aerial views of Lake Eyre

Desert Channels, Desert Lake, General, Art + Environment

Desert Channels. The Impulse to Conserve launched

There were 17 contributors to "Desert Channels. The Impulse to Conserve" at the very successful launch at the Hugh Sawrey gallery, Stockmans Hall of Fame in Longreach, swelling the large crowd to 95-100 people. We sold 30 or so books on the night and did quite a few media releases for radio and newspaper. http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/09/27/3023188.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/09/27/3023188.htm?site=westqld

and links from ABC Western Qld http://www.abc.net.au/westqld and http://www.abc.net.au/northwest

Tropical storms are still rolling around the Desert Channels and Simon and Christine Campbell were cut off by the raging Barcoo River! Nella and Mark Lithgow did make it through from Cravens Peak Reserve, as fortunately did Bruce and Maureen Scott from Windorah and Angus and Karen Emmott from Stonehenge, everyone's vehicles were well plastered with mud though! 10 of us went on and stayed at Noonbah, near Stonehenge with Karen and Angus Emmott on Saturday, to watch the grandfinal of course with pies and beer provided by Faye Alexander. Due to the road being closed, we changed plans and didn't stay with Simon and Christine at Blackall so 8 of us then descended on Maureen and Bruce Scott for the night at Moothadella, Windorah and were able to celebrate with Bob Morrish who joined us for the night also.

Dave Thompson's welcome to country at the SHOF was excellent and people thought the powerpoint he presented, including early, hauntingly damning Hansard records of politicians views of Aboriginal people and counter-visual evidence of long occupation of Country,  was powerfully informative. Bruce Scott's opening speech was moving and very much to the point revealing his great love of the Channel Country. He bestowed great honour on the contributors by comparing our quest to write about and make images of the Channel Country with the aims of the celebrated writings of Alice Duncan Kemp. I hope to send you all his text in due course. It was great to see the intercanges in the crowd during the night and a good mob of about 35 went onto dinner after. where the discussions continued.

The launch at the Rain on the Rangelands conference in Bourke on Monday night was also a big event, 230 participants were seated  right on the banks of the old wharf on Bourke and we were given a 20 minute time slot for our launch which put is in full spot light. Geoff Wise was enthusiastic and generous in his speech, I was able to introduce Chris Dickman as the NSW Scientist of the year and once Chris and I had recovered from the shock of talking to such a big crowd, were kept busy signing books for some time after the speeches and when I saw Melinda Chandler from CSIRO last,the following day, shortly after Guy Fitzhardinge's challenging keynote address, she was still selling. Half of the print run has been sold already, it seems, so don't delay your contributor discounted purchases too long into the future!

I'm sorry you couldn't all be there to celebrate this significant achievement but we hope to catch up with more of you at "The Big Wet" National Museum Forum on 22 October 12-2 pm, which will launch the book in another context.

Desert Channels, Desert Lake, General, Art + Environment

Desert Channels. The Impulse to Conserve. Book launch and Exhibition

You are invited to experience an exhibition of new art and writing about and by the people of the Desert Channels Country.Please join some of the 46 contributors at the launch by

Bruce Scott, Mayor of the Barcoo Shire.

Hugh Sawrey Gallery, Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Longreach, Queensland 6.00– 8.00 pm 24 September 2010 Event Free Please RSVP September 17 aldr.martin@bigpond.com

WEBSITE: http://environmentalhistory-au-nz.org/desert-channels/ To order: http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/21/pid/6406.htm

General, Art + Environment

Desert trip 2010. Part 1, Flood in Tirari Desert

A small group including Guy Fitzhardinge, Faye Alexander, Steve Morton and Australian Wildlife Conservancy operations manager, Tony Fleming and myself visited Kalamurina, an exceptional Australian Wildlife Conservancy reserve in the Tirari Desert, South Australia in April.  www.australianwildlife.orgThe big rains in Queensland have gradually flowed down the desert river systems in massive volume to now flood the Warburton, Kallakoopah and Macumba Rivers. Kalamurina fronts over 160 kms of the Warburton and this reserve, more than the size of Tasmania, reaches all the way from the Simpson Desert down to Lake Eyre. The flood peak is just reaching the Warburton groove above Lake Eyre and the eastern part of the lake is flooded.

We camped for 5 days on the Warburton, and despite our worst fears the mozzies and the flies weren’t too bad, our major problem, mainly for my paper canvases and sketch book pages, were huge storm cells moving across the wide horizons and we had 5 mls of rain overnight one night. The Birdsville track was cut above Mungerane and briefly closed again below it after up to 5 inches of rain fell near Leigh Creek.

This rain and flood waters made driving around the property tricky and a simple trip 200 kms to turn off a tap at a bore took 10 hours one day. I fortunately know what days like this can be like and spent a long day painting by the Warburton. I made an experimental 3 panel study bringing together the expanding and massive coal mining operations at Leigh Creek with the Warburton in flood. The following days I painted a 3 panel study of the Warburton River in flood!

Fellow artist, Faye Alexander, works in recycled materials and was able to collect some wire and pieces from the dump at Kalamurina to make some work. Guy, Steve and Tony did some avid birdwatching and poked about the camp fire, telling yarns and cooking the camp oven!

The property managers Tessa and Mark McClaren were terrific hosts and Mark took us down the Warburton in a dinghy one afternoon. The experience was more like being in Arnhemland in the wet with water horizon to horizon reflecting light through the half submerged coolabah and also big storms shafting light down through rain. The birdlife is wonderful and Mark turned to engine off so we could drift and just appreciate the silence and birds. A beautiful red dingo howled and sniffed along the bank near us when we landed on shore for a walk.

Trevor Wright from Wright Air flew up from William Creek and took the 4 of us for a 2 hour flight in a circuit over the 3 rivers in flood, the Warburton, Kallacoopah and Macumba rivers, then over the Warburton groove and the top part of Lake Eyre.

Everyone says it is a memorable experience and this certainly will be unforgettable. Flying at 300- 500 feet one loses one’s depth perception and it was often only when a flock of pelicans or camel hoof prints showed up in the river mud, that we were able to tell our actual height. The landscape is just immense and seeing it interspersed by misty rain, storm cells, shafts of light and huge cumulus clouds added a rare dimension and atmosphere to the flight.