100 days under canvas – the beginning 

Leaving Sydney on a cold winter day, with rain threatening we were looking forward to getting to Central Australia for sunshine and warmth, but there was a long way to go first. We had intended to head west towards Broken Hill via Menindee but discovered the day before we left that all the dirt roads we had intended to take were closed due to flooding – big news you might think but not a whisper of it in Sydney. So we took a more southerly route via Forbes, Griffith and eventually Port Augusta where we started to feel a bit more warmth, and the skies started to clear. Nights still cold though – about 2C. 

Leaving Port Augusta for Coober Pedy, still a few flurries of rain but the landscape was changing to the dry open red soils we love. From 50 km outside Coober Pedy we saw the mullock heaps left by the opal miners.   

 The mining is done by individuals, no large scale operations here. There are plenty of stories of people who have come to the town, struck it lucky and left very rich, only to return penniless some years later, and never find that vein of opal again. But they keep trying. It is home to a lot of Aboriginal people too – hearing them speaking their own beautiful, flowing language reinforces the sense you are well away from the cities. 

The Breakaways is an area just north of Coober Pedy, eroded hills with ironstone caps and dramatic colour variations. The scenery is similar to what we saw at our next camp in the Painted Desert. Although it looks dry and barren, there was an amazing array of brightly coloured flowers on small sturdy bushes, daisies, eremophila, camel bush and many others I couldn’t name. 

Arckaringa station was our next stop – it is a working cattle property, 2745 square  kilometres (or 680,000 acres) running one animal to an acre. And this is one of the smaller properties in the area. 

We set up behind the homestead, there was a simple corrugated iron shed with hot showers and toilets and a big fire pit with benches all around for the campers to use. Camping in places like this is a highlight – peaceful, open, the stars are so clear and people always friendly. Sitting around the campfire at night exchanging stories of travel and life in general is a joy. 

The photos really can’t capture the beauty and variety of colour. Like so much of this country you really have to be in the environment to appreciate it properly. 

After two nights at Arckaringa we drove out, more stunning scenery. Then up the Stuart Highway, two days later we are here in Alice Springs, in the heart of Australia and we are WARM!

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

30 thoughts

  1. What a fantastic journey and travelogue . Thank you for posting the pictures of the vastness and beauty of Australia. Your drawings are beautiful.


  2. A post which is a mix of photos, drawings and writing is really perfect…as this post is. You’d have to do a hell of a lot of persuading though to convince me that this country is beautiful. Looks to me like ‘sets’ from “The Flintstones”. That’s the eye of the beholder for you. So good that you are drawing, drawing, drawing – in between keeping warm.


    1. Now that is the difficulty – showing the beauty. My heart sings to be out here – however hard it is getting here and sometimes combating the elements to me every minute is worth it once we hit the red dirt. I’m still not drawing as much as I would like to but there still is time!


  3. Anna keep having a great time. That country is so amazing. I was there about 10 years ago. We would often just stop the car and walk off the roadside. There we so many tiny plants and flowers tgat were invisible at 110 k!


  4. Such an amazing landscape and your delicate art is beautiful. Oh that we could feel some heat here! More drizzle on Sherkin Island today. So much for summer, but like you, I just love being out and about. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Px


      1. Isn’t technology great all the same! A sea mist has wrapped the landscape here so sending you all the best on a grey, soft day with the promise of light on the horizon.


        1. Technology is wonderful and I’m appreciating it even more because I only get it in small doses now – I should put out an apology to all the people I normally follow whose blogs I just can’t get to see at the moment, I will be back eventually! Your day sounds very beautiful Patsy – very gentle.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow Anna what a cool way to travel – your art journey diary is amazing. Love seeing the topography of the country, your trip was truly a series of one beautiful scene after another – really enjoyed your post.


  6. Anna, your photos are crystal clear. I’m amazed you are doing all this on your phone, it works perfectly. I’m almost speechless at the beauty of the landscape! It’s incredible what you are experiencing. I love that you are sketching and painting along the way and sharing these images too. I have been so excited to see your travels! This is wonderful, thank you for taking me along. Not to rush things but I look forward to your next post! Love your artwork!


    1. The landscape is truly amazing and will be changing as we go. Next stop will be interesting, looking for garnets! My internet is very limited so may not be able to respond much but will definitely be posting more as and when I can – thanks Cathe!


  7. Thank you Anna, I was sitting at my desk eating lunch on a cold, wet and windy winter’s day here in Melbourne and your post whisked me away into the outback. I love you photos of the landscape and then you are taken into the beautiful details of your drawings. They all put a smile on my face. I adore the desert and the amazing colours and vistas and then looking closely and finding the little treasures hiding within. You have captured this beautifully. Karen


  8. Oh those MILES you travelled for even the first part of your adventure Anna ! Such tiny delicacy flourishing in this incredible environment is a wonder . I love the colours of the painted desert – very reminiscent of our trips to the canyons in the States .


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