a journey of wonder down under…

february – march 2018

In February I was most fortunate to enjoy a holidayin southeastern Australia, although like all ‘holidays’ for artists it became an excellent and inescapable opportunity for some research. I travelled with my partner and two young children, adding a beautiful dimension to an already very special journey.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, NSW © p ward 2018

White Ibis and rock face, Sydney, NSW © p ward 2018

From childhood I have had a fascination with Aboriginal culture and part of our visit was to meet up with friend and elder Noel Butler of the Budawang people from the Yuin Nation (http://nuragunyu.com.au). Noel generously welcomed us to his land and shared some memorable, and not always comfortable, insights into native and contemporary culture that strongly influenced my sense of Australia during my visit. Spending time with Noel, in his own land, also inspired much creative ecological experience and thought that I aim to explore more deeply over the coming years.

Home for a while, Nura Gunya, NSW © p ward 2018

Barbecued clams from Burrill Lake, Ulladulla,NSW © p ward 2018

Being the furthest I have ever travelled I was not sure what to expect. I am quite new to international travel, spending my life so far enjoying and celebrating the wealth of experience and life present closer to home. I carried with me a glut of preconceptions of Australia that didn’t take too long to be completely pulled apart. Having spent a few days exploring (and recovering from Jetlag) in Sydney – on first impressions a fascinating, vibrant and multicultural city – we set off in a small, and somewhat temperamental, hired camper van.

Even before leaving the city the wealth and diversity of unfamiliar flora and fauna had sent my senses reeling. What struck me first was that I did not see one species of bird that I may have seen in Europe and as we travelled this became more and more apparent. Added to the wonderful heat and climate the flora cloaking the immense Pacific coast landscape brought me to realise how different this place was. The sun was in the North!? The wind was coming from the ‘wrong’ direction. The weather patterns were beyond my comprehension…

Bush (Murrumbidgee River, Canberra), ACT © p ward 2018

Playing in the water (Murrumbidgee River, Black Mountain Peninsula), ACT © p ward 2018

Fire, Flora and Fauna (Murrumbidgee River, Australian National Botanic Gardens), ACT © p ward 2018

Roadside, Namadji National Park, NSW © p ward 2018

Brayshaws Homestead, Namadji National Park, ACT © p ward 2018

Kangaroos, Namadji National Park, NSW © p ward 2018

Long Plain, Namadji National Park, NSW © p ward 2018

From Sydney we headed south along the Pacific coast as far as Bateman’s Bay before heading inland to Australia’s new and strange administrative capital, Canberra. From there we drove further south and up into the Kosiosko Mountain range where temperatures dropped to as low as 6C (in contrast to a pleasant 32C in the city). Staying with friends and family and then becoming familiar with the ‘free’ camping grounds in the country’s National Parks our travel was relatively inexpensive. It was so refreshing to be in a place that actively encouraged outdoor experience, with excellent facilities such as gas barbecues and compost toilets provided in the most remote places, although the road surfaces often shook us to our very cores.

Cooleman Homestead, Namadji National Park, NSW© p ward 2018

Blue Waterholes Campground , Namadji National Park, NSW © p ward 2018

Blue Waterhole, Namadji National Park, NSW © p ward 2018

To fully articulate or describe the depth and insights of the whole experience would need a book, with a great many pictures, even more than I have shared here, so I will spare you that for now. However, I know that over the coming years such experience will become evident in my work both in terms of further travel, sensitivity to my own cultural and ecological identity, and participation in Australian culture and the understanding communicated through it. I have already been invited back to explore local pigments and art with Noel and hope to take up that offer as soon as I am able.

Coast (Pebbly Beach, Nuggan Point, Pretty Beach), Shoalhaven, NSW © p ward 2018

Bush Walk, Nuggan Point, NSW © p ward 2018

Bush Shadows, Nuggan Point, NSW © p ward 2018

Coastal Forms, Nuggan Point, NSW © p ward 2018

Nura Gunya, Ulladulla, NSW © p ward 2018

Aboriginal earth pigments, Jervis Bay Maritime Museum, NSW © p ward 2018

With many thanks to Martin for making the journey possible and to Francesca, Noah and Agnes, Sally and Miles, Noel and Trish and Alex for making it such a rich and beautiful experience.

© P Ward 2018

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One Comment on “a journey of wonder down under…”

  1. Thanks for the reminder and memories, one day I will get to look at the photos x


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