FLINDERS RANGES

From Maree we headed south into the Flinders Ranges via the ruins of Farina and the soon to be abandoned town of Leigh Creek.
The Flinders Ranges contain some of Australia’s most spectacular landscape. We zig zagged our way from the south, back and forth up through the ranges until we reached Arkaroola in the north.

© John Lovett 2016
Farina chicken run

© John Lovett 2016The country surrounding the ranges is flat, dry and vast.

© John Lovett 2016This distorted grass tree looks almost as old as the country surrounding it.

© John Lovett 2016Camped in a ring of ancient mountains

© John Lovett 2016Walking in these ranges is compelling. You can’t help walking to the top of the next hill or exploring the next stony outcrop.

© John Lovett 2016Beautiful colors, textures and shapes are everywhere.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Watched by wedgetails.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

The Arkaroola Ridgetop Tour is something not to be missed. Almost 5 hours exploring some of the wildest four wheel drive tracks and gazing over the most spectacular views I have ever seen. These landcruisers get just 2000 kilometers from a set of tyres!

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

The Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby makes it’s home in some of the remote parts of Arkaroola.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016    © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016  © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Wild white horses along the track into Arkaroola

© John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016Early morning Drink. This guy was sharing a tiny, cereal bowl sized waterhole with half a dozen of his mates and a couple of noisy Galahs.

BIRDSVILLE TO LAKE EYRE

Lake Eyre rarely contains water, so hearing of rising levels and heavy flow in from the north, we decided to drive out and have a look. We plodded our way slowly out to Birdsville then headed south along the Birdsville track

© John Lovett 2016Birdsville Track – dry and flat

© John Lovett 2016 Goanna Feasting

© John Lovett 2016Vegetation in this area is sparse but interesting. Mostly Saltbush, Mulga and Desert Oak.

© John Lovett 2016

Early settlers along the Birdsville Track lived a hard life. This is the grave of the two youngest Scobie children who died of pneumonia in the 1890’s.

© John Lovett 2016

We called in to Etadunna Station and picked up a key and directions to one of the large lakes, already full of water, to the North of lake Eyre.

© John Lovett 2016

A slow trip through the sand dunes finally brought us out at a huge lake filled with water and surrounded by a crust of white salt. A strange sight in the middle of a desert.

 

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

There are some interesting old relics scattered along the Birdsville Track. I’d love to know the stories behind them.

We continued South to Maree – a sleepy little town with a Pub, “Yacht Club” and remnants of the old Ghan Railway Line. Maree marks the southern end of the Birdsville Track and is the best access point to Lake Eyre. We obtained maps and information from the Yacht Club and headed out to see the Lake.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016 Old Ghan Railway Bridge

© John Lovett 2016Remnants of a railway siding and full moon.

We camped on a waterhole at Muloorina Station and drove out to Lake Eyre South, across the Goyder Channel and on to, a still dry, Lake Eyre North. It’s an amazing sight to see a brilliant white salt pan disappear over the horizon. As you walk out into the lake the sand dunes begin to disappear and all you can see is blue sky and white salt.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

© John Lovett 2016

A couple of days at Muloorina waterhole gave us a chance to catch up on some washing and photograph some of the birdlife.

© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016© John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016© John Lovett 2016 48 © John Lovett 2016 © John Lovett 2016

Muloorina waterhole is fed by an artesian bore. Boiling hot water bubbles up and creates a steamy mist early in the morning. By the time it reaches the waterhole it has cooled enough to support fish and yabbies.

SOUTH THROUGH LIMMEN

Following the road east from Mataranka out to Roper Bar brings you into the top of Limmen National Park. The Northern region of the park is popular with Barramundi fishermen, but heading south along a badly corrugated road towards Cape Crawford brings you to Butterfly Gorge and a number of areas dotted with strange sandstone formations.   xrNT__2951
Butterfly Gorge (minus waterfall at end of dry season)
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This little Azure Kingfisher spent a lot of time patiently watching the ever diminishing waterhole for fish.
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Pillars of sculpted rock.
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Heading south east, we camped at the Ayrshire Hills. Another spectacularly weathered landscape 70kms out of Winton.
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KAKADU

We entered Kakadu National Park from the south, via Pine Creek with a 3 day permit to enter Koolpin Gorge. After collecting keys from the ranger station, we bounced our way down the road towards Gunlom. Crossing the South Alligator River, we turned South East to Koolpin.  The road was badly corrugated with some nasty twists and turns.Roll Over - © John Lovett 2015
This poor guy found out the hard way that taking it easy gets you there quicker.

Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Koolpin Gorge is a string of waterholes linked by waterfalls in the wet season. The three lower pools are the home to salt water crocodiles, but beyond those it is safe to swim.

Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015
Walking up through the gorge is spectacular. The track cuts up over the ridge in places with great views of the surrounding country.
Koolpin - © John Lovett 2015

From Koolpin we moved on to Red Lily Billabong. There are no facilities there, and the track in is pretty rough at the moment, so not many people head out that way. We had the place to ourselves. A young couple with a tent called in, and seeing the number of crocs there, decided it wasn’t the place for them.
Red Lilly Billabong - © John Lovett 2015

Red Lilly Billabong - © John Lovett 2015
The billabong is a large expanse of water and covered with huge red water lilies. Lots of bird life and numerous large crocodiles.
Red Lilly Billabong -© John Lovett 2015

Crocodile - © John Lovett 2015

Croc - © John Lovett 2015

Sandy Billabong - © John Lovett 2015
Sandy Billabong is a favourite spot. The early morning light, rising mist and lurking crocodiles make the twisted old paperbarks look kind of creepy .
Sandy Billabong - © John Lovett 2015

Yellow Waters Cruise on Jim Jim Billabong at sunset is one of the highlights of Kakadu. This is the fifth time we have done the cruise and it is always spectacular.
Croc, Jim Jim Creek - © John Lovett 2015

Crocodile - © John Lovett 2015

Sunset - © John Lovett 2015
Afternoon fires turned the setting sun into a glowing red ball.

Sunset Lillies - © John Lovett 2015

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Kakadu Birds                                                 Slide Show Not Working?


Water Buffalo - Kakadu - © John Lovett 2015We saw a number of small herds of water buffalo scattered through Kakadu. They had almost been eliminated but over the past few years are breeding up again.

Bull Catcher - © John Lovett 2015This old landcruiser was used to chase down buffalo back when they were in large numbers.


Kapok Flowers - © John Lovett 2015Kapok Flowers

NORTH TO KATHERINE

 

After the Blackall workshops we headed out through Western Queensland and up into the Northern Territory.


xNT__0521Interesting architecture – Kynuna, Western Queensland

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Ancient council caravan, seen better days.


xNT__0438Willie Mar’s Chinese Market Garden – Winton

 

We found ourselves in Katherine for the annual rodeo. The town was busy, but we were able to stay at the show ground where the rodeo was held, so we got to see all the practice and preparation before the events.

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xNT__1566Abandon swings outside the rodeo grounds


xNT__0916On the morning before the rodeo we were treated to an impressive hour of hard core polo practice.
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QLD. WORKSHOPS

 

June, July and August have been busy months with workshops in Cairns, Gladstone and Blackall.DSC08475

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DSC08493Cairns Art Escape is held annually in “The Tanks” – an amazing venue inside enormous old WW2 oil storage tanks converted to studio and performance spaces.

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July we were in Gladstone at Gallery 67 for a 5 day workshop after which we reloaded the truck and headed out to Blackall for the annual artist retreat workshop.

xNT__0374  Blackall – Artists Retreat

xNT__0359Local Blackall drover, Stu Benson, kept us entertained with stories of the area and spoiled us with tea and damper.

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Old shearing shed at Dunera Station where we were made welcome and enjoyed smoko and an interesting walk around the property.

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Louise and Lexie, who drove out from Currumbin for the workshop, took Dianne and I out to Allendale, where Louise grew up. The old homestead is now abandoned and slowly decaying, it was great to look around at some of the relics remaining from when Louise was a little kid.

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Blackall Sunset
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Blackall Wool Scour
Machinery – Blackall wool scour

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We were lucky to be in Blackall for the Camerata of St John’s, Queensland Chamber Orchestra’s performance. It was fantastic – all young, enthusiastic and incredibly well rehearsed players touring through outback regions of Queensland to help raise money for drought relief.

CARNARVON GORGE / BLACKALL

A workshop in Blackall provided a great excuse to head off a couple of weeks early and spend some time in the Carnarvon Gorge / Salvator Rosa area of central Queensland before settling in for the workshop.

gorgeCarnarvon Gorge is a spectacular collection of sheer sandstone cliffs, narrow side gorges and pockets of rainforest.

 

BLAC2978Light spills briefly into one of the damp, narrow side gorges.

BLAC2997Palms and ferns grow in the protected pockets of the main gorge.

BLAC3004x_1Strangler figs engulf anything in their path.

BLAC3011The surrounding country side is in the grip of drought, but permanent springs keep the creeks and waterholes in the gorge full of water.

BLAC3045Strange textured fungus.

BLAC3083After a few days exploring Carnarvon Gorge we looped around to the North and came back into the western end of the Carnarvon Ranges at Salvator Rosa. The access roads quickly become impassable as soon as rain falls. With no prediction of rain we were confused heading into this looming black sky. It turned out to be a mixture of suspended dust and smoke from nearby fires. It made for an amazing orange light as the sun set.

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BLAC3126Exploring some of the tracks around Salvator Rosa was hard peddling in the sand and bulldust, but a lot of fun.

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BLAC3127The fine bulldust mixed with coarse sand make this kangaroo’s footprint so detailed you can even see the texture of the pads on his foot.

arts centerWe left Salvator Rosa and headed via Tambo to Blackall where we stayed in the Living Arts Centre for the workshop.

The Living Arts Centre was formerly a hostel for school students from the outlying stations. Students now attend boarding schools in the city, so the premises has been converted to accommodation and studios.

DSC07191The studios are spacious and filled with light. Our painting was punctuated by excursions to numerous places of interest around Blackall. We visited “Alice Downs” where Jacky Howe broke the record for blade shearing – 321 sheep in 7 hours and 20 minutes back in 1892. The record still stands today. We enjoyed great meals supplied by the “Marmaladies” from Blackall and also dined at a number of restaurants around the town, including a memorable feast, slow cooked in a wood stove at the wool scour.

BLAC3201Another local hero was Roy Dunne, who jumped his goat, Nugget, over a 3’6″ bar in 1905 – another world record feat.

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BLAC3194Mustering cattle for the Thursday cattle sale in Blackall.

 

BLAC3185Long neglected fuel pump.

BLAC3296xStu Benson first drove cattle at the age of 12 and has been a proud Blackall resident all his life. His stories of the town and knowledge of the area are captivating.

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BLAC3407xHypnotic local goats.

BLAC3453Blackall wool scour – amazing steam driven chaos brought back to life.
Many thanks to Sally Campbell and her enthusiastic helpers for a fantastic workshop in Blackall.