Edwina Robertson photographs love and all that comes with it.
Earlier this month she drove 1000km (600 miles) from her home in Goodiwindi on the New South Wales-Queensland border to Blackall, population 1500, in outback Queensland for the wedding of Ingrid Wood, 26, and Ross Uebergang, 30.
The pair met at the Brisbane Ekka, three years ago. Ross was captivated but lost track of Ingrid in the busy rural show and at the end the night, he decided to cut his losses and head to Maccas, only to bump into Ingrid waiting in the taxi line. She decided to join him. And the rest is now a history together.
But Queensland’s outback hasn’t been kind to the Wood family. Much of the state is gripped by relentless drought. Ingrid lost her father in an accident on the farm six years ago. Her mum runs the property. As the winter dry set in, they sold off all the sheep. A fortnight ago, just before the wedding, they sold the last 400 head of cattle, destocking the 16,000 hectare property completely, because the cost of bringing in feed didn’t stack up. It’s left the Woods without an income.
But amid that hardship, there was something to celebrate and Robertson was there to record it.
Originally from Glen Innes, a small town on the New England highway in central west NSW, Robertson’s used to harsh conditions, but even she was shocked by ravages drought has brought to the region.
“It was such a bittersweet week,” she told Business Insider. “They’re such resilient people.”
She spent a few days with the families, capturing the wedding with a poignancy that tells the story of outback Australia and phoenix-like power of love. It was a moment that gave a small town a reason to cheer and kick up its heels instead of just dust.
But Robertson also wanted to do something more. So on Monday night, when posting some of the wedding photos on Facebook, as she always does, she picked one out and said that she’d donate $3 to a local charity for every share.
The photo was taken about 5.30pm on the bare, brown earth of the Blackall cricket ground. It’s a slightly apocalyptic image, the dust rising in the background as Ingrid and Ross, holding hands, walk towards the camera with the bridal party. A bloke in a ute, known as “the hoon”, may have assisted with the atmosphere.
“They still play cricket there!” Robertson said. “I thought strike while the iron’s hot. I really wanted make people aware of the current situation and how bad the situation was.”
She thought she’d be up for $600. Within two hours the photo had been shared 800 times. In just 24 hours, she was both $15,000 better and poorer for it, attracting 5000 shares.
“It’s pretty crazy and fabulous too. I never expected this,” she said. I was having heart palpitations. I thought oh-my-god, I’m going to have to get mortgage to pay for this.”
Robertson’s donation is going to an organisation in Goodiwindi raising awareness about dealing with mental health and depression in rural communities. Tie up the Black Dog was established by three local women in 2007, when the state was in the grip of an earlier drought.
“I wanted to choose to charity that would give back to rural communities. They have no overheads, no staff and no one takes home a salary. Every forum and event is organised on donated time by these magnificent ladies,” Robertson said.
The viral power of the photo has continued and now she’s decided to harness that, starting a crowd-funding campaign that hopes to raise $50,000 for Tie up the Black Dog. It launched 48 hours ago and has already raised $28,000 towards its target.
Robertson is amazed: “It’s for the best cause”.
And in her own simple way, she’s shown that love can indeed change the world.
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