Wartime Eric Thake

War gave Eric Thake the opportunity to travel. He traversed the country twice by train. Once to Timor and the other to Papua New Guinea.

Three wonderful sketchbooks document his journeys. At the end of the sketchbook, he writes a descriptions of his drawings for his children.

“The dead kangaroo sleeps in the mulga scrub on the plains in the Harts Range country, the spots in the sky are a flock of galahs or may be cockatiels.”

| Eric Thake, Dead Kangaroo in the Mulga, 1945, Sketchbook 3, State Library of Victoria |

“The picture of Alice was drawn on Anzac Hill looking south to the gap in the Macdonnell ranges. The birds are forked tailed kites: they soar and ascend in great sweeping circles.”

| Eric Thake, Alice Springs, 1945, Sketchbook 3, State Library of Victoria |

“After leaving Alice we passed Central Mt Stuart, a very smooth and symmetrical mountain set in a sea of spinifex, and that night arrived in the wide and dusty main street of Tennant’s Creek. Next morning sitting on the verandah of a café I asked Harry Ziggenborne, an old drover well known in these parts, if he’d let me do a sketch of him. “Go ahead” says he, “I’ve been through the mill”.

| Eric Thake, Central Mt Stuart across Spinifex Plain, 1945, Sketchbook 3, State Library of Victoria |

“That afternoon we arrived at Daly Waters, there is a big swamp here, a great place for birds; egrets, pelicans, ducks, cranes and eagles, and the black cockatoos looking like pieces of burnt wood perched in the trees. I only stayed here a couple of days and then went on to Gorrie, a few miles beyond Birdum, the southern terminus of the Darwin railway.”

| Eric Thake, Black Cockatoos in flight and at rest, 1945, Sketchbook 3, State Library of Victoria |

“There were some marvellous red anthills here, some looking like fat old men with beards, one like a Toby jug version of Queen Victoria, and several like a mother holding her baby. There was one about 10 feet high that looked like a tower of whispering children. I saw Jen (daughter) in quite a number of groups, but it was a still and silent Jenny.”

| Eric Thake, The Little Queen of the Anthills, 1945, Sketchbook 3, State Library of Victoria |

Lovely.

Julia Ritson

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