Minjerribah
An Infrared Journey

Revered for its rich native culture and diverse array of unique ecosystems, North Stradbroke Island is a picturesque landmass off the East-Coast of Australia and currently one of Queensland’s leading tourists attractions. The true history of ‘Minjerribah’ (as it was called by the Quandamooka Aboriginals for over 20,000 years) however, stems farther back in time than we may ever know…

Developing a somewhat mythological bond with Minjerribah, Australian Musician, Kuya Howler’s desire to learn about the indigenous inhabitants; the Noonuccal & Gorenpul tribes, their stories of creation, and one of their untimely destruction has instilled him with an impeccable ‘sense of place’.

Just like infrared photography acts as a viewing portal to a transcendent plane of reality, Kuya uses his music to transport the listener to an era in time that has been lost and forgotten.

Together, we hope to conjure the atmosphere, feelings and purpose of the original custodians of this land.

As we travelled around Minjerribah to seemingly endless beaches, 7000-year-old lakes and freshwater springs, a deep feeling of kenopsia overcame me. With my eyes, I could see the present: Thriving landscapes abounding with wildlife, but there was an unmistakable absence.

I felt like I could almost tread the same footprints left by Aboriginal youth on a walkabout through the never-ending bush paths of a eucalyptus forests – My walking stick from a blackboy tree leaving a similar trail of dimples in the sand…

Tuning into the coastal ambiance, I could hear the percussion of a dance routine and the rhythmic stamping of bare feet on a weathered seaside outcropping that once entertained such ceremonial congregations…

The arrival of European settlers in Australia just over 200 years ago represents nothing more than a blip in the chronology of human existence. Yet in that same time period, they managed to eradicate a 50,000-year-old culture leaving virtually no trace of their existence.

Kenopsia

n. The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows

The muted strumming of Kuya Howler’s submerged guitar resonates throughout the 7000-year-old waters of Blue Lake. A layer of dead vegetation on the lake bed forms an impermeable layer that has retained this body of water for several millennia. This sacred place is known to the Quandamooka Aboriginal people as ‘Karboora’, meaning ‘deep, silent pool’.

This journey was documented in the perspective-shattering spectrum of near-infrared light in part to highlight the fragility of such ecosystems to destructive practices currently taking place on the island, such as sand mining.

Infrared photography was initially developed as a tool to assess vegetative health as chlorophyll found in plants is a strong reflector of this particular spectrum of electromagnetic energy.

While Blue Lake currently remains in a pristine condition as indicated by the luminous leaves, experts are already finding evidence of irreversible damage to this unique ecosystem as a direct result of Sibelco‘s nearby Yarraman mine.

Kuya Howler walks through Myora Springs, a unique wetland environment where the flow of an inland freshwater spring meets the salty Pacific Ocean in a lush mangrove swamp.

A sacred camping/gathering spot since time immemorial for the Quandamooka Aboriginal people, a diverse array of unique plant-life and native Australian animals can be found here.

Listening closely, you can almost hear the muffled discussions of indigenous women cooling off in the brackish water pierced by the squeals of their children trying to catch mudskippers around the mangrove roots…

Glowing white trees vividly articulate the ancient Aboriginal abstract notion of spiritual energy, while deeply detailed skies evoke the ethereal atmosphere of Dream-time lore. Even though Kuya may appear to traverse a phantasmal realm, what you see before you is, in fact, a scientifically accurate depiction of reality.

Visible light is the name we’ve given to the mere 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum we are able to perceive with our eyes. It encompasses every shade of every sunset, sunrise and season you could possibly see. Using a specially modified DSLR that is able to capture light in the infrared spectrum, we are offered a glimpse into a surreal version of reality that exists beyond the limits of human vision.

We Are Going

“The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.”Oodgeroo Noonuccal