Growing up in the high desert of New Mexico, I always craved to be by the ocean. I was completely jealous of my cousins in California and Kauai. What was so great about the desert? It wasn’t until I left that I understood the beauty that the desert holds, and the powerful effect it has on you.
When Matador said Queensland Tourism was looking for a filmmaker to explore the Outback, I was immediately interested. The Outback seemed to me the ultimate desert, with larger-than-life floods and breathtaking sunsets. I couldn’t wait to get lost in that landscape. I felt I could almost imagine it, but I also knew I had no idea what I was in for.
After a week traveling around Channel Country, we landed in the town of Birdsville, which is in the southwestern-most corner of Queensland. Birdsville is famous for the horse races that happen once a year, but I wanted to know more about this place than what an annual event could tell me. While in Windorah, I was told by some new friends who own the Western Star Hotel to seek out Don Rowlands, an Aboriginal Elder and park ranger of Munga-Thirri National Park, formerly known as Simpson Desert National Park. Munga-Thirri is the largest national park in Queensland.
Don is well known in the area, and finding him in the small town only took a short conversation with the friendly owners of the Birdsville Bakery. Don’s love for the Outback is apparent when you meet him, and his pride in his work as a ranger shows. He was kind enough to let me interview him about the area, despite the short notice. During the interview, I started to get the feeling that there just wasn’t enough time in one interview to explain it all — the history, the people, the spirit of the Outback. As we reached midday and the flies started to make themselves known, I turned my questions towards what the Outback meant to Don. What came of that conversation inspired this short.
I hope to spend more time in the Queensland Outback one day, because a place like that takes time to absorb and appreciate.