River Red Gums, raucous with white corellas screaming from their upper branches, their gnarled trunks splashed grey-and-cream, rise up out of a flooded wetland. The water is strewn with green wetland plants, and smeared yellow with floating pollen. Ducks and moorhens paddle mightily through the tangle, as a white egret stands with head and body still, neck wobbling weirdly from side to side. A lapwing gives its stuttering cry of ki-ki-ki……ki!. It’s a bit hesitant. Not quite alarmed by the farmer, who is bending down to admire the flowers nearby, but on the watch. A pair of brolgas dance in a distant field. And below the water surface? We can only imagine.
Last year the folks at the Murray Local Land Services in Albury saw an illustration from Riverina Grassland Ramblings reproduced on a calico bag. They were so impressed that they commissioned me to create another design for a calico bag: an illustration of a wetland in the Murray-Darling Catchment.
As a child, I spent many summers holidaying by the Murray River, and in later years I’ve traveled there for various jobs, and to visit friends who are working to protect and improve the nature of these wetlands. The Murray-Darling is the biggest river system in Australia. It starts in Queensland, stretches over much of New South Wales and Victoria, and ends up in South Australia. I seem to be always criss-crossing and exploring this catchment, and finding new special places. Be it in its northern headwaters in the Mulga Lands of western Queensland, where the River Red Gums are tiny; or my memories of swinging from a huge River Red Gum overarching a lagoon at Corowa, New South Wales, hundreds of kilometres south, when I was a kid. Or those secluded Goulburn River billabongs I surveyed during a summer holiday job as a uni student. So I took great delight in dreaming up a picture, based on the ‘wish list’ of species and features requested by the Murray Local Land Services.
The finished design is the picture above. How many species can you identify? The pencil draft of the same picture below is labeled with the answers.
And if you would like me to create a design for a bag or poster or even a tea towel – the possibilities are endless! – please get in touch via the Contact page. I’d love to hear from you, and provide an obligation-free quote.
Another example of a calico bag design that I recently created is described in Wonders of Western Australia.