Edge of the Outback (Issue 30, 2010)


Photography taken by Edge of the Outback student Elizabeth Blaue

A place for students to come and learn about photography surrounded by the beautiful Australian landscape, make friends, get precious guidance and have their work displayed in a final exhibition – all this and more is what the Edge of the Outback short course at La Trobe University is about.

‘The Edge of the Outback is a unique program where students can gain academic credits, while undertaking an intensive learning experience in Australia. The course has been designed to provide unique, experiential, hands-on learning where much of the educational experience is out of the lecture room, in the real Australia. The course consists of a photographic journey exploring, with a camera, the regional Australian outback landscape through the eyes of a local Aboriginal (Barkindji nation) guide who accompanies the field trips and interprets the cultural sites,’ explains course coordinator Neil Fettling.

For several years now the annual trek of university students from across the world to the Mildura region are testament to just how successful this La Trobe short course has been. These young visitors, many of whom are visiting Australia for the first time, are here on a journey of personal discovery and scholastic self-actualisation when they attend the photography course that is offered at the La Trobe University Mildura Campus. Now in its fifth year, the short course focuses on the exploration of imagery in the region's ancient landscape, and students learn about the country's history and culture.

‘The secret for the success of this program is that it combines in a unique way an educational experience with a tourist experience. It is an opportunity to travel, but with a much deeper level of understanding that can be gained otherwise. In addition to those once-only experiences, the students formalise their responses through the completion of a travelogue portfolio,’ adds Mr Fettling.

Part of the final assessment for the course is the submission of a travel journal and a photographic portfolio (analogue and digital). At the end of the course students exhibit their work in a major regional art gallery.

Examples of past student works are available online. Program coordinator Neil Fettling also intends to release a collection of these works in a coffee table book later this year.

The unique Edge of the Outback photography short course runs annually for three weeks in June and July. For more information please go online or contact international@latrobe.edu.au