Event Detail


Exploring Australia

Ed Stokes
Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011
Auditorium, 1/F, Duke of Windsor Social Services Building, 15 Hennessy Road, Wanchai
Australian born photographer and writer Edward Stokes grew up in Hong Kong, and came to love its natural setting. since 1993 he has been based in the territory. This time however he will talk to us about his exploration of his native Australia.

RGS HK members HK$100 Non members HK$150. Tickets available on the night only, no advance reservation required.

Drinks (soft dinks only permitted, cash bar) from 6.30pm lecture starts 7.30pm

Edward Stokes speak son "Exploring Australia: Across Australia in the Footsteps of the Great Explorers ", based on the three greatest Australian explorers, Edward Eyre, Charles Sturt and John McDouall Stuart, who ventured first into central Australia in the mid 19th Century. During the 1980s, Mr Stokes retraced their steps through a series of lengthy and unforgiving expeditions to Australia's wildest corners. A highlight of this lecture is his famous photography.

Dangerous and forbidding even today, in the midnineteenth century central Australia was yet more daunting. To Europeans the region was totally unknown. Some believed that an "inland sea " existed there. Others were certain that only waterless tracts would be found.

Three explorers, more than any others, answered the call to reveal this mystery by seeking to cross the continent from south to north; each had courage and resolve in full measure. Each had superb bush skills, so allowing them to survive where any others would long before have perished. Yet in other ways the three were utterly different. Eyre was a romantic adventurer; and Sturt, once a great explorer, now was driven by obsessive topographical visions. Stuart was dogged and pragmatic: willed to succeed, where Eyre and Sturt had failed.

Their expeditions were amongst the greatest in the European exploration of Australia. Eyre went inland in 1840, but then quixotically marched around the south coast. In 1844–46 Sturt pushed farther inland, with bullocks hauling a longboat for navigating his "inland sea ". McDouall Stuart finally succeeded, crossing the continent in three rapid, gruelling horseback expeditions between 1860 and 1862.

During the 1980s, Ed Stokes completed three books recounting the expeditions: The Desert Coast; To the Inland Sea; and Across the Centre. Based on his own expeditions retracing the explorers' routes, and taking a fresh approach at portraying exploration journeys, the books were highly praised for their images of central Australia's arid regions linked to narratives drawing on the explorers' writings.

In this lecture, set in the context of the harsh yet beautiful landscapes the explorers traversed, Mr Stokes reflects on his own experiences there – and on the "fearful joy " of photographing in central Australia.

Edward Stokes hails from Australia and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. He came to Hong Kong in 1993 to work on projects about the natural landscape. He is now a wellknown photographer and writer. He established the Hong Kong Conservation Photography Foundation in 1997 to raise environmental and conservation awareness in Hong Kong. His first book was Hong Kong's Wild Places, a highly regarded, evocative portrayal of the evolution of the natural landscape, describing the interplay between 'man and land'. His other books each explore a different part of the territory. He is Founder Director of The Photographic Heritage Foundation, a notforprofit publisher that focuses on heritage and nature publications. He is also the author of Hong Kong As It Was. Edward Stokes is also the photographer/author of several books on the natural landscape and environment and history, of Australia. He has lectured worldwide, including to the RGS in London and Hong Kong and appears regularly in many other media.

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