Getting Lost | Wing Leung

How I managed to nearly get bitten by a bush snake, hiked 14km with Elijah carrying a pelican case full of 4x5 gear with 300ml of water. Only to be saved by an Australian version of Keanu Reeves having his lunch. 

Elijah wanders in the plain with the city in the distance. Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

Elijah wanders in the plain with the city in the distance. Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

To really captivate how we got ourselves in the whole situation, I will have to partly blame my poor memory of the travel distance of this beautiful salt marsh just outskirt of town. We parked near a beach and started walking around 8 am in the morning.  There is a special character about this salt plain, it has a dynamic feeling of a deserted place, but it also has the full view of the city at the same time. The plain also doubles as an illegal junkyard where people sink cars with unknown background stories in the soggy mud during the wet season. Being a student, my choice to carry anything and everything is a backpack. However, on the day Elijah rocked up with a Pelican case for his 4x5 gear. At the time it didn’t seem like such a bad idea since you never want to take any chances with your gear. 

I don’t own a scanner that can scan negatives. As a result, all my black and white work is printed in the darkroom. A contact sheet from the Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

I don’t own a scanner that can scan negatives. As a result, all my black and white work is printed in the darkroom. A contact sheet from the Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

As it turns out, it was a bad idea. On the day I had severely underestimated the distance from where we parked the car to the plains. The hike was already off to an atrocious start, the sun has fully risen, and the North Queensland heat was slowly creeping upon us. Since this story takes place in Australia, I am glad to inform you I nearly got bitten by a bush snake by almost stamping on it, but Elijah gave me a heads up like any good bloke.  

The rest of the hike was like those moments in life where you can live with it but will preferably never live through it again nor think about it again. We started taking turns on carrying the Pelican Case since it was becoming quite the burden to carry for one person after the first hour and a half. When our morale truly hit the rock bottom around 11:30, we reached the gate of the salt plains. Well, it turns out you can drive there to a carpark near the gate as informed by Elijah upon arrival. I genuinely thought to reach those gates were an achievement, but it was really a slap in the face when realistically we have been bamboozled.

Textures of the ground beneath our feet. Kodak XX-5222, Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Textures of the ground beneath our feet. Kodak XX-5222, Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Regardless, we reached our destinated in the least effective way possible by walking. The hype and excitement that we felt in the morning for this photo adventure had already faded away so far in our memory that it no longer affiliated with our current mood. We got set up, started the shoot, and here are some of the photographs of the day:

Ute in the frozen mud. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Ute in the frozen mud. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Last time I was here, this car was still standing, and the seats were still holding up. I came back after 4 years and this is what’s left. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Last time I was here, this car was still standing, and the seats were still holding up. I came back after 4 years and this is what’s left. Kodak XX-5222 , Leica M6 w/ 35mm f/2.5 (Elijah Clarke).

Elijah loading the holder into the camera for the shot below. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon F w/ 105mm f2.5 non-ai.

Elijah loading the holder into the camera for the shot below. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon F w/ 105mm f2.5 non-ai.

Fujifilm Acros 100, Graflex speed graphic w/ 180mm f5.6. (Elijah Clarke).

Fujifilm Acros 100, Graflex speed graphic w/ 180mm f5.6. (Elijah Clarke).

 Like all good things, the shoot came to an end, and the bitter reality that we had to face was the inevitable walk back to the car. Elijah at the time suggested a short cut that might lead us to a quick way out of the plains. After going the ‘short cut’ way for about an hour we checked our current course, and there was some good news and bad news:

The bad news: We were going completely opposite way of the car and we ran out of water.

The Good news: We were on a vehicle track. (Not really good news, but life’s about being optimistic.) 

While Elijah was packing up, I wandered around for a good look around. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

While Elijah was packing up, I wandered around for a good look around. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

After the realization of our poor decision making, we sat down under a shady tree and decided to tap out and call for help. It was a very inconvenient time for most people since it was right after lunch on a weekday. After a moment of rethinking our life decision of the day we decided to at least get to the main road, we drove here from. After an extra bit of walking, we bumped into a cyclist who didn’t seem to be local. We immediately asked for directions, for a way out only to be told that we were heading to Townsville, which was not much help considering we were IN Townsville. Anyway, he gave us about 21ml of water and rode off to the unknows. There’s another FSC member (2 actually) in our Town so Elijah decided to give Greg a call only to end up in his voicemail (Later on he posted an Instagram story about the new hat he had gotten.) 

Tourist / Water donator we are grateful for your guidance. Fujifilm Pro 400 H, Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

Tourist / Water donator we are grateful for your guidance. Fujifilm Pro 400 H, Mamiya 645 w/ 80mm f/2.8.

But in life, unexpecting things happen, such as when a semi-suspicious Ute pulled up randomly by the vehicle track. I instantly started waving my hands above my head like a man stranded on an island. It caught the man’s attention and he kindly offered us a lift back to the car.

Australian Keanu Reeves. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

Australian Keanu Reeves. Kodak Portra 400, Nikon FM2 w/ 50mm f/1.8.

The man has the very look of what I would imagine if Keanu Reeves was Australian. Upon dropping us off, we photographed our savior of the day and to finish the story on a high and Australian note, we grab a pint of beer and called it a day.


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Film photographers Wing Leung and Elijah Clarke are based in Australia. Connect with Wing and see more of his work on Instagram ; connect with Elijah and see more of his work on his website.