Dillmans Bay Resort, the venue for our Wisconsin workshop, is situated in the Indian reservation of Lac du Flambeau. We were lucky enough to be there when the annual Bear River Pow-Wow was being held. Lots of drums, chanting and dancing as the sun went down made for some great photos and an interesting evening.
After leaving Bisbee, our plan was to head east across the bottom of Arizona to the Chiricahua Mountains. This road took us through the small settlement of Apache near where Geronimo surrendered to the Us Army in 1886, ending the Indian wars.
Crossing into New Mexico, we stopped at a roadhouse in the little town of Rodeo. It was an interesting place with great food and an entertaining passage of local ranchers stopping in for coffee and gossip.
Further down the road a Museum had a great collection of local desert snakes – all safely behind glass. We hadn’t managed to see a rattle snake in all our wandering around, so this was a good opportunity to get a photograph.
Crossing back into Arizona, we headed up to Portal in the Chiricahua Mountains. The mountains were spectacular with birds and wildlife everywhere.
From Portal we climbed the mountains up to around 10,000 feet, passing the huge Morenci copper mine.
Old Indian cliff dwellings outside Camp Verde
Bisbee is a copper mining town that has, some how, flourished since the mine closed. The steep landscape and opulent architecture, from the boom days, make the town uniquely attractive. Lots of interesting pubs, bars and restaurants, and an atmosphere of 1960’s counter culture, have given Bisbee a whole new life.
Just outside of Bisbee is, what’s left of, the town of Lowell. In the 1950’s the mine pit was expanded to extract more copper and most of the town was consumed in the expansion. What is left (Eire Street) appears to have been frozen in time. Crumbling buildings, closed businesses, old cars, weeds and debris. A fantastic and confusing place.
After a great workshop in Vietnam, Dianne and I flew over to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see the Angkor temples and waterside villages on Tonle Sap lake. The Cambodian people are happy and friendly. The country is 97% Buddhist and many of the children, from poorer families, go into the monasteries to take pressure off the families.
We met Pau, who entered a monastery at eight years of age and is now in his early twenties. He enjoys the discipline of the monastery. He speaks good English and is studying education. His goal is to open a village school to improve the chances for young people to work and study.
Angkor Wat Temple
Stone gable carving Angkor Wat
Ta Phrom Temple – slowly being eaten by the jungle.
Thom Bayon Temple features large carved stone heads of Buddha and beautiful, intricate relief carvings of daily life back in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Temple monkey overcome with boredom
Temple monkey overcome with confusion
Temple monkey overcome with enlightenment.
Siem Reap petrol tanker – powered by a mechanical plough.
Fire pot vendor powered by a small motor scooter
Mattress vendor- powered by a small motorbike
With the luxury of a small truck, there is nothing you can’t carry.
From Siem Reap we travelled by tuk tuk down to Kampong Phluk – a village of stilt houses, some colorful, some old and thatched, built in the Tonle Sap Lake. It’s a fascinating village – life is lived entirely on the water. Kids grow up in boats and soon become skilled fishermen.
The Blackall workshops are always a lot of fun. We get to meet people from surrounding sheep and cattle stations and local Blackall residents in the first workshop then folks fly in or drive from all over the place for the second workshop.
This year we left a couple of weeks early so we could visit Mt Moffat on the way west. Mt Moffat is part of the Carnarvon National Park. It connects to the head of Carnarvon Creek at the western end of Carnarvon Gorge and extends south.
Similar eroded, pale sandstone to Carnarvon Gorge is found throughout the Mt Moffat section. Access is by 4WD – there are some deeply rutted tracks, sandy sections and steep climbs up onto the plateau.
There are interesting sandstone formations and many escarpments and rock faces with aboriginal art work.
Confusing sign if you don’t read English!
We camped at Dargonelly Rock Hole. It was the only water source in the area, so animal and birdlife was pretty spectacular particularly early morning and late afternoon.
On top of the plateau the view stretched out in all directions. The plateau is over 1200 meters above sea level – the highest plateau in Queensland. We drove up to the head of Carnarvon Creek, where the track winds through a forest of giant Mahogany trees.
Small slab hut on the road into Mt. Moffat
We were lucky enough to arrive in Blackall the night six musicians, all from different countries, were performing at the Living Arts Center where we were staying. It was amazing how well such a diverse group of musicians could all blend perfectly into music from any of the six countries. It was great to meet these musicians and hear their stories.
Old River Gum late afternoon – Tambo
We had a couple of days between the two Blackall workshops, so drove out to Yaraka – the last town on the railway line before it closed down in the 1990’s. Below is the small settlement of Emmet along the same defunct railway line.
Lost Chev – Yaraka
Sunset on Mt Slowcombe near Yaraka
I love visiting the Blackall wool scour. It closed down years ago but has been kept in running condition as a tourist attraction. It looks like something from a horror movie. Everything is belt driven, powered by a steam engine. Over a kilometre of leather belts keep everything moving. With all this mechanical movement there is barely a sound – it is all so well built and maintained.
Heading home we passed the Roma sale yards where one of the weekly cattle sales were in progress. It’s an amazing event. Road trains arrive from near and far, cattle are unloaded, auctions take place then cattle are re loaded and delivered to the successful bidders. The auctioneers speak their own language at a speed only understandable by those in colored shirts and big hats. It really is a spectacle.
A couple of weeks before Winter is the perfect time to be in Central Australia. The days are warm and sunny, the nights are still mild and the chance of rain is close to zero.
We also crossed the Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks that we drove down last year
Flying over the MacDonnall Ranges shows just how ancient and distorted the landscape is in that part of the country.
When we arrived in Alice Springs we met our Bus driver Natalie and her awesome big Mercedes Bush Bus. She was passionate and enthusiastic, showing us all there was to see around Alice Springs, the Western MacDonnalls and Uluru Katajuta.
Our first stop was Glen Helen Lodge. We based ourselves there and visited the gorges of the West MacDonnall Ranges. A great spot with fantastic food and a view from our cabin door to die for.
Late afternoon Glen Helen
Piano with boots
I took a helicopter ride over the Glen Helen Gorge/ Ormiston Pound. These ranges sure are impressive from the air.
Ellery Creek Big hole
Painting at Ormiston Gorge
We were lucky enough to be at Uluru for the annual camel races. The traditional Calcutta is held at the pub the night before race day. Lots of excitement and some hefty prices paid for these racing dromedaries.
…handsome animals though!
The day following the races we spent the morning painting at the camel farm. Some of these animals looked to be suffering severe, post race, hangovers.
Walking through Bruce Munro’s Field of Lights installation was disorienting and fantastic
Shallow water in Lake Amadeus.
Sometimes things just fall into place. Soon after agreeing to a workshop with the ASOC in Canberra, I received an email inviting me to a Canberra High School reunion – 5 days before the workshop.
Catching up with school friends from 45 years ago was amazing. Appearances had changed but personalities were just as they were way back then.
After the workshop and reunion we headed over the mountains west of Canberra and down to the high country and Kosciuszko National Park
Driving down the New England Highway there are some very prosperous towns and others in slow decline. Back when these towns were established, being a days ride from the next town guaranteed their future. Today they are quickly passed through and forgotten. Here are the remnants of a few of them.
Coolah Tops is a great National Park with sweeping views across the Liverpool Plains. I have never seen the country so green and cant believe the government would consider allowing a coal mine in, what must be some of the worlds best agricultural land.
We left Canberra and headed out through Brindabella to join the top end of the Long Plain Road. We were told the road was closed in winter due to snow, then re opened each October.
We drove in to find a locked gate leading to the National Park. As we were about to drive back a farmer, whose property the road runs through, turned up. After chatting for a while we were about to head off and drive the long way around when he kindly offered to unlock the gate and let us through.
Twenty kilometres down the track we were stopped by a fallen tree. Not being able to go back through the locked gate and unable to move the tree, our only option was to somehow get over it.
We built long ramps of logs and rocks to give us plenty of clearance. Unfortunately, as we descended the ramp the right hand front wheel sunk into the soft ground, hanging us up on the log. After four hours of jacking, packing and digging, all we managed to do was sink deeper into the soft ground.
It was getting dark when we gave up digging so we spent an uncomfortable night camped at thirty degrees.
The ground was too soft for us to lift the heavy truck so, in the morning, we contacted the National Park Office by satellite phone and explained our situation. They were fantastic and had a ranger up there with a chainsaw within a couple of hours.
As it turned out, National Parks were sending a tractor up to clear any fallen trees later that day. If only we had known. We could have saved 4 hours of hard work and camped on level ground! Coolamine Homestead was built in the late 1800’s when they used to run horses and cattle in the high country.
Today the cattle have all but disappeared but wild brumbies are breeding up.
I spotted this mare laying on the ground way off in the bush above the plains. When I walked up I discovered she had died giving birth. Her head was resting on a log and her eyes were still open, looking out across the plains.
The Kosciuszko High country is stark and beautiful, and the weather always unpredictable. Overnight temperatures were below freezing and, in spite of the sun, seven or eight degrees was as warm as the days would get – and this was late spring!