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Murrary Darling Basin Commision Australian National University

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Ghosts of Miles Franklin

Like John I was enchanted by the Goobarragandra River and the valley. I spent much of my time sitting in the river on a rock attempting to draw the clear water flow. This seemed to be the best way to keep cool and provided a meditative experience as well. In the evenings I walked down the valley road watching the darkening hills and listened to night sounds.

I also spent time reading “Childhood at Brindabella” by Miles Franklin who wrote about the early pioneer life of this area (Brindabella, Tumut and Talbingo), as experienced by a child. Her stories of the strength and ingenuity of the pioneering women, provided a link to stories I’d heard from my own mother, of her family in the bush.

I decided to drive the long way home to Canberra, and spent time in Talbingo-where Miles was born, standing on the spot where the old homestead stood, contemplating her life and trying to imagine how it looked before the dam was built.

Down the road, I swam at Yarrongobilly-greatly relieved that the forest was still standing after the fires of recent times. Did Miles swim here?

Goobarragandra Story: Part 1 (Draft)

 Artwork Development /First configuration of image and text. 18.3.08

A Story of the Goobarragandra as Revealed by the River Itself

John Reid

river.jpgMaking a wild mountain river (As told by the river itself)‘. 2008. Digital photograph.

 There had been much discussion about ’sense’ or ’spirit’ of place on the first Field Trip to the Tumut Region. These topics emerged early in the week in conversations with scientist, Tim Smith, at Bila Park on the banks of the Tumut River; at the opening of the Showcase exhibition on the veranda at The Connection in downtown Tumut; and from impassioned exchanges between artists and members of the community about desirable subject matter for making art.It was not surprising, then, that I would dream repeatedly about these notions as I slept on the edge of the Goobarragandra River in my frog-shaped tent.

Each night campfire voices would subside as the quorum for lively repartee was suddenly lost. Then the sounds of the river would rise, each rock shaping a chord in the articulate aqueous medium. Water songs chilled the air, conditioned to exchange energy like wet canvas. As they drifted along the valley, their lyrics would be caught by my tent, magnified by the sheeting around me and funneled as if by ingenious design into the precincts of my semi-conscious mind – vulnerable tissue; receptive to settling scores ….

By Friday morning I was to be my own agent. Half the group were spirited away by Matt White in National Parks and Wildlife vehicles driving on all four wheels into the wilderness to the east. The remaining artists were independently (blissfully) engaged in their respective projects. I commandeered a Field Studies sedan and set out for Tumut. Freshly ground coffee, a breakfast cooked by someone else, a table in the main street heavy with a tempting range of home-made jams fueled my departure. But the visual lure of the Goobarragandra valley and its un-dammed river slowed my progress.

Traveling through the valley was like a journey through honey and, the further I went, the thicker it got. The light became viscose. Eventually, the valley congealed before my eyes. I pulled the car to the side of the road. The engine stalled. I could hear again, faintly at first, the song of the river. It was only a few metres away, running its course, unaffected by the density of the rest of the world. There, in the river, in the shade, was an outcrop of granite. Stepping-stones conveniently led to a flat surface of igneous crystals. I took my camera and went there. I needed relief. It promised it. I sat surrounded by the current of the stream. It began to mummer at me …

I arrived in Tumut long after the jam stalls had been dismantled (if indeed there were any at all). The memory of my digital camera was inexplicably full – but of what? My memory was clear – photographs of the beautiful Goobarragandra River; the colorful bed stones that give it voice; the unblemished surface of a free running spirit. Twenty exposures, surely no more.

Dear Reader, Dear Viewer, what follows is a selection of eight photographs from more than five hundred, titled, exposures that were subsequently revealed on the back of my camera.

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Aerial

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River Kids

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Hydroelectric

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