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Murrary Darling Basin Commision Australian National University

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Keeper of the Strathbogies

21st  August, 2009  Strathbogie Ranges
Mountain Face

There are no signposts. The track from the picnic spot at Moonie Moonie Creek is its own advertisement. A trail of black soil shaped by the tread of thousands of boots draws the eye to a formidable slope at the edge of the Strathbogie Ranges. No need for a mud map. The footpath meanders through the eucalypt forest like Indian ink on crumpled paper. School children shepherded by teachers with abseiling ropes, stern bushwalkers with trim packs, family groups in need of therapy have taken this route to …

Halfway up the incline there is a perfect place to take breath and stock. The proposal to pause is forcefully put by several granite boulders – massive forms that pull on the imagination. Here the air is definitely fresh, cut on-site by hundreds of lanceolate leaves. The path fans out to become a rest area. An inch from its perimeter the undergrowth resumes its vigour to camouflage a cosmos of miniature life. There are also lookout points to other far away places.

Here at the resting place in the midst of this cascading landscape is the perfect position for a Gate. It’s not a ‘typical’ gate. It has no latch; there are no hinges; there is no fence. Consequently it is easy (especially if your body is focused on the thrill of free-fall; or moving briskly to the ‘top’; or holding a camera steady) to walk through the Gate unaware that a boundary has been crossed. Fortunately, this Gate, such as it is, has a Keeper.

The Keeper of the Gate is also easy to overlook. This is no failing on the Keeper’s part for it is not the Keeper’s role to confront or obstruct. The Keeper stands ground for no other reason than for ‘being-so’ and ‘knowing-so’. The Keeper of the Gate on this side of the Strathbogies is manifest as a mountain face.

Mt Face 01 lr

Mountain Face, Strathbogie Range, East Lima

Were it not for this anthropomorphic rock the idea of a Gate Keeper would rarely, if ever, arise; and hence the awareness of a Gate itself; and in turn by its realisation that a boundary exists; and when the boundary is crossed that one enters into ‘another place’.

Naturally, the mountain face that signifies the Gate Keeper does not perceive the world through its crudely rendered sensory organs. The eyes, mere slits, have been sealed since its first appearance. Delicate tissue (like our eyes) is of no use on a mountain face. There is a faint suggestion of a nose or the place where it might have been. In all probability it was cast aside aeons ago to cheat the inevitable attention of vandals. The lower lip survives, cracked and weathered, still protruding from the formation of an ancient utterance that was never delivered. The ears, flattened by a grinding birth, are clogged with an infusion of flesh-pink quartz.

In the light of these observations it would be a mistake to regard the mountain face, the apparition of the Keeper of the Gate, as nothing but an unknowing mask. There is a matrix of igneous minerals that links every point of the face to the vast mountain core that extends for kilometres into the Earth – billions upon billions of disciplined crystals jostling for action. The vibrations from every foot that has passed through the Gate, passed by the Gate Keeper, and crossed over the boundary, are registered in every detail. Maintaining this register is the business of the Keeper of the Gate.

(To be continued)

Artists at Work

No01

Fran dilegently attends the campfire

No02

Jess at morning campfire

No03

Anne and Sarah work in the interior of Lake Mokoan

No04

Anne and Sarah work in the interior of Lake Mokoan

No05

Anne with study of European Carp on Lake Mokoan.

No06

Jess on Lake Mokoan working on Sulfur crested Cockatoo head  study

No07

Cockatoos circle Jess

No08

Jess on Lake Mokoan working on Sulfur crested Cockatoo head  study

No09

Sarah decends deep into Lake Mokoan interior

No10

Sarah at work on Lake Mokoan

No11

Sarah at work on Lake Mokoan

No12

Reflection on slowly filling Lake Mokoan

No13

Brendan at work, Lake Mokoan

No14

Tree on grass, Lake Mokoan

No15

Helen at Work, Lake Mokoan

No16

Tree roots in passing storm,  Lake Mokoan

No17

John erects tarp over artists campfire

No18

Lake Mokoan study(1)  for Medium format shoot by Dean Sewell

No19

Jess with Steer skull and Graham Heffernan.Lake Mokoan study(2)  for Medium format shoot by Dean Sewell

No20

Lake Mokoan study(3)  for Medium format shoot by Dean Sewell

No21

Jess with fox.Lake Mokoan study(4)  for Medium format shoot by Dean Sewell

Mokoan Dawn Serenade

No01

Tony captures the first hint of light of a Mokoan Lake Dawn

No02

Tony and Aria head into the Lake Mokoan interior for a flute recital by Aria.

No03

Aria and Tony establish an appropriate are for the recording of Arias flute recital.

No04

Lake Mokoan Dawn

No05

Aria sets her recording instruments in place.

No06

Aria prepares recording instruments in place.

No07

Aria commence her recital on Lake Mokoan.

No08

Tony videos Arias performance.

No09

Aria during mid performance on Lake Mokoan.

No10

Flute on cracked earth.

No11

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas.

No12

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas.

No13

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas and video camera.

No14

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas .

No15

Tony capture the first rays of sun over Lake Mokoan.

No16

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas and video camera.

No17

Aria takes to Lake Mokoan with her canvas .

No18

Aria and Tony pull up stumps from Lake Mokoan

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Frozen Ground

An early morning shoot on Lake Mokoan, followed by demands for blueberries and scrambled eggs by the fire in town.

netted01

jump

muddy-boots-little

freezing

submerging

Work in Progress

Lake Mokoan lr

Study (No 3 Lake Mokoan) for large format photograph

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