Edge of the Outback 2008

Alexis Petelos

"We got up at 5:45 local Broken Hill time and were in the bus by 6:00. The sun was still not up so we drove in complete darkness over bumpy roads with no idea what to expect once we got to the sculpture symposium. It was all the way on top of a steep mountain and the wind was so forceful that it could knock you down with a single gust. For a good 20 minutes I simply sat on the ground and waited. Then, the sun began to rise above the mountains and through the clouds. It was then that I was able to see where I was - paradise. Enormous stone carvings surrounded me and I felt like I was on top of the world. I was freezing but at that moment it didn't matter. I was experiencing God's work for what it truly was - unaltered beauty. The sky was a vast sea of yellows, pinks and bold orange reds. It was a once in a lifetime experience. I look at my film and understand the meaning behind it but does anyone else? My camera unfortunately could not capture the true beauty from this morning but thankfully I will always remember the experience of standing on that mountaintop, taking it all in."

"Sitting around the campfire at Mungo was the best yet. Peter shared with us his goodbye chant, telling the spirits to watch over us on our journey home. You could even hear the wind start to pick up as he sang. It was amazing. I will always remember last night."

Ever since I was little, kangaroos fascinated me. When I was in high school, I took a photography course and fell in love with the camera. Am I in the right place? I think so. I thought I would not be able to go on this adventure because of dates for my summer school class. Fortunately, I had the dates wrong so with one week before the deadline, I sent in all of my application forms with crossed fingers. I feel so blessed to be given this opportunity. I have made the best of friends here and couldn't imagine going through this journey without them. It is so crazy to think that this place exists the whole time that I am living and worrying away in Alabama. This trip is showing me the bigger picture of life. Petty things don't need to be worried about. You know why? This land is still here regardless of the worries back home. As the Aussies say, "No worries, Mate." 

Sayed Akbar

For me, this trip was a big step. I have never been on my own without my family or friends. I just turned twenty-one years old and I am still living at home with Mom and Dad. I decided it was time to prove to myself that I am going to be ok on my own in life.

Not only was I not able to see my family or friends; I couldn't even talk to them. There were parts were all I wanted to do was run and call my Mom or my best friend but instead just took a deep breath. I can feel myself growing a little more each year but I never thought I would grow so much in three weeks. I have learned so much about life and most importantly myself. I've learned who are and who are not my true friends at home--that good friends are hard to come by. I've learned that I need to stop stressing about guys; they are not worth it. I am too hard on myself and don't give myself enough credit for all that I can do. I need to notice all the good in my life and myself.

We have five days left now; I can't believe three weeks is almost over. I have seen and done things I never thought I would. I have stayed in the deserts of Australia for five nights, slept in a sheering shed and basically froze to death. I went on a seven mile, five and a half hour hike; I learned how to be a photographer--even took some darn good photos to prove it. I even managed to live with twenty strangers in a strange place that I called home for three weeks.

I can truly say now that I'm proud of myself and that I did it. I guess I am going to be alright on my own in life after all. As the Australians always say, "no worries"; words of wisdom that I am going to try and live by. No worries.

Candase Arnold

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a young woman who wished to see the world. She had heard of the wonderful land of Oz from stories and longed to go there herself. When the time came for her to choose what to do with her summer, she knew just what she wanted. She did her research and found a photography class that would take her to her beloved Oz and the Great Bush there. "What a great opportunity," she thought and applied to go straight away.

Months later, when she arrived in the land of Oz, she loved all that she saw. She had a jolly good time meeting other girls (and one guy) like herself and enjoyed immensely the trip to the Bush. At the end of her trip to the Bush, she got to spend days in the dark room processing her film.

But through it all, she valued her experience in Oz and wanted her story shared with all. That trip also taught her that the world is a great and wonderful place, but that "there's no place like home."

Andrea Biggs

Coming to Australia to study photography has influenced my life in more ways than I ever imagined. I have experienced an entirely new world and have loved every minute of it. I learned so much about photography in such a short amount of time; I can't even believe it! The skills that I was taught will stay with me and the guidance I was given helped me process and develop amazing photographs. Being in a foreign country and living with 20 other people has showed me how quickly a bond can form, and I now consider the other students to be like a second family to me. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life. I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in the world.

Megan Buysse

My trip to Australia was more than any expectations I have ever set for any trip. Every turn I took brought a whole new experience. No words will ever give justice to the intense beauty of the landscape. From the huge gum trees of Mutawintji to the soft white sand dunes of Mungo, there is no end to the depth of this country. Even the classroom was not what I expected. Photography has many dimensions, which I did not even know existed until I came here. Lines, textures, and focus mean more to me than they did only a few weeks ago.

This trip has opened my eyes in more ways than one. I came here with an open mind and learned about my self along the way. When we watched the sun rise and set, I could feel its power engulf my soul. Talking with Peter Peterson, I also learned to appreciate the land as a source of all life. Most of all, I learned I can live without the daily conveniences-like a shower-and still be happy.

Coming back to the classroom I had countless pictures to choose from. I based my final exhibit in result of the directions I noticed along my adventures through the Outback. My experience here is priceless and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Marielle d'Entremont

A friend once told me that memories consist of three parts: planning, experiencing and reminiscing. I am not a planner, so I am thankful for Neil, Dawn and all the other individuals that planned this journey for me. While I did not plan this trip, I did experience it. These numerous experiences are something that I will remember and that I will share with my loved ones for many years to come. Coming to Australia is a wish that came true. While enriching photography skills, something I've always wanted to do but could not achieve during my schooling in Canada, it was also a path to self-discovery. Learning about new places, cultures while producing art is a unique yet positive experience. I have no regrets and I value learning about the aboriginals (thanks Peter). Given the chance, I would chose to do something like this again… and that speaks for itself…

To the friendships made and the adventures had.

"Those who do not travel only see one page of the book" and we saw more!

Brittany Fisher

I have dreamt of coming across the world since I was as young girl. And now to step back and look at the big picture and realize that I have accomplished a dream is so satisfying and comforting to know that I can push myself.

I have learned a lot about myself coming here and knowing that I have been given the opportunity to express who I am through my creativity is amazing. If I had pictured my life, I would have never guessed that I was going to come here and meet an amazing group of people and learn to appreciate more of who I am and where I have come from. I have learned to respect and honour different cultures and expand my mind with more wisdom and knowledge. I have learned to listen with my mind and heart other than my ears. To create with my eyes other than my hands; and to take in the experience of a lifetime that will never be forgotten.

Sarah Fuller

Words cannot explain the experience that I've had in Australia. It started as a silly dream, and even though I have been here for three weeks, it still seems so surreal. My journey has been incredible; there is always something new and exciting around every corner. Being in this beautiful country has opened my eyes to a new world, a world that I intend to see much more of. In the last 3 weeks, I have learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be. I have been immersed in a beautiful and unforgettable culture. I have seen paradise. I have laughed until I cried. I have made friends who became family. And I had a damn good time along the way.

Shanna Fortier

For as long as I can remember Australia has been on my "to visit" list. Now that I have made it here it is everything and more than I imagined it would be. Everything from sunrises at sculpture hill to long gruelling days in the darkroom has combined to make this experience a lifetime memory. The field trip through the outback opened my eyes to a whole new side of this country. I never thought that I would be as taken away with the vastness of the desert as much as I was. I go to school in a city and forgot what it felt like to be in a place that is not congested with buildings.

The inspiration for my collection came from my interest in the contrast between man and the landscape. The thought that humans can enter an undisturbed piece of land and still keep it preserved fascinated me. I tried to capture what man adds to the landscape here opposed to what he takes away from it where I live.

Des Johnston

The decision to journey halfway across the world to take pictures was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. Always wanting to come to Australia and a love for photography motivated me even more to take advantage of this unique opportunity. The experience was unforgettable along with the people. These new friends I've made are perhaps some of the most amazing people I've ever met.

A week full of camping, hiking, photographing, making incredible memories and learning old traditions has been in a one word - overwhelming! Scaling the sides of gorges and climbing what seemed like mountains to eat lunch atop a cliff with the most incredible view all while being surrounded by great friends has had a significant impact on my life.
The pictures were just a small part of the experience; I feel I'll carry the friends and great memories with me forever.

Katrina Kulik

I left for what I had been calling the "summer of a lifetime" on June 3. My journey began in Fiji, where I studied for 8 days. I then travelled to New Zealand, before arriving in Australia. Honestly, I love it over here, but by the time July 7 rolled around, along with my bad experience getting to Mildura, I was ready to be home. But, that all changed when I was introduced to all of the other people here to experience and help with the Edge of the Outback Summer Photography program. Our group consisted of 20 girls and 1 guy - who by the second week said "Welcome to the minority. You know you've been here too long, when you sit down to pee." None of us knew one another before arriving in Australia, we all came from different areas, but somehow we all just clicked. The bond we created made all of us miss our homes and our friends there so much less. We called ourselves a family. The people, both students and staff, made this program an amazing experience.

Our travels through Australia led us to abandoned towns, national parks, sand dunes, and sheep shearing sheds. In these places our only task was to photograph - hard life I know! We got to photograph and explore sacred land and see places that many other tourists don't get to see. The views can't even be described. The group as a whole seemed to favor the entrancing beauty of the Great Walls at Mungo national park. But, the views were astonishing everywhere and in many cases you could see for miles, sounds like a beautiful photo right? It does, but no photo could even begin to capture what I was seeing. This was frustrating. I enjoyed close-up's of the elements composing those ravishing scenes. When we came back and began downloading photos, I saw how other students captured the scenery in ways I couldn't seem to do. My pictures from this trip seemed like such a disappointment. But as we discussed the trip, I realized there are so many small things that make up the huge landscape and everyone sees them differently. Some people focus on the people interacting with the landscape, some focus on the trees, some the sun etc. That is when I decided to choose pictures that focus on the textures from nature and non-natural elements that make up the "big picture" I saw on our trip.

Every student came to Australia with a fondness for photography. It was amazing to see although we all have similarities, shared such a close bond and photographed at the same places, we all had different views of nature. All of our photos are very different from one another and truly show the numerous ways to see nature. This trip has made me appreciate photography, nature, people and their way of seeing "the big picture" so much more. This summer seriously was the "summer of a lifetime," and I am not ready to leave anytime soon!!!

Michelle Matkins

In a word, I was searching for inspiration. From the moment I saw the course title, I knew this course was for me. Initially, I couldn't see how it would be possible for me to attend, but a series of events and circumstances conspired to make it so. That sense of serendipity carried through the entire experience.

I marvel at how much I really have learned in such a short period of time, about myself and Australia, and how inspired I feel to use these new tools and explore more. It's been an incredibly creative and diverse environment in which to learn. The overall experience has completely exceeded my expectations.

Probably my favourite part of the course has been the people I've been so fortunate to meet along the way: faculty, students, the people of Mildura and all the places we visited.

The serendipity in a particular choice is not always clear at the moment one makes a decision. It is sometimes only in retrospect that we see with clarity how the universe conspires to bring our wishes to fruition. It was the perfect mix of an introduction to Australian culture, the exquisite landscape and photography for me. I leave here inspired to continue to explore and with gratitude for having had such a fantastic opportunity.

Randi Mueller

In reflection of my journey to Australia I feel a sense of disbelief that I have made it here at all. It is my first trip to another country and I experienced a world of differences from the moment I arrived in the Los Angeles airport to meet the girls I would be living with for the next three weeks. From the time we arrived in Melbourne we formed connections with those who would become our support system in this foreign place. Above all, the friends I have made here are the most important part of this adventure. Don't get me wrong though, I've learned a lot about the areas we went to and the landscapes were amazing. It was easy to capture rolls and rolls of great photos when surrounded by these sights. I've never seen such beautiful sunrises and sunsets as I did on our field trip to the outback. I'm sure we could all agree that we had our ups and downs during this program, but I wouldn't take it back for anything. I'd just like to extend my thanks to those whose patience with such a large group has been a virtue. Also a shout out to my peeps; Randi says: What will I do without you? Stay in touch or I'll come find you. Peace.

Bree Phillips

When I was accepted into this course I had no idea of the life lessons that I would learn. Other then the basics, learning about photography, journaling and Australia, I learned lessons that will stick with me until the day that I kick the bucket. One of the many important things that I learned on this trip was the fact that we don't own the land, the land owns us. It exists whether humans do or don't. I also learned that if you see a mountain that looks impossible to climb, climb it just because you can. You may see things that very few will ever see. The world is far vaster then I thought. I'm glad that I got to see Australia, one of the many distinct and individual places that this world has to offer and soak up all that this country has to offer.

Charlie Phillips

I still cannot believe that I am in Australia! Ever since I was six years old I have always wanted to be here. My dream has come true! These last two weeks have been absolutely amazing. From arriving in Mildura on the 7th of July until today I have fallen in love with this country and its people. From their generous hospitality to their laissez-faire way of life has been truly welcoming and easily adaptable. My whole view on life and the way I approach it has been changed, in a good way of course.

Since my arrival in Australia, I was looking forward to living and interacting with a group of twenty girls and guys. Upon arrival, in actuality I have been living with twenty girls with me as the only guy. Not too bad at all.
While on this trip, I have learned how to use and develop black and white film along with regular digital as well. This experience has defiantly opened up my eyes to so many different possibilities with my abilities as a photographer. I have seen many things in my day and by far, this trip, this land known as Australia has truly reached the top of the list for sure. I have made some really great friends and so lucky and glad to have met them. I hope that all students, whether you are a photography major or not to come to Australia and experience all the adventures and good times that I have experienced.

Natasha Primus

The red dust chokes along with campfire smoke, out in a land I never could of dreamed of before. How did I get here? I often wondered, but I knew the answer was the need for adventure.

When I began this journey my main goal was to explore Australia and take awesome photos. Well, it ended up being a completely different experience than I thought. I took some photos and learned what my strengths and weaknesses are in that, I explored, but the friends I made on this trip was the best part. I will never forget the people I met here and the good times we had. This experience means more to me than I could have ever imagined. I did not spend enough time in Australia and one day I hope I can meet up with the friends I have made here again and have another great adventure.

Erica Robinson

These four photographs allow you to see only a glimpse of the experiences we had over the last 3 weeks. I am leaving here with so much more that photographs for my portfolio. I am leaving with new skills, knowledge of another culture and a group of new significant people in my life. Six months ago I never would have imagined I would be eating lunch at the top of a mountain, photographing an aboriginal site, and hiking through gorges at sunset. Two very wise Peters have taught me to know myself, to appreciate everything around me, and that over all, the experience is worth more than anything else. Lets just say the fifteen hour plane ride is extremely worth it and in the long run it's the fifteen hour ride home that you dread.

Angela Sather

Aboriginal Art, found in Australia, expresses the journey and tracks of the traveller through various designs of dots. My journey half way across the world has impacted my personal growth in more than one direction.

Words cannot express the intensity of the pure blue and red landscape, hiking along the outback, processing of the darkroom, richness in the starry night sky, and not to mention the taste of a kangaroo! My creativity was driven the most by everything Mungo had to offer. Every perspective captured the texture of miles and miles of rhythmic sand dunes. Once the sunset hit the horizon line, a sense of blissful happiness took over everyone including myself. It was a wonder of the world in my opinion. And even once the sun did set, the balance of repetition and scales were still there yet only in an amazingly new tone! I do agree with Professor Glover stating, "Mungo is a pearl in the landscape."

By participating in La Trobe's Edge of the Outback photography program, I feel it has enriched my eduction inside and outside of the classroom. I have even learned more about myself through my classmates. We all were from different universities around the states, but we all were equally mad for Australian adventure! From the life lessons of our personal Aboriginal guide to the knowledge of the arts given by a hand full of La Trobe educators; the journey is the destination.

Caitlyn Shumaker

To visit Australia has always been a dream of mine. I still remember the day my University's study abroad advisor gave a presentation to one of my classes about studying abroad in Australia. That moment I said to myself, "I want to do that!" When I got home after class that day, I immediately researched all of the program opportunities that were offered through La Trobe University. Within the next month I had been accepted! I was really going to Australia! The countdown to July 4th seemed unreal and impossible.

Today, I am sitting in the photography lab, with twenty of my best friends, developing all of the photos that capture the gorgeous highlights of Australia. The places I have seen, the wonderful friendships/sisters I have made, and the skills I have learned will forever be a part of my life. Who would have ever thought a group of twenty girls and one guy could get along so well and become such a close family just after the first couple of days? These people have become my family and are truly the most amazing people I have ever met. There has never been a dull moment within these eventful three weeks; it has been absolutely incredible!

I came to study photography completely unexperienced and I will be walking away from this short three-week program with so much confidence and experience behind the lens. The professors have been nothing but caring, brilliant leaders. My favorite part about this program is that we get to take home the portfolio we have professionally created. The portfolio will be a huge highlight when applying for a photography job later in my career.

This trip was the best decision I have ever made. I will forever cherish the incredible people I have met and the incredible experience studying photography in the Outback.

Maria Walpole

My portfolio: "For Whose Eyes" was named for my particular experience on the Edge of the Outback Photography program. I saw so many stunningly beautiful places that I couldn't help but wonder why they were there!

As I stared in silence at the dreamlike sunset over the Walls of China at Mungo National Park, I thought — Whose eyes was this meant for? That question remains unanswered for me. It overwhelmed me to think that such beautiful things existed regardless of whether or not they were appreciated. They were, in a sense, for nobody's eyes.

I felt some sort of obligation to attempt to record these experiences in some way — to preserve some evidence of the grandeur I had so luckily intruded upon during my trip. Perhaps — For all our eyes.

It was frustrating at times, trying to capture something so expansively beautiful on a two-dimensional filmstrip. The experience was more than aesthetic. No matter how nicely a landscape appeared on my film, it didn't seem to represent the reality quite right.

In the end, as I processed my film and scrolled through my endless digital files I admired the way my classmates had succeeded in capturing the reality of the scenery. I also found that my best photographs were not those I had expected. My most truthful photographs were those that captured the experience in the eyes of my classmates, my roommates — my friends.

Kim Williams

As the end of my college career was coming to an end, I still had not fulfilled one of the goals I set for myself my freshman year, to study abroad. I researched my options the summer before my senior year, and with 3 semesters remaining; I knew it was impossible to study abroad for a semester. I came across a 3-week photography class in Australia for the month of July, and I knew immediately I found exactly what I was looking for. Not only would a photography class fulfil a requirement for my major, but also Australia has always been a country I wanted to visit. This experience would give me more than the opportunity to visit the country but rather to be emerged in the culture by living there for a short period of time, while coming away with photographs to add to my portfolio.

With less than a week remaining, I have come away with everything I wanted to gain and more. I could not ask for a better experience. This program gave me the opportunity to see parts of Australia that a tourist does not usually experience. I not only leave Australia with all the memories, but with the photos taken along the way.

Walkabout Downunder Program 6

As part of the 2008 Edge of the Outback program, and additional 11 students, from Ithaca College in New York, participated in the 'Walkabout Downunder Program 6'. Their works were exhibited at Stefano's Gallery 25 in Mildura.
See student testimonials and photographs from Walkabout Downunder Program 6:

Mary Beth Butler

After 5 months in Australia, I finally look the right way when crossing the road, have picked up most of the slang, and don't even have to study my coins anymore when paying for something. But as of 2 weeks ago, I still felt like something was missing from my Aussie experience… a trip to the Outback. Now, after spending 6 days way out back, photographing some of the most spectacular and bizarre locations I have ever seen, I finally feel as if I understand what Australia is all about.

We hopped onto our 22-seater bus early in the morning; 11 Americans, ready with our 2 cameras each and our funny accents. Less than an hour out of Mildura and we watched the buildings fade away while the bush sprang up. I woke up a while later and looked around. Will took a 360-degree glance around, too, saw nothing but flat land, a dirt road, and a few kangaroos and sheep, and wisely stated, "So, this is the Outback."

I quickly learned that the Outback was the Australia I had pictured before I came here… dusty, little towns in the middle of nowhere, kangaroos and emus every hundred or so meters, and kilometers of dirt roads that leave trails of dirt clouds behind your tires (and force you to duct tape the cracks around the windows to keep it from suffocating you).
It's a place of sketchy pubs in towns with a population of about 20, of lakes that haven't seen water in 10,000 years, of kangaroo and Johnny cakes cooked over a fire, and, of course, a place where pushing your car out of a rut in the road may be a daily requirement.

There's a simple four words that can sum it up pretty well:
"Welcome to the country."

Robyn Feidler

Five days without showering. Sitting by the fire, wasting the hours away. Eating oranges as the bus jumps from one ditch to the next. Music blaring. Cameras slung around necks. Mud caked on hiking boots. Smiles spread across dirty faces.
For the past two weeks I've journeyed into the depths of Australia with friends who have quickly become family. The Outback offers the most breathtaking scenery I've ever seen; the sunsets and sunrises have left me in awe. However, the wonders of the Outback are not just embedded in the landscape. The barren environment gave me an opportunity to reflect on the last five months I've spent in Australia. Shared moments, laughs and advice have been the highlight of my trip. The joys, struggles and downfalls have changed the way I look at life. I've learned more than the information in a textbook could teach me and experienced as much of this continent as I could. And I was fortunate enough to do it with some of the most colorful characters who I've met along the way.

The Edge of the Outback photography course was the best conclusion to a phenomenal trip to Australia. It captured the essence of the country, the true culture and landscape. My semester in Australia would not have been complete without it.

Allison Hoover

"Just grab as much as you can." My new friend and our Aboriginal guide, Peter Peterson, told us to do exactly that on our photographic journey throughout Australia's Outback. In the past five months I've had heaps of fun exploring the major cities of the country and the coastal landscape in-between, but one major component that was missing was the atypical Australian landscape; dusty red deserts and hopping kangaroos. I couldn't have asked for a better experience traveling through land that was breathtakingly unknown to me with a group of great people led by a colorful cast of professionals.
From hiking rocky cliffs to watching the sunrise across the rolling dunes of sand, there have been photo opportunities galore. But I've found that in all my time spent in the outdoors, the harder it is to capture the actual beauty of it in a photo. When looking at my photos, I am transported back to my state of mind at the moment it was taken, nature's tranquility, and how surreal it is of me actually being there in the Outback. I can only hope this translates to others and they can "feel the serenity" like the father in my favorite Aussie flim, The Castle. The places we visited were truly special, not only for their beauty but for their rich cultural ties to the Indigenous people of Australia.

I am so grateful for this experience and wish everyone had the chance to partake in such an amazing course. There isn't a better way I could have spent the final leg of my epic semester in Australia. It's been an unforgettable two weeks, and I've certainly grabbed as much as my brain, camera, and journal can handle.

William Mathewson

When Americans — and I'm sure most foreigners — think of Australia, images of red clay and sandy desert come to mind. When I first arrived in this country, I was surprised that kangaroos weren't hopping down the main streets of the larger cities, and that emu and crocodile weren't on all restaurant menus. Yes, there was more to Australia than I expected; but I still wanted to get out into the countryside, the "bush," to have what I considered a real outback Australian experience. That's what I got with the Edge of the Outback photography program. In the outdoors, traveling long distances over unsealed roads in a four-wheel-drive driven by an indigenous guide: I couldn't have asked for more. The days I spent in rural Australia were some of my favorite of the past five months I've spent on the continent, and my interaction with some of Australia's Aboriginal people can only be described as eye opening and life changing. And I learned how to take a half decent photograph, too. At the end of the Edge of the Outback program I will return home to New York State, but I can't imagine having spent my last two weeks in Australia any other way.

Caitlyn Mattice

After living in three different cities over a period of five months the thought of a new town felt exhausting. I must admit when saying goodbye to the 20 other Walkabout crew, who headed home early, I felt a bit jealous, all I wanted to do was go home. Upon arriving in Mildura my homesickness was soon replaced with excitement. From mandarin and flower fights with Peter and tribal dances around the campfire, to waking up before sunrise to get that perfect shot, block 5 wasn't just an extra class but one of my best experiences while in Australia.

Good on ya gurlllllllll.

Virginia Moore

So here it is, the very end of my Australian journey. I can hardly believe it, but in less than a week I'll be heading back to the good old US of A, that free-wheeling land of hot wings, trashy reality TV, and driving on the right side of the road. And sitting here now, writing this, I wonder — how can I possibly describe what this experience has been for me?

In such a short time, I've done so many things. I've jumped into the dark ocean at midnight in Western Australia, drunk off cheap boxed wine and the electric buzz of simply being there. I've stood on the top of towering Mt. Field West in Tasmania after three days of trudging through dirt and rock and forest with a stuffed backpack and ratty sneakers, all to reach the top and experience that dizzying rush that comes with sitting on the very edge of a 1400 meter drop off, the land spread out like a fierce kingdom before me. I've hurtled down the Great Ocean Road in a tiny rental car in the early morning, the ocean crashing down on one side while the rainforest rises up to the sky on the other. I've gone scuba diving in Byron Bay, inches away from giant sleepy turtles and curious fish with rainbow scales. And, most recently, I've experienced what it's like to be in the heart of the great Australian outback. What it's like to stand in the middle of that red earth and be alone except for you and your soul and that empty blue sky, no concrete or timelines or singing cash registers, just you and whatever it is that you're made of.

And the most unbelievable thing is that doesn't even begin to touch on what this journey has been for me. No words I write can make you see Cottesloe beach on a bright sun-kissed day or make you hear the sound of birds calling through the Tasmanian rainforest. Nothing I say can make you feel a wallaby sniffing your hand in the Grampians or make you taste the shocking (and disgusting) flavor of Vegemite for the first time. However, these last two incredible weeks have given me the opportunity to share part of my journey through photography. Hopefully these photos can give you a little bit of Australia that I can't with my words alone, and share the sensation of being in the strange and wild outback.

Charissa Morrisroe

When my friends and I made the decision to study abroad together in Australia this semester we had no idea we would be having the best 5 months of our lives. We saw more of this amazing country than some of us had even seen of our own, and made some new friends from our own school and around Australia alike.

Although I had the time of my life, homesickness got to me and I almost went home early and skipped out on the final two week photo course. That would have been a huge mistake.

Although these have been two of the most exhausting and challenging weeks of my life, I wouldn't change that for anything. It has been an absolutely unforgettable trip with an amazing ending fittingly in the most quintessential Australian landscape: the Outback. Although some of us were nervous that we had little photography experience to go on, we were all able to find some amazing shots that we really liked. It was fun to try something new, and I will head home in a few days feeling fulfilled with having had a complete Aussie experience.

Marah Nudel

After spending six months in Australia, I thought I had explored it all. After taking the course, Edge of the Outback, I realized that I had missed seeing an important part of the country, which I would have never seen had it not been for the course. Nothing I had done in my six months abroad came even close to the time I spent taking this class.

I barely knew it at the time, but the class was teaching me more than just how to shoot and develop photographs. In the two weeks spent in the outback, I learned more about Australia than I had in six weeks in the major cities. The lessons about Australia taught me about the land, the foods and the culture. All of which, I was learning first hand. More importantly, I found that I was learning more about who I was.

I enjoyed every moment of the time spent in the heart of the outback. Although I sometimes hated the work in the dark room, there was an amazing staff that helped calm my ease. I don't know what I would have done without them. More than anything, after taking this course I felt welcomed into the country. These two weeks were the highlight of my Australian walkabout.

Meredith Peterson

The past two weeks I have been to some of the most picturesque landscapes I have ever visited. Most of our days began with watching the sunrise and ending with sunset. The landscapes were exactly how I had always pictured the Australian Outback. While driving to each destination kangaroos would run straight in front of the bus and you could see groups of emu on the side of the road. Every way you looking you could see the horizon line.

There was never a dull moment during the program. Our field trip was filled with scenic views, loud music, and exciting bus rides! We were constantly being entertained whether it was trying to learn an Aboriginal dance or sitting around the campfires late at night.

Our teachers were always enthusiastic and willing to help. They encouraged us to take pictures anytime. The trip has been an excellent experience that I will never forget. I have made memories that will never be forgotten. As well as enjoying the trip I also have a greater appreciation for photography. I did not realize how much effort goes into creating a flawless picture.

Laura Rowett

I am not what you would call a savvy camper or an avid hiker. I had never even owned hiking boots until 2 months ago. And when I found out that this photography course included a camping trip I was not exactly thrilled — but I was determined to make it through. I never expected to have the best two weeks of my life or to meet people that mean so much to me today. Being in the outback, building a visual diary of the landscape was the best.

Half the fun was in the journey itself. I will never forget the adventurous bus rides with Peter Peterson or the sweet smell the mandarin oranges at all hours of the day. I will take the lessons I learned on that journey and in the photography course home with me — so that I can spread the love I have for the outback with the people I love back home.
Neil, Kristian, Peter and Peter: I will never forget our travles in the outback. Not as long as I have photographic evidence.

Emma Strachman

A year ago I never fathomed that I'd be doing what I am today — photographing in the most beautiful natural landscape in the Australian Outback. Being a photographer, this was somewhat of a dream. Having the opportunity to go to such profound places like Mutawintji and Mungo National Park were such unique experiences and are utterly irreplaceable. Seeing the landscape through a lense allowed me to create relationships among the natural structures, the native people and myself. I'm so fortunate for the new friendships I have formed, the places I have seen, and the experiences I have enjoyed.