Swan Hill

After 6 months living and working in Melbourne, I was faced with the decision of whether to extend my visa for a second year. To be eligible for the second-year visa in Australia I had to complete 88 days of farm work which is somewhat frustrating having got finally got on my feet only to up and leave again, but also provides an opportunity to see a part of the country I never would otherwise.

After a month of searching for a suitable place and going back and forth wondering if I was making the right choice, I was approved for a position in the rural town of Swan Hill in Victoria and packed up and left within 24 hours. 

I was required to live in a shared house right next door to the local Maccas with other international backpackers which was very far from the comfort of the house I'd left in Melbourne. "It's all part of the experience" became a regular phrase in my head, although rats and grimy wallpaper aren't exactly ideal.

In the same way a convict uses their time in prison to buff up, I wanted to use my time away to train myself on medium format film, with a Rolleiflex 3.5T and some Fuji Provia 100. I had dreamed of collecting a series of portraits of the locals here, but I think my lack of desire to be in this town resulted in turning my camera away from the people and toward the suburban backdrop surrounding me.

Every day for over 3 months I walked the same 20 minute route to work in sweltering 40C heat, and I spent my spare time wandering the single high street of shops, suburban streets, and along the Murray river, documenting the dry, deserted urban landscapes under the harsh summer sun.

My lack of connection to the town has made it feel like I was never really there at all, and I think the scarce signs of life in these photographs reflect that; a distant observer; a temporary ghost.