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  Field Notes From
Australia's Bard

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From Photographer
David Alan Harvey

Australia's Bard On Assignment

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From Author

Roff Smith

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs courtesy David Alan Harvey (top) and Roff Smith


Australia's Bard On Assignment Photographer Australia's Bard On Assignment Photographer
Australia's Bard

Field Notes From Photographer David Alan Harvey
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    People who have traveled to Australia will tell you that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I would say the only thing more beautiful than the country is the people who live there. During my time in the field, each day was better than the last because of the people I met. Aussies have a special way of making you feel at home. I always felt comfortable in my interactions with them. It was incredible to be so far from home and feel so welcomed. I was constantly surrounded by some of the warmest people in the world.

    The flies, the flies, the flies. I ran into interesting situations all the time in the outback. I often got stuck in the mud, and it always felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. But as soon as I stepped out of the car, a new obstacle welcomed me: swarms of flies. They were unbelievable—not like flies one would see in any metropolitan area of Australia. These were huge. They got in my eyes and ears and buzzed around my cameras when I was trying to shoot. I had to swat them away, take the photograph quickly, and then swat them away again. The worst part was, no matter how hard I swatted—or how much bug spray I used—they wouldn't go away. By far getting used to the flies was the most difficult part of my trip. But, then again, I never did get used to them. I just had to accept the fact that they'd be waiting for me when I woke up in the morning.

    When I talked to people in Australia about Banjo Paterson, I discovered that whether young or old, everyone could recite at least some of his poetry by heart. They would just get going and wouldn't stop. If one person started a poem, someone else would come up and recite a different one. Pretty soon a crowd would form, and they devoted the next few hours to taking turns breaking out into verse. It sounds ridiculous to me now after stepping away from the culture, but people could literally entertain themselves all day reciting poetry. On a typical afternoon, I came across people gathered around a porch reciting poetry or guys at a pub singing "Waltzing Matilda." It was cool. It's part of the lore. Even as a visitor I began to appreciate the stories and the songs. After some embarrassing attempts, even I could finally sing some "Waltzing Matilda" by the time I left.


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