We've just returned from an amazing 6200km trip through outback Australia- Brisbane - Birdsville- Adelaide- Broken Hill- Darling River Run- East Coast.This is a good time of year to travel through the desert , with hot days and cooler nights. The trip took some organising , as you need to be self sufficient with food, water and fuel , since you're sometimes 500kms away from anywhere or anybody - we're talking Wellington to Hamilton distance here, which is a sobering thought. And it was certainly worth it!
From a painters point of view it was wonderful - the colours are quite different to NZ , so much orange, red and
purple. Mulga bush is a beautiful silvery green and there are unexpectedly beautiful wildflowers growing on the sand dunes .
The views go on for ever, literally. I've never before stood on top of a dune where you have a 360 degree view and can see the earth gently curving on the horizon. The sky is huge. Especially at night when there are millions of stars (and howling dingos nearby).
There were new challenges....remembering to check for anthills before I sat down to paint, watching for snakes (luckily they seemed to be snoozing their way through winter) , flies , kangaroos who fling themselves blindly at your vehicle ....
The Simpson desert can be a dangerous place too, apart from the obvious risks of breakdown away from the track there is also the frightening speed with which you can become lost. I found that as soon as we left the main track I also seemed to lose my sense of direction , and its very hard to see the road unless someone else drives along it in a cloud of dust - and it can be a long stretch between passersby.
As far as the painting itself went I found that pen and wash was often the quickest way to capture images, and managed to paint from the backseat as we drove!I found myself reaching for earth colours (we actually passed Aboriginal ochre pits in one place).
I've come home with photos , sketches, a few small paintings and a head full of ideas . And an overwhelming dream of returning there...
If you ever get the chance to visit the outback yourself make sure that you go armed with flynets, a good 4 wheel drive , several drivers and a sense of adventure, it's magic place to visit.