Bruce Rock, Wheatbelt WA
We rolled into Bruce Rock a week ago with no plan, just as the Wheatbelt’s long dry spell was broken by a heavy downpour and storm. The sleepy town centre has a row of maybe a dozen shops on one side - one shop is a cafe, as well as the butchers and the bakery. On the other side is a big lay-by separated from the road by a nature strip, and, bizarrely for a town with a population of only 700, a dual-carriageway with a 60km speed limit runs down the middle. We’re told this dates back to the days when sandalwood was harvested in vast quantities, and room was needed for the horses and carts to turn around.
While Steve went in search of an auto-electrician, I took shelter from the rain in the community craft shop where I found Veronica behind the counter, crocheting a blanket. She was up for a chat and full of local info. Between showers I ventured next door to the post office, and again got chatting. I explained I was looking for interesting older folk to photograph; the post master asked if I’d met the Bruce Rock photographers, De and Leigh Strange of Strange Images Photography. I hadn’t, but back in the car I googled them and found their website. Two minutes later my phone rang. It was De. We were mutually excited at the prospect of hanging out and she invited us to camp on their broad-acre farm 15 minutes out of town.
Once we’d set up camp, I accompanied De, camera in hand, to the Bruce Rock TAFE for her weekly art class with artist and teacher Robert McCaffrey. Larger the life and clearly with stories to share, I arranged to catch up with him at his home over the weekend to take some photographs.
It’s often the way in country towns that you do whatever you need to do to earn a living. De’s a self confessed ‘shape shifter’ - she works on the farm, runs a photography business with her husband Leigh, does her TAFE art classes and is Mum to three beautiful boys. Plus she has a hairdressing salon based at home. She was expecting three elderly ladies the next morning for their six-weekly hair-do and thought I might like to meet them. I was delighted to discover that one of these ladies was Veronica from the craft shop. She’s the designated driver for her two friends Katrina and Judith. With hair freshly trimmed and blow-dried it wasn’t hard to convince them to let me photograph them that afternoon. Portraits of these three lovely ladies, along with the photos from our day spent with Robert are in separate blog posts. Also to come is the family portrait session I did with De. But for now, as we prepare to head north to Mukinbudin, here’s a handful of other photos from our week in Bruce Rock.