A Photographic Case Study of the Cape Range Bioregion of Northwest Australia


In Australia, as with much of the world, landscape photography has played a significant role in raising awareness of human impact on the environment. For the most part this awareness raises questions of conserving and preserving the natural world. Landscape photography commonly depicts environmental issues in one of two ways: the damaging effects of humanity’s mastery over the environment; and the wonder of nature in sublime, picturesque or beautiful tableau. In effect, the messages sent by landscape photography are singular, describing either nature, or culture.


But despite this rather narrow tendency, landscape photography could be used to offer a far more complete depiction of the environment, one that focuses in on all the major landscapes of a particular region. With the intention of developing more sustainable viewpoints concerning humanity’s relationships with the land, this is a call for focus on the nature and the culture within bioregions, the developed and undeveloped, the pristine and the ruined.


Straight Lines is a photographic case study approached in just this way. By comprehensively investigating all the major landscapes of the Cape Range sub-bioregion in Northwest Australia, more even-handed and complete photographic portrayal of a place has been achieved. From the tourist destinations of the Cape Range National Park and UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, to the built landscapes of the town of Exmouth and the military industrial wasteland of the Harold E. Holt communications base, the aim of this study is to provide a fairer photographic picture of how local inhabitants interact with their bioregions. Simply, this project captures the influence people have on the Cape, and the influence the Cape has on contemporary local culture.