The concept for this body of work was seeded during my first residency in 2013 in the Wheat belt Town of Beverley Western Australian and developed during a further Residency in March to April 2016.
I returned to Beverley for my second residency March to April 2016 with the view to explore the seasonal changes across the six traditional seasons and listen to the stories of local people about their River experiences. I would also begin to undertake study of the land use and water management practices and the aspects of the terrain and vegetation that were tied to the stories of the River.
The project in on going.
The town has a considerable history associated with the early colonization of the state and the Avon River is a major tributary feeding into the Swan River which reaches the sea near Fremantle. In present times the area is essentially a grain growing and sheep farming area approximately 130 kilometer east of Perth in Western Australia.
Before European settlement the River has been described as mostly fresh and teeming with animal and bird life. The river was a prime food source and a profound spiritual resource and remains part of a significant song line for the Ballardong people. Settlement in the early 1830’s introduced stock watering and domestic use, and pools became places for summer recreation.
The river now is in a very different condition, degraded by the cumulative impacts of settlement and efforts to engineer the flow and flood pattern with the River Training Scheme when the river bed and banks were bulldozed. There has also been and inflow of salt and sediment from agricultural practices .
The river might be called an upside down river as its source is not run off from mountain ranges. Instead it rises from the ancient underground river system which brings salt water to the surface. The river system relies of the rainfall to replenish and reduce salinity, so climate change may also be contributing.