Kurri Kurri: The big kookaburra and two big pubs

September 7, 2022 | 5 Comments

Originally I had hoped to do a two-week road trip after my weekend in Newcastle but for a number of reasons it was not to be. But I did manage to spend a few hours in Kurri Kurri which was to be my last destination on the road trip.

Kurri Kurri is known for being the home of the Big Kookaburra (an Australian bird with a distinctive call that sounds like someone laughing) but I was more interested in sketching one or more of the big pubs – a remnant from the days when this was an important coal mining town.

On one of the corners of the main intersection was one of these pubs – so that was my first sketch! What a way to warm up – with big trucks constantly driving past and momentarily blocking my view.

Ah! I love the energy of sketching in busy locations!


Although I am quite comfortable with the set of Pitt Artist Pens that I carry around, I’m still experimenting with layering different colours to get the results I want. So it was fun to use 3 colours (or was it 4?) for the shadow areas in this sketch.


Next it was time to visit the Big Kookaburra – which wasn’t that big!


I did three quick sketches standing up but was a little distracted by some black cockatoos flying past.

There are quite a few big ‘things’ in Australia – last year I sketched the Big Merino in Goulburn and the Big Murray Cod in Swan Hill. For my Australian friends – how many of the big things have you sketched?


A totally unplanned sketch of the park… I was initially just going to draw the tree but then I kept going.  I considered leaving it as a line drawing but it’s just so easy to use Pitt Pens so colour was added.

This ease of applying colour with the Pitt Pens is a big reason why I love them so much. I’ve realised that I sometimes think ‘I couldn’t be bothered getting my paints out’ but the Pitt Pens totally remove this mental hurdle.


Then it was time to tackle the other big pub on the main street – the Kurri Kurri Hotel. To sketch this I had to sit on the pavement (sidewalk) outside the Hardware Store.

I’ve mentioned recently how I’ve become a bit of a softie lately – only sketching in comfortable locations where there is a bench or a wall to sit on. So it felt really good to be sitting in an odd spot (I was sitting cross-legged on the ground) and it was a good reminder to me that the more unusual your location the more interaction with locals you are potentially exposed to!

I had an absolute ball chatting to numerous locals (being outside the Hardware Store was a good spot for lots of banter) including a local historian who told me some interesting things about the hotel and Kurri Kurri.

It was then time to head home but I had a lovely 3 hours in Kurri Kurri and it made me so happy to be in a country town again!


I had hoped to do some countryside sketches… but there wasn’t really time. So when I got home I used Google Street View to retrace my drive home and do two quick sketches with Pitt Pens.

It was only a mini-trip (4 nights) but it felt so good to get away. I really should do this more often! 🙂


  • Jamie C says:

    Your trips and sketches really showcase the beauty and history around you! Love this so much!

  • Robyn Novakovic says:

    Absolutely love the depth and detail of your sketches. And the colour with the Pitt Pens is exceptional and brings your drawings to life

  • Ginie Udy says:

    Thank you for sharing your travel, teaching and learning adventures with us. I really enjoyed reading all this. I’ve just invested in 3 grey markers to start doing some tonal sketches before I paint. Didn’t notice til I got them home they are alcohol based. Will this make any difference? From what I’ve read online, it shouldn’t do!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ginie – I love alcohol based markers (such as Copic) but they do bleed through most papers – so not really suitable for use in most sketchbooks. More about my use of Copic markers here

      • Ginie Udy says:

        Thank you Liz, this bleeding through is exactly what I’ve found happens, having now given them a go.. Thank you for confirming. I’m assuming all the brands you use in your sketchbooks aren’t alcohol based, but water based, is that right? I’ll check out your post on the Copic pens.

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