The Madigan Line – photos

Sorting photos is a tricky job – after a while it becomes difficult to select those that really sum up the essence of the experience. We returned from our desert trip over a week ago and now I have an assortment of images to share. (Are they the best ones? I’m not sure …)  For the detail of the trip, 6000 km from home in Sydney to Port Augusta in South Australia, then north into the desert in the centre of Australia, turning east to cross about 900 sand dunes and eventually working our way home again, see my previous post here.

I will do another post showing some of the flowers and birds, and maybe include more pictures if I decide they are essential …

A bubbler mound, where water forces its way to the surface. Small oasis.
View from a small plane of the sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see, on Anna Creek Station, the largest cattle station in the world, at 9142 square miles, or 23,677 square km.
The Painted Hills, rocky hills made of a variety of different coloured rocks, on Anna Creek Station.
Sunrise from our camp
Deep bulldust on the track – it is as soft as talc and like deep water to drive in. One of our companions got bogged.
A sand dune – intense red sand, with spinifex and small scrubby desert plants.
Another sunrise, from another camp!
When there is rain, or runoff from rain many kilometres away, the desert blooms.
These small bushes twist and twirl – so sculptural.
Wind patterns in the sand.
Sunset over our first bush camp.
Dalhousie Springs – an oasis in the desert, 37 degrees C. We opted for a walk around it rather than a swim.
I was presented with a live gecko to draw – it stayed on the edge of my sketchbook while I quickly sketched it. (Note the flies I had to contend with as well.)
Spinifex clumps. The cars are almost hidden off to one side.
A typical dune – there were tiny footprints all over it from reptiles and mammals, but they were well hidden themselves.
Gidgee trees appeared every so often. They are a kind of wattle, and are small, tough and slow growing.
Eyre Creek in flood. The track that we would have taken was right through here, so a detour was required.
As soon as water comes through, plants appear. You can see the sharp lines of where the water came to.
An early horse-drawn road grader.
We came to the top of a dune and looked down into a sea of green – it was magical.
All our vehicles stopped on the track through the green valley.
Some of the flowers in the green valley.
View from the top of a dune, the cars in the convoy snaking through below.
On top of Big Red, the biggest and last sand dune before Birdsville.

Author: anna warren portfolio

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

28 thoughts

  1. Your photo selection is perfect! That red dirt against the plug sky, wow! It looks like you would never have contact with another person if it wasn’t for the caravan. It’s good to see such remote areas. Really beautiful, thank you for sharing. I love the geeky, but the flies!!

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    1. It really is remote out there Cathe – we did see a few other people but there would be times when no one comes through for many days at a time. I love those big skies, I have so many photos just of different cloud formations! Actually the flies weren’t too bad, we have definitely had worse, but the biting insects were a bit nasty, I have some bites that still haven’t quite healed up. But everything else outweighed that!


    1. Its huge isn’t it? But because of lack of water and in places poor (or no) soil, they run very few cattle. I think only about 3000 at the moment, because of the drought. Most of their dams are empty. Its hard to imagine living somewhere that remote, but on most of those big properties they use a plane to get about.


  2. Stunningly, jaw-dropping photos, Anna. I found myself lost in nature’s colors and fully inspired to head to my own art ‘lab’. Thank you for sharing. You did an excellent job curating these pics. I felt like I was in the middle of a National Geographic documentary film.

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  3. I find the photos which contain either water or the colour green are easier for me to relate to than the photos which show dry red sand. There is something about the desert which repels me (probably frightens me). It is a deep-seated gut reaction and it stops me from seeing the beauty that you probably see. But as soon as a bit of green appears my instinct is to relax and then I am able to appreciate the scenery. How lovely about the gecko – but equally how not-lovely about the flies. (I know my comments only reflect on my own ignorance.) Now I’m going to look at your second post of photos.

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    1. Something I have realised is that the desert polarises people, from those, like you, who are horrified or intimidated by it and those who would be there in an instant. I appreciate the coast and beaches, the green parts of Australia, but I truly love the desert. As soon as I am surrounded by the space and colour of the desert, spinifex on sand dunes, I am at peace. Spending time out there is not easy, you have to be completely self-sufficient, with no access to communications, but it somehow speaks to my soul.

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      1. I’m sure you are right, Anna, about the polarizing. Something about heat and dryness doesn’t do it for me. Even when we were in Italy last November, I “put up with” Rome, but later in the journey, as the train crossed Italy to Northern Italy where I saw the mountains in the distance and the colours got so much cooler, I felt a huge sense of “Ahh, NOW this is what I love”. There is no right or wrong, and it is wonderful that people (and landscapes) differ from one another.

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        1. I think maybe what I like is the extremes – dramatic scenery like the mountains you saw, I loved the winter landscapes of Norway and Iceland, some of which were so different from anything I was aware of, even growing up in Europe. I don’t enjoy heat, the desert in winter is cool, so very comfortable. I couldn’t cope with Northern Australia later in the year! And isn’t it good we are all so different!

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  4. I’m very envious of your trip Anna 🙂 Only just last night we were viewing ‘Great Australian Rail Journeys’ and I thought of you and your adventures out in the wilds . Gorgeous rich colours here …I feel seeing such informs much of your works of art . Well done for persevering with your drawing there with those little impossible- to- get away- from flies !


    1. It was an amazing trip Poppy, I think I’m still processing what we saw! And yes, I think you’re right, the things I see and draw out here have a resonance even in my abstract works. Lovely to hear from you, hope all is well xx


      1. Thank you Anna . Yes, all well and happy .
        I’m not quite sure where I’m going with it all but I’ve given myself a nudge Lol and making positive moves to become engaged with WP once again . Look forward to seeing more of your variety of art work along with ideas on potential outcomes and progress as it evolves xx.


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