Tuesday, 22 July 2003
2/F Sports House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay Drinks 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
Dangerous and forbidding even today, in the midnineteenth century central Australia was still more daunting. To Europeans the region was unknown indeed, profound mystery was associated with the continent. Some foretold the existence of an "inland sea", others were certain that only waterless deserts would be found. Three explorers, more than any others, answered the call to reveal this mystery by crossing the continent from south to north. In full measure each had courage and resolve. And each had superb bush skills, allowing them to survive where any others would long before have perished. Yet in other ways the three Edward Eyre, Charles Sturt, John McDouall Stuart were utterly different. One was a romantic adventurer; one a previously great explorer now driven by obsessive belief; and the third dogged, pragmatic and willed to succeed. Their expeditions were amongst the greatest and, in different ways, the most harrowing in the European exploration of Australia. Eyre headed inland then paradoxically, heroically, marched around the south coast in 184041. Sturt pushed much farther inland, taking with him a longboat for his inland sea in 184446. McDouall Stuart, who went with Sturt in 184446, finally succeeded in crossing the continent during three gruelling expeditions between 186062 bringing lasting discoveries, great achievement and personal suffering. Between 1984 and 1988, Edward Stokes completed three books recounting the expeditions of these explorers. Based on his own expeditions retracing their journeys across Australia, the books combine dramatic images of central Australia's arid regions and narratives drawing on the explorers' writings ( and in the case of Sturt his original field journal, first brought to light by Stokes). In this exciting lecture, set in the context of the explorers' journeys and the harsh beautiful landscapes they traversed, Mr. Stokes will reflect on his own experiences the challenges of 4WD travelling and photographing in central Australia, and the process of interpreting and narrating exploits from the past. Edward Stokes is Hong Kong's bestknown nature photographer and author of books on Hong Kong's natural landscape. Mr. Stokes has lectured worldwide, including to the RGS in London and Hong Kong. Six years ago he established the Hongkong Conservation Photography Foundation which, primarily using photos in its conservation books and other publications, seeks to raise conservation and nature awareness. As Mr. Stokes will describe in his lecture on the Australian explorers, the photographic approach he refined on those journeys using images to "narrate the landscape" inspired his work here in Hong Kong. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture. Tickets are available at the door at HK$50 for Members, HK$100 for Guests of Members and HK$150 for other attendees.