Travel sketches from the dry west of NSW

In late September we packed up the camper trailer and headed towards the west of New South Wales, to camp on the banks of the Darling River, one of the great rivers of Australia. This year has been severely dry, and the vast majority of NSW was declared to be in ‘extreme drought’. The river was very low, mostly pools rather than a healthy flow. In summer you expect to see parched landscape but usually at this time of year, in spring, there is some green to be seen, but not this time. Even the big gum trees are pale, the colour sucked out of them. This also means there is little wildlife, the birds, kangaroos, even the big lizards seem to have gone searching for food elsewhere. The only animals we saw a lot of were goats, and even they were looking tired and thin. So searching for things to draw was not such an easy task. Plenty of bones, and some hardy plants and trees but little else. This sounds depressing, and in many ways it was, but the landscape is still magnificent and has an ancient power to it. We camped with friends, then met a group of people who have the same camper trailer as us, made some new friends and enjoyed the old ones! I’m doing this post on my phone, so quality control could be an issue, so forgive me for any oddities!

Author: anna warren portfolio

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

16 thoughts

  1. I was up on the Darling a week ago, and agree on how dry it is up there. I have been going up for the last number of years, and was dismayed to see the environment. But like you, the place is still such an ancient power. I love your sketches!


    1. We have been here several times before, and never seen it like this. We have to trust that nature will balance out and the lush times will come again. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, fingers crossed! Thanks Anne, glad you like the drawings!

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  2. Even with the sadness of drought and thin goats, I can also see the beauty of the landscape. It is a circle of life and consequences of nature that bring character and new cycles. Lovely sketches and thanks for sharing!

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  3. Wonderful to see all your travel sketches, beautiful and inspiring. Very sorry to read about the drought and it’s effects on the environment. I do hope the rain comes soon and Mother Nature can overcome climate change.

    The subject matter you have shared through your sketches gives a really good sense of the landscape, fascinating! Nice that you are meeting old and new friends while camping.

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    1. I’m glad you are getting a sense of the landscape Cathe, it is really very beautiful, although harsh in many ways. I can’t imagine living out here! But those who do wouldn’t live anywhere else, despite 48 degrees in summer! I treasure our camping experiences, and being with people who enjoy the wild places as much as we do adds to it!


    1. Thanks Anne – I love anything found on an old rubbish dump! Our camping was cut short by heavy rain – I am definitely not complaining though, it was so desperately needed. One place that hasn’t had decent rain in 2 years had 15 mm which is a huge help. Now they just need the follow-up rain ….

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  4. Your drawings are probably the freshest things out there – (at least until the recent rain you mentioned). It is a testament to the resilience of flora that you found anything at all with green in it. How you are inspired by such ordinary objects (especially the top of an old oil burner) is a mystery to me, but you see the life, beauty, whimsy, and uniqueness in every single object you take the time (and love) to draw.

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    1. In some ways I prefer to draw things that most people would pass by, rather than the objects that are intrinsically beautiful. I do find that I see more in objects once I start drawing them than I did even when my eye was originally drawn to them – the skulls and bones are a case in point. They almost metamorphose as I am looking at them. But this time it was difficult to find subject matter, there usually are fruits, seeds, flowers, feathers – there were almost none of these this time. I would love to go back to these places again after a lot of rain – they would be transformed.


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