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.

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

ON TO FLORIDA

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.

 

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Great View from our cabin on the lake

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Sandhill Crane – Dillmans

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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

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Rocking Chairs on Cheap Joes Studio Verandah

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Cheap Joe’s Workshop Studio is fantastic – lots of space, great light and a big overhead screen and camera

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Beautiful old wooden Barn near Todd NC

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Todd General Store and Bakery, near Boone NC

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Bob and Tom – Irish Pub, Bradenton FL

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Great to catch up with Joe Costanza in Florida – Crazy sense of humour and lots of great stories

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Curious Squirrel

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Gulf backwater near Mobile AL

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Tupelo Honey

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Old fish processing building as the sun rises – Apalachicola FL

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Fishing Floats

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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

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Old Jetty – Cedar Key

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Cedar Key – Bar on the water as the sun goes down

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Cedar Key

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Roseate Spoonbills – Cedar Key

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Pink Ibis

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Young Herron

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Egret

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LONG DUSTY ROADS

All Text and Images © John Lovett 2019

After 660 kms of dusty corrugations down the Gibb River Road, we enjoyed a brief stretch of bitumen across to Halls Creek. An overnight stop and we were off down the Tanami Road to Alice Springs. The Tanami Road is 1100kms of mostly well graded dirt with some patches of bulldust and rough corrugations. The Aboriginal Communities of Billiluna and Yuendumu sell expensive diesel.

After stocking up in Alice Springs, we spent a couple of days in the Eastern MacDonnell’s before heading East along the Plenty Highway – a long strip of corrugated dirt that cuts straight across the Northern Territory into Queensland

Freshwater Crocs are thriving at (an almost dry) Windjana Gorge

The Tanami Road cuts through the Tanami Desert from Halls Creek WA to Alice Springs NT

We spent a night at Wolf Creek Crater – Dianne, having not seen the movie, was pretty relaxed about camping there under a full moon, I had a bad nights sleep with a wheel brace under my pillow.

Believe it or not, this piece of corrugated iron architecture was on wheels.

Tanami Roadtrain

Finches at a rare waterhole along the Tanami.

Billiluna Community

Billiluna Footy Field – all dust and rocks

Can’t drive past a wrecked car without stopping to take a photo. This one was so good we camped the night to get the early morning sun.

Wedgetail enjoying breakfast.

After stocking up in Alice Springs, we headed out to the Eastern MacDonnell’s for some pretty spectacular walks.

Not far down the Plenty Highway we came across this rolled Toyota. It must have been there a couple of days because all the wheels were gone. Judging by the scattered debris, it must have been some Japanese Tourists heading off on an adventure.

The white dot in the middle is our camp . Huge amounts of nothing through the middle of the Northern Territory, but when you stop and look around the scenery can be spectacular.

Budgerigars

Stockmen at Tobermorey Station

Tobermorey Horse Breaker

Tobermorey Sunset

Red dust

Crossing into Queensland, the Plenty turns into the Donohue. This was the smoothest dirt road we encountered

Donkeys watching Humans come to a sudden halt in a big cloud of dust.

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

ARGENTINA

From the Falkland Islands we made our way to Argentina, stopping first in Montevideo, Uruguay, then ending our cruise in Buenos Aries. After the workshop finished, Dianne and I stayed on in Buenos Aires for a few days to explore the city.

© John Lovett 2019
Montevideo Doorway – Orange Bike
© John Lovett 2019
260 air conditioners – Montevideo
© John Lovett 2019
Beautiful old timber dock crane cabin – Montevideo
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires skyline
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires looks very European – many of the buildings were designed by French architects in the early 1900’s
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires
© John Lovett 2019
La Boca is an old area of the city full of bars, restaurants and tourists. Lots of artists, musicians and tango dancers fill the spaces between wandering visitors. The old buildings have all been brightly painted but kept authentic by maintaining an interesting state of semi disrepair.
© 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
Buenos Aires sketches – lots of great subjects all over the city, but I love the old buildings in some of the back streets
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires – San Telmo Markets – great stalls, food and fantastic street music.
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Buenos Aires – The guy in the background is busking – stands like that for hours. The girl was just walking by as I passed.
© John Lovett 2019
Peter, Maree, Yves, Dianne, Margaurite and Evelyn at the famous Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires
© John Lovett 2019
The beautiful old training ship, Sarmiento, has been converted to a museum and moored permanently at the docks in Buenos Aires
© John Lovett 2019
More back street sketches – As amazing as these areas look, they are not safe. we were warned a couple of times not to enter some parts of the city.
© John Lovett 2019
Our workshop included a great trip out to a ranch for a barbecue and demonstration of riding by the Gauchos
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Chimango – Small South American bird of prey
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
This little guy looks like a bulletproof rat, but is a hairy armadillo, native to Argentina
© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019
Another Argentinian native is the Rea. Similar to an Emu, but smaller and more muscular
© John Lovett 2019
This little bird is a burrowing owl – nests in a hole in the ground and only as big as your hand.
Argentine guanaco
© John Lovett 2019

FALKLAND ISLANDS

After a second smooth crossing of Drake Passage, we stopped for a day at Stanley in the Falkland Islands. The islands are low, treeless and windswept. The older architecture in Stanley is interesting. Apart from a few buildings made of brick or stone, most construction is of timber and corrugated iron. The design of the buildings are still traditionally British – even down to the picket fences, but the unusual materials take some getting used to. An attempt to make the place feel like home I guess, but they miss out on that balmy British weather!

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

There are many of these old Nissin Huts, left over from various wars. All the buildings have a flaking, rusty patina caused by the constant freezing and thawing and the continuous howling wind.

© John Lovett 2019
© John Lovett 2019

An interesting graveyard for wooden boats at the end of Stanley Harbour.

© John Lovett 2019

Young penguin hiding in a burrow above the beach

© John Lovett 2019

Mum and Dad socialising on the beach

© John Lovett 2019

No one climbs through the fences

© John Lovett 2019

Male Upland Goose – common on the islands

© John Lovett 2019

Brand new Landrovers waiting delivery

© John Lovett 2019

Anchorage for fair weather sailers.

The Falklands had a very British feel – friendly British accents, Landrovers everywhere, Pubs serving Ale and money bearing pictures of the Queen.