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Capturing the Spirit of Cobb & Co on Canvas

Updated: Jun 1, 2019

There are plenty of heritage festivals around Australia, but for my money, there’s nothing quite like the Cobb & Co Festival (15-25 August 2019). This living history festival recreates the final run of the Cobb & Co transport company, when it delivered mail for the last time between Surat and Yuleba in Queensland on August 14, 1924. Run by volunteers, the re-enactment uses a replica of the original Cobb & Co coach, which is brought to life with a team of horses to make the 76km journey from Yuleba to Surat.

Oil on linen, Available at the Exhibition in August
'Cobb and Co after the long run'

As with the original route, there are stops along the way, and best of all is that plenty of people support the coach by riding alongside with their horses for parts of the journey, so it ends up being an extraordinary trail ride. For anyone who wants to really get a ‘feel’ for what a coach ride is like, seats are available too.

The coach is pulled by a horse team owned and trained by Don Ross Senior and his family, who have been working with horses in shows and on movie sets for decades. Don Ross is such a horseman, I reckon he’d almost have a tail!

There’s also a bullock team which starts in Yuleba, making the same trip as the coach but at a much slower pace: it’s a rare chance to see a bullock wagon in action.

From a creative point of view, the Cobb & Co Coach Festival is a unique opportunity to get photographic images that capture the heritage of horse drawn transport in this country. These are the raw materials of great paintings!

This year, I’ve decided to work in conjunction with the event by running 2 painting workshops in Surat. The first commencing with an optional extra day where we all meet in Surat and head over to Yuleba to take photographs of the bullock wagon getting underway (on Saturday 17 August). The formal workshop, Capturing the Spirit of Cobb and Co on Canvas, will run for five days (18 Sunday-22 Thursday August) in Surat. The second workshop follows the main part of the festival from the 26th to the 30th August. Surat is a fantastic venue for an extended painting workshop. It’s a small community where everyone knows each other, and although it’s not remote, it's still quite isolated. I’ve had someone tell me, ‘it’s really a great place to just be quiet’, but I think it’s also perfectly suited to being able to focus on painting. Finally, on Friday 23 August, I will be hanging my own exhibition, to which everyone is invited — no doubt after putting the finishing touches on their own paintings that same morning.

You can read more about the workshop here: Capturing the Spirit of Cobb and Co on Canvas. Also, if you are interested in coming, it’s best I tell you now that accommodation is limited. There’s plenty of camping, or you might like to bring a caravan. If you really get stuck for somewhere to stay, contact me and I will see what can be organised.

Don't forget to like or follow Kathy either on Facebook, or Instagram @kathyellem .

Contact Kathy on 0427962127 or email for further enquiries.

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