Roadtrip2023: Katoomba, Hartley, Lithgow and a farmstay

August 30, 2023 | 10 Comments

I’m now back from a wonderful 6-day road trip and I’m ready to start sharing my sketches of some beautiful historic towns from Bathurst to Canowindra. There are a lot of pages to scan!

I was using an Alpha sketchbook and dry media (see this article for more about that) and my goals were:

  1. to do quick sketches and
  2. to explore ways of describing the character of the main streets of each town.


This is a map of the towns I visited – my base was at the locality of Moorilda which is 3.5 hours drive from my home. I ended up doing nearly 1000 km in the 6 days so it was a decent but manageable amount of driving.



The first two stops on my journey to Moorilda were in the Blue Mountains – a morning coffee at Leura and then a quick sketching session at the Katoomba Falls/Orphan Rock lookouts at Katoomba.

In the days before this trip, I’d been using a bright set of Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils and a set of grey markers that were part of the #Colour4Life box sent to me by Faber Castell Australia (and btw it’s not too late to enter their annual competition – more details here). When I packed for this road trip all I did was replace the #Colour4Life selection with what was in my sketchbook bag before that. I didn’t actually check to see what they were!

So when I did this sketch of Orphan Rock I really didn’t know the colours I was using (particularly in regard to the markers!)

Ah! It was a fun disorienting way to start a sketching trip! 🙂


I then started a sketch of the Three Sisters but I was a little anxious to get back on the road and visit some other places along the way. So I stopped the sketch at this point…

… resulting in a lot of white space on this page! 🙂


30 minutes down the road was the little historic hamlet of Hartley and I was thinking about doing another sketch of the Shamrock Inn (a delightfully run-down verandahed building that I sketched in 2021) but the road was closed. So I ended up doing a 10-minute sketch of the lovely Courthouse by Mortimer Lewis and then getting back in the car and driving on to Lithgow.



The next stop was lunch at the lovely Lithgow Tin Shed cafe where I had a yummy meal and some fun interactions with the staff!


Here is the completed sketchbook spread.


There was another courthouse just across the road from the cafe – this one was designed by James Barnet. During my 2021 Roadtrip I made it a mission to track down and sketch every JimmyB building I could find. But sadly the lighting wasn’t great and I didn’t feel like sketching it!


I ended up at the nearby Uniting Church. In 2021 I had done a 2-minute version of this building standing up but this time I found a nice bench and did a 14-minute sketch!


While drawing the tall spire of this church I was happy that I chose to use the 8×10 sketchbook rather than the square one.


I had parked my car in a 2-hour spot so I did have time for another sketch. I found a low brick wall to sit on (visible in the above courthouse photo) and then started to draw the cafe and adjacent building.

This scene was a little ambitious for my mood – I did find it hard to relax into this sketch when I still had 1.5 hours of driving to do so I abandoned this sketch at the 12-minute mark. I was thinking that I could/would complete it later but I’ve now decided to leave it as it is as it’s a good record of how I was feeling at the time.


Moorilda Farmstay

I found a lovely place to stay on a small farm with a few horses. This is a sketch of the cottage that was mine for the week.


I was hoping that a farmstay would provide me with opportunities to sketch some countryside scenes but in the end, all I did was some quick views from the window of my cottage.

Just for the record, these farm sketches were done on other afternoons during the week. On Monday – the ‘big’ driving day – after arriving at my destination a little before 5pm – all I did was finish off my pages.

Nightly Homework

So there were a few questions/comments about this photo which I shared last week…

1. Materials questions

  • About the guidelines – see here
  • I’m writing notes with a TWSBI Eco but used the Green 55 degree Fude pen for my sketches
  • The small container (from Muji) with some NeoColour II worked perfectly – I didn’t need to carry around any more than this.
  • Spectrafix fixative – I will share more about this in a future email!
  • Washi tape on the table is used for square edges in my sketches – see more here.

Note: When I’m searching for suitable accommodation one of the things I look for is a generous table for the nightly homework. On road trips I also travel with a lamp containing a cool lightbulb so that I have good light to work under.

2. What is involved in this nightly homework?

  • When I’m travelling I normally spend a few hours each evening finishing off my pages. This involves adding text, borders, maps and doing some minor work to finish off sketches. (Note: On this trip I only drew one map – as shared above – which made the homework much easier this time!)
  • This ‘minor work’ typically involves adding skies  (relating to the design of the page) and/or some darks (to improve the values in a sketch).
  • The photos below show the state of two sketches from this first day as they were when I stopped on location.
  • I rarely add colour to an ink drawing that I didn’t have time or energy to colour to at the time.  And I rarely add significant amounts of colour to an incomplete sketch – eg. as noted above I decided not to complete the Lithgow street sketch as I felt it told a better story incomplete.


Ah! It was a good Day 1 of my road trip and I was happy with the amount of sketching that I managed on what was in fact a driving day.


  • David Campbell says:

    Love the dry look!

  • Gayle Coward says:

    Can’t wait for day 2. ?

  • Judy Nobes says:

    Loving your work Liz, Beautiful, soft colours. Looking forward to following your adventures . So many beautiful old towns and scenery in the central west. I may be biased, it’s where I live. ?

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    The Three Sisters sketch with all the lovely white paper and just the pale grey outline of the background is my favorite. It could be a painting. I try to remember that less is more but it goes against my more is never enough tendencies. I am making Less is More my motto for the rest of the Foundations class!

    Sharing your working process with us is truly enlightening and helpful. Making space in the evening for finishing touch work I think could help me stop sketches sooner when they would benefit from some time and space and evaluation later in the day. Knowing I will have my finishing touch time later could take some of the pressure off to do that “perfect” sketch during the day time.

    So glad you had a great trip!!

  • Jamie C says:

    So beautiful! Looks like you had a gorgeous day! Your sketches are wonderful. I love how every trip has its own sort of style that emerges!

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