Covered in red dust, a little sunburned, and chock full of great desert photos and experiences, Rob has just got back from Kiwirrkurra Bush Blitz, a two-week Federal Department of Environment biodiversity survey in remote Western Australia.
Kiwirrkurra is an Indigenous Protected Area of 180 people, keeping alive the Pintupi language and traditional skills of living on country, 800km west of Alice Springs. The traditional owners hosted the Blitz visit of 27 scientists and support crew and a French film unit doing a series on deserts. Kiwirkurra is the heart of the most undersampled region in Australia, according to CSIRO's modelling.
This was Rob's fourth Bush Blitz, each one for two weeks in remote places, all catered, all expenses paid, plus fee. Previously he has been to Fish River NT, Henbury Station NT, and Home Valley in the Kimberley. Rob's job was threefold:
- to assist as a member of the Queensland Museum arachnology team, setting and collecting pitfall traps across the desert, mostly by helicopter, some by road
- to photograph the specimens collected by the botanical, insect, snail, spider and vertebrate teams
- to video the scientists and the local community learning from each other and make a film to celebrate the trip with the locals
Rob says this one was "the best ever". He got to hunt Parenti (giant lizard, called Ngintaka in Pintupi) with the ladies, filmed it and showed the film to hoots and hollers from the whole community.
It was an experience of a lifetime: seeing salt lakes from the air, finding previously undiscovered fresh water lakes, miles of spinifex and red sand, scarey fire fronts, and lots of new species. The desert is not without life -- quite the opposite. It's just very different.
Just a few of over 1000 photos Rob gathered on the trip are showing in the slideshow at the top of the page.
(Australia's Bush Blitz species discovery program is jointly funded by the Australian Government and BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities.)