Visiting the old outback haunts of an Aboriginal water colourist

Aboriginal Art Directory | 06.05.09

Aboriginal art to many tourists in Australia means paintings on bare rock and the Rainbow Serpent creation myth rendered in rich colours with the dot technique.

Aborigines and watercolours hardly seem to go together. But Albert Namatjira, who ranks as one of the most significant Aboriginal artists, painted the outback in beautiful watercolours. The 50th anniversary of his death falls on August 8 this year - a good reason to visit his old haunts in the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs which is the heart of arid Central Australia, or the "Red Centre."

Sundown was drawing nigh. The many small flies were bothersome, but it was fascinating to watch the colours of the landscape change every few minutes. The cliffs shone dark purple, and the 1,380-metre Mount Sonder could be seen beyond the deep green bush land and sand banked bed of the Finke River.

This is the view that Namatjira often had from one of the hills near Glen Helen Gorge. He immortalized the red cliffs of the MacDonnell Ranges and Australia's white-barked Ghost Gum trees many times.


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