Coulton's Country: Reflections

To be honest it has been the best five years of my working life!

BACK in July Fairfax Media presented me a plaque “in appreciation of five years of service”.

To be honest it has been the best five years of my working life! If someone had informed me back when I first went for my interview that not only would I get the job but I would still love it five years later I think I would have laughed at them. However looking back now it was the best decision I ever made and there have been no regrets.

This picture from back in 2010 near Warwick is still one of my favourite sheep pictures. I like how they are all looking towards the camera and how the rusty old rails blend into the countryside and are used to give it a border. Click on the images throughout this blog to view the photo gallery.

How many people can honestly say they love what they do?

The old saying goes that if you “choose a job you love, you will never work a day in your life”. Truer words have never been spoken.

While travelling throughout many parts of Queensland I have seen some spectacular places, and yet a few have been a little stranger than the norm. Have you ever been driving along and slowly the road turns into a narrow goats track and suddenly the opportunity to turn around has gone and you wonder if you are ever going to make it out alive? Then the GPS voice repeatedly tells you to turn left, looking left you see a rocky gully and think ‘not on your nelly!’ Yep, it’s happened more than once.

What an adventurous trip this one was! So much fun was had back in October 2009 cruising along dirt roads and building friendships with each passing kilometre. Travelling with the Angel Flight Outback Trailblazer we covered areas including Barcaldine, Windorah, Longreach and Muttaburra.

With every job comes the ability to give clear directions on how to get to their place. A few memorable moments have been where people given me instructions via a mud map or voiced key points. Both have had challenging aspects.

With key points I have found myself writing numerous dots and then realising I have only just left town and with mud maps the size of the drawing does not necessarily represent the distance between landmarks. Another fatal error.

What you were led to believe would take approximately an hour turns into an epic drive with the person finally telling you when you arrive (as the sun is quickly sinking into the horizon) that they don’t understand distance and time.

These along with other memorable travelling moments have made up a large part of my time with QCL. With approximately 2000 days working as a photographer, I would be lying if I said it had been all roses. Covering the Angel Flight Outback Trailblazer and the Stock Up For Hope cattle drove were two adventures I will treasure forever. Having the opportunity to get back outback was a real treat especially when getting back in the saddle or ticking off a bucket list item.

Lots of great memories are flooding back from this experience. I had not been on a horse for many years and to be able to get back in the saddle and work with cattle again was something I will never forget. What a memorable time it was.

With every up there seems to be some down times and one of those was meeting those affected by the floods and capturing the damage that was left behind. Speaking to people about their losses was hard yet finding those positive stories was uplifting and inspiring.

More recently (earlier this year) I went back to a Darling Downs farmer whose young rams had been attacked by wild dogs the night before. It was one of the hardest jobs I believe I have ever done and sadly farmers have to deal with this regularly. My heart broke for the farmer and my gut churned for the poor sheep.

To see the fear, terror and pain in their eyes was nearly too much to bear. But a picture tells a thousand words and with that the farmer and I decided the story needed to be told. These “mongrels” are not killing for food they are killing for fun and the sooner people get involved and support our farmers and their livestock the better off everyone will be. (Apologies for the little rant – I can still see the fear in the eyes of those poor sheep, the pain in every step they took before they were put out of their misery).

Peter Hood, Pittsworth, contacted me only hours after we had been discussing wild dog attacks in the area. He informed me that his six-month-old Texel rams had been attacked and asked if I was interested in showing this side of the story before he put them out of their misery. I was already on my way back past his place when we decided that as heart-wrenching as it was the story needed to be told.

I have photographed many interesting people, locations, animals, crops and captured many special candid moments. It has been a whirlwind of a ride and since creating Coulton’s Country I have loved sharing more of my experiences and pictures with you.

So with that and it being the end of 2014 I thought it may be appropriate to look back on the past five and a half years. I hope you like these pictures and continue following my adventures into 2015.

This photo of these four lovely people has seen the rounds over the years, especially when it comes to the Bush Bachelor and Bachelorette competitions. It is still a catchy photograph and was one of my favourites from covering the Gympie Music Muster.

Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year. May 2015 be full of memorable moments, love and happiness for all.

Until then Happy Snapping!

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Coultons CountryQueensland Country Life photographer Sarah Coulton shows you a glimpse of rural Queensland from behind the lens.


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