The northwest region of Western Australia, or WA as the Aussies call it, feels like the Australia of pop culture imagination: red dirt and flat, empty horizons, with a constant stream of sun. When I lived in Australia I spent a couple weeks and around 4,000 kilometers driving and camping down the West coast of WA. For the entire journey there was a parade of ants coming in and out of the vents on the dashboard of our rental car, the outside of which was covered in red dust (and some of the inside too).
Warning signs on the highway alert drivers that the next gas station is a few hours drive ahead and to watch out for stray cattle standing in the road.
Road trains, semis with three to four 2-story-tall trailers hitched on the back, barrel past and then an hour might pass before another vehicle appears on the horizon.
Painting and hiking in Australia is different, and it’s not just the light. Everything has the potential to kill you, but mostly it’s the tiniest creatures. Being observant of your surroundings takes on a different meaning.
While painting the termite mounds at Karijini National Park I wondered: how many live inside one mound? Termites are social creatures and one colony can include several million. They have an organized social structure and the queen of the colony is one of the longest living insects in the world, with a lifespan of up to 50 years.
Karijini has a long history both natural and human, and yet for a traveler it feels undiscovered. The park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama, and Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. Evidence of their early occupation dates back more than 20,000 years.
Termite Mounds, Karijini National Park Western AU captures one moment in time in this singular place.
Australian Natural Museum
Parks and Wildlife Service