Håkan Ludwigson made his first trip to the Northern Territory in 1980. Turning his back on a successful career in the fashion world, the young photographer followed the calling of the Australian outback to make the trip of a lifetime. The impact of this decision was to change the course of his life and, five years later, he returned to photograph these extraordinary men and women, revealing the individual personalities caked in the red dust and dirt of the outback.
Although Hasselblad had, at the outset, commissioned this assignment, it had now evolved into a more personal project and Håkan therefore remained in Australia for a further two months, financing the venture himself.
Thirty years on the work has been reappraised, resulting in a definitive photo book on the subject and an accompanying exhibition.
30 years have passed but I still have such vivid memories of all of you whom I met and photographed during my journeys in outback Australia. While working with this book and exhibition, I have often wondered about what happened to you all. What turns did your life take? How do you look back on those dusty years? What are the memories, tales and thoughts that lead up to the present? I wanted these histories to be part of the book but you have moved around and I have not been able to track you down. So, instead, if you find yourself in this book, I hope that you will let me know where I can find you today, because I would be grateful if you could contribute to this historical documentation. The essays will be published on the website as they are submitted, creating a unique combination of traditional book publishing and interactive web publishing.
All you have to do is fill in the form, giving name and contact details and I will give you a call. We will take care of the rest!
Looking forward to talking to you again.
Susan Gilmore (20 at the time the pictures were taken) quit law school and took off from Brisbane in search for authenticity which she found in the Northern Territory. After a few years in the bush working herself up to a ringer’s position she took up law again and finished her degree. A renowned lawyer specializing in Aboriginal land rights, she works out of Bundaberg these days.
Steve Haw (27 when the pictures were taken) grew up in New South Wales and knew he wanted to become a stockman early on. He wanted to be like the men in the Northern Territory he idolized and he became one of them. Having worked as a stockman as well as in horse breaking and the farrier business over the years, he now lives near Spring Plains, Queensland, runs his own contract fencing business and writes on the side.
Sarah Wynter (19 at the time the pictures were taken) grew up in Country Victoria and had been fascinated by horses since she was a kid. The sight of a few stockman riding along in the early morning light settled it for her: She was going to work on a cattle station someday, and she did. Sarah nowadays works a registered nurse and does some interior decoration on the side.
Stuart Brown ( James Stuart Brown), called by middle name (22 at the time the pictures were taken), originally came from New Zealand and after a sojourn in Tasmania hired on as a stockman on Victoria River Downs in the Northern Territory. He left VRD after about twelve months to continue his career in cattle farming elsewhere. But a chance encounter with a miner in a Tennant Creek pub changed everything.
Malcolm Chilman (21 at the time the pictures were taken) grew up in the hinterland of Sydney and already as a kid was heavily into horses. He quit agricultural college at the age of seventeen and ventured into the outback where he worked as a stockman and learned to fly choppers. After a spell in the construction industry he took up accounting and nowadays runs his own accounting company in Coolum Beach, Queensland.
Robin Prince (24 at the time the pictures were taken) came from a poor background and took up a job as a meat worker at the age of fourteen, before venturing up north to work in the cattle business. After many years of working as a stockman and later in contract horse breaking, he nowadays runs his own fencing business, and is based in Katherine.
If you recognize yourself (or anybody else for that matter), in the actual book, or the pictures that follow below, please provide the following.