Welcome to the Burke & Wills Environment Expedition Visual Journal.
The artwork takes the form of a series of postcards from Ben Beeton highlighting and documenting the people, the land and changes in Australia's environment since the original expedition. These postcards seek to intrigue and encourage students to reflect and examine the history of Australia through deep time.
Journal images are presented in 3 sections:
Section 1: Melbourne to Menindee
Section 2: Menindee to Coopers Creek
Section 3: Coopers Creek to the Gulf of Carpentaria (still in progress, to be completed in 2011)
Some images include links to videos on Youtube Videos
30th August 2010
Ben Beeton Interactive multi-media artist
In the lower left corner of this image we see an image of Ludwig Becker’s painting depicting the Burke and Wills expedition crossing the Terick Terick plains. Fifty years before Burke and Wills crossed the Terick Terick plains they were full of native grasses harboring a rich diversity of native plants and animals. However 10 years before Burke and Wills arrived the gold rush broke out in this region and 1000’s of gold diggers arrived which inspired the graziers to expand their herds of sheep over the plains because of the demand for meat. Therefore the original flora and fauna were all but destroyed.
At the top in a yellow circle is my modern day take on Becker’s painting. Here we see Johnathan King in the center who in many ways is taking on the role of Burke. On both sides are our Mitsubishi Pajeros the Mitsubishi have lent us for the trip. In the red circle is a map highlighting the land grossly affected by dry land salinity in the Murray Darling Basin. The landscape was already quite saline prior to European inhabitation however it has been the felling of the trees and over grazing that has brought the salt to the surface. Bellow this map is an illustration of the creeping salt bush which I have noticed stands up to the invasive weeds more effectively then a lot of the other native plants. In the top left is a map demonstrating the water erosion in Victoria and southern NSW. In the bottom right is a series of overlapping maps showing Australia’s separation from Antarctica over about 90 million years. On the left of this is a native casurina and on the far left is a map of Australia between 360 and 340 million years ago. The black dots are volcanoes. On the middle on the right is a map showing the rift valley which opened up between Australia and Antarctica. I frequently imagine the strange dinosaurs, insects and small mammals that would have lived in this lush green valley that slowly widened and became the Great Southern Ocean. In the map we can see the ancient river channels feeding into the rift valley, I’m sure the waterfalls would have been spectacular. In the top right corner we see Australia some 18,000 years ago. When I place a map into an artwork I like to put in the key so that the viewer can understand the maps intent. In the green circle is an image of a river red gum. Green means native.
Video Link 1
Video Link 2