‘Dumb Dawgs in Darn’ are a critically acclaimed series of photographs by Rowand Taylor, that document 16 mates from New South Wales, Australia, packing up and heading up to the outback Northern Territory to plant trees in University holidays.

Now, I haven’t done any labouring in the serious hard-core outback of Australia, but the farming and fruit-picking I had to do in the depths of Victoria’s rural countryside proved to me that it is serious hard work, that is both challenging, miserable and full-on. Yeah, I did NOT have a ball when I had to farm to get my second year work visa and it makes me sad that my experience doesn’t match others who reported having an amazing experience…I feel guilty for slamming my unfortunately dull experience, especially when I went to the opening of the ‘Dumb Dawgs in Darn’ exhibition and saw what Rowand had to show.

Rowand Taylor began taking photographs during the trip without any intention to show to the world, merely to capture moments of memories that would stay with those guys for a lifetime.  The ‘dumb dawgs’ headed up to Darwin (‘Darn’) to endure the outbacks challenging high humidity and heat with a touch of torrential monsoonal rain, which resulted in many getting ‘trench foot’ (wet damp feet that turn to open sores and fungal infections). Heat stroke, blistering and exhaustion from early mornings of twelve hour days were the tip of the iceberg, but fortunately the good times out-weighed the bad.

Rowand found his photographs recorded the trip beautifully in the outback rough reality, conveying the unique energy of their friendship and the amazing weeks they spent together. Reporters have even complimented Rowands work to have recorded their journey from boys to men. All they knew was that they were living something extraordinary, and disregarding the low crappy points, everyone was embracing their time up in ‘Darn’ through good raw fun and weird times.

The series has won acclaim at the centre of Contemporary Photography (Melbourne June 2011) winning the ‘Best Use of Digital Media’ and “People’s Choice”. And with The Victorian Library purchasing eight images for their historical archives, it proves that not only did it show friends undergoing a fantastic outback experience, it was an important contribution to Australian social history that had to be preserved within the safety of the library.

Now who can say their photographs are so detrimental to their country that people are willing to protect them under lock and key?

In Rowands own words, “After producing the series, I now know that great photographs can’t be staged, they need to be drawn from raw emotion and energy. The Dumb Dawgs in Darn series will be forever timeless.”

Those mates had the time of their lives, which I think is very important for them to share with the world. It’s not where you go, or what you have to do in your travels… or life. It’s who you’re with and what you make of it, which will provide the memories that are worth something. Like one’s trash is another’s treasure, one’s boring rainy apple-picking is anothers amazing tree-planting experience. But I’m sure if this bunch of babes had rocked up to my farm, my apple-picking wouldn’t have been so boring…

The ‘Dumb Dawgs’

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane