By ROD MOSS
Alcohol is the most destructive recreational drug in Central Australia.
At the time of this painting, beer apart, the most maligned variant was the “little green box” of casked Coolibah white wine; cheap and nasty. Empty boxes littered the Todd River after card-playing parties. The dry riverbed was awash with them.
With incidental irony the packaging wore a kitschy Impressionist image of some rowers nonchalantly skiffing along: the promise of untroubled waters far removed from the Todd.
The title linked the mythological Inland Sea motivating early explorers with the prevailing scene, and deployed the casks in the commonly used motif for sitting evident in Aboriginal painting.
Once the Blue Mountains had been crossed in 1813, encounters with the westward flowing Darling, Macquarie, Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers led to speculations that they fed a great interior waterway.
In 1844, Charles Sturt’s party, lugging a sizeable boat, followed various water courses north of the Darling. His disappointing efforts extinguished the myth.
The view is to the south where the footbridge broaches the width of the painting.
The kneeling, white-capped Edward Neal was the sole collaborator. Ricky Ryder stands at his side. The others, save shirtless Xavier and Joe Cleary near right, were Johnsons, collated from my photo stock.