I have just come back to Menindee after spending a few days in Mutawintji National Park. It is a couple of hours north east of Broken Hill.
Have you ever seen the movie “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”? It was filmed in Broken Hill. So if you have seen it you can visualise the landscape we were travelling through. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you do, as it is a fabulous film!
We were following in the footsteps of Burke and Wills. Our guide was Garry, a member of the Burke and Wills Society who had been this way a few years ago. He was so knowledgeable about the area, even arranging for us to go onto private land to see where some of the paintings from the expedition were painted.
I have mentioned that I am up here, with other botanic artists to paint the plants collected by Hermann Beckler on the Expedition. The naturalist and artist on the Expedition was Ludwig Becker (similar name, but without the ‘l’). He was a very talented artist, producing some gems on the journey. Unfortunately he was one of the men who died during the trip.
The photo shows a copy of Becker’s landscape with the original view. It gives a good idea of the terrain. Difficult enough to travel through in a car — imagine how much more difficult on foot leading camels and horses.
Beckler also produced sketches on the journey, although not as good as Becker’s. I can just see them both sitting on the banks of the Darling River sketching and painting this scene. The first photo is Becker’s watercolour and the second Beckler’s sketch.
They headed to Mutawintji because they knew that it was a permanent water source. ‘Permanent water source’ in that environment often simply means a pool of water. There was certainly no flowing water in either the Homestead Creek or the Mutawintji Gorge when we camped there, although there were a couple of waterholes in the latter.
The National Park is the tribal area of the Malyankapa and Paadjikali People and there are many examples of their rock art. People have been gathering at this oasis for thousands of years for celebrations and ceremonies. The gatherings still go on today. In September 1998 the Mutawintji National Park was handed back to its traditional owners.
(Hope this post works okay — it is difficult to preview. Fingers crossed!)