Cactus Country


Words and Photos by Jordann Wood -




This story starts with a wild Irish woman, her Kiwi lover and myself, a US-born, Sydney loving gal. I know to some this may sound like the start of a funny joke, but the truth is- this is just a story of a weekend road-trip with three best friends in our beat up VW Van.

The three of us departed from Sydney to embark on our road trip to Strathmerton Victoria, with Cactus Country as our destination. We knew that the 14 hours to get there may need us to make a quick pit stop for some summer night shut-eye- but we were determined to soak in everything the skies had to offer on route.

Despite the fact I had never been to Cactus Country before- this pair had managed to very easily convince me that not only would I love it- but I would leave feeling inspired. The diversity in the spaces and landscapes found within the parameters of the country I have called home for a few years never ceases to remind me of how exquisitely beautiful this planet we call home is.

From the moment I stepped foot in the van- I knew the trip would be good.  The van was to the brim with Persian rugs, silk dresses, and Bourke Street Bakery food, with just a perfect amount of room for me, my camera and a whole lot of excitement. The ever-shifting backseat was the perfect space for me to set my mind into soaking mode- allowing myself to take a moment to process all that had been happening and truly be present in my road trip adventure.

As the sun began to set and the scenery grew spacious, I started to remember why it is that we need to travel.. it does something to us. Something within me had a familiar feeling. The feeling that one can only get when they leave their place of being- and step into a place outside of their everyday. It was a reminder to me- that the days ahead in my life, this pairs life, all of our lives- hold so much we yet do not know. But this didn’t scare me, this ignites in me something that continually fuels my creativity. It is not a wanderlust to see more- just a pure elated sense of the vastness of what there is to come, and a release from knowing that everything I potentially needed to do was left behind in my briefcase- and I was here to fully be.

As dusk came and went, the hours passed by, and the wild pair decided that as magical as driving through the night sounded- potentially a nap may mean the next day would be smoother. We found a somewhat quiet spot, rolled out the bed and snoozed for a few hours. I say snoozed lightly- as I’m not sure if many have tried to fit three people on a 1-2 person bed in the back of the van- but it was cozy!

The next morning we were back on the road. This time- the final destination didn’t seem far off at all, and a surprising amount of almost kinesthetic energy could be felt among us- both of them excited at what we were about to share in our time at Cactus Country. When we arrived- man, was I not disappointed. It was- MAGICAL. It was a desert and it was literally- deserted. We had the whole place to ourselves. To explore, to touch, to smell. Thousands of cacti- big, small, wide, coloured, grey, alive, dead, growing, breeding. It was a country indeed.

The shoot was inspired mainly in capturing just that, magic. Only this time, it was there in such quantity it was just a matter of me pressing the trigger and hoping the magical moment could translate to photographs. I remembered travel doesn't need long amounts of time, grand locations, or lots of money. Travel simply takes us being present and allows us to participate/enter in and to see... Travel leaves us changed.

Travel shakes me, unravels me, and pushes me to express new things. There's something you want someone to feel or understand after you've been traveling. It's like listening to a new song or reading a book and wishing people could be in the same moment you were. It's hard to express, that's why travel must be felt and experienced. One cannot travel for someone else, each one must experience for themselves.



“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”

–Jonah Lehrer, “Why We Travel,” Panorama Magazine (December 2009)