You know I am not a quilter, but there are many of you who are. So here is some eye candy for my quilting friends. If you are not a quilter, you may still enjoy looking.

Musu Quilts


Posted in Odds and Ends | 6 Comments

The Nullarbor and trees.

It was at my artist in residency at Mountain Seas on Flinders Island that inspired me to focus on trees. Not just any tree, but melaleucas. I love their canopies, the way the top  parts catch the light while the underneath is in deep shade. I love the shape of them ~ flat areas and crevasses. But I also love their trunks and branches, which twist and bend. When they are massed together there is a rhythm to the shapes.

I am obsessed by these trees. I try to move on, but I keep coming back, either to try them in a new way or perfect what I have been doing. I have used pencil

I have painted with watercolour

I have worked them in yarn. This was probably the least satisfactory way of creating them, but it did lead me onto creating embroidered landscapes.

They all flowed from the Flinders Island experience, where I saw the melaleucas massed together. The trip across the Nullarbor has fuelled my obsession in a different way. The trees there are not melaleucas and, while there are hundreds of square kilometres of them, they are individual trees. I am not sure what species they actually are, and at the moment, that is unimportant to me. Like the melaleucas it is the shape of the canopy and the sculptural branches and trunks that make my creative heart sing.

Maybe you look at these photos and think “Nice pictures, but iI don’t quite get the obsession”. I love them partly because they dovetailed so nicely with the melaleucas, so similar, and yet they shimmered in the wind. Partly because I had to wonder about the evolutionary process. What advantage is there to have such spindly branches? (Bendy branches help in the wind, I guessed, and maybe thinner trunks help move water more efficiently. Any thoughts?) But largely because when you are travelling a thousand kilometres (and another thousand back) staring out the window, you do get a bit obsessed by what you are looking at. I found I was trying to capture the individual trees in my mind.

So, the trees sat there for a couple of weeks and a couple of thousand kilometres. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised two things had come together ~ the trees and a set of oil pastels that were a Christmas present in Western Australia. And this is what is coming out…

The oil pastels allow me to smudge and blend and get carried away with colour combinations. I can layer colours over each other and drag pastels through areas. Then the trunks and branches have the delicacy of the ink. That’s like doodling! Mostly I use black ink pens, but I have been experimenting with different coloured inks. (I show some of my experimentation on  my Instagram feed, AnneLawson54.)

Some close up photos so you can see how the oil pastel creates luscious textures and combinations of colour.


Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2017


Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2017

So far they are all either A5 or A4 size, but I am planning bigger ones. They are so satisfying, and such a contrast to the detailed work in my botanic art paintings!

Most of the paintings are available in my Etsy shop AnneLawsonArt. There are details of each if you are interested in finding out more. Some of the other drawings I have shown you in this post are there too. However you don’t have to buy through Etsy if you don’t want to. You can email me at annebags@optusnet.com.au and we can sort things out.

Posted in AnneLawsonArt, My art work, Plants, Texture, Travels | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The sketchbook (br)enters Europe

You know about the Travelling Sketchbook, (in case you don’t, click on the previous link)….Chas is one of the Sisterhood, and her post about the Sketchbook arriving in Europe sums up what I think the whole thing is about. I hope you agree.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world – I give you that most democratic of instruments, that most trans-boundary of objects, that most diplomatic of materials –  the Travelling Sketchbook o…

Source: The sketchbook (br)enters Europe

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Continuing across the Nullarbor

The other day I left you on the South Australian/Western Australian border on the Eyre Highway, about half way across the Nullarbor.


This was the full journey we were on, from Melbourne, Victoria to Bunbury in Western Australia, a trip of about 3,500 km.


Let’s continue the journey……

Right on the border is the quarantine station. It is staffed 24 hours and stops all traffic entering Western Australia to check for produce, especially fruit and vegetables. It is to stop diseases and pests from entering WA. So the very nice young woman inspected all the nooks and crannies in the van, but, as we had already ‘donated’ at the SA/Victorian border, there was nothing to be found.

Eucla is just down the road. It is the only stop on the Nullarbor that could almost be called a village. Not only does it have the quarantine station, the usual motel/camping ground/cafe complex, but also a health service and the police. Many people visit the old telegraph station too.


Any where is a long way from home in Eucla!

Eucla sits on top of the plateau that we have been driving on, that amazingly flat landscape.


Just out of the town the road descends down the escarpment onto the plain below. On the South Australian side the land must have sheered off to create the cliff into the Great Australian Bight. On this section there is a coastal strip that runs alongside the escarpment for many miles. Every time I thought we were seeing the end of it, more would appear on the horizon.

This sketch was done in the car. That funny, semi-circular shape in the sky at the right is actually the moon. It was large, and the bottom edges of it dissolved into the cloud  haze.


Now the vegetation changed again. It is more salt bush country, but with the most glorious silver, shimmery trees, with sculptured trunks and branches. I think they must be Acacia papyrocarpa or Western Myall. In his book “A guide to plants of inland Australia” Phillip Moore describes them as

“Usually a short, thick-trunked tree with a broad dense rounded silver canopy….this stately tree is most noticeable on the Nullarbor Plains and along the Stuart, Lincoln and Eyre Highways, north, south and west of Port Augusta.”

I have discovered that it is so difficult to take decent photos from a moving car. We pulled over a few times, but the trees were always better just down the road! But here are a few offerings of the acacias. (Maybe you had to be there to fully appreciate their splendour!)

The road is so flat and straight that it makes the perfect landing strip for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, if they should be needed. There are four strips along the highway. (You can see the escarpment along the horizon.)


About 70 kms from Eucla is Mundrabilla, a windswept roadhouse and motel. Travel on about another 100 kms to go back up the escarpment at Madura. Then it seems like a short jump to Cocklebiddy, another motel/roadhouse/camping area.


Someone here has a sense of humour, which you would need, to live in such an isolated spot!


It’s probably the time to tell you about Nullarbor Links, the world’s longest golf course. The link will tell you much more, but is is described as

The Nullarbor Links concept is unique. The 18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres with one hole in each participating town or roadhouse along the Eyre Highway, from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia. Each hole includes a green and tee and somewhat rugged outback-style natural terrain fairway. The course provides a quintessential Australian experience and a much-needed activity/attraction for travellers along the renowned desolate highway.


I’m not a golfer, but if I was, I would have done the course!

There is also a cave at Cocklebiddy, which I didn’t know about until Anna mentioned in the comments from my first post. Even if I had known, I would not have gone down there! But it would be interesting to see the entrance.

Caiguna is the next  fuel stop. It is also the beginning of the straightest stretch of road in Australia ~ 146.6 km without a curve ~ which ends at Balladonia.

Balladonia’s special claim is that in July 1979 the re-entry of the Skylab space station left a trail of debris across the nearby countryside.

Then we finally pulled off the road to camp in a wayside stop. We had covered about 1000 kms since leaving Penong.


The peace of our little camping area was so welcome. And that night the moon was so bright….magic. Worth every kilometre.


We left with the sunrise the next morning, and reached Norseman, the end of the Nullarbor. Here the road turns north to Kalgoorlie or south to Esperance. We went south, and stopped in Esperance for a meal ~ was it breakfast? Lunch? ! Then headed on further and eventually ended up in Wagin. It was another long day, through wheat land and salt lakes, but at the end was a powered site and a shower with hot water! Blessings!


I guess the only other thing to say is that we had to do the whole thing again on the return. You may be surprised to know that I enjoyed as much the second time! We spent New Year’s Eve camped at Moodini Bluff, another peaceful place. I wrote about it a couple of posts ago.

Thanks for coming along for the journey. It may have brought back memories, or it may have sparked an interest or it may have just been a good armchair journey!

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Across the Nullarbor

The Fella and I decided that we would drive to Western Australia to visit family for Christmas. So, as well as organising an early family Christmas this side of the continent, we packed the van and got ourselves ready for the adventure.

There are very few ways to get across the Australian continent. You can go north, through Darwin, or you can go south, across the Nullarbor. The only navigational decision we had to make was how to get to Port Augusta in South Australia because once you get there the road just goes straight west. We decided to go through Mildura.

It is a trip of about 3,500km!


A lot of you are probably thinking “What is this Nullarbor stuff?” and I promise that I will explain it soon. For the moment, understand that the trip across the Nullarbor is an iconic Australian road trip. It is either something you have done or long to do, or could never contemplate. The Fella and I did it about 15 years ago, so we had a reasonable idea of what we were up for. I travelled a lot when I was a child. Mum and Dad would hitch up the van and off we would go. I loved those long, mesmerising journeys where I was able to go into my own world. And I still love being in the car and just going. The distance was never going to be a problem for me.

There’s not a lot to say about the trip from Melbourne to Port Augusta. It is agricultural and mainly wheat. It was harvest time, so there was a lot of activity in the fields, large harvesters and other tractors with movable silos. The grain then goes to the silos but not those big concrete things, although they still stand tall in many towns. Instead the wheat   is poured horizontally and covered by huge plastic tarps. Some farmers seem to be using smaller versions of these to store grain in their fields. I feel that I saw every grain of wheat between here and the west coast! But pondering about the process of storing and selling wheat helped quite a few hours go by.

The only other thing of note was that we crossed the Murray River on a ferry. That was cool!


Day 1 we made it to Burra in South Australia, 820kms.


The next stage was up to Port Augusta and then on the Eyre Highway, west, heading to Ceduna. We went through Ceduna and camped on the side of the road, about 14 kms west of Penong. Day 2 was 737 km.


We pulled up in a spot amongst some trees. We watched the sun go down, and then we were asleep, only occasionally woken by trucks thundering down the highway through the night.


Day 3 and we were off to cross the Nullarbor. So time to tell you about it.

Wiki gives the dry facts:

The Nullarbor Plain (/ˈnʌlərbɔːr/ nul-ər-borLatinnullus, “no”, and arbor, “tree”[1]) is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest single exposure of limestonebedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi).[2] At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.

(Note the Latin definition of the name…..It wasn’t until I went across last time that I realised that Nullarbor wasn’t an Aboriginal name. I was flabbergasted that I had lived so long without knowing that it meant No Trees!)

That description doesn’t give you a feel for the amazing landscape. It is flat. It is unrelentingly flat. No mountains, only some hills. There are no permanent watercourses across it. Over the whole distance you don’t cross creek beds, dry or otherwise. That’s because it is limestone, and the water eventually trickles down and to form large underground caves and aquifers. An information sign described it:

When limestone interacts with underground water it dissolves to form a ‘karst’ landscape ~ an amalgamation of caves, underground channels and a rough, bumpy ground surface.

The karst landscape, including some shells imbedded in the ground.

As you drive along, clinging to the southern edge of Australia, you know that this ancient landscape stretches way northward, and south over the Southern Ocean to Antarctica. You are a speck in the vastness.

Not only is it flat, but is is a desert. Even now, in cars with air conditioning and excellent fuel economy and modern technology, it is not a journey to undertake lightly. It is the Outback and unpredictable, and you don’t want to be caught without enough fuel and water. There are no towns, no farms. Roadhouses are scattered along the highway, but there are many miles between each one. We were lucky that the weather was cool as we crossed both ways, but temperatures can average 35 degrees in December and January.

So why do it? Of course there is the fact that it is the only way to drive from east to west, hence the enormous number of large trucks that do the journey. But aside from that, it is an amazing journey, through a surprising number of habitats. So, let me take you on our journey across the Nullarbor.

We left our camp site early (no showers, of course!) and after about 100 km of wheat farms we entered the land of the Yalata Aboriginal Community. All the farming land was left well behind, and we were in mulga country. Despite the name, Nullarbor, there are trees on it. And they fascinated me. They have rounded canopies of leaves, with spindly branches. The leaves shimmered in the sun and the wind. I was smitten. (Much more to come about these trees and my art work that is inspired by them.)



The last town on this sign is Norseman, 1001 km away!

Quite suddenly the trees disappeared and we were going through the Treeless Plain. It begins at the roadhouse of Nullarbor, on the edge of the Nullarbor National Park. It is a bleak, flat plain, so flat you can see tomorrow.


This next photo was taken at Nullarbor Roadhouse, where we stopped for coffee. Despite the emptiness of the environment, it was a welcoming break, with a large, clean amenities block, including showers (which we didn’t use, because all our washing gear was tucked away in the van 😦 ). The woman who made the coffee was very cheery.


We didn’t see any of these animals…..


The next section of the road runs close to the coast, and it was a buzz to see the ocean. There are some opportunities to pull of the road to view the cliffs. Although I am describing the east/west journey, we stopped on the way back, so I am going to show you the views as they come west to east. I am glad we did it that way, because I think the views just got better.

The first viewing area is just east of the border.


Further along are these stunning cliffs, look how they just sheer down into the Great Australian Bight. Apparently sometimes you can see whales glide past. Wouldn’t that be something?



The Treeless Plain continues on to the South Australian/Western Australian border.

And that’s where I am going to leave you until tomorrow, because I feel that I have made you read so much today! Look out for the Western Australian journey.



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#stitchingsanta reveal #2

The second parcel still hadn’t arrived when we left for Western Australia a few days before Christmas. Our neighbour was collecting our mail, so I knew it would be in safe hands if it arrived. We came home a week into January. When Melissa gave us the post I wondered about the lack of parcel. I even wondered whether I had muddled up things, and that there wan’t one. I was concerned that an unknown blogger had gone to a lot of trouble to make up a parcel for me and it was lost in the mail system. I felt quite rude.

Time to ponder what to do. Check with Melissa; email Sheila. Then I read a new blog post from Rita at Rita’s Design, who was telling her readers about the parcel she had put together for Anne. Oh dear….but at least I knew who to talk to.

And then a most amazing thing happened.

Not half an hour after I had read Rita’s post, the Fella called out “Anne, there’s a parcel here for you!” There was Rita’s box, but it wasn’t telling of its adventures from Germany to Australia!


I happily ignored this instruction!


Inside was a delightful hand made card, with this message

As I first scrolled down on your blog I immediately felt a connection to you because I respect and love nature just like you. Even though we have a different way of expressing that and our creativity I think we have a lot in common.

I think so too.


Rita designed this tray especially for me, and the feather decoration was just perfect. (There are feathers on the sides of the box too.) It will be a fine box to put my feathers in. 🙂


In the background you will see a white mug with a fine feather on it. Rita stencilled it herself, again with that feather motif.


She lives on the border of the Netherlands and thought I would probably like one of their hot-choco-spoons. She is right 🙂


This delightful little angel was crocheted by a very talented friend of hers.


However, Rita made this key holder, again in the shape of a feather ~ a parrot feather methinks! ~ so I won’t be loosing my keys again.


Or my luggage, because now I have a luggage label made of the cutest fabric.


Speaking of fabric, as well as all these other goodies, there were two (not one but two!) pieces of material. Soft colours, and the top one has a feather pattern too.


Again, I was overwhelmed by Rita’s generosity and thoughtfulness (and grateful that it is not languishing in the depths of of an Australia Post cavern.) I am humbled by the kindness shown to me by both Rita and Joey.

In Rita’s box there was one more little treasure, these festive coasters, on which will sit my new mug, on top of the protea placemats. A BIG THANK YOU to both of my #stitchingsantas, you have made my Christmas even more memorable.


If you want to find out what I sent to one of my #stitchingsanta buddies you can read Lynn’s unveiling of one of my parcels. And in a lovely twist, Lynn is one of the Sisters of the Travelling Sketchbook!

If this has piqued your interest for Christmas this year, follow Sheila’s blog to watch out for her announcement.

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#stitchingsanta reveal #1

You may remember me telling you about the #stitchingsanta swap organised by Sheila at  Sewchet. You could opt in to either a knitting/crocheting secret santa, a sewing secret santa or both. Then Sheila matched us all up. What a fabulous idea, and what an organisational nightmare it must have been! Thank you so much Sheila. 🙂

The idea was that the goodies wouldn’t be opened until Christmas Day. My first parcel arrived well before then, which was lucky as the trip to Western Australia was going to get in the way. It came from Joey who blogs at littlebackdogsa. You might also like to follow this link to see why she calls her blog Little Black Dog.

Imagine my delight to see this parcel arrive at the door, all the way from South Africa!


Inside were lots of individually silver-paper wrapped presents. I am very easy to please, and anything wrapped in paper delights me!

Her card said

I am your Stitching Santa buddy, all the way from Johannesburg, S.A. I had so much fun putting these gifts together for you. I tried to keep it South African, but with your love for plants and birds as part of the theme. I hope you enjoy them


Joey’s instructions were to open one present each day leading up to Christmas, which was good because (a) I wasn’t going to be in Melbourne for Christmas and (b) I am terrible at not opening presents!!

I can’t remember the order in which I opened them, but I do know which was first, because I was blown away by this spoon and knife set. Look at those beautiful patterns!


There were a generous number of threads, chosen to suit my palette of colours! They will certainly be used over the year.


There was some tape. I am going to use the lacy one on a project that my Mum is working on. I think she will love the extra zing it gives her work.


Tapestry needles ~ Yay! I needed some with different sized eyes, and these have their own little house to be in. How did she know?!


A very cute coin purse….


and some South African chocolates and biscuits. These got eaten on the trip over to WA! Yum.


A note pad and pencil, because Joey must know that lists are the backbone of my life.


And there is more. Are you blown away by Joey’s generosity, because I certainly was, and still am. Here is a set of cards with a beautiful lacy pattern cut out of them, (I love writing letters), as well as a notebook (I love notebooks!). Of course the notebook has a Cape Town post mark, proteas and, I presume, South African birds.


Finally, some more South African themed goodies….two placemats, again adorned with proteas, and a bag that will be perfect on my walks.


Joey’s thoughtfulness and generosity is amazing. I can only hope that she had as much fun organising the gifts as I did opening them.  Many, many thanks Joey. xxx

Her card was a postcard of the Ponte Tower. The photo was part of a project that is dear to her heart, and you might like to take a look. iwasshotin joburg 🙂 is a project where former street kids are given disposable cameras and encouraged to photograph their world. You can see more at iwasshot

Now, I did say that there were two parcels coming my way. The second was also a delight to receive, but it is a story for tomorrow.


Posted in I would like to thank...., Kindness, Odds and Ends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments