, filling the lakes again in the winter and spring. Then, later in the hot summer months, the lakes will partially evaporate again, leaving a new array of exquisite, salty salient lines for the new season.
And yet, there I was with my drone, deep into Victoria’s volcanic terrain, surrounded by lakes that were full of water this time around. Was I going to give up? No way. This was an adventure. First stop: the township of Lake Bolac, one of my favourite spots to find weird and wonderful salt lakes hidden throughout the surrounding farmlands.
The traditional owners of the land, the Eastern Maar people, call this 'eel country.' For more than 1,500 years, the local indigenous communities would gather around Lake Bolac at the same time each year, right when the eels began their natural migration to the sea. They would harvest the eels, do business and partake in rituals and ceremonies.
What I also love about going on these salt lake hunting adventures are the things you find on the way. While on a drone shoot at a lake nearby, a beautiful white horse came over to visit and watch me do my thing. And at another location I was visited by a young bull, also white, who had strayed out of the paddocks and was roaming the dirt roads, out on his own adventure.
At one point, I ended up travelling through a huge wind farm with wind turbines on both sides of a dirt track. I had to take the drone up and take a video, which I’ll eventually upload to Instagram for you all to see. And if you look at the photo I took below, you can see two ex-volcanoes in the background—Mt Leura near Camperdown and Warrion Hill near Colac—all part of Victoria's volcanic terrain.
I eventually came across a farm with a few very interesting salt lakes. If there is a homestead nearby, I usually introduce myself to the farmers and let them know what I'm doing. They are always appreciative of this and are often interested in seeing what my images look like. Of course, I always have an iPad ready to show off my work. This time, however, there was a phone number at the front gate, so I rang that and talked to the farmer. He was a nice guy and thanked me for letting him know.
Finally, I made a new friend that day. As I snooped around the back dirt roads searching for more lakes, I ended up at a beautiful homestead at the end of a dirt track. I stopped to say hello to its inhabitants and tell them what I was doing, and we ended up chatting for ages. The owner even invited me to return and said that she would introduce me to some of the locals with salt lakes on their properties. You just never know what will happen when you go salt lake hunting across Victoria’s volcanic terrain.