Behind the image 30 August 2014

Sunset Char Fishers

This image was taken on the Yamuna river in Bangladesh. The river is known as the Tsangpo (Tibet), the Brahmaputra (India) and the Yamuna (Bangladesh).

As the sun sets, fishers return home with their catch.  These fishers live on chars, river islands that form by the depositing of silt collected as the river comes down from the Himalayas in Tibet. Whilst the river might give, in the form of deposits that become islands, the river also takes away, as erosion destroys chars and their inhabitants’ homes and livelihoods, regularly.

This means that families need to relocate – either to other chars or to other livelihoods. Their livelihood security is often, at best, fluid.

Many men will leave – to go to the cities in search of income, to look at Government programmes which can support them.  Of course, this in turn means that men leave their families in search of income. And this process isn’t only within chars – you see it happening across the Himalayas and elsewhere.

Those cycle-wallahs, who take you around Dhaka or elsewhere, have a back-story.  Life in the middle of the river, on a char, will be part of that for many.  Men who search for income opportunities in whatever way they can.

This image was taken as I was travelling to one of the chars to see the work of a non-government organisation that was bringing medical care to char populations. Their hospitals are ships, with operating theatres, health care professionals and consulting rooms. The ship stays in one place for a period of time, perhaps a few week or a few months, depending on what is needed, then casts off to go to another char, providing health care to other people.

 For me, this image is an image of rights – livelihoods by the char dweller, but also the role of the state to support people who inhabit the periphery of life both on the chars and their situations in the cities they migrate to.
 

Behind the image 14 June 2014

Himalaya Range PS 01Himalayan range, Uttarakhand, India.

To me, this image gives a real sense of scale.  You can see the middle ranges and their height at the bottom of the image. But these look positively small when compared to the peak above – approx 7800 metres in height (still 1000 metres – 1 km – less than Mt Everest).

This part of the Himalayas has great opportunities for walking and also for wildlife viewing, including possible sightings of the snow leopard.

 

Behind the image 31 May 2014

Mountain Creek Alpine National ParkThis is Mountain Creek, at Mountain Creek camping site, at the Bogong area of the Alpine National Park, northeast Victoria, Australia.  Here is the starting point for a classic walk which takes you up the Staircase Spur to the roof of Victoria – the top of Mt Bogong (1986m).

This is one of my favourite places – I’ve been coming here for years.  The thing about the Kiewa valley, where this is located, is the ways it’s reinvented itself with a thriving economy now based on recreation (walking, mountain-biking and skiing) and locally grown produce. It’s a living example of the ways conservation, national parks and LoST ideas can contribute to local economies, mosaics of land-uses and community resilience.

 

Two historic huts at Falls Creek: a quick walk

There are some nice walks to be had in the Victorian Alps High Plains joining up various historic huts.  Some of these huts were originally used by cattlemen who would bring their livestock up onto the plains in search of summer pastures.  Access to the Alpine National Park by drovers remains a political issue.  Cattle have been banned from the park for many years but now their are changes mooted to re-open some parts of the park to cattle again.

Other huts have been used by the development of hydro-power, such a central part of Australia’s post-World War II development path.  Still others have been used by ski-tourers.

Wallace's Hut

Wallace’s Hut

This short walk takes you to two huts – an original cattleman’s hut  (Wallace’s hut), and one which has been used for ski touring (Cope hut).  There is an easy track to follow.

You can begin this along the Bogong High Plains road – the track to Wallace’s hut is signposted at around 7.5 kms along the road from Rocky Valley.  Wallace’s is one of the original huts of the Victorian high plains.

After Wallace’s hut you can continue to Cope hut – one of the original ski-touring huts built in the 1920′s

Cope Hut

Cope Hut

The whole circuit will take around about 2-3 hours or so return.  You can find further information on the circuit here. It’s a nice and easy introduction to some of the history that has shaped, and continues to shape, the landscapes of the high plains.