Shooting still images of cast and crew members of Discovery Channel’s Aussie Gold Hunters is always an intense job full of wonderful creative opportunities. I love it! ‘Stills’ is a funny word. It seems to be used on film sets when the ‘still’ images need to be differentiated from the ‘moving’ images.
These are the Scrappers. It is cripplingly hot out there and searching for gold, I am discovering, is a combination of tenacity, smarts and luck. These guys just need the third part of the equation. Taking photos out there also has its challenges. The red dust seeps into the sensor, sweat from my brow puddles along the view finder. And a gazzillion flies try to crawl up my nose. At least I get to retreat to an air conditioned donga with a hot shower for the night!!!
Behind Jake and Vern are Steve, Leigh and Kal—Jake’s off-siders at the Piefinch lease. Given the land unearthed behind them, you can just imagine the heft of the machinery they have at their disposal. Later on in the shoot when we got the big diggers working (not for my photographic gratification, you understand, but to capture the action capacity of this operation—hope that sounds convincing), I lost my voice above the noise and dust (and delight at orchestrating such mammoth machines). But then I discovered the cost in fuel of running the beastie machines and we quickly wrapped the action bit of the shoot.
Ted and I share a taste/need for iced coffee first thing in the morning (not normal for me in suburban life. A bit like drinking beer only in Bali and coke only in muggy weather). I didn’t grill Ted, but for me it is an antidote to a dawn temperature warm enough to keep the kettle boiling after you’ve turned it off, mixed with subpar sleep. In my case it was the revellers returning to their donga cubicle right next to mine in the wee hours (paper-thin metal container walls carrying sound so clearly it makes you think someone has come in and is peeing in your loo!!!). And the palm tree whacking off the metal verandah post. Okay, okay, and the (large) glass of red wine that invariably disrupts my sleep.
After a medicinal quantity of cold, synapse inducing iced coffee in the morning, I could feel my inner witch retreat, the treacle drain from the blood in my legs and the feeling of lightness and hope return. Across the court yard what I saw in Ted as he drained the last drops from his iced coffee was the return of his inimitable smile.
I’m in awe of Chris. I am of Greg too—he can make a massive digger pirouette!! (I have a thing for driving big, motorised vehicles. My friend Declan knows this and once invited me over to his warehouse and let me spend an entire afternoon driving his forklift from A to B, and back to A, over and over. It was unbelievably satisfying. So my respect for Greg is big).
With Chris I’m in awe of her immaculate nails (compared to my chewed stumps) despite digging in soil all day and of her stunning looks in a brimmed hat (I’ve tried so often and it just looks wrong on me—I sullenly stick to my baseball caps). And her overall constant grace and style. Now you know why I’ve chosen these two photos to show you!!! I also asked Chris to drive a big pusher for a photo which she did with aplomb. They also have the most gorgeous two adorable dogs…ok, end of gush!.
For Discovery Channel’s Aussie Gold Hunters (c).