EASTERN MACDONNELLS

Our plan was to buy fuel at Gemtree at the end of the Plenty Highway then head directly down into the Eastern Macdonnell Ranges via the cattle water pass. Unfortunately, Gemtree was out of diesel so we had to continue on to Alice Springs then head out to the Eastern Macdonnells.

Our first stop was Emily Gap – a small gorge and waterhole cutting through the range. The Aboriginal rock art here is unusual and very spectacular.

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Down the end of a rough track are the John Hayes Rock Holes. We were lucky to be the only ones camped here, so enjoyed a quiet walk over the ridge and down through the chain of rock pools. The rough track means this area is much quieter than nearby Trephina Gorge

Traveling to the eastern extremity of the Macdonnells you come to Ruby Gap. The track for the last 40 km is pretty slow going at around 3 hours, but Ruby Gap and the walk up to Glen Annie Gorge make the trek worth while.

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Ruby Gap

We managed to find a 4km detour on our way up to Glen Annie Gorge

Glen Annie Gorge

After a 12km walk,  mostly in soft river sand, we were happy to be heading back to our camp.

COLOR WHEELS

Painting Color Wheels is a lot of fun. It highlights the mixing options and short comings of a chosen group of pigments. I am always amazed at the range of colors available from a reasonably compressed set of pigments.

To see just how a small range of colors will cause your brain to start filling in missing hues, try making a color wheel from stones, leaves, sticks or any small objects with a varied range of colors.

It’s a great way to train yourself to see subtle differences in hue and builds up an understanding of the color wheel – vital knowledge for successful color mixing.

They are also nice things to leave behind on out of the way riverbanks.

Colored stones Burdekin River, Queensland, Australia

Tonal gradation, Burdekin River.

Color Wheel Windjana Gorge, Western Australia

Colored leaves, Katherine River, Northern Territory, Australia.

MT. ELIZABETH

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Mt Elizabeth Cattle station was first established by pioneer cattleman, Frank Lacy and his wife Theresa, in 1946. It is still run by Franks son Peter and his wife Pat. In recent years, as well as running around 6000 head of cattle, they have opened an area of the station to camping.

Mt. Elizabeth contains some great examples of both Wandjina and Bradshaw Rock Art. We made arrangments with the Lacy’s to visit some of these sites along the track to Walcott Inlet.

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Mt Elizabeth is typical of the west Kimberley landscape – lightly wooded, pandanus lined creeks and sandstone outcrops.

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The Walcott Inlet track has many creek crossings but, at the end of the dry, most are fairly shallow.

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The Rock Art sites are scattered through the landscape, usually on protected sandstone overhangs.

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As in many rock art galleries, the underside of horizontal overhangs are a common painting surface, offering best protection from the elements.

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The subject and style of the paintings on Mt. Elizabeth vary considerably. There are seemingly light hearted images of figures and animals, such as the dancers above, as well as abstracted, symbolic figures like those below.

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Others, even after thousands of years, are just plain scary.

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The oldest examples on Mt. Elizabeth are the enigmatic Bradshaw Paintings. Their meaning and origin still a complete mystery.

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Linework on the Bradshaws is really fine and delicate compared to the Wandjina style paintings.

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Here, old Bradshaw paintings have been overpainted with Wandjina images

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Some of the more abstract Wandjina paintings are incredibly beautiful and simple.

Distribution of the paintings is interesting. There are large galleries containing many paintings varying in style and subject. At some sites you would expect to find numerous paintings but just one small image will be found, tucked into an obscure corner.