East of Townsville across Cleveland Bay lies the majestic sprawling Cape Cleveland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. I went out there a couple of times, negotiating the muddy 4WD tracks through the thick semi-tropical Savannah along the base of the rugged hills.
On a few occasions I worked my way out along a labyrinth of dubious tracks across the tidal mud flats to line up with the keen locals to try my luck fishing. Standing warily high on the banks of the deep green tidal waterways, hemmed in on both sides by bug infested mangroves and facing an unknown number of crocodiles lurking in the swirling waters below, I cast my lines. Despite being part of a National Park, everybody had their dogs with them, me included. I couldn’t go adventuring without Rupert. Pleased to say I did catch a feed.
On another day, in a clearing surrounded by boulders and dense bush beneath the hills, I shot a lot of the footage for one of my videos, “Oil Painting Brushes for Landscape Painting”. It was hot and humid, but the scenery was fantastic.
So one day I want to do some plein air painting. I drive down the Bruce Highway out of Townsville, past Nome and Alligator Creek to a point where the magnificent Mount Elliot sits inland to the right within Bowling Green Bay National Park and the Cape Cleveland Road turns off to the left across the railway line. This is the only road access that heads out around Crocodile Creek to the aforementioned fishing flats of Cape Cleveland.
There is a muddy track and tidal waterways that run beside the Bruce Highway from The Cape Cleveland Road intersection and it is down this bumpy track I go. I find a spot where I can set up with a view of the Cape in the distance across the shallow waters. The water birds come and go and make all sorts of noises. Some wade around on spindly legs, picking morsels out of the mud with long beaks whilst smaller birds erupt in flocks, fly spiritedly around a bit with a lot of sqarking before settling down again at another spot not far from the first. I wonder what animals made the heavy footprints in the mud that seem to meander out into nowhere. I’m not going to investigate – there my be saltwater crocodiles out there and I don’t want to meet one on foot, far from solid ground.
So I stay on dry soil safely beside my 4WD, with Rupert unhappily hot and bored and occasionally pestering me to do something more interesting. I set up my easel and get on with the business of plein air painting. Most of the visual information I want, I get down on the canvas before deciding I’d rather be back in the shade beside my caravan enjoying a cold beer!
To finish the story, I pulled the unfinished little painting out of my folio a week or so ago, and applied the final studio touches that I like to do.