Any way you look at it, it's a long way from Mt Kosciuszko to Uluru.
But that's the life and work journey Mick "Didj" Hopkins has made. After more than 20 years working as a snowmaker and snowcat driver in the Snowy Mountains ski resorts of Perisher and Charlotte Pass in the shadow of Australia's highest peak Mt Kosciuszko, Didj has swapped white snow for red desert dirt and a new life.
His new job is working on the drone component of Wintjiri Wiru (which means "good view to the horizon" in the local Pitjantjatjara language) – a multimedia storytelling experience conducted most evenings at Yulara, in the shadow of The Rock.
Image: We've all seen Uluru shots, but Didj Hopkins does them better than most. Source: @didjadvanturepants on Instagram.
When he's not helping to bring ancient Indigenous culture and stories to life, Didj falls into his old habits. Much-loved in the mountains for his snow landscape photography, Didj is now out and about capturing his new backyard as only he can.
Didj's images and videos from Charlotte Pass always had an earthy quality. You wouldn't just see a perfect snowscape dotted with gnarled snow gums. There would also be the rumble of the snowcat he was driving, the howl of the blizzard, the caw of the mountain ravens.
It's no surprise then that Didj took a great video early this week of rumbling, growling thunder which spread across the NT and parts of SA as a low pressure system drifted over the region.
"It's all around you and it goes right through you," he told Weatherzone. "It rumbles all around you because the horizon seems to go on forever."
Didj admits that the particularly loud thunder crack captured in the video above made him head inside.
"I'm no idiot. I'm not going to stand out there in the desert in a lightning storm," he laughed.
But as soon as the thunder and lightning eased off, he captured the sort of twilight image of Uluru which we've all seen a million times, yet somehow rarely as moody or crisp.
Image: He takes all his pics with his phone, too. Source: @didjadvanturepants on Instagram.
“The stuff I’m seeing out here is having an equally mindblowing effect as the mountains," he said.
"It's a different feel out here. I am a tiny little thing out here, and the power of thunder and lightning adds to the whole feeling of amazement. I’ve fallen in love with the desert really fast."
For the record, Didj's old home of Charlotte Pass is the site of Australia's coldest recorded temperature of -23°C in 1994.
While he's not yet comfortable with temps of 40°C and higher in Yulara as summer approaches, you get the feeling he’ll cope easily with the occasional frosty winter night in Australia's Red Centre.
© Weatherzone 2023