Plants Travels

The southern Flinders Ranges

After we left our magical overnight camping ground, and our lovely new neighbours (and all the flies!), we spent some nights in Rawnsley Park Station. We stayed there two years ago, and this link will tell you more about the history of the station. It is a great place to stop.

We did some walks around the hills. One took in the views of the Elder Range, to the south of Wilpena Pound. As a botanical artist I love looking at the flowers and plants that are growing, (that’s why you never take a botanic artist on a walk if you are in a hurry!), so I was fascinated to see these fields of plants. They seemed to be some sort of salvia, but I couldn’t find them in my reference books. I loved the way they carpeted the area, and set off the view to the ranges.

Perhaps “carpet” is a relative term! For an arid, rocky area, this is quite a carpet. This photo shows you the sort of soil they have to grow in. By the way, that is white lichen on the rock.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

Like all these arid areas they come into their own in the morning and evening, when the light is soft. There are often spectacular sunrises and sun sets. I will leave you with photos of some, so you can see why places like this get into your soul.


Copi Hollow peace

Some photos taken from our camping park, at Copi Hollow, one of the lakes in the Menindee Lakes System. You can imagine how difficult it was to see sights like these from the caravan!
(Please remember too that these are my own photos and must be credited if reused.)




I love this one because the men are so serious about their fishing, and the boys are just being boys!
And this photo just proves that it wasn’t always peaceful. One day the wind blew so strongly all day that the towels on the line were horizontal!


Melbourne Odds and Ends

Women’s Peace Garden, Newmarket Saleyards and the Maribyrnong River

The Women's Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
The Women’s Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

We have had some glorious Autumn weather in Melbourne the last couple of days. I decided my walk would be also be an exploration.Two or three times a week, perhaps even more, I travel down Epsom Road, through Kensington. For a long time I have seen a sign pointing to the Women’s Peace Garden, but have never seen any real indication of where it is. Now a larger sign has been erected on the road. This was the day to find out more.

This is the view that I now see from the car.

The Women's Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
The Women’s Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

So I went through the entrance, under the Morten Bay figs and down the steps,

past the mosaic,

Pass by the mosaic, in the women's movement colours of green, purple and white
The mosaic, in the Women’s Movement colours of green, purple and white

to see the garden spread out below you. It has been designed with the peace symbol and the woman symbol in mind. You can see the peace symbol easily on the grass. The other is more difficult. The bluestone colonnades at the bottom form the cross. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of that.


The garden was built in 1986 to commemorate the International Year of Peace. It was designed by a team of women and is now maintained by the community and local schools. The plants were chosen to fit with the colours of the Women’s Movement — green, purple and white — and to symbolise remembrance — the peace rose, rosemary and olive trees.

I sat for a while and did a very poor sketch of the garden. As well I thought about war and peace, soldiers and civilians. Australia has recently celebrated ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), our day of remembrance. I have a very ambivalent attitude to ANZAC Day, as so I was grateful to find a place where peace was celebrated and the innocents of war cherished.

This garden has been built on the old Newmarket Saleyards. They were built in the 1850’s and by the twentieth century they were amongst the biggest saleyards and abattoirs in the world. They closed in the 1980’s. When I first lived in the local area I remember hearing the bellowing of the cattle, and if the wind was blowing from the south the smell was not pleasant either.

After they were sold the yards were developed into medium density housing, the first in the area. As I wandered through the other day I was impressed with how the development had been done. There is a lovely tangle of streets, lanes and mews. The houses seem to open to walking lanes and many of the old peppercorns have been kept. The heritage of the area has been remembered with the bluestone paths and post and rail fences. I wandered along the old stock route to the Maribyrnong River. These photos might give you a little feel for the place.

Bluestone paths, post and rail fences, peppercorn trees.(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Bluestone paths, post and rail fences, peppercorn trees.(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The road narrows so that cars have to give way to pedestrians (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The road narrows so that cars have to give way to pedestrians and on-coming cars. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

And finally, some images of the Maribyrnong River from the bridge the cattle used to cross on.

The city from the bridge. The water was so smooth. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The city from the bridge. The water was so smooth. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The bridge (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The bridge (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

Thank you for joining me on my meander on a beautiful Melbourne day.


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Texture on Thursday — beach

Summer is here — for half the world, anyway. During the heat the beach calls….

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How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

The trees in my street are beautiful jacarandas — one of my very favourite trees. I also have one in my backyard. Really, it is too big for my small yard, but I can’t bring myself to  do anything about it.

The jacarandas were out in December and were simply beautiful.

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After some heavy rain and wind the fallen petals look a little like purple snow.


Plants Travels

East to Menindee

I want to leave the Flinders Ranges now and head almost due east for about 500 km, to Menindee. It is a small town, about an hour south-east of Broken Hill, on the Darling River and right on the edge of the Menindee Lakes system and Kinchega National Park. It is big sky country — it is so flat that the sky arches from horizon to horizon. And it is red dirt country, semi-arid. So, why there?

Well, it is fascinating. The lakes and the river attract birds from far away. The habitats away from the water are full of secret treasures — plants, insects, reptiles. (Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes, but I know they are there.) Secret because driving past in the car it all looks like boring saltbush. But stop and investigate and a world opens up.

Once you start to explore you can see the diversity, and begin to appreciate how plants can survive in such harsh environments.

But also because it is an area that features in the Burke and Wills story. For Australians those names are legendary. For others I will explain in the next few posts who they were and why their story sent me and other botanical artists to Menindee. For now, enjoy some of the beauty of Copi Hollow, and the caravan park where we stayed.

We saw this view of the lake, Copi Hollow, every time we went outside the caravan.
Looking back to the caravan park, evening light
The beautiful evening light

Leaving the Flinders Ranges

I am going to leave blogging about the Flinders Ranges for awhile. Time to move east to Menindee and Kinchega National Park. So, one last photo……

Path along a ridge, where you were definitely walking on the bones of the Earth. (I think the white plant is Silver mulla mulla.)

…..and a link to a blog that has beautiful photos of the Ranges.

I came across Peter McDonald’s stunning photos in the Prairie Hotel, Parachilna — aerial photos of Lake Eyre in flood, taken from such an altitude that they became abstracts. Beautiful…..


Sacred Gorge in the Flinders Ranges

The Sacred Gorge is another stunning gorge in the Flinders Ranges. You walk (clamber at times!) up the creek bed, looking at the marvellous rock formations. This makes it more intimate than Brachina Gorge, which is a drive, not a walk.

The other thrill in this gorge is the Aboriginal art that has been carved into the rock. It is not always obvious, which makes it even more special. The Adnyamathanha people believe that the art was created in the Dreamtime. Given the beauty and age of this serene place, that seems quite possible.