Ken Duncan

Ken Duncan (1954 – ) photographer
Landscape photographer Ken Duncan had to fall off a mountain, nearly die of hypothermia and call on God for rescue from demonic spirits before he came to understand the simple truth that Jesus is more powerful than any other force. These days Duncan is almost as well known for his Christian charity work among indigenous people as his panoramic shots of God’s creation.

The million-dollar, 20-metre-tall illuminated cross project in remote Central Australia is a step closer to reality after a community meeting gave the idea its blessing. The proposal for building a massive cross on a hill near the remote community of Haasts Bluff, or Ikuntji, 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs, is being driven by New South Wales photographer Ken Duncan. On his website, Mr Duncan said he first heard of the idea when three community leaders spoke to him of their “vision to build a cross on top of Memory Mountain” in 2009.

On Thursday, Haasts Bluff community leader and traditional owner Douglas Multa said there had been some misinformation and confusion during two earlier meetings, but as of last week there was no opposition to the plans. “Everyone seems to be on the track … everything is ready to go ahead … there is excitement and relief around the community, meeting after meeting and it has been solved,” Mr Multa said. “Members of the community had a vision about the cross, then one day we approached Ken and said ‘mate, is it possible to put up a cross up here’? And he said ‘yep, it is possible’,” Mr Multa said.

One day we approached Ken and said ‘mate, is it possible to put up a cross up here?’ And he said ‘yep, it is possible’ Mr Multa, who along with his sister Alison Multa first invited Mr Duncan to join them at Haasts Bluff for an Easter gathering in 2009, said the Lutheran congregation in the community was in support of the cross. “It’s going to mean training and proper jobs and wages for the community and young people,” he said. “The way I see it is, Ken’s just helping the people out. Some people say it’s Ken’s cross but it’s not, it’s our cross.”

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On September 7, 2001, America Wide: In God We Trust, Duncan’s photo-book, which featured the 50 states of America, was launched. It was given to former president George W Bush on September 10 by then Australian prime minister John Howard. Mr Howard asked Duncan to accompany the gift with a letter explaining why he decided to publish the book. In the letter, Duncan wrote: “Mr Bush, the reason why I’d done this book is to remind America that the only thing which would keep them strong for troubled times ahead is their faith in God, and that is under attack. Trust in God.“

The next day, the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred.

Later, president Bush would write Duncan a letter saying, “Ken, at a time when I had to make some very heavy decisions over my nation, I’d like to thank you for this book, because I’m reminded how blessed our nation is by God. Thank you so much on behalf of myself and my wife Laura.” According to Duncan, he started the America project because of a burden laid upon him by God. Duncan went ahead with the project never understanding why, until the day the jetliners flew into the World Trade Center.

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