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

MONTANA WEST

Following our workshop in Calgary, we drove back into the USA to cross the Rockies in Montana. Driving through Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road is one of the most spectacular drives. We plodded our way slowly, stopping every chance we got to take in the view and do some walks.

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

The weather closed in as we reached the top of the mountains, but the rain, snow and fog sure added a wildness to the spectacular atmosphere of the mountains.

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

Driving out of Glacier National Park, we headed west across Montana. The country flattens out and is dotted with small ranches.

© John Lovett 2018

© John Lovett 2018

Mobile road block occupying 100% of the bitumen.

© John Lovett 2018

We met this guy and his wife, who live in the woods at the foot of Glacier Nat. Park. Their dog chases away bears.

© John Lovett 2018

Kootenai Falls where The Revenant was shot. © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

Crossing Idaho and into Washington the landscape turns to rolling hills of wheat and canola farms.

© John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018 © John Lovett 2018

We reached an interesting little town called Hunters in Washington State. It looked like nothing much had changed there since the 1950’s. From here we turned North, drove back up into Canada and the Okanagan Valley for another workshop in the town of Kelowna.

© John Lovett 2018© John Lovett 2018© John Lovett 2018© John Lovett 2018

HIGH COUNTRY

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

 

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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.

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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.

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snow8821This guy thought sticking his head under a rock made him invisible.

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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.

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It was getting dark when we gave up digging so we spent an uncomfortable night camped at thirty degrees.

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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! cutlogsnow9082 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.

snow9112 snow9116 snow9132 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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

 

CANADA

After floating our way up through the Northwoods we crossed the boarder into Canada at Sault Ste Marie. A mighty bridge spans the locks that move ships from one great lake to another. A short queue, quick passport inspection and some questions about alcohol and firearms saw us welcomed into Canada.

Once across the boarder the highway was lined with warning signs about deer, moose and Amish rickshaws. We saw many Amish rickshaws, a few deer, but unfortunately, not a moose in site.

The Canadian roads were excellent and it didn’t take long for the big V8 to float its way to Sudbury where my brother Wayne and his wife Monique live.

Sudbury sailing club and lake ferry.

Science North is a big, snow flake shaped building housing an Imax theater and a number of science displays relating to the local area.

The park surrounding Ramsey lake, in the center of town, is the home to a large collection of native wildlife. These Canada geese share the waters edge with a resident beaver. There are squirrel’s, chipmunks and raccoons, but still no moose or bears.

One of the main tourist attractions in Sudbury is the Big Nickel. At 9 meters high, it is listed in the Guinness book of records as the worlds largest coin.

Sudbury’s Inco Superstack is the second tallest freestanding chimney in the world (380 meters)  being outstacked by a neat 10% by a chimney in Kazakhstan. Before construction of the superstack toxic gases from the mine had a devastating effect on the local environment – acid rain turning rocks black and killing off all vegitation. The superstack pumps the gas high into the atmosphere, where it can be detected for a 240km radius around Sudbury.

The Canadian government control all alcohol sales in the country. If you want to buy beer you go to the Beer Store – they don’t sell wine or spirits, just beer. If you want alcohol containing beverages other than beer you drive across town to another government owned store called the LCBO. There you can buy wine and spirits, but not beer?

Cigarette sales are also controlled by the government via heavy taxes. Through some loophole, the Indian reservations can sell cigarettes tax free. For a few bucks you can buy 250 generic cigarettes and add some more toxic fumes to the local atmosphere.

Monique took us for a drive to Onaping Falls north of Sudbury. A beautiful river cuts through weathered granite country, lined by forests of birch, maple and pines. It’s a spectacular site at the start of summer but during the fall the green forests turn brilliant red and yellow – it must be really something to see.

Wayne and Monique took us on a boat trip down French River, an hour south of Sudbury. It is a wild unspoilt waterway, dotted with islands and scattered cabins. Indian tribes have lived in the area for centuries and the first European contact was way back in the 1600’s, when the river became a major trade route for furs and timber.

French River Loon

This old fishing lodge was built on French River in the early 1940’s. The semicircular dining room has hardly changed since the day it was built.

French River is a beautiful, unspoiled part of the country. Our guide, Rene, had a real passion for the region, having lived there all his life. His detailed knowledge of the river’s history really made it a fascinating trip.

MARGARET RIVER WORKSHOP

Our Accommodation for the first few days of the Margaret River Workshop was at the old Karridale  Homestead Complex. The homestead was built in the late 1800’s and moved to Margaret River in the early 1960’s. Motel style accommodation was later added, the homestead serving as a restaurant and conference room.

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Our first morning painting was in the comfortable courtyard of the Homestead.

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After going through all the techniques and materials I like to use everyone chose a small part of the courtyard and, using just two colors, concerntrated on composition and tonal contrast to squeeze as much out of their subject as possible.

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That afternoon we walked down to the river. The overcast sky illuminated the gatehouse on a small foot bridge. It was a great subject, but the chilly wind forced us to retreat around 4:30

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Next day we traveled down to the South West tip of WA to Cape Leeuwin where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.

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We found a small sheltered beach and spent the morning painting the lighthouse and surrounding buildings.

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The old Post Office and general store at Witchcliff was closed down a few years ago and is slowly starting to crumble

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The interesting shapes and textures kept us busy painting for the afternoon

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A workshop in Margaret River wouldn’t be complete without painting in one of the wineries. We chose a windy hillside in Voyager Estate. The cold breeze and beckoning cellar full of excellent wines just up the path, meant the painting session finished fairly quickly.

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Voyager brought out some of their best wines for us to sample before sitting down to a great lunch in the dining room.

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After lunch we found an interesting door at the back of the winery.  A simple subject, great surroundings and the warm fuzzy feeling brought about by good food and wine made this a lot of fun to paint.

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The next day we traveled to Pemberton and the giant Karri forests of South West WA.

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After the windy weather near  the coast, the stillness of the Karri forests was a welcome change

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Vertical lines of the Karri trees descend into a chaotic mixture of bushes, ferns and flowers. The formal verticals and varied colorful textures make a great subject.

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The last three days of the workshop were spent at the Kari Valley Resort just out of Pemberton. You can hire a fishing rod and catch trout from your balcony.

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The resort is on the edge of Lake Beedelup. There are walking tracks around the lake and a suspension bridge over the spectacular falls

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We had our own private dining room perched over the lake.

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Our farewell dinner was a great night – Steak, Barramundi and local wine. It’s always sad saying goodbye to everyone but hopefully we will all catch up again sometime.

Many Thanks to Amanda Sloan, our tireless, hardworking tour guide, for making this such a great workshop

GIBB RIVER ROAD

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The drive from Kununurra to Derby can be done via a thousand kilometre stretch of sealed road through Turkey Creek, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. The other option is the Gibb River Road –  seven hundred kilometres of dust and corrugations that link the bulk of the Kimberley cattle stations. This road also gives access to some incredibly beautiful gorges and waterholes and cuts through some of the most spectacular mountain ranges imaginable.

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The spectacular Cockburn Range skirts the northern end of the Gibb River Road.

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Catching the late afternoon sun in this area is something  special.

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The Pentecost River is the major river crossing along the Gibb River Road and the last to open after the wet. What appears to be a large white rock on the downstream side of the crossing is the roof of one of Home Valley’s Landcruisers.

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View towards the coast across the floodplains of the Pentecost River.

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Gibb River grader – no wonder the road is so rough!

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The Durack River is another of the many river crossings. At the end of the dry season it is reduced to a string of picturesque waterholes.

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Another victim of the corrugations. Heavy impact fractured the sidewall plies. Fortunately we spotted it before the tyre blew.

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Half way along the Gibb River Road is Mt. Barnett Roadhouse. From here a track leads in to Manning Gorge. A great spot to camp, swim and walk.

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Accessing the main Gorge requires swimming across the Manning Creek. White foam boxes are provided to transport clothes, cameras etc.

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Manning Gorge is a large clear pool fed by a waterfall and surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs.

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Galvans Gorge is another beautiful, clear waterhole surrounded by sandstone walls. Clean water and no crocodiles make it great place to dive in and cool off.

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Wandjina paintings can be seen on the walls of the gorge.

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Further down the Gibb River Road is the turn off to Adcock Gorge. We camped there 27 years ago and the area was strewn with rubbish. No surprise, the station owners have stopped people camping there now.

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Deep, clear water – Adcock Gorge

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We found this old blue tongue trying to disguise himself as a rock on the road.

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Towards the Southern end of the Gibb River Road is the King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park. There is good camping at Silent Grove and, further up the track, Bell Gorge.

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The main pool and falls at Bell Gorge are reached by climbing over the escarpment and following markers down into the gorge.

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Bell Gorge was one of the few gorges to still have a fair flow of water over the falls this late (September) in the dry.

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The southern end of the Gibb River Road crosses the King Leopold Ranges before cutting through the Napier Range. Beyond the Napier Range is sealed road through to Derby, or turning left leads to Windjana Gorge