A powerful source of inspiration for art, culture and storytelling for 60,000 years, the Red Centre landscape continues to inspire and thrill.

Story + Photos Paula Heelan

Walking into Simpsons Gap, 18km from Alice Springs, the landscape is coloured in shades of ochre, green, white and mauve. A sprawling ghost gum with a stark white trunk, outstretched limbs and knobbly base stands tall on the nearly dry riverbed, flanked by sweeping quartzite rock cliffs. It’s like stepping into an Albert Namatjira painting – this is, of course, his country.  

Before setting out on a 4-day, round road trip from Alice Springs to Watarrka/Kings Canyon, spending time in the town known for its exceptional art galleries heightens the anticipation for the days ahead. After taking in a diverse range of extraordinary Aboriginal artwork, and engaging with and learning from resident artists and curators, it’s obvious art is an essential and profound part of everyday life in Central Australian communities. The deep, spiritual connection to country is expressed through storytelling in the forms of painting, weaving, jewellery, rock art and more.  

This story excerpt is from Issue #146

Outback Magazine: December/January 2023