Queensland patterns and textures

cooktown

Sorting through the photos from my recent trip, I realise that many of the photos are not showing beautiful scenery or wildlife so much as textures and patterns. I am always drawn to this kind of imagery – some will be used in future drawings and paintings, others are simply stuff I liked. Following will be a small selection of these, some are easily identifiable, others are just strange or beautiful shapes and forms. In the picture above I was looking down on Cooktown harbour as the sun set.

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Outback wildlife

kangaroo

Time to sort the photos now – in this post will be a selection of the animals, birds and plants I came across in the first part of my recent trip through outback New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. I don’t regard myself as a serious photographer, it is more about recording moments, sometimes for future reference for artworks, or just for a memory. One of the great pleasures of travelling is observing wildlife that you just can’t see in everyday life. Not a lot of explanation of these photos is needed, just a few captions. Above is a large male red kangaroo watching us curiously.

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Pelicans, ducks and other water birds feeding in a billabong right behind our camp outside Wilcannia, NSW.

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A small kangaroo living amongst the mullock heaps in White Cliffs. These heaps are the results from opal miners’ diggings and there are numerous mine holes amongst them, probably quite a few with the remains of kangaroos in the bottom.

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Zebra finches collect in their thousands in trees near water holes, their soft but insistent calls filling the air.

camel

On the way to Birdsville we met a man travelling with his camel. He had already walked several hundred kilometres and still had a long way to go to get to Birdsville, but was happy to stop and chat.

cattle

Roaming cattle were one of the road hazards we were keen to avoid.

corellasCorellas are highly social birds, collecting in groups of thousands. The sound of their calls as a a huge cloud of them circles above us in the early morning or evening epitomises camping in the bush.

emusEmus climbing over a bank near the road.

FeralcatA large, healthy feral cat. On the other side of the bush had been another feral cat – this was the winner of the stand-off. Cats are a big problem in the bush, clever hunters and great survivors they decimate populations of small native animals.

EyreCk5Pelican on Eyre Creek. We spent a night bush-camping by the creek, watching the hawks, spoonbills, egrets, budgies, water hens and many more, happily feeding, enjoying the water in the seasonal creek which is often dry.

EyreCk3This large egret looked tentatively balanced in the dead tree on the edge of Eyre Creek, but it was a perfect vantage place for it to spot fish to dive for.

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Innamincka2 Innamincka3We watched several varieties of birds popping in and out of nest holes in trees at Innamincka on the edge of Cooper Creek, near where Burke and Wills came to the end of their ill-fated journey, returning from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

tracksOn the sand dunes at the edge of the Simpson Desert there is no sign of life till you look down – tracks of small mammals, reptiles, birds criss cross everywhere, with the occasional cat or dingo print among them.

Final pages of the sketchbook, Townsville to Sydney

Home again now, the expedition is over and time to gather our thoughts and memories.

The last post ended at Mission Beach, a long beautiful beach and small, unassuming township. From there we continued south down the coast, heading for Townsville, but came upon a small national park called Big Crystal Creek and decided to have one last bush camp. There was a large rock hole in the creek, finally a chance to swim! The weather was warm, the water was cold, altogether delightful. One last damper on a campfire, then Townsville the next day. We booked into a caravan park right on the beach which proved to be a good choice as we could walk into town along a beautifully set out track, up and over a headland, with lots of information about the military history of Townsville. I knew there was a large army base and an air force base there, but had no idea that the military involvement went right back to the 1860s, and the first contingent of Australian soldiers left from there for the First World War. The Battle of the Coral Sea happened close by in the Second World War. In town we visited the Regional Gallery and found a wonderful exhibition by a local artist Jo Lankester. She had made very large abstract collagraph prints using the rocks and landforms of the area for her inspiration. Each print was made up from between 10 and 15 colour plates. I bought the catalogue, and came away inspired to revisit collagraphs.

Having enjoyed Townsville far more than we expected we were disappointed in Airlie Beach – lots of grey nomads escaping the cold of the south and lots of backpackers crammed into hired campers or old station wagons. The beach was not beautiful, the town was tired with uninspiring cafes and shops, we found it difficult to understand the popularity. So now we were ready to come home. Leaving the warmth of the north, the temperatures dropped quickly – by the time we arrived in Toowoomba it was freezing, out came the blankets, jackets and beanies! Then, straight home, 11 hours of driving, but it was worth it to save camping in wet and cold. Great to be home, but so many great memories!

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