A workshop in Blackall and another spread between Longreach and Winton saw us load up the truck and head off to central Queensland for six weeks. The country was incredibly green after all the rain and flooding. Many roads were still closed and venturing off the bitumen was a slippery, muddy exercise.
Silos on the road to Roma
This old pub at Wallumbilla looks less than inviting soaked in rain and surrounded by mud, but the local graziers couldn’t be happier.
Retirement green confusion – Morvan.
Early morning – Morven waterhole
Disused railway crane – Morven
Camping out of Tambo was a little tricky – where there wasn’t grass there was thick, sticky mud.
Sunrise through a layer of fog, Tambo
Union Hotel Blackall – still sells cold beer, but not much else
The weekly cattle sale in Blackall saw some fat’ healthy cattle, happy sellers and not so happy re-stockers.
Lisa and Bruce, from one of the big sheep stations out of Blackall, invited us out to see the end of the shearing.
These guys work flat out, fired up by loud, fast music, high demand and and a competitive attitude.
Shearing their way through several thousand sheep is hard, back breaking work.
Ancient Technology from the Isisford Picture Theatre.
Drowned caravans camped in the Barcoo River, Isisford. Ignore the locals at your peril.
An empty paddock next to the old Langenbaker House in Ilfracombe made a great place to paint
DC3 at the Qantas Museum Longreach
Retired Catalina at the Qantas Museum
Before the workshop in Winton, Dianne and I went out to the clay pans at Bladensburg to find a painting location
Willy Mar’s old market garden store, Winton
We painted Willy Mar’s old truck (now up on blocks next to his old market garden and store.
We spent a morning in the old Bladensburg woolshed painting the ancient wool press.
This was the demonstration painting I did. (Couldn’t help using Phthalo Green!)
Looking west towards Winton – an unusual sea of lush, green grass
At the Winton Dinosaur Centre, volunteers work tirelessly separating rock from fossil to reconstruct the skeletons of dinosaurs.
After the Winton workshop Dianne and I headed back out to Bladensburg to camp and watch the sun go down.
Heading east, we found this lake with amazing sunsets and fantastic birdlife.
Our camp, just visible from the top of a nearby hill
After the Flinders Ranges Workshop we returned to Adelaide, picked up our truck from storage and headed south to Robe, a small fishing village. After two weeks of perfect weather for the workshop, we drove south into howling wind and rain.
The coastline around Robe is rugged and isolated. We had a couple of days in Robe then turned east to follow the Great Ocean Road along the Victorian coast. By now the rain had eased but the wind was still howling in from Antarctica – Chilly, but spectacular.
We caught up with our kids in Melbourne for a few days then headed up to the Snowy Mountains
Always a great place to camp along the Swampy Plains River at Geehi. We were surprised at the number of rabbits (and foxes) – the calicivirus seems to have no effect here.
From Geehi we drove up over the mountains, Past Thredbo and on to the Murrumbidgee River on the Long Plain Road. We often camp here when we are in the High Country, but were amazed to find the area coated thickly in white next morning. Spectacular, but freezing cold!
A fisherman dropped in around 9am on his way to Tantangra Dam. He said the temperature readout in his Landcruiser was saying -5, so I dont know what it got down to overnight. Our water pipes were frozen, the hot water heater had frozen and burst and, in spite of filling with what we thought was winter diesel, couldn’t start the truck till after 10am.
Leaving the snowy, we drove up to the Warrumbungle Mountains to spend a couple of days. This time of year encountering snakes is unusual but this big Red Bellied Black snake decided to cross the path right in front of us. We left him to crawl off into the bush.
We left Arkaroola and headed down to Adelaide, exploring Wilpena, the southern Flinders and Burra, on the way. Our truck was parked in secure parking for the two weeks of the workshop. We spent a night in Adelaide, then we joined the painting group and travelled back up to Wilpena Pound Resort by coach for our first 5 days of the workshop.
The Flinders Ranges are a great place to paint – interesting buildings, spectacular gorges and a backdrop of magnificent purple mountains.
Here we painted the old Wilpena Station store where all the stations provisions were secured back in the 1800’s
This old door has been patched and repaired over the years, keeping the blacksmiths cottage secure for over a hundred years.
We painted the stony outcrops surrounding the Aroona Valley before going down into the Brachina Gorge to explore the rocks and pools
We had two great indigenous guides to show us around the Brachina Gorge area. They took us to see these ancient rock engravings with all sorts of interesting details.
Leaving The Flinders, we moved on down to Burra, a beautiful little town with magnificent stone buildings built in the boom days of the towns copper mine in the 1800’s. We spent a few days in Burra exploring the area and painting.
Burra Main Street.
South Australia has a lot of old abandoned railway stations, some with old rolling stock, some with wheat silos and most of them built beautifully from local stone
One of our group has explored all the old abandoned stations in the lower Finders. He got permission from the owners of this beautiful old station for us to visit.
We spent a morning painting the old Farrell Flat Station.
Skillogalee Vineyard made a good painting destination. We sampled their wines, had a fabulous meal and painted in the vineyard garden – What a great day.
Lunch on the Skillogalee verandah.
Our last couple of days were spent in Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills. We visited The Cedars – the home and studio of Hans Heysen.
A beautiful studio with huge, frosted, south facing windows and a large open fireplace
We were lucky to have “The Two Marks” on board as we travelled around South Australia. Mark One , the driver, had a terrific knowledge of the area and kept us entertained and informed with some great stories. Mark Two, a local watercolourist and long time traveller through the region led us to some great painting locations we would have otherwise missed.
The passing vista of old abandoned buildings, big skies and bare rolling hills is unique to South Australia and is something that keeps drawing us back to this part of the country.
After 12 months of Covid restrictions it sure is a good feeling to load up our truck and head out west again. Our plan is to head west through Queensland and cross the, now open, border into South Australia around Innamincka. From there we will follow Strzelecki Creek along the Old Strzelecki Track, stopping at some of the waterholes mentioned by John Conrick in his 1870 journey to find a route to drive cattle from Western Queensland to Adelaide.
We will leave our truck in Adelaide then travel by coach back up to the Flinders Ranges to conduct a painting workshop for two weeks
Crop dusting vast fields of Cotton near St. George, Qld.
Old Dynevor Downs shearing shed. Every time we drive past I stop and take a photo. Over the last 30 odd years we have seen it slowly deteriorate. Wild dogs have virtually shut down the wool industry in Western Queensland.
An unusual site – The Wilson river at Noccundra brim full of water.
As we head out through Western Queensland it is great to see all the creeks and waterholes full from recent rain.
The normally dry desert country is green and full of wild flowers at the moment.
The Old Strzelecki Track could better be described as the Old Strzelecki River. Kilometres of the track were under water so we had to use side tracks most of the way. The abundance of water meant that birdlife was scattered far and wide, unlike in dry times when the odd small waterhole attracted hundreds of birds. We managed to find a couple of Conrick’s waterholes but the condition of the track made it difficult.
This ever changing sculpture made from camel bones and accumulated junk marks the end of the Strzelecki Track and the Northern approach to the Flinders Ranges.
The track improves and far off in the distance The Flinders Ranges become visible
North Mulga Station sits on a lonely stretch of land at the Southern end of the Strzelecki.
The southern end of the track crosses a dingo fence that stretches as far as the eye can see in both directions
Dogs are trapped and poisoned in an attempt to give the farmers a chance to raise stock on these huge properties.
A pair of Brolgas heading to a water hole at sunset
Corellas make a home in a giant River Red Gum
Approaching the Arkaroola turn off in the Northern Flinders.
Back into harsh, dry country around Arkaroola
The dark nights and clear air around Arkaroola are perfect for astronomy. There are a couple of large telescopes on the property.
A big Wedge tail surveys the countryside.
The small, endangered Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby lives in the hills around the Flinders Ranges.
Feral Goats also compete for grass and water in the area.
Our workshop at Dillmans was a lot of fun – catching up with old friends and meeting new people. We were a couple of weeks early for the full Fall colors, but White Sand Lake is spectacular any time.
Great View from our cabin on the lake
Sandhill Crane – Dillmans
From Dillmans we headed over to Boone, North Carolina to meet “Cheap Joe” Miller – What a great guy – A real gentleman and character, the only person I know that can play Pachelbells Canon on a specially tuned wooden stick
Rocking Chairs on Cheap Joes Studio Verandah
Cheap Joe’s Workshop Studio is fantastic – lots of space, great light and a big overhead screen and camera
Beautiful old wooden Barn near Todd NC
Todd General Store and Bakery, near Boone NC
Bob and Tom – Irish Pub, Bradenton FL
Great to catch up with Joe Costanza in Florida – Crazy sense of humour and lots of great stories
Gulf backwater near Mobile AL
Old fish processing building as the sun rises – Apalachicola FL
Sad to see the Hurricane damage around the Gulf of Mexico. This, once grand, building in Apalachicola has an optimistic ‘Opening Soon’ sign, that appears to have been in place for quite a while
We had a great workshop with Main Street art Centre in Lake Zurich. David R Becker was kind enough to lend us his fantastic studio in McHenry. Frankie Johnson organised everything and really looked after us.
After the workshop we headed up to Sudbury in Canada to catch up with my brother, Wayne, and his family. They have a camp on Whiskey Lake, so we spent some time there exploring the lake and walking through the woods in search of Bear and Moose.
David R Becker’s Studio, McHenry
Old Sudbury Hospital with a new coat of paint.
Sudbury Rib Fest where they cook or smoke anything for fame and fortune.
It was all too much for some
Massey General Store
Pond on the road to Whiskey Lake
Falls at Whiskey Lake
The Woods full of Maples, Cedars, Birches, Oaks and Pines
Wayne and Monique’s Camp on Whiskey Lake
Mountain Ash Berries
Woods around the Camp
Old Log Cabin on Whiskey Lake
Old log outhouse leaning to the left
Old iron outhouse leaning further to the left
Dinner at the camp with Wayne and Monique
Off across the lake in Monique’s dingy
Last of the old trapper’s cabins on Whiskey Lake
Through the trees to Whitefish Lake
Dingys stored on Whitefish Lake
Small spotted frog
This was the only Moose we saw
Except for this one, which didn’t look too healthy