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6 Hidden Art Treasures of NSW


Beyond our city galleries, NSW is a treasure trove of unique and beautiful artworks. You just need to know where to find them…

1. Clifton Pugh murals at the Family Hotel, Tibooburra

Clifton pugh mural

Considered NSW’s most remote town, Tibooburra in the far-western outback might seem an unlikely location for a prized work from the Archibald Prize-winning Clifton Pugh, whose 1972 portrait of Gough Whitlam still hangs in Parliament House in Canberra. But the outback is full of surprises.

Pugh would regularly travel through Tibooburra during outback art sabbaticals and classes, and befriended the publican of the Family Hotel. When he found himself stranded in the town for several weeks thanks to torrential desert rain, Pugh entertained himself by painting several walls of the pub.

Fresh from the free lovin’ ‘60s, he depicted explicit nudes engaging in an orgy with the devil, which outraged the town by thankfully the works remain for travellers to enjoy today. It is thought two of the nude women represented the publican’s daughters, who also provided ‘entertainment’ for Pugh during the washout.

2. Ancient rock art, Mutawintji National Park

Mutawintji National Park

A place of great significance for Aboriginal people past and present, Mutawintji is the sacred heart of the ancient Byngnano Range north of Broken Hill in Outback NSW.

Mutawintji Historic Site contains significant and remarkably beautiful Aboriginal rock paintings, stencils and carvings evidencing more than 8000 years of human occupation in the area. These signify a range of different artistic styles and provide valuable insights into the lives of the people throughout the past eight millennia. To see these beautiful ancient artworks is a privilege indeed.

3. Open Air Gallery, Walcha

Walcha Open Air Gallery

As you wander around the tiny New England town of Walcha you begin to notice a theme: sculptures. They are dotted all over town and wandering around looking for them is like a treasure hunt for discerning adults.

There are 41 sculptures in total, featuring the works of local, national and international artists. Comprised of wood, steel and even basalt crystals, the art works feature motifs of totems and human characters, as well as creatures of the sky and sea.

4. Aboriginal Dendrograph at the Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo

An Aboriginal dendrograph is an ornately carved tree, extremely rare and even more rarely displayed to the public. The practice of carving trees is thought to have been unique to Aboriginal groups from Central NSW to the Mid North Coast, yet the meaning of the symbols remain largely a mystery. It is thought they could be personal images connected to the deceased.

There is a dendrograph on display at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, providing the public a rare opportunity to view this beautiful, ancient art form.

5. Australian Standing Stones, Glen Innes

Australian Standing Stones

No, it’s not Stonehenge, but you’d be forgiven for making the comparison. The Australian Standing Stones in Glen Innes are a celebration of the region’s Celtic heritage.

They are positioned on a hill overlooking the town, symbolic and mysterious in their meaning and grand in their stature. Made from locally quarried stone, these enormous sculptured rocks are truly beautiful, especially late in the afternoon when shafts of fading sunlight fall between them and long shadows are cast.

6. Living Desert Sculptures, Broken Hill

Living Desert Reserve

In the middle of the NSW outback on a tall, rocky hill you’ll find the sculpture symposium at the Living Desert Reserve. Initiated by Gosford-based sculptor Lawrence Beck and created by 12 artists from five countries, these 12 striking sandstone pieces celebrate the strong connection between art and environment within the region.

Perched on top of a hill and accompanied by spectacular panoramic views, the sculptures are an impressive part of Broken Hill’s skyline, particularly at sunset.

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