Love Affair With Lake Eyre
By Mike BowersMay 23, 2012
The salt pan that is Lake Eyre, below sea level in the desert, is rarely so saturated as it has been following Australia’s recent floods. Gathering saturated and sensuous images of his own, photographer Mike Bowers follows family songlines to the outback.
"The boundaries of the outback are fences of the mind; wherever you happen to live, the outback is further out, further back. City folk think they know better; they're in the outback when they reach Nevertire, on the Mitchell Highway, 512 kilometres from Sydney."
The year was 1993 and my father, the journalist Peter Bowers, was writing about a little Australian bush town with a catchy name. He chased these fences for most of his life, trying to define and explain one of his great loves, the bush.
I find myself increasingly drawn by the same invisible pull that drew him, time and time again. The attraction, I'm guessing, is irresistible for storytellers. He used words; I use pictures.
In a hired four-wheel drive, I have with me a living connection to my dad; his favorite photographer, Rick Stevens, is in the passenger seat. We are riding those imaginary fences, bound for Lake Eyre. Rainfalls for a few years running had brought water to Lake Eyre for the fourth year running, unprecedented since records began in the late 1800s. The water brought with it an explosion of life, and with that came rich pictorial possibilities. We photographers are drawn almost magically, like the seabirds, crossing half the continent, following the fresh water that nurtures new life — until it enters the salt of Lake Eyre, where nothing can survive.
“Your dad loved this town,” offers Rick as we approached Nevertire. We pull over. With our first picture “in the can”, we feel our trip is really underway and continue to push west.