Photographer travels Australia to find unsung heroes

THIS is a story about a girl, her dog and a big dream.

Toowoomba photographer Edwina Robertson first stole the world's eye with her impeccable skill in capturing the raw beauty of Australian country weddings.

Then she made hearts burst with her Rural Tribe series on families in the bush.

Now she is about to embark on a photography journey that is her most daring to date.

Called Wander of the West, Ms Robertson will travel to remote and rural communities around Australia to capture its people.

Edwina Robertson.
NEW ADVENTURE: Photographer Edwina Robertson will embark on a three-month journey to capture photos of Australia's unsung heroes. INSET: Primrose and Jock Sturrock from Drillham by Edwina Robertson. Grace Cobb

However, this is a tour with a twist. Her trip is solely dependent on the renowned generosity of those in the communities she visits from as far north as Katherine, west to Kununurra and south to South Australia.

"I feel there's a massive disconnection for people who live rurally to metropolitan areas," Ms Robertson said.

"These people pay the same amount of taxes and have the same amount of phone bills but the internet is poor, they don't have proper health services and even mail services can be disadvantaged.

"Yet many of these people do so much; they're the farmers who put food on tables and clothes on our backs."

Primrose and Jock Sturrock from Drillham in  Queensland
Primrose and Jock Sturrock from Drillham in Queensland Edwina Robertson

Ms Robertson said a lot of people in these remote areas had never had access to a professional photography service, yet had some of the best stories, places and faces to capture.

"Country people are known for their hospitality and generosity so why don't I try to highlight it by not taking any money?" she said.

Ms Robertson leaves in May next year for 92 days and will not take her credit card, a wad of notes nor a single cent.

She will rely on the people she visits to supply her with food, a bed and a tank of fuel.

If after then, they believe her services are worth more, they are invited to transfer her a payment amount at their discretion. With no set price on her services, the trip will run solely on goodwill.

Harriet (left) and Polly Bailey from Orange, New South Wales.
Harriet (left) and Polly Bailey from Orange, New South Wales. Edwina Robertson

It would not be a true-blue Aussie adventure without driving a Toyota FJ40 Cruiser.

Ms Robertson requires a vehicle that is reliable and kitted out to drive the 30,000 or so kilometres. She also requires a few tools like a satellite phone and UHF. All up, she will need about $30,000 to hit the road.

She has launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help get the trip under way.

When she returns, she will sell the car and donate that money and any collected from her tour to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Edwina Robertson's photo of a wedding in Blackall went viral and netted her nearly $15,000. 
Photo from Facebook
Edwina Robertson's photo of a wedding in Blackall went viral and netted her nearly $15,000. Photo from Facebook Edwina Robertson

The photographer extraordinaire was flung into the spotlight after her photo of a wedding party in drought-affected Central Queensland went viral in September last year.

Ms Robertson uses her new-found fame as a platform to create discussion and raise awareness for the issue she always cared about.

"I had a pretty decent profile before the viral photo but it gave me, dare I say, respect," she said.

"I have always shot country weddings but people then knew I was serious about giving back.

"I have a means with social media to reach a lot of people and I think that's like a voice for rural communities."

To see more of Edwina Robertson's work, click here or follow her on Instagram