Riding shotgun with an outback truckie
SHE once had a fear of heights, but now Kiara Hewton has no problem standing on the top deck of a Kenworth roadtrain to take a photo.
The 27-year-old amateur photographer has conquered her fear with the love of capturing the perfect shot.
Kiara has been travelling with her partner, a cattle truck driver working across the outback in the Kimberley, Northern Territory and Queensland, off and on for a few years, taking stunning snaps and writing stories along the way.
She shares her journey on the rural blog Following the Cattle Carter.
Facebook users seem to be enjoying the ride, as more than 4500 people have liked her site.
The Rural Weekly caught up with Kiara to talk about her blog, life on the road and why she enjoys photographing the bush.
Why are on you on the road with a cattle carter?
As our work took us all over the nation and I was studying remotely it was easier for me to travel along with him. Over the past 12 months to two years I have unfortunately been travelling less due to other commitments but do get to jump in occasionally for a spin somewhere.
What's the longest journey you have made with a truckload of cattle?
My longest trip would have to be from Mt Isa in Queensland right through to Perth in Western Australia.
What's the make and model of the truck you travel in?
Over the years we have been behind the wheel of a Kenworth T909 and T950.
What prompted you to start your blog?
I started taking some really good shots and people from all over were interested in the life I was living so I decided to share it in this format.
You have grown a substantial following. Why do you think so many people are interested in your photos and stories?
This is such a hard question. I like to think people are generally interested in the life that people in the pastoral industry live. It's so different to what is generally out there and the scale on which things are done amazed a great deal of people - big herds of cattle, helicopters, big trucks, and vast areas of land that cover some of Australia's most amazing landscapes. The north of Australia is still a mystery to many Australian people and I just love showing off something I am so privileged to be a part of.
How long have you been taking photos? When did you start?
I've only been shooting photos for about five years, and it was all self-taught - lots of crappy shots and learning about where to stand and how to use the light and all sorts or other smaller details. I only shoot in natural light so no flashes at all.
I love the pictures you have taken from the top deck of the truck looking down.
Is that scary for you ? Or have you never had a fear of heights or balancing on moving objects?
Funny you ask. Yes, I did once have a fear of heights. Mainly on unstable objects. Unfortunately, in this industry not many people are sympathetic to the cause so when someone shouts "get up there" you have to just get up there! I got better the more I did it. One particular day, taking one of those shots I nearly got flicked off by a sudden gust of wind. The industry certainly pushes you out of your comfort zone. But it's for the better.
Are most folks patient when you are taking your images?
Yes, most people are fine I normally just float about with my camera while the trucks are being loaded. Sometimes I'm in the way and get yelled at but that's the risk I have to take to get a great shot. I never show anyone my images until I get them onto the computer. It adds to the suspense.
In another one of your posts you explained a little bit about the life of a cattle truck driver - that they set off to work after loading cattle when the people on the station probably knock off.
What are your usual working hours like?
Carting cattle is a hard job and it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It's one thing to be able to drive a truck but you must have a love for the industry and for the animals you are working with. The hours worked are generally what is required to get those cattle from A to B as safely and efficiently as possible. Most drivers will do what it takes to get it done.
What do you enjoy about life on the road?
I love meeting new people, but most of all I love seeing the country change through the seasons, seeing calves playing around their mums and the love that comes with the industry as a whole. Waking up in one place and heading to bed in another - it is amazing.
What's something that you have learnt while being on the road?
When things get tough, and it's late in the season and everyone is sore and tired… we just keep going. Till the job is done.
What sort of music do you listen to while in the truck?
I personally go for anything country; I don't really care, I'll sing out all day long… or at least until he turns it off because I've hurt his ears too much for the day.
Is there anything you would like to add?
It is an amazing industry, I love every second of my time within it and do not plan on leaving any time soon. There is nothing more beautiful than our outstanding landscapes, and I just love working with cattle.