Lara Hoyt

"My senior year of college was just around the corner, but I still hadn't fulfilled my dream of studying abroad. When I heard about the Edge of the Outback program, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine visiting a country I have wanted to see for years with something I love, photography. I was thrilled when I was accepted, and anxiously awaited the day we would depart for the Land Down Under. Little did I know what an impact this trip would have on me in just three short weeks.

Everyone has preconceived ideas of what they will see in Australia: red, dusty roads, Kangaroos and Emus everywhere, and Aboriginal rock art.  As I have discovered from the moment I arrived here, that is only a small part of the Australian experience. I got to feel the life and excitement of Melbourne, as well as see art ranging from traditional Aboriginal work to graffiti on the walls of alleys. I got to see the quieter side of life in Mildura, where we have spent many nights walking around the city, making grocery runs to Coles, or just hanging out at the hostel. I discovered that Tim Tams are some of the best cookies ever made, and also tasted my first (and last) bite of Vegemite. Finally, I have gotten to experience the Outback in a way that is truly unique and gives you a glimpse of this vast, beautiful country. Mungo, Mutawintji and Broken Hill are a few of the many places I got to visit while here, and each was amazing in its own way.

The inspiration for my portfolio came from the land itself.  For the Aboriginal people, the land is a central part of their culture and way of life. It is something to be revered and respected, for it is the source of all life. While I was out in these wonderful and majestic places, I sought to see the beauty not only in the whole scene, but also in the tiny details as well. The sight of strips of bark hanging from trees, scratching together and blowing gently in the wind, or water flowing gently between rocks in a stream, can be just as profound as standing at the top of a tall gorge, with the land stretching below you for miles. It is in these minor, what some would consider insignificant, details that I was able to create photographs that I feel reflect my experience in the Outback. Together, they also show the variety that one finds in these places, as well as what man sometimes leaves behind. I hope that anyone viewing these photos can get a glimpse of my journey and what this amazing country is like. 

As we prepare to hang up our gallery show, pack our bags, and head back to the U.S., I feel a real sense of accomplishment and gratitude for everything that I have had the chance to see and do here, and for the people I have gotten to meet. The photos that I have taken will serve as a lasting reminder of these wonderful three weeks. Thank you to all of my professors and our guide Peter P., who all made this trip everything I had ever hoped for.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I will not forget everything that I have learned from you! Peter P., I'll miss those Kangaroo hops on the bus!

I will also never forget my fellow students and new friends, who made every minute of this trip fun and exciting.  There was never a dull moment in our group, and I will miss each one of you once we are back home.  I hope you all look back on this trip with many fond memories, as I know I will for years to come!"