RoadTrip2021: My big driving day along the Murray

May 24, 2021 | 4 Comments

It took me four weeks of driving west to make it to Mildura, and then in one day I drove approximately one third the way back home. I had 4.5 hours to drive along the Murray River, crossing the state border a number of times. The border between New South Wales and Victoria is the southern bank (high water line) of the river.


I drove back through the mallee of NSW and then crossed into Victoria to the same landscape.

No idea what was causing this black smoke.

After an hour or so the mallee disappeared and I started driving through various crops – not sure what these trees were.


Swan Hill

At almost the halfway mark I stopped for 2 hours at Swan Hill. The first thing to do was a quick sketch of another timber bridge (I had drawn one crossing the Murrumbidgee a few days before – see here). I’m starting to understand these structures better now.


It was then time for a coffee and I was shocked to find that I had to pay for parking. It was only $1.20 per hour, but still!! A bit much to have to pay anything for parking in a country town!


One of the tourist highlights is the Giant Murray Cod – I didn’t care about taking a selfie with it, but it was fun to sketch and add the outline of a random tourist for scale.


Another ‘must see’ is the Burke and Wills tree. The tree was planted about the time the explorers passed through the region (1860) in their attempt to cross Australia from south to north.


For next time: An interesting pioneer museum and paddle steamer.

Here are the final spreads…


I added a few quick washes to the bridge sketch (still thinking about whether to add a little more to it) and I also did a quick sketch of a historic water tower before leaving town.


Second spread including my coffee.


Local Roads

After Swan Hill I took some back roads as I was doing a slight detour to find another timber bridge.

Ah! nice to drive through a little saltbush plain again but the road was a little narrow with no shoulder.


A bit of a shock to see very green irrigated farmland!


But I always love seeing some Fresian cows (both my parents grew up on dairy farms).


And then the road got even narrower. Thankfully I only passed a few cars and no big wide trucks on this road.



A  nice little town (back in NSW) with some lovely buildings….

… including this unusual hotel. Not in the typical style at all.

And here is the bridge – this one had De Burgh trusses! It was fun to sketch but I was somewhat distracted by hundreds of noisy corellas – this video on YouTube gives you the idea.


Here are a few of them in a tree!


And my bridge sketch.


Arriving in Echuca

It was a fun but long driving day (the longest for this trip) so I was happy to arrive in Echuca before 5pm. This photo was taken around 6pm while I was hunting for a place to have an early dinner.

Note: I often drive for 4 hours (or even longer) on freeways/motorways both here and in the UK, but for some reason this day was very tiring! But I just love driving through varying landscapes and I certainly experienced that on this day.


  • Diane Johnson says:

    It was great to see that photo of Echuca – I’ve just read a book called Daughter of the Murray and that town featured in it a lot. Great road trip sketches Liz.

  • Prashanta says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your trip report Liz, and vicarioulsy travelled to all these sites with you. Sitting far away in another continent, and in these pandemic times, this has been a treat. The sketches are inspiring and am reminded of our lessons in Sketchbook Design course. Wishing you safe travels and happy sketching. Keep ’em comin’!!!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Prashanta – hope you are doing okay. I have been thinking about the Sketchbook Design concepts a lot in this trip and look forward to sharing more inside the classroom in a few months time!

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