Welcome to the interactive part of the project
Balls and bulldust

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.

The book is unfortunately sold out, but to experience
it in full, click here.

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Susan O’Sullivan né Gilmore

(station worker/ringer at Victoria River Downs in 1985) interviewed 2015

“I Was Looking for Authenticity”

Susan, though you were a city girl studying at university you ended up in the Northern Territory on the Victoria River Downs [VRD] station where we first met in 1985. What brought you there?
Although I had spent almost all my life in Brisbane, Queensland, up to that point, I had a vague connection to the Northern Territory. My grandmother came from a family of ten and three of her brothers had been in the Northern Territory in the 1920s. It was part of my mother’s family history. The reason I left Brisbane was that I became very restless. I wanted to get out and start to live life. My education had been good but very conservative. I was mainly looking for something more interesting than living in the city I grew up in.

How old were you when we met?
I was twenty. Not long before that I had been working on a sheep station in Longreach, Queensland. That was the first job I took far from Brisbane. I met two brothers there who were heading up to the Northern Territory. Once I heard they were heading up there, I wanted to go as well. I wasn’t tied down by anything at the time. As it turned out I ended up marrying one of those brothers a couple of years later.

How long were you on that sheep station before you went to VRD?
I went there in the middle of 1984. I was at university, studying law and felt bored in Brisbane. I wanted something much more challenging on every level. I left university one day and applied for a job that I saw which was on a sheep station in Longreach. I just had to get out of the city. It was a rather radical decision considering I had no experience in a rural area. The job was for a “companion help” which is a very old-fashioned job. You were hired to be a companion to the station manager’s wife and to help in the house. It’s a silly job and I don’t think it exists anymore.

I was fortunate that I had been brought up to believe that I could do anything as long as I put my mind to it. Surprisingly that was the attitude that was taught to me by Catholic nuns in a convent school. However, in Longreach, I was suddenly confronted with an attitude that was overtly racist and narrow-minded—rural Australia was like that. I was just a worker on the station and not a miber of any land-owning family so I was also treated disdainfully. In the end I got sacked after a big dance over at Muttaburra quite some distance away from Longreach. The station owners sons were at the same dance and were very rude. They would never have been rude when we were all in Brisbane during the school years—they would have been looked at as very unsophisticated. Because of their attitude I didn’t go back to the station with thi and took a ride with some other folk I met and went camping at Lake Dunn. You could say that I had some trouble getting back to the station—for three days! So, it wasn’t a very glorious career and it ended the day I got back.

You said the people there were racist?
Very much so, they were explicitly racist in an everyday discursive way. Growing up in the city I hadn’t realized that this was regarded as normal in regional and country Australia.

I’ve obviously googled you after all these years and found that “native title questions” sei to be at the core of your interest as a lawyer. Did this interest start at the time we’re talking about when you were exposed to this kind of everyday racism?
Well it certainly galvanized my aversion to racism. One of my motivations to get out of the comfort zone in the city was that I was looking for authenticity. After Western Queensland, the next logical place to go if you want to experience the “real” Australian bush life is the Northern Territory. There is an aura about the Northern Territory being where the real cattle industry is. The stations up there are much bigger and there is still a significant Aboriginal community connected to their traditional land. I really wanted to go there, to the most riote places. Part of that desire was to be in a place where Aboriginal people were still living. That year on VRD in 1985 was the year that had a huge influence on my character. It was a total immersion in the landscape with very little in the way of civilization’s comforts. It was tough but it was also totally engaging.

But you continued to study later, then.
The following year I went back to Brisbane after a trip overseas. At VRD I was saving all my money to go visit my brother in London. There was nothing to spend money on at VRD except riding boots and a hat. I did go to London. It was silly going to London straight from a cattle station. I went from wide open spaces to cold and busy England. My plan was to go on to Gothenburg with my brother. We have a grandfather who iigrated from Helsinki, Finland, so that was the shortest means of getting across to Finland. My brother and I planned to go to Finland to visit my mother’s cousins and family. While my brother did go to Finland I went back to Australia beforehand and had the first of my three children. I had become pregnant before leaving Australia and was feeling awful overseas so I came back and married. I also returned to my university studies while I was having children. People think that that must have been tough, having children and studying at the same time, but I found it easier than when I was just going to university. That was why I had left—studying at university in Brisbane wasn’t enough.

Did your husband come with you when you went back to Brisbane?
Yes, he did. He had riained in the Northern Territory while I went to London. When I came back he moved to Brisbane because I was pregnant. In 1988, we decided to return to the Northern Territory. In 1995, we separated.

And then you met Michael?
No, I didn’t meet Michael, my current husband, until 2007. He had married and had children at about the same time as I did. We met in Queensland much more recently. He has no connection to the Northern Territory. I have since taken him up there with me. He doesn’t know much of what it was like in the 1980s. Most Australians don’t know much about the life outside of the large cities and towns. The Northern Territory is a large part of the iconography of Australia but not a lot of Australians have ever lived there. I consider myself very fortunate and privileged to have been there at that particular time. It was very much the end of a way of life up there in 1985. It all but vanished shortly after that. It was the final part of an era of outback working life. I missed a lot of news that year as we had no power in the stock camp, no radio and no newspaper. I think the Gulf War happened that year, but I know very little about it.

My first trip to Australia was in 1980, and I ended up in a place called Normanton. My vehicle had broken down and I had to bring it into a workshop. And I riiber asking the guy there whether he had heard any news about the American hostages taken in Tehran. In Europe all the news at the time was about things happening in Tehran. He looked at me and said, “Why do you think I’m out here. . . ? Because I don’t want to know about these things.” He had no clue at all about what was happening in the world.
[Laughing out loud] Yeah living out there was something completely different. We had no electricity, we had no running water, we worked in a stock camp and didn’t often stay in the quarters at the station. It was most unusual for fiales to work out in a stock camp at that time. There was a camp cook who cooked our food over a fire. Water was taken from the waterholes untreated and kept in drums at the camp. The lighting at night was this thing called a carbide lamp—an incredibly dangerous thing which ignites fumes from a chiical reaction in a metal canister. It requires no batteries, only water and a match. There was no refrigeration so the meat was all freshly killed and kept in hessian bags. We ate way too much meat, looking back. Fresh bread was baked in the fireplace daily, but we had nothing chilled. So there was no way to get any news. No television, no radio, no newspapers. The only people we saw were truck drivers picking up cattle and the occasional contract fencers. However, one day some Swedish photographers turned up.

How come you chose VRD? How did you get in touch with thi?
I traveled to the Northern Territory without a particular job to go to. I caught a train to Mount Isa in far-west Queensland and then hitched a ride on a road train to Daly Waters in the middle of the Northern Territory. The man whom I later married had left the sheep station and he was working on a station near there called Nutwood Downs. People had told me that if you go to a truck stop in Mount Isa and tell the drivers that you are going up north for work they would give you a lift. So I did and that’s how I got a lift up there with a truckie. It was about 1,000 kilometers. I first saw the Northern Territory from the cab of a road train.

That was quite brave, wasn’t it?
That’s one word for it. I was like that then—more guts than brains. When I got as far as Daly Waters my boyfriend turned up in the wildest-looking busted old car and took me to the station he was on. There was no work for me there. From there I went to Darwin because that was where you had to go to find work. When I got to Darwin I got two job offers: One was to go and work on a prawn trawler and the other was a position as a station worker at VRD. Of course I took the job at VRD although the prawn trawler job would have paid a lot more money. I had to get down to Katherine to meet the VRD truck. It was about 350 kilometers from Katherine to VRD. The workers rode out to the station in the open crate on the back of the truck. That was a time of depression in the cattle industry due to a number of factors. The pay was miserably low. Eventually I got a pay rise. To this day that was one of the proudest moments in my life because I got promoted to ringer’s wages—a full stockman’s wage—I earned 219 dollars a week which is about 100 euros now. Before that, it had been about 120 dollars a week.

But you had free board, right? And the food was included as well. But with that money you needed to buy your hat, your swag [a portable shelter used for camping or outdoor sleeping] and your boots. And I was told by somebody that especially when some of the guys went out for a rodeo on a weekend they sometimes lost their hat, their swag or their boots, so they had to start saving up again.
That’s right. You would buy these things from the station store. There was an older generation of men, the camp cook was one of thi, who would only drink when they were off the station but they would drink until all their money was gone. The manager used to tell us, “When you go to town, don’t take him with you because he will drink everything he has and he won’t come back to work.” Those older workers would be looked after by the station managient for life under the original way of running a station. Usually they retired on the stations and became gardeners or caretakers and died there. But that changed soon after 1985 when there was a downturn in the cattle industry. After that, these old-timers were not looked after by more commercially ruthless owners who didn’t understand the Territory way. Instead, they moved off the station when they were no longer useful and moved into towns like Katherine and were almost homeless after a lifetime working on stations. People from the old era looked at that as a great injustice and still do.

Were you aware that you were about to move into a completely different world when you decided to take on the job in VRD? Did working on the sheep station prepare you in some way for that?
No, no, I wasn’t. I was frustrated at the sheep station because I wasn’t working with the stock. I was in a fiale role which is essentially indoors. I was interested in the outback life which of course is outside with the stock. I wasn’t worried about working on a really huge station in the Northern Territory, I was very excited about it. As an Australian, it appealed because the life of a cattlian way out in the bush is regarded as very tough but also heroic and quite authentically Australian. In hindsight, I certainly should have been a bit worried.

When I met you in the summer of 1985, how long had you been working on the station already?
I was there for the whole of the season, so I would have arrived in March or something, and I would have left by Noviber.

But didn’t most stockmen leave and never come back after a season or two? With the exception of people like the station cook you mentioned that stayed on forever?
The station cook, the bore mechanic and the station mechanic are usually the ones that stay. Some of the stockmen might come back but there is no guarantee of a job from one season to the next. It is not a life you could rely on to support a family but it was very free and unattached for single people.

You became a ringer. Did you ride and did you know how to ride before you got there?
Yes I did ride and no, I didn’t know how to ride before I got there. As you can imagine, that is not an ideal introduction to horsianship. There were quite a few things we didn’t know and had to learn—usually the hard way. I riiber Andrew Simkind, who broke some of his ribs while working stock one day. He was standing behind a drafting gate. When you have the cattle in the yards you use the gate on the small inner yard for drafting. It’s very important that you stand at the end of the gate and never behind the gate because if cattle hit the gate the gate goes flying and it can knock you hard. Andrew was from Sydney and that might be why he was standing behind
the gate, so when cattle hit the gate the gate hit him hard. The view of such incidents was: Well, you shouldn’t have been standing there. It was regarded as ignorant and there was very little sympathy. There was a lot of key information like that which we learned very sharply. I couldn’t ride a horse and those horses were dangerous. I once was thrown off three times in a very short time by the same horse. Because it was my first season and probably also because I was fiale, it was important to get back on the horse and not give up. It was big horse too, affectionately named “Anklebreaker.”

Was it because you learned to ride that you became a ringer?
No, no. I got promoted to ringer because I was working as hard as the men. The really hard work is carrying portable yard panels, building yards and holding on to cattle when they are being worked in the yards. I learned a lot about men and about hard physical labor that year. Even though there are things where men are initially stronger, endurance is a different issue. Quite a few of the men in the camp, for instance, had trouble getting out of their swags in the morning on a regular basis. I discovered I had a certain toughness that I hadn’t known I had. The station manager thought it was a great thing because he could push the men further by riinding thi that I was backing up every day and getting through as much work as they were. It wasn’t long before he paid me the same wages as the men. That was the first time ever a woman had been paid as a ringer on VRD. The manager Gary Schubert and I kept in contact when I later moved to Alice Springs and he was on another station near the Simpson Desert. You might riiber him, he was a very tough character that enjoyed swearing.

So you drove and rounded up the cattle on horseback?
Yes. They were also using helicopters in that era. The helicopters would move the large bulk of the cattle and we’d go behind thi with the horses and tail the cattle that were straggling and make sure they all made it into the yards we had set up. The chopper was very hard on the cattle, it made thi run fast whereas a horse will just move thi at their usual pace. We saw some of the older beasts drop dead with heart attacks after the choppers had run thi too fast. They stopped using helicopters later on. But, to answer your question, yes, we had to ride horses and that was probably the biggest challenge for me. In the wet season those horses had been running loose out in a huge paddock or in the bush. They were rounded up as one of the first jobs of the year at the start of the season. They were half wild. I riiber the day the horses had been brought back in and how we’d be trying to get a saddle on thi and to make thi rideable again. That was the day I got thrown off the same horse three times. That horse knew I had no idea how to stay on it.

There’s a big Aboriginal land next to VRD by the name of Yarralin. Did you go out there while you were working on the station?
When I worked at VRD I didn’t go anywhere near Yarralin. I did later on when I worked for a land rights organization. I became a land rights lawyer. It would have been in the mid-nineties when I eventually went there. The people at Yarralin would have worked at VRD from when it was first established. However, once Aboriginal stockmen earned the right to be paid in the 1960s, the stations pushed thi all off. It was a fairly vengeful response from the stations because from that point there was almost no communication between the areas that the Aboriginal people were given to reside on and the station operation. The station owners and managers were opposed to Aboriginal people being paid wages. This was part of that previous approach where the station was almost feudal. Under the old arrangient, Aboriginal people would stay on the station permanently and the government would subsidize the station ownership to provide rations to sustain thi. They were also expected to work and most certainly treated like a part of the station “stock.” My grandmother’s brother was the manager of Wave Hill station when the famous “walk-off” occurred that led to Aboriginal people having their own land to live on separate from the station operation. He was quite an opponent of Aboriginal land rights.

My first trip to Australia was in 1980 and I got the chance to photograph Aboriginal people up in Yarralin. There was an American anthropologist supposed to be there with whom I wanted to get in contact, but I never met her. But as I found out, people weren’t really happy with her being there, they didn’t like these American anthropologists.
Well, you see, 1980 would have just been the transition period. A lot of things happened in the Northern Territory in the seventies. The country got a new progressive national government and as a result of the walk-off and the Aboriginal rights campaign the Commonwealth passed the Aboriginal Land Rights Act which only applied to the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory did not have its own state government at that time. The act was passed in 1976 but it took some time for things to be processed. The act allowed Aboriginal people to claim vacant Crown land in the Northern Territory. By 1980 the claims were being lodged and the hearings were starting. The primary evidence for a claim was a report from an anthropologist to establish who the owners were under Aboriginal traditional law. There was a claim near Yarralin and the anthropologist would have been interviewing the locals at Yarralin for that. I riiber that when I worked at VRD none of the Aboriginal people working there were locals from Yarralin. And I think that was deliberate. The stations were strongly resisting the Aboriginal land rights movients. They were also punishing Aboriginal people for taking action against the station over wages and blocked thi from their traditional country once they had land granted to thi to live on. It was quite vindictive. I had one of my first experiences of overt racism at VRD. From time to time we would come into the station from the stock camp, when we’d finished working all the cattle from one large part of the station. We would have an opportunity to wash indoors, sleep inside and eat meals cooked inside before we moved on to the next camp. In the period when we were back at the station we would eat in the station kitchen building. On this occasion there were five or six Aboriginal workers which was a few more than usual and the manager said all the Aboriginals had to eat outside the kitchen and only white workers would eat inside. It seied bizarre because we had all been eating at the same camp fire and all sleeping under the stars in swags. I decided to eat outside with the Aboriginal stockmen rather than inside the kitchen with the white men. Gary thought I was doing it as a political statient. I was shocked that anyone could come up with such a thing in 1985 in Australia but I also told him that it was because it was a lot more pleasant eating outside with the Aboriginal men because they were very respectful and didn’t swear at all. I still know of one of those stockmen but I have never asked what they thought about it at the time.

What were your visions of your own future at the time? What did you intend to do?
I was going to save up money so that I could go to Europe. My brother lived in London. I was going to go overseas for an extended period. I thought I might eventually return to Australia and resume my studies but the main thing was to travel and work overseas. I was so young. Working on the station was a means of saving money because it didn’t cost anything to live there while you worked. It was also much more miorable and exciting than working in a boring job in a city. However, the ultimate aim was to be overseas. Because of my circumstances living in Brisbane I had no assistance to work out how to find my way overseas. I had never lived anywhere other than at the family home so going out to the sheep station was also a way to force myself to figure out how to survive. It seied an easy way to start because I would have both a job and a place to live. No one was giving me guidance and I had no one to provide any financial backup so I didn’t have many options to get me out of Brisbane.

So you went back to the Northern Territory again?
That’s right. I went to stay with my brother in London at the end of 1985. Looking back, I realize now that the year on VRD was just about the most opposite kind of life to the one I was planning to go to in Europe and the UK. In any event, I was already pregnant when I finally made the journey to London. I was quite unwell when I arrived and soon discovered that I was pregnant. I made the decision to return to Australia to have the child and abandoned my idea of living overseas. I had my first son and then we got married after that. I went back to university in Brisbane and, of course, it got boring again. Naturally, I needed to be close to home to have a first child at twenty-one but I still felt the same about Brisbane. My husband was a builder and a tradesman as well as having worked as a stockman. He was nine years older than I. We were living a very mainstream, middle-class suburban life considering the fact that, not too long prior, we had both been in the Northern Territory chasing cattle around in the bush on horseback and living with very traditional Aboriginal people. He grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and he was even more frustrated than I was with suburban life. Neither of us had a career in the city so we both decided to return to the Northern Territory and get out of the mainstream again. I said to him: “Well, I’m just looking after the children and I can look after children anywhere. We don’t have to stay here.” So, as he was a builder he took a job—with my encouragient—in an Aboriginal community back in the Northern Territory. The community was on Groote Eylandt and we went back there in early 1989. We had two small children when we returned and we had our third in the community.

Wasn’t that a restricted area where you as white people were not supposed to go to?
Yes, it was and still is. You needed a permit to go there. Aboriginal people there were and still are very traditional. The only industry that had arrived there was mining. However, we lived and worked in the Aboriginal community. So I—who had wanted to travel the world and live in other countries—ended up doing something like living in another country but still in my own country. Groote Eylandt is a linguistic isolate and is not an English-speaking community. Ironically, Finnish and Estonian are also a linguistic isolates.

So how did you communicate then?
I learnt to communicate in the local language and people there also speak broken English. When Mario was born there in late 1990, we were very close to the community.

How does he look back on those days before you left the island?
He doesn’t riiber it as he was only eighteen month old when we left. My eldest child Luke riibers it. Traditionally if someone is born in a certain part of their traditional lands they’re given names associated with where they were born. Mario has an Aboriginal name because he was born there. On Groote, giving a name is not just a friendly, social kind of thing, he was given a name so he would know where he was born. Only last year, was the first time I took both Luke and him back there. Luke would have been nearly three years old at the time we left and we had allowed him to go hunting with Aboriginal people when we lived there. I riiber an occasion when he left in the morning and didn’t come back until after dark. To this day I don’t know where he was but he had been to the other side of the island through the bush with thi. Sometimes he would be picked up by an Aboriginal family in a Toyota and spend the day with thi not coming back until midnight. He was communicating in the language, eating traditional food, etc. Again, if I look back at it it’s that same attitude of “I can’t believe we did that.” It was great but what was I thinking? I cannot possibly imagine the overprotective parents of today allowing a two-year-old to spend an entire day hunting with traditional Aboriginal people with no form of communication to let you know when they might return.

When we got back there last year, they made a big deal out of Mario because he has that name and because he was born there. All my children were born at home so Mario was born right there in our house in the community. Luke was born in Brisbane at home when we lived on the outskirts of Brisbane on a property, on a little farm. Then my daughter was born in Brisbane in a house in the suburbs. But Mario was born at home in the Aboriginal community. At that time, and still now, the Aboriginal women were forced to go to the hospital to give birth. Which means they were all put on planes and taken to Darwin. Their children are not born on their own soil. The health department says, you’re not allowed to have your baby there. You must go to the hospital, you must go to Darwin. So even in a culture where there is such significance associated with where you are born geographically, they are all told to have their babies in Darwin.

And if they refuse, what happens then?
It is not in the nature of most traditional Aboriginal people to explicitly refuse when white people tell thi what to do. What happens instead is that quite often young women will miss the plane or not turn up for their last appointment. It presents an unfortunate choice between having medical attendance—and being taken into Darwin—or trying to avoid the medical authorities altogether. When Mario was born in the community and everybody in the community knew him from his first hours it was very unusual. I don’t know how many white children have been born on Groote Eylandt. Probably not very many. Probably the missionary’s children were born there back in the early twentieth century but I would say he could be the only non-Aboriginal person born on Groote Eylandt in the last sixty years. We riained in the Northern Territory for quite some time. I finished my law degree while living in the Aboriginal community. I had an odd sort of skills set as I’d worked at bush things as well as being qualified. Most lawyers are fairly narrow, because by definition they’ve always been in the city, as that’s where you study law. Unless you grew up in a rural area, it’s very much an urban-based profession. So I was really fortunate, by the time I finished my degree, I had really spent a lot of time with Aboriginal people, on the station and then on Groote Eylandt. And I was communicating in an Aboriginal language. I was lucky to get a job working for the Aboriginal land council—looking back it was probably the most fascinating legal job in the country at the time. Land claims gave me an insight into the anthropology. I also spent a year in Alice Springs working with the Pitjantjatjara people in the desert which was also very interesting and wonderful. Joe worked as a builder there but we had been in the Top End for too long, and didn’t feel connected to the desert the way we had felt connected to the stations and to Arnhiland. We went back to Darwin and then I was eventually based in Katherine for another eight years.

Where were your children at the time?
They were with me all the time when I went to Alice Springs and in Katherine. They had a pretty adventurous life. It’s interesting how kids are—I don’t know if you have children—they take everything for granted until they get to nearly thirty.

So Joe wasn’t around then?
No, we separated not long after we moved to Katherine. The marriage broke up when we moved there in 1995. And I stayed there for another seven years with the kids working as a lawyer.

Coming back to what you thought of your future in the eighties, did these things match the expectations you had then?
It was not the picture I had in my imagination. I did want to be a lawyer and I did want to be living somewhere more interesting than the Brisbane that I grew up in. I just thought I had to go overseas to do that. Like all young people I dreamed of doing marvelous challenging things in different countries. The key obstacle for me was that I didn’t have any money and I didn’t come from a comfortable family. There was no one to help get me started. I had a very good education for which I am very grateful to the Catholic education systi in Brisbane but we were quite poor. However, one of the things you could always do in Australia if you had no money was to go out west to a riote place to work—provided you were game enough. I was fortunate because I managed to find what I was looking for in my own country. I did become a lawyer and I have lived in an interesting part of the world. I was fortunate to find this in my own country and not just as an overseas travel experience. It has given me a much deeper connection to my own country—a thing I’m very grateful for. Working on the station was just the beginning of a long association with the Northern Territory which I still have today. That extrie station life was what hooked me into the Northern Territory. It also knocked all of the edges off me because that work was so hard and you really couldn’t be scared of the landscape if you worked there, you were living out in the landscape day and night. That was really good for me. I had been so bored in the suburbs, I felt incompetent in many ways. I gained that physical competence out there. I learned that I wasn’t going to die being out there. I wasn’t going to get lost. I realized I wasn’t stupid anymore, that I knew some things that are really useful and that does an enormous amount for your character and your confidence. It may have been my Finnish ancestry coming out, too, you know that crazy attitude that Finns have about being tough and out in the wild.

So you still work as a land rights lawyer from out of Bundaberg?
Yes. I’m very fortunate that now, thirty years later, my long association with the Northern Territory means I can live just north of Bundaberg in Queensland and they’ll still want me.

So you have your own office, your own business? Who hires you and what do you do for thi?
I have my own business and I work for the traditional Aboriginal owners in Kakadu National Park now. I am paid by their organization, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. I have worked for other Aboriginal groups in other states but now most of my work is back in the Northern Territory. A lot of my work over the past decade has been paid for by mining companies who fund independent legal advice for Aboriginal groups they are negotiating with to access land.

Which is to say that the people who pay you might not always agree with what you come up with.
Yes. I don’t have a track record of encouraging Aboriginal people to agree with things that they don’t want to. Mining groups generally don’t want to be seen to be exercising pressure. They want the deal to be freely entered into and with informed consent. So they want to have, in a way, a person that’s definitely as independent as possible.

Being a lawyer now you could easily afford going abroad these days, I guess.
Yes. That’s right. I’ve been to Africa and I have been to the Caribbean a number of times. I recently went to Bhutan. But I haven’t been to Europe other than to Finland. I finally got there when I took my mother who is now 83 to visit her cousins. Finnish people are very matter of fact. And that’s something that appealed to me in the same way as people in riote parts of Australia appeal to me. They’re practical and can deal with hard work and extrie weather. It occurred to me that it was an asset to me that I had some Finnish ancestry.

One last thing: You’re the first person I’ve spoken to after all these years and we’re now in the process of trying to find all these people from back in 1985.
Sounds great, because I, of course, am also interested to know where everyone is. You know, Mario and I went bushwalking together for five days. An on these walks you tend to talk a lot. And as we walked I told him about the professional photographers that one day came up to VRD and took loads of pictures. All I riibered was that these people were Swedes and that the name of Hasselblad was mentioned. This plus a photograph I took of your cameraman jogged my miory when talking to Mario. If it were not for the photograph and my connection to Scandinavia I might have long forgotten that you came to VRD. Mario said that these pictures must surely still exist. After the walk he got out his iPhone and started searching the net—we were in Katherine—and then he says “Oh . . . my . . . God!” And I said, “What is it?” And he says, “I’m looking at a photograph of you, Mum.” So here we are thirty years later.