Paula's rural focus is perfect

Article text
The dog fence - Anna Creek Station, SA
THE photographic talents of Clermont’s
Paula Heelan have earned her
an official place among the state’s top
rural photographers.

By Mike Knowling
MsHeelan, Ulcanbah, Clermont, has been
named as one of three category winners in
the Rural Press Club of Queensland’s Excellence
in Rural Photography awards for 2011.
Ms Heelan won the “landscape/nature”
category of the awards for her image of the
dog fence, first published with her article
called “Gone Droving” that appeared in the
Horse Downunder magazine last December.
“I’m not a professional photographer –
just a keen amateur,” Ms Heelan said this
week. “As a rural journalist, I need to provide
images with my stories because I’m
based too far away for publications to send a
photographer out.
“That’s how my interest in –and addiction
to – photography has grown,” she said.
Ms Heelan said that next year, when her
daughter Alice goes off to boarding school
and she no longer has to teach distance education,
she would enrol in some photography
courses to “help lift her skills”.
“I can’t wait to do more,” she said.
The dog fence in Ms Heelan’s picture is
the world’s longest fence, built in the 1880s
to keep dingoes in the north out of the south.
It stretches for 5300km and marks part of the
Anna Creek Station boundary.
Ms Heelan’s stories and pictures have featured
frequently in Rural Weekly CQ, most
recently last week when she contributed a
story and 12 pictures – including the frontpage
picture – on the Mt Coolon campdraft.
Rural Weekly CQ has also published a
range of stories and pictures by Ms Heelan
featuring life in the Clermont district, as
well as from assignments for various organisations
she has undertaken around Australia
and on the Isolated Children’s Parents’
Association (ICPA) in Queensland, with
which she is closely associated.
The Rural Press Club’s photography
awards were part of its wider Excellence in
Rural Journalism awards, which included
print, radio and television.
As well as landscape, the photography
section had two other categories, “people”
and “production”. The latter embraced machinery
and technical aspects of farming
and plant and animal production.
On top of her win, there is still a
chance for Ms Heelan to gain further
recognition for her work. All three
category winners – including Ms
Heelan’s picture – have now become
the Queensland entries in this year’s Australian
Star Prize for Rural Photography,
conducted by the Australian Council of
Agricultural Journalists.