Ross River Creative Camp September 2018

This was our first time at Ross River Resort.  For me it was a most enjoyable camp. Of course, it’s always a thrill to explore new terrain and the fact that Charlie and I didn’t have to provide the food was a bonus. But it was enjoyable for more than either of those obvious reasons, it was really that the location exceeded my expectations on pretty much all levels.

We discovered many beautiful places quite close to camp that I only vaguely knew existed. Each late afternoon we would venture out in the ‘Don’ (our big vehicle) down dusty red tracks to arrive at some monumental rock formation. They rise out of the landscape like jagged, crumbling walls, turning red in the late light. Lee and Graham the managers gave us directions to these hidden gems and were extremely helpful and easy going in all respects. The food was good, really good and plentiful! The cabins were comfortable, roomy and cool, their ‘quirkiness’ charming rather than off-putting. There were some very hot days forecast for that week but even these seemed more tolerable than I anticipated.

I delighted in the company of many creative folk who feel like friends now as they have been with us so many times and we enjoyed very much the company of 3 new faces, who seemed to fit in very easily. Meal times, in the old homestead dining room, separate from the main dining hall, were alive with invigorating conversation.  We also had our own fire to retreat to, to watch the sun go down on the ranges, or the stars after dinner, so it still felt a bit like camping. The only thing we missed was Anna, our wonderful bush-camp assistant!

The variety and quality of work created was remarkable as you will see. All the ‘old hands’ chose to work quite independently of me, venturing off into the landscape each day and coming back with stories and work to inspire us all. We had two keen photographers on board who focussed solely in this medium. Bob Williamson also made photo manipulation on his laptop, thanks to the luxury of unlimited power.  I do hope they send me some of their work so I can include it in the slideshow below!

I pulled my usual tricks out of the bag for those who chose to ‘play with me’ in the marquee: oil pastel and acrylic ink, ink and a stick, large ink paintings, making concertina books, natural dyeing, and ‘frottage’ (rubbing trees and rocks with graphite and paper). I even indulged my most recent obsession; needle felting birds, in this case a pair of scarlet robins, though no one else joined me.

We took trips out into the surrounding country to Trephina Gorge, John Hayes Rock Hole and Ndahla Gorge. Everyone worked ‘au plea air’ in these beautiful places as well as other spots they found closer to the homestead. Everywhere the rock formations are extraordinary, elegant lines dressed with the texture of spinifex and mulga. It was extremely dry but still very beautiful. The cattle and brumbies looked a bit forlorn in their empty supermarket but still pretty fat considering, with new calves and foals at foot.

All in all, it was a great location and a lovely experience. So we are all set to do it again next year.

Filed under: News

illarari, Tempe Downs 2018

Illarari is our most remote campsite. Situated on Aboriginal freehold land southwest of Alice we are required to have a special permit issued by the Central Land Council to camp there. One of the conditions of the permit is that we don’t post photos of places that have high cultural/sacred value to the Traditional Owners of Illarari. We respect this request and therefore I will only being showing you photos from the immediate area around our campsite which has been cleared as OK by the TO’s.

There is so much to see at Illarari. It is a truly inspiring landscape and a great privilege to camp there. Participants created some beautiful artwork that reflects this and Stephen O’Connell OAM, created a Concerto, isn’t that amazing! Most evenings as the last light illuminated the cliffs, Stephen played his soprano saxophone for us. We listened spellbound as the notes reverberated in the landscape. What a treat!

There were so many treats on this camp as the photos will illustrate but the best way to experience Illarari is to come with us. Next year we hope to once again be granted special permission to go to this sacred place.

NB: Some photos by Albert Sage as indicated, all others by Deb  (except the Google Earth image of course)

Filed under: News

Ruby Gap August 2018

We have been running Creative Camps at Ruby Gap since 2008 and yet this place delights and inspires us anew every time. It is very remote with difficult access and this time we had some initial difficulties getting in. Stressful for Charlie, Anna and I but hopefully it didn’t impact on our participants too much and by the third morning we were fully ensconced at our favourite campsite, entranced by the magic of the surrounding cliffs.  It is a such vivid and majestic place with so much powerful geology but it was the detail of tiny plants flowering, despite the very dry season, that captured my attention this time. Everybody finds something to entrance them at Ruby Gap and participants express that in such different ways, as you will see. Everyone made exceptionally beautiful work and were generous and supportive of each other, so full of fun! Niamh McCall gave us a wonderful impromptu workshop on ‘Paint Pouring’ techniques and generously shared her isights and experience of this medium. Please take a look at this great campsite, our all time favourite and the joy we all had creating there in August 2018!

Filed under: News

Standley Chasm June 2018

We were very lucky on this Creative Camp to have the use of Trek Larapinta’s semi-permanent campsite at Standley Chasm. Not only did this give us greater comfort than our usual camping adventures but it gave us access to spectacular sections of the West MacDonnell Ranges that would be unavailable unless we were walking the Larapinta Trail. The camp site is located in a secluded little valley, well away from the tourists, surrounded by beautiful vistas. An intimate red rock gully just behind camp and a nearby creek bed gave us much to explore, close at hand. Using this campsite also gave us unlimited access to the magnificent Standley Chasm itself, at times we had it all to ourselves…what a treat! Many years ago Charlie started Trek Larapinta so we have spent much of our lives together on the ‘Trail’. It was very special for us to be back in this country. Thank you Holger Strie, Managing Director of  Trek Larapinta: 

The other special thing about this camp was the creative company of a whole bunch of new people. Though nearly all of the participants were newcomers to us, they were already creative buddies under the mentorship of Linda Denning from NSW, also a participant. We had just one long time Creative Camper along, Lyn Austin, who once again treated us with a wonderful on-site workshop in the art of making exquisite moisturisers and body butters. Thank You Lyn!  Another long term camper, Suzi Shaw was unable to attend at the last minute. We missed you Suzi…next year hey!

Thanks also to Anna Dakin our fabulous assistant and expert meal maker, who led some of the participants on a great day walk on Section 3 of the Larapinta Trail.  Anna waked the whole Trail by herself in 2014!

Last but not least thank you to all who came with us. We loved your company and your work!

Please enjoy the photos from this very special Creative Camp.  Photos by Deb unless acknowledged otherwise.

Click on any thumbnail to see the image  at proper size and to view them as a slideshow.

Filed under: News

Running Waters May 2018

This year we were a smaller group, as unfortunately my two cousins, Kate and Sally had to be taken back to town due to ill health but those remaining were intensely engaged with this beautiful place and all its treasures; the claypan, the overhangs and of course the Finke River. Even in this very dry year Running Waters still yielded its typically generous feast of refections, rugged cliffs, rock formations and an amazing palette of colours. Our camping experience was much enhanced by the presence of Anna, our wonderful new helper. Much to her delight we were serenaded by dingoes most nights.  We had with us two Swedish artists, Ase and Carina.  Having spent most of their time in Australia on the coast they were delighted by the difference of this terrain. We were also joined by Deslee and Helen from Sth Coast NSW and Julie an Alice Springs resident. The work produced on camp was a wonderful refection of this special special part of the world.  Please see for yourself but first read this evocative poem by Deslee Hancock on the flight home.

Photos buy me (Deb) unless acknowledged otherwise.
Click on any photo for slide show mode.

Flying Above Her

Only just up and the show begins

watercolour swirl

recognisable symbol shapes


gradually she appears

that still

wide form

lain bare

vessels pulsing

veiled as the craft rises

dye fading


then dense

glimpsed again

then gone

Filed under: News