The Art & Soul of the Sandstone Wonders

There are numerous ways to experience the Sandstone Wonders.  The open spaces of the Banana Shire appeal to caravanners, campers and road trippers.  This historic region enables one to picture life in Southern Queensland as it was for our ancestors, not that long ago.  The pioneer generation sure have some stories tell of what life was like day to day.  Storytelling can take many shapes and forms, and it is through art that many of the local country artists have found their voice.  Art plays an important role in the community and is used as a unique communication tool for artists.  By experiencing the Art and Culture of Outback Queensland, one can begin to experience the soul of the area!

Through art, visitors are able to meet the locals and glimpse what life is like living in these outback areas.  Most artist’s works depict the rural lifestyle, in the subject matter, the landscapes are a popular feature.  There are a variety of choices when it comes to experiencing the art, culture and soul of the Sandstone Wonders.

Viewing the artworks on display at the Art Gallery

Key local artists of Outback Queensland

Sarah Larsen

Sarah Larsen’s ability to capture the geological essence of the Sandstone Wonders region is locally and nationally admired.  Born in Nairobi, and now living in Central Queensland, Sarah translates the richness and diversity of the region into works that speak right to the viewer’s hearts.  Working with a broad range of mediums, Sarah’s creativity is not just limited to a range of paint or pastels.  She will often incorporate the actual bush into her artworks such as leaf skeletons or bits of stone.  Sarah’s work is part of the Banana Shire Art Collection.

“My art stems from a love and fascination for the colour and feel of the people and the land around me and my place in it.  My endeavour is to capture the innate essence and spirit of life, not simply creating a mirror image.  Predominantly working on paper and canvas, my favourite medium is mixed media but I will use whatever the subject dictates”. – Sarah Larsen

Sarah Larsen accepting an award at the 2018 Brigalow Arts Festival, presented by Damien Doherty from Santos.

Experience the Banana Shire Art Gallery

As the only Gallery in the Shire, the Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery offers an incredible showcase of local artists and Central Queensland Artists.  Located in Biloela, the Gallery offers locals and visitors a chance to view not only the talent of local artists but also national artists when touring shows are hosted.  Built in 2013, the Gallery offers two modern exhibition spaces and is a delightful experience for travellers and locals.  The spaces are changed around frequently to ensure a fresh experience every time.  Depending on the exhibition, artworks can be anything from 2D works, sculptures, pottery, textiles, and a mix of media including paint, pastels and drawings.

“This is a great regional gallery…I visited there a few months ago and enjoyed the open and relaxed layout and the pieces are lovely”. – Liz Ward, Brisbane

Inside the Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery

Auda Maclean

The local community and visitors are often drawn to the artworks of Auda Maclean.  The pioneer spirit runs deep in Auda being the fourth generation descendant of pastoralists in the Banana Shire.  Her self taught talent has captured the spirit of the landscape and life on the land over the generations of her ancestors.  Her works are rich in colour, history and feeling.  Admiring her paintings evoke a sense of rural admiration and richness in the life Auda has experienced.

Auda Maclean in Her Studio, 2017, Rachel Baskerville, digital photograph. Commissioned by Banana Shire Council 2017. © Rachel Baskerville

Have a cuppa with the Dawson River Artists at Baralaba

If you are travelling through Baralaba, you may have the chance to share a cup of tea and a biscuit with Auda.  Every week on Wednesday, the Dawson River Art Group meet to share their current artworks and chat about all things art.  The group welcomes like-minded art-loving visitors to paint and share in a relaxed setting at the Baralaba Community Centre.  Pull up for a night or two at the Neville Hewitt Weir in Baralaba to experience the tranquility of the region and if you are an art enthusiast, bring along your current project to meet with the Art Group.

Dawson River Artists at a recent group meeting, doing what they do best.

Ruby Campbell (1888 – 1977)

Ruby’s works are adored by the local community and her life story is a testament to her many talents.  Born and raised on the now heritage-listed Kilburnie Homestead near Biloela, Ruby’s expertise extended beyond art and craft-work.  She was also a successful pastoralist and was the sole woman in charge of the remote, family property.  Her artistic flair was diverse, among other things, Ruby created beautiful drawings, etchings and watercolours.  During the course of her life, Ruby acquired the skill of cabinetry and pyrographic etching. She produced an impressive collection of handmade furniture which is still on display at the homestead.

Young Ruby Campbell and her horse

A Visit to Kilburnie Homestead

Visiting the 134-year-old Kilburnie Homestead is like stepping back in time.  History oozes from the walls and furniture, you can sense the life and creativity from generation to generation.  Experiencing Kilburnie is like a magic mix of history, art and music.  It is here, at the homestead that you are able to view Ruby’s works in the boutique gallery.  View Ruby’s notable collection of black and white etchings she created during the 1930s.  Wander around the homestead to see the pyrographic etchings in the handmade wooden furniture.  View the great collection of Ruby’s paintings along with other local and national artists.  Kilburnie hosts open days throughout the year, or private openings can be arranged for groups of 10 or more.

Experience the Murals of the Sandstone Wonders

Bringing colour, energy and the local community together, the Banana Shire Council and local community groups have livened up the landscape with a series of murals across the region.  Capturing iconic local characters, wildlife and stories, the paintings enliven the towns and are a draw-card for tourists and recognition for locals.  Some of the murals have been developed as a project between the council and the local community enhancing the local relations and the aesthetic value of Thangool, Biloela and Moura.  Visiting the murals is free and offers a lovely insight into rural life.

Mural artwork in Biloela

Spirit of the Land mural

Located on State Farm Rd in Biloela this huge 100-metre round, 4-metre high mural is a story dedicated to the cultural connections of our land.  Told through the perspective of two women, this incredible painting takes the viewer on a journey through time telling the story of nature, culture and humanity.  The ‘Biloela Beauties’ drive trail encompasses the history, art and industrial aspect of the town and is an easy 58 km in duration.

A section of the ‘Spirit of the Land’ Mural in Biloela

Lawgi Hall Mural

Located just a short drive south of Thangool is Lawgi Hall.  Local artist Gary Latcham was honoured to be offered the chance to repaint the wall once again after his original works were removed due to rotting boards.  The recent artistic face-lift for the hall uses rich reds, oranges, yellows and blacks and incorporates the iconic bottle tree that often features in the vast landscapes of the Sandstone Wonders region.  The mural has been popular with the media often featuring in Instagram posts, magazines and newspaper articles. You can also camp at Lawgi Hall – a perfect place to rest up and admire the local talent for a night or two.

Lawgi Hall Mural
Lawgi Hall Mural

Moura Water Tower

The water tower of Moura surely turns some heads when passing by the 18-metre high structure.  Once grey and dull and dubbed as an ‘eyesore’, the tower was transformed a few years ago in just five days.  With a lot of spray paint and the use of a boom lift young Brisbane artist Sam Wilkinson transformed the tower into an iconic show-stopping photographic opportunity.  The tower now dons a gigantic galah with the background exhibiting the common outback sunset sky.

Moura Water Tower Mural

The Kelpie Wall in Moura

A lick of paint, some amazing talent and a good subject all combine together in this amazing mural located on a sidewall of a local cafe in Moura.  Travelling through the town the huge painting is impossible to miss and brings a warm smile to the community and those passing through the town.  Produced by the Zookeeper, this incredible painting features what is arguably one of the countries most popular working dog – the Australian Kelpie.  This recently completed project energises the town of Moura and creates yet another fantastic photo opportunity.

Meg, one of the Dawson River Kelpies.

The Brigalow Arts Festival

Once again, art becomes the central focus bringing the community and visitors together.  Held annually the Brigalow Arts Festival is a huge draw-card for travellers and the community work tirelessly towards the event each year for the 4-week long showcase of local and regional talent.  Featuring fine art, photography, textiles, sculpture and decorative art, the festival offers a considerable amount of prize money for the winners!

The longstanding festival exhibition is showcased each October at the Banana Shire Art Gallery with the opening night the central focus making it an event not to be missed.  With a small entry fee for the opening night, and free for the remainder of the exhibition, viewers can expect a broad range of exceptional talent, art, diversity and community interaction.

Opening Night, Brigalow Arts Festival

Plan Your Visit

By exploring the art and soul of the Sandstone Wonders, we also subtly explore the undercurrent of the richness of life and history in the region too.  Experiencing the paintings, murals and other forms of artworks in the local area, welcomes a much deeper understanding of the stories and life of living on the land and the history that encompasses such a life.

For more…
For more details download the Sandstone Wonders regional brochure or pop into one of the local Sandstone Wonders Visitor Information Centres to get up-to-date visitor tips, brochures and maps.
Or check out some of the suggested self-drive tours.
Extra resources to find camping spots: Caravanning Queensland  , Find a Campsite  or the Camp Australia App

Book your camping spot
If you are planning to camp in a designated camp ground or National Park ensure you book and obtain the necessary permit.
Book online at  www.qld.gov.au/camping or phone 13QGOV (13 74 68). Charges may apply.
For more on camping in the Sandstone Wonders read here. 

And please help to care for our precious places and leave them clean as you go.
Remember: take only photographs, leave only footprints.