The Australian Outback's Largest Cattle Stations

Professional Photography, Writing, Books, Workshops, Farm tours

Let me take you on a journey around Australia's largest and most remote outback cattle stations.  The largest cattle stations ('ranches') in the world.

Vast properties so large some are almost the size of small countries, yet most are inhabited by just a few people. Due to the distance between these stations and cities and because they are not open to the public, few people know much about them.

I'm a professional photographer who has always concentrated on agriculture, and for more than thirty years I have specialised in documenting life on these stations and bringing it to a wider audience.

Why?

I've loved photography ever since I was given a small film camera when in primary school, more than forty years ago. But much as I love photographing beauty, rather than just bury the world in yet-more 'pretty pictures', I have only ever been interested in creating images that have a purpose and tell a story. A story intended to make a positive difference to the world. Photojournalism.

In 1984 when I stepped out of the single-engine Cessna that flew me to the first cattle station I worked on, I knew - here was my purpose.

Here was a culture as different from the wheat-sheep farm I grew up on as it was from city life.  This was frontier land, where development was relatively recent and career and ownership opportunities still abounded for the determined. But tucked away in sparsely populated regions, out of sight and out of mind - quietly producing good quality food, valuable export income and the type of witty characters that make Australia unique. Life on these stations is still very different from how most Australians live. And, unfortunately - despite my best efforts - sometimes negative stereotypes, misinformation and disrespect still appears online and in the media. So my job isn't finished yet!

In order to make this rural advocacy self-sustaining I commenced creating a multi-strand, entrepreneurial business, which has accidentally grown into quite a beast. And a unique beast, at that.

I began creating postcards featuring cattle station images for tourists driving across northern Australia through vast cattle stations. Because at that time the only outback postcards on offer featured saltwater crocodiles, green rolling hills and other completely irrelevant subjects. As other postcard producers sprung up in my wake I started a lifetime habit of looking for new gaps and moving to address them. I'm now one of Australia's few fully licenced female drone pilots (ReOC, RePL, AROC & night certified). I photograph other agricultural industries and sell images for commercial purposes; publish books, run workshops, arrange exhibitions, produce magazine features and lead farm tours. As I said, quite a beast - it can take a bit of managing.

A few years ago I was invited to run a farm tour for Quadrant Australia. Quadrant is Australia's largest farm tour company and a long-term customer of mine. I discovered that running a farm tour made great use of the unusual combination of skills I'd built up over several decades involved in agriculture (in every Australian state except Tassie). I was able to provide passengers an extra layer of unique experiences.  Such as conversation with a wide range of interesting ag locals I know and invite to dinner with us, and assisting passengers capture their own great images on their cameras, as we travel.  The next farm tour is the 'Paddock to Plate' farm tour of Ireland and the UK, in July-August.  if you would like to get to know the authentic side of the British Isles countryside, while in the company of a great group of Australian farmers (memorable conversations and a lot of laughter), then this is the tour for you.  More details on the 2018 Farm Tour page.

Outback books:

To date I've produced 3 books featuring more than 800 of the best photos I've taken on more than 60 of Australia's largest cattle stations. I can personally sign books for you if you would like me to, and mail them worldwide. Some of the photos in the books can be seen in the website header (top of this page); and the cover of the latest book is above.  Thousands of copies have sold and many buyers have generously taken the time to send me email messages saying what they think. Some of these fabulous messages can be seen on the Testimonials page.  These books are loved equally by people who have lived on cattle stations and by people who've only dreamed of life in the outback. You may find they are the best books you've ever bought, as others have.

I love hearing other people's stories - so if you'd like to, please don't forget to tell me a bit about yourself when you order - whether you order online or over the phone.

Purchase Australian Outback Photography Books Purchase Australian Outback Greeting Cards

Some career highlights to date:

  • One of the few artists to have had an exhibition opened by an Australian Governor-General
  • An ABC Television 'Landline' feature
  • The first Australian appointed to the 3 person panel judging the International Federation of Agricultural Journalist's 'Star Prize for Photography' (photos entered from more than 30 countries)
  • 2016 - Qld RIRDC 'Rural Women's Award' finalist, and my photo called 'Biggest Mobs - Longest Shadows' was a Head On Photo Festival finalist (& featured in the Weekend Australian magazine)
  • 2017 - Winner of the Qld Rural Press Club 'Social Media' award & Queensland Rural, Regional & Remote Women's Network 'RRR Storyteller' award
  • 2018 - Agrifutures Rural Women's Award - Rural Drone Academy project, finalist.
  • 2018 - Exhibition in the Embassy of Australia, Washington D.C; opened by Australia's Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey.  Fiona Lake Washington exhibition information.

Other milestones/some history:

  • 2017 - Obtained CASA's Remote Pilot Licence (now a licenced drone (UAV) operator). I've been taking aerial photographs since 1988; and love the freedom of drone photography.
  • 2013 - First worked on an overseas farm tour (taking photos in Ireland & the UK for Quadrant Australia; & produced a personal tour book for the passengers)
  • 2011 - The National Library of Australia included my website in 'Pandora', an ongoing project which records websites deemed to be of cultural significance, in perpetuity
  • 2009 & 2015 - Published second & third outback cattle station books
  • 2005 - First book published, featuring photos of Australia's largest outback cattle stations (I first approached book publishers in 1986)
  • 1999 - First solo art exhibition (Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast)
  • 1993 - Wrote & photographed first national magazine story
  • 1992 - Produced first postcards featuring cattle station photos (& sold them across northern outback Australia)
  • 1988 - Started taking photos from the air (as well as from horseback)
  • 1986 - Commenced working on a book of outback cattle station photos
  • 1982 - Started selling photos (I started taking photos on the farm I grew up on, in the 1970s).

About this website (& how do you find what you're looking for?)

  • This website broke new ground when it was created back in 2003 and it's a venerable antique, in online terms. At that time very few rural businesses had websites; Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Google Translate hadn't been invented; and blogs were still relatively new (and uncommon). The website is now a behemoth, with a truckload of information squirrelled away on more than 500 website and blog pages on remote Australian life, working on cattle stations and visiting the Australian outback - as well as comments on topical issues. 
  • Please use the sitemap and view the blog categories if you are having trouble finding what you are looking for.
  • One of my favourite parts of the website: the pages of translations for agricultural words and expressions in other languages.  These 'ag translation' summaries are still the only ones online.  Collating all this information took many weeks of research & these lists are still being expanded. 
  • Now there's also a lot of information on agriculture and Australian cattle stations included in my social media accounts. Particularly on Twitter; which is where many of my mobile phone travel photos and short videos end up.

Australia's largest outback cattle stations - in summary:

These vast outback stations (ranches) are spread right across the top half of the Australian continent - a sparsely settled remote region measuring more than 2,000km north to south and more than 3,000km from east to west.

Quite a few Australian cattle stations are more than 10,000 square kilometres (3,860 square miles) in size and run more than 20,000 cattle in average seasons.  Several now run more than 100,000 cattle.  Yet most northern outback stations still prefer to rely on stockhorses for walking mobs and on many, stockcamps are still usual for at least part of the year.

Many of the scenes and activities that I have taken photographs of over more than thirty years no longer exist. When I began, digital photography and social media did not exist. People in remote areas would have laughed if you told them one day they'd have television and internet services provided by satellite.  I have seen a lot of changes and what I do is unique - worldwide. These are topics I'm sometimes asked to cover in workshops & other public speaking engagements.

Social Media Accounts:

And less frequently used accounts:

Sometimes, I'm roaming around the countryside:

  • As this is a one-person business you receive personal service - but the office is closed when I'm travelling. 
  • This blog page lists the dates when the office will be closed and regions/events I am attending.
  • Don't hesitate to contact me (details below) if you have any queries regarding my outback books, cattle station photos, Australian greeting cards; commission work, photography workshops or farm tours. 

And please consider buying some of my outback books. You receive personable, memorable gifts for people who are hard to buy for, and the funds help me to continue the rural advocacy work I do. In particular, reaching the most vital audience - those who are least familiar with agriculture.

© Copyright Fiona Lake

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