Ochre Sun: Country of Colour

Image source: Contributed

While it is often said that the journey is more important than the destination, Jennifer Swaine discovers that a special destination can also capture the essence of the journey.

The minute Alana Kennedy sat down in front of me I was mesmerised. I don’t recall if it was her captivating dark eyes that looked deep into your soul, how breathtakingly beautiful she was or the confident, articulate, passionate way she spoke about her work, particularly her Ochre Sun skincare range that honours her heritage and harnesses the power of bush medicine while creating a brighter future for her people.

Many entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do and Alana is no different. Being a proud Kalkadoon, Eastern Arrernte and Waanyi woman, Alana is proud of her roots and her heritage and so it was important to take her back on country to capture images of her that would help to tell her incredible story.

This was how our team at The Comms People ended up spending four incredible days with Alana in Mt Isa. I had never visited this part of Queensland and from start to finish it was a trip that changed our lives. Before we started our shoot Alana arranged for us to meet with Nanna Joan and Nanna Di to be welcomed on Country.  It was a deeply moving experience and each of us felt humbled and grateful to receive the blessing of Nanna Joan who welcomed us with open arms.

If you have never been to outback Queensland you need to put it on your bucket list. The countryside is a contrast of beautiful extremes. We saw chatters of stunning green, wild budgies zooming in and out of the vibrant red rock formations and because of the recent rains this often dry landscape was bursting with colour and life.

One of our first locations to shoot was the Granites and it was a this point we were incredibly grateful for our amazing local guides Kylie and Erin who expertly advised us on how to get there. In fact, finding the Granites would have been near impossible given it is unsigned and a fairly remote location.  This old granite mine is no longer used and rising out of the ground are huge slabs and boulders of red granite.

It was a beautiful location and at dusk it was simply breathtaking. The contrast of the red dirt and yellow spinifex contrasted with a stunning couture gown we styled Alana in for this shoot and as the sun set behind her, we were all left speechless.

Our other favourite location was Fountain Springs.  Again, it was great to be travelling with such amazing local ladies who knew their way around the area and who provided local knowledge and insights. Fountain Springs is a location often used for filming and many will remember the water hole where the crocodile grabbed a surprised Linda Koslowski in Crocodile Dundee. In recent years it was also used as a backdrop in Australian Survivor. We were fortunate to visit this site after it had rained and the water was still cascading down the rockface into the dark pool below. It really is a scene out of a movie and is a “must do” on a trip to Mount Isa.

On the day of our shoot we arrived as the sun was rising.  The peace and quiet was broken only by the sound of water and the chirping of birds.  It was impossible to ignore the magic of such a special place. The time we spent in Mount Isa was full of experiences and moments like this but perhaps the most significant and special time was at the end of our third day when Nanna Joan and Nanna Di cooked us dinner back at the Granites.

They treated us to an incredible homecooked meal of Johny Cakes and beef, all cooked for hours over a camp oven. As we sat together enjoying our meal, they shared stories of their childhood and of their time growing up in the region. It was clear that Alana had inherited her love of plants and botanicals from Nanna Joan, who was the most beautiful, kind soul. Her soft, gentle voice spoke words of wisdom and knowledge that can only be passed down over generations. When we watched Alana walk with these elders, as they talked plants and their healing properties, it was clear that Alana was exactly where she should be at that point in time. Her belief in creating products that include native botanicals runs deep in her veins. With her successful Ochre Sun sunscreen already on the market, Alana is one talented lady to watch as she prepares to launch more incredible products in the future – all harnessing traditional knowledge and the healing powers of bush medicine.

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