PAINTING WALGETT IN SUNRISE SONGS, STORY BY CHRISTINE ONWARD
Welcome to a new series of outback stories promised to you a long time ago but repeatedly delayed due to my obstinate perfectionism (or procrastination,equally true). After a year of struggles and too high expectations from my side, I decided to let thoughts flow by freely and memories write by themselves in the way they want. I hope they eventually make sense to a point where I will be excited to tell the next episode and you will be eager to return and read it.
The journey I wanted to write (and paint) about took place a year ago in the outback Australia, more precisely in the northern part of NSW. It lasted 7 weeks and it was a blast!
For a person coming from the green pristine Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, working in the bare fields of the far-far-away Australia was undoubtedly a challenge I was prepared to face. The huge emptiness of space, the scorching temperatures, the summer's dead bushes, and the desperation to survive of all living things had such a huge impact on who I was to become!
To honour the occasion, I decided to lay each meaningful experience of the outback in a painting. I wanted to add together the old me and my world as it was before back in Romania, the astonishing colours of Australia, its depth of landscapes, the victory of living- all in a series of paintings, celebrating me – the me I had become.
"Walgett-Sunrise Songs", painting by Christine Onward . More details Here
FIRST TIME IN WALGETT
Walgett on the map, 650 km away from Sydney, right at the gate of the Australian outback
We arrived in Walgett late in the night. The drive to the town had been slow and challenging. 100 km on dirt road, the dark night around us, kangaroos jumping back and forth ahead of us, and a GPS with personality only made the trip seem to last forever.
We made it to Walgett after midnight. Streets were dark and quiet, not a single man passing by. Shops had iron grills at windows and lights were off. Even the motel entrance had iron gates, secured with a big lock for which we had to recall a long code and still debate the numbers an hour later in the dark.
Dinner was quite frugal: cold chips from an early breakfast at the petrol station, wrapped in an oily paper and tasting like old jelly, some cheese, too sour from the heat, and the usual beer, to help us fall asleep.
Baby Caesar spending the night with us in a NO DOGS room (who can swear he is a dog though, most of the times he behaves like a human)
I slept that night in Walgett with the windows open to let the scents of the eucalyptus trees come inside. A bird kept shouting sad songs in the empty night, kept talking to me, and I let the sadness sink inside, because there was no escape, only the red road, over and over again until the end of my days...
THE SUNRISE SONGS
Photo taken close to Walgett - dirt road on the way to the property of Mungunya
Morning; 5 o’clock rise. I can still feel the taste of eucalyptus essences on the lips and bird's sad song in the ears.
Shirt on, boots on, cap on, insect repellent and a lot of sunscreen spread to whatever spot left uncovered. Bags back in the trunk, work instruments in the ute; time for one more long drive in the unknown.
I panic and I want to cry, as I always do when I think of unknown.
“It's just an adventure, I say, and who doesn’t like adventures”…
And off we are, this yet ANOTHER day...
The flowing artesian waters of Mungunya
Right outside the town of Walgett I opened eyes on a big sun rising from the bushes. Few cows grazing quietly under a tree, doves’ songs coming to life from all around the bushes… and suddenly I feel I am part of it. I do belong. And there is nothing in the world that can take this moment away from me: the place where I first belonged.
Living the life of the outback: unspoiled beauty and endless reds
On the radio a song starts. I want to imagine it as a sign for me, and for everyone else who was welcoming the day in song of birds and golden rays of sunrise: Only a fool breaks his own heart…
The start of a new day with Walgett left behind
I ripped through the bare red of the desert to let the magic of the moment come to life: the day when I BELONGED.
I added flowers in the empty trees of Walgett, and I added leaves with golden dots to shine happily in the sun.
The red dust, I turned it into lands of merry colours and joyful patterns, the way I knew them to be like back home in the Carpathian Mountains.
And all the sunrise songs and happiness of living, I gathered them together in this fantastic bird with golden feathers.
There is always a victory in us, we only need to find it.
After all… only a fool…
- Christine Onward