UP TO THE HIGH COUNTRY

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.

FLINDERS RANGES WORKSHOP

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

 

Brachina Gorge

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.

 

OLD STRZELECKI TRACK

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.

Nankeen Kestrel on an Arkaroola stump

A happy parrot perched in the morning sun

ROCKS AND BOABS

Our Outback Workshop moved from Kakadu/Litchfield, over to Kununurra via Katherine. Moving across the boarder into Western Australia brings a change in the landscape from speargrass savannah to rocky outcrops and giant Boab trees. The landscape was unusually dry for this time of year. Normally creeks are full, waterfalls are flowing and the landscape is greener but, unfortunately,  the last wet season was almost non existent.

© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Spectacular, close up view of Katherine Gorge

© John Lovett 2019
Kununurra sunset changes the landscape completely
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Couldn’t resist painting this old Studebaker truck at El Questro Station

© John Lovett 2019     © John Lovett 2019
Rock Wallaby keeps watch over Chamberlain Gorge

© John Lovett 2019
Chamberlain Gorge

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Distorted landscape around Lake Argyle

After the Outback Workshop finished, Dianne and I collected our truck we had stored in Kununurra and headed of down the Gibb River Road via Wyndham and Parry Lagoon
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019

© John Lovett 2019

Bell Gorge – one of the many waterholes along the Gibb River Road
© John Lovett 2019
Water Monitor – Bell Gorge
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019

At the end of the Gibb River Road is the Napier Range. A spectacular band of twisted Limestone running East West across the Southern Kimberley. We spent a few days camped under the range painting, walking, sketching and photographing

© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Bee hive in a cave in the Napier Range

© John Lovett 2019
Outside Studio

© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019   © John Lovett 2019 An amazing place to paint and explore

ANTARCTICA

Heading South from the tip of South America, we crossed, an oddly calm,  Drake Passage and continued down into the Antarctic Peninsular. We had a number of sea days with no land in sight, but much bird and marine life to observe between painting sessions.

Once into the Antarctic Peninsular Icebergs drifted by as we passed through unimaginably spectacular scenery

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Cape Petrels

© John Lovett 2019
Giant Petrel

© John Lovett 2019
Wandering Albertros

© John Lovett 2019  © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Scientists from one of the research stations boarding the Zaandam for lectures

© John Lovett 2019
Argentine research station
© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Chilean research station – surrounded by penguins

© John Lovett 2019
Our painting room on the Zaandam had huge windows, so as we worked, we could watch the landscape drift by.

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019

CHILE

Flying over the Andes into Santiago is an impressive end to a long flight from Sydney.
We spent a couple of days in Santiago, exploring the city and nearby mountains before boarding the Zaandam for a painting workshop down the Chilean coast, down to the Antarctic Peninsular then back up the East Coast of South America to Buenos Aires.

 

© John Lovett 2019
The Andes from our hotel window

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019

© John Lovett 2019

Giant Condors from a ski resort above Santiago

© John Lovett 2019
Ski Resort – minus snow

© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
The port area of Santiago has some interesting businesses, colorful shops and unattractive vessels.

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Mountains of containers dwarf the local fishing boats

© John Lovett 2019
Leaving Santiago and heading south took us through interesting country under the backdrop of the Andes.
© John Lovett 2019
Stilt houses in Castro on the island of Chiloe

© John Lovett 2019
Castro – beautiful wooden boat takes shape.

© John Lovett 2019
Empanadas

© John Lovett 2019
Fishing Boats – Castro

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Patagonian farm shed

© John Lovett 2019
Rio Simpson

© John Lovett 2019
Rock walls – Rio Simpson, Patagonia

© John Lovett 2019
As we headed south the country became less inhabited, the mountains higher and the temperature cooler. The most common habitation was fish farming settlements.

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Ice started to appear in the water and we began to see glaciers.

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019   © John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Some ships never made it out of the labyrinth of channels through the fjords

© John Lovett 2019 Carefully stacked containers on the docks at Punta Arenas

© John Lovett 2019
Southern Chile is cold, wet, salty and windy – buildings tend to be functional rather than decorative.

© John Lovett 2019
Punta Arenas

© John Lovett 2019
Shivering Cormorants

© John Lovett 2019
Replica of Shackleton’s modified dingy that took him and five of his men, through mountainous seas, from Antarctica to South Georgia Island

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
Ushuaia – the most southern town in the world

© John Lovett 2019
Ushuaia’s isolation meant that building materials were limited to what could be easily transported. They did some fancy construction with corrugated iron.

© John Lovett 2019 © John Lovett 2019
The pan America Highway starts in Alaska and ends in Ushuaia, where this tiny Citroen had just arrived, in the process of transporting a family of three 200,000kms around the world.

© John Lovett 2019 Mt Olivia behind Ushuaia

© John Lovett 2019
Tierra del Fuego lighthouse

NORTH TO SCOTLAND

All Images © John Lovett 2018

Following our workshop in the South of England, Dianne and I hired a car and set off north to Scotland via Wales and the East coast of England. We set off in fine, sunny weather, but part way through Wales things turned damp and cool, gradually deteriorating to wet and cold as we headed North into Scotland. This change in the weather made walking unpleasant, but the dramatic skies, fog and wet landscape sure made for some great photographs.

© John Lovett 2018
Exmoor Ponies
© John Lovett 2018
Young Exmoor Pony
© John Lovett 2018
North West across the water.
© John Lovett 2018
Bottom of the hill – Robin Hood’s Bay
© John Lovett 2018
Whitby Abbey
© John Lovett 2018
Forgotten Hull – Boddin Point
© John Lovett 2018
Bayside Cottage
© John Lovett 2018
Boddin Point Fisherman’s Hut
© John Lovett 2018
Stonehaven Sunrise
© John Lovett 2018
Across the Moorings – Stonehaven
© John Lovett 2018
Along The Shorehead Road – Stonehaven
© John Lovett 2018
Dunnottar Castle
© John Lovett 2018
Last Drinks – Lovat Arms Hotel – Beauly
© John Lovett 2018
Blanket Clouds© John Lovett 2018
Winding down the mountain
© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 Eilean Donan Castle

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018
Eilean Donan Castle
© John Lovett 2018
Eilean Donan Castle
© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018
Small holes in the sky
© John Lovett 2018
Clearing
© John Lovett 2018