2012 Australian Year of the Farmer | ABC Landline | The Long and Winding Road
Mid-winter in the south east of SA can be a pretty bleak place at times. Cold and wet. Really cold and really wet. As in 5-and-a-half-inches-of-rain-in-a-month wet. And did I mention the wind? The wind is something else. We get those lazy winds around here that blow straight in across the Southern Ocean from Antarctica. Not lazy as in gentle breeze, but lazy in that it doesn’t bother going around you, it blows straight through you. (No wonder some bright spark had an idea to put a wind farm up at nearby Tantanoola).
It was on one of those cold, wet and windy days when I travelled the 30kms or so out to Burks Island near Beachport, to photograph Kevin and Toni McGrath. Being mainly plains country, there are a few rolling hills (well, we like to call them hills anyway but they’re probably more like speed humps to those of you from the really hilly parts of the country) just inland from the coast. These little hills form a small range that act as a buffer of sorts, from the screaming southerlies blowing in from the ocean. Burks Island is situated between the coast and the range, so in winter it cops all of the wind, so much so that some of the trees actually grow at a 90 degree angle!
As well as running sheep and cattle on Burk’s Island, Kevin also moonlights as the local Millicent + district vet and also runs cattle on a property at Tennant Creek, leased from the Mungkarta Aboriginal Community. Busy fella.
Now, they say that behind every successful man is a good woman and Toni is it. She helps out at the vet clinic, holds the fort on the property when Kevin is away at Tennant Creek and volunteers at a bunch of local organisations such as St Vinnie’s and the Wattle Range Hospital Auxiliary in her ‘spare time’.
Burks Island has the coolest ever, old stone shearing shed. We found a spot where the light filtering in through the old, cobweb encrusted windows, was perfect for a close up portrait of Kevin. Toni was a bit worried about the cobwebs. I thought they looked awesome. (Besides, wouldn’t have the same effect if the windows were clean).