RoadTrip2021: Beechworth and Yackandandah

May 28, 2021 | 8 Comments

Before I start sharing my fun adventures in Beechworth and Yackandandah I have to give you a brief real-time update.

As I write this I’m now safely back home and have been in NSW (or ACT)for nearly a week. So the current lockdown in Victoria has not affected my trip at all. I’ve also not been near any exposure sites – being back in NSW when the community spread started.

I was initially very hesitant to include other states in this trip, but decided to risk a few days in Victoria. The plan was to always be close to the border so that I could easily get back to NSW if something like this happened.

I’m incredibly thankful that I was able to have some special times in Victoria and with some Victorian friends. But I know other people’s plans are now up in the air or cancelled, so I feel for you!

Back to my trip….


On Thursday morning I drove 2.5 hours east and Angela drove up from Melbourne to meet in Beechworth. It’s one of the few towns on this trip that I can remember a little from my visit there in 2007. But I know it a lot better now!

After visiting the Visitor Info Centre and getting a map plus lots of suggestions, we wandered up the street looking for a cafe with tables in the sun. It was a cool morning but perfectly still.


We found a good cafe, I sketched my coffee and then we both sketched two views from our position.

Note: The first coffee on the page was from a quick stop in Shepparton during my morning drive.

It was such a great spot that we stayed for lunch (soup) and we both were already struck by how many people stopped to talk to us about our sketching.


It was after 2pm and we wandered back down the street to the main corner, sat on a kerb (in the gutter) to sketch the Post Office. Note: As this is in Victoria it’s not a JimmyB (James Barnet) or Vernon as they were the Colonial Architects in NSW.

It was a great spot to sketch from (although the sun was bright!) and once again lots of people walking past said something to us.


Here is my version with the yummy soup from lunch.

After this sketch, we crossed the street and realised that the opposite corner had an even better view and in addition, there was a table and chairs which we could have sat on. The table and chairs were provided by the council and not associated with an eating establishment – how amazing was that!


We then noticed that there was a table and chairs on the next corner as well, so this is where we sat until it got too cold and dark to sketch.


My first response was to do a quick line drawing of both views.


I then intended to do a looser zoomed up watercolour sketch of one part, but I ended up doing a fairly detailed ink and wash sketch…


and then another line drawing in the bottom corner of the page.


It was mostly cloudy now but when we got a few minutes of sun, I quickly tried to capture the big afternoon shadow.

That night we had an amazing dinner at the restaurant in the Empire Hotel. All the other patrons had seen us sitting on the gutter earlier so they were really interested in our work. We even met the chef and she signed my book.

It was a very fun evening!


Here we are! The only photo that we have of the two of us.


The next morning we had a local breakfast at The Squid and had more fun conversations with locals (thanks mainly to Angela!!!)

I noticed someone getting a teacup when they ordered tea so I had to get an Earl Grey to finish off my breakfast.


Next we sketched the Telegraph Office but got distracted and didn’t go in or explore this historic precinct more. We had a few video calls – chatting with Sydney sketcher Rooi who was in Melbourne at the time and then Stephanie Bower in Seattle!


We walked to a lake and I did a few sketches. I’m exploring different ways of painting water so this spread has a little collage – I was trying some alternative techniques.


Walking back to the centre of town after our lake visit. Every view was so sketchable!


Lunch (more soup) in another cafe in Beechworth (there are a lot to choose from!)

More chatting to locals and an old friend of Angela’s walked in.


Time was going so quickly and there was still much more to see. So we jumped in Angela’s car and went to the cemetery to check out the dramatic-looking Chinese Burning Towers. They turned out to be a lot smaller than we expected.

There was a lot of Chinese in the area during the Gold Rushes. These are their graves.


We set ourselves a 15-minute time limit and this is what I managed to do. Another map which I will have to do later!


Next was the Ovens District Hospital Facade. We set ourselves 20 minutes for this one with an option of an additional 10 minutes. We both needed the full 30 minutes!


Our final sketching destination was the scenic Gorge Road as we wanted to check out the Beechworth Cascades. There was just enough light…


… and just enough room to stand and sketch them. Two local boys arrived and did a little swimming in the river – crazy!


I really enjoyed sketching the cascades (one of my favourite sketches from the whole trip I think) 


I also enjoyed dinner (the same place!) sketching in dim lighting outside on the verandah (with good heaters though!)


Here is the finished spread.


The final morning with Angela… It was 2C when we arrived at this cafe, and we decided to sit outside so we could sketch the quirky garage opposite.


I had to duck my head to see below the awning and I didn’t want my coffee and breakfast to get cold, so this sketching was a little out of control.

Very interesting juxtaposition of the saucer and the end building, hey?


One final photo before we drove off…


…no! not quite! One more final hilarious conversation with locals!


Woolshed falls and Yackandandah

Just out of town there was another waterfall – Woolshed Falls.


There wasn’t a lot of room at the lookout so Angela taped her palette and water container to the balustrade to make it easier.


Once again it was hard to see what I was doing in the bright sun – but it was a fun subject to sketch.

We then spent a few hours at Yackandandah (what a cool name, hey?)


Much smaller scale than Beechworth but the trees were nice.


There were also two watercolour galleries on this short main street – we went into both.


Not as many food options as Beechworth but we had some great fish and chips sitting on a table in the sun.

I didn’t want my time with Angela to come to an end – we had so much fun together. (There was lots of laughing in my Instagram stories on these days if you have been watching them.)

We have a very similar approach to sketching which made it a super productive few days. You can see Angela‘s sketching on Instagram starting with this one.

Thanks Angela for a very special sketching adventure!



  • Doug Elliot says:

    A fabulous trip with fabulous sketches. It will make a great book Liz.

  • Angela Williams says:

    Liz we had so much fun and I felt we could have just kept on sketching in Beechworth, a town just made for sketchers really! Plus of course those many conversations and encounters we had with locals and tourists who had all noticed us sketching during the day! In looking at your spreads again I am reminded how quickly you can capture the essence of the scene. You did do the flaps for the lake, looks good! I wish I had sketched those two blokes at the table outside the wine shop especially the one with the past the use by akubra hat! We needed more time!!!!

    Thanks for a great (and productive) few days!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Angela – such a special few days and I loved being with someone who sketches more than me! Love your loose and fresh work… and yes, a sketch of those two blokes would have been good!

  • Kimberly Egeland says:

    Thank you, Liz, for sharing your 6 week travel adventure with us! It went fast! I have so enjoyed seeing your beautiful country through your sketches and photos. I will probably never have the opportunity to visit Australia in person but I feel like I’ve gotten a wonderful tour thanks to you! It has also given me incentive to get out and sketch my own town and even to maybe make day trips to small towns around my area. So, thank you again, for your inspiration and all the work you do to share it all with us! Sending best wishes from Montana, USA!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Kimberley – I’ve loved the chance to blog more at the time on this trip and my hope is that it inspires others to explore their own town/area/region.

  • Sandra Worrall-Hart says:

    Thanks so much Liz. I have loved your trip with such beautiful sketches. I am in Victoria and one of my favourite places is Yackandandah. It was very interesting to see the towns of NSW that you visited…gorgeous buildings. I didn’t realise so much of the older architecture still existed.
    Loving your courses too.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Sandra – yes Yackandandah is lovely (as well as having the coolest name!) and my thoughts exactly about NSW towns… did not realise how beautiful and how many historic buildings there are!

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