The Mud Map


In her comment on my recent post ‘By Request’ our friend Mary Tang  opined: ‘Bravo, Derrick. Glad we did not lose you in a ditch. Now we need a mud map

The website mud thus explains what Mary considered essential to this blog:

‘mud map : a saying from Australia

The term mud map  is an old Australian bush saying. It dates back to the early years of European settlement when much of the continent was still unexplored and unchartered by white men.

To outline directions to each other, when outback travellers met up by chance they used to draw maps in the dirt or in the mud after it had rained. These in turn became known as mud maps.

In those days it was a lonely life droving and travelling around the bush and the chance to stop and chat for a while around a campfire with a friendly face was something to be savoured and enjoyed.

mud map : what it means

Often while sitting around a campfire at night fellow outback travellers would share stories, trade information and pass on the latest news. This news may have been the latest gold rush or possibly a recent flood and so the map drawn on the ground became the focal point for describing the event and where it was.

The term mud map has remained in the Australian language particularly with people from the bush. These days however the maps are usually hand drawn on paper although you may occasionally see someone squat down and actually draw a map in the mud.’

Jackie therefore spent all day yesterday updating her original drawing of our garden map, now somewhat out of date.

Two years on, this complete layout, is what she produced.

This crop shows the entire plot, without the back drive, including the house and front garden, complete with key;

this one shaves off the road and much of the key;

while this one features the back drive and its borders.

Jackie has traced the original version; transferred it to a large sheet of paper to include the whole of the Back Drive; added a considerable amount of detail and further symbols; and extended the key. Perhaps the more notable additions are the Rose Garden in the top south east corner, and the herbaceous borders flanking the drive. The work is not exactly to scale, but it is a close approximation.

In order reasonably satisfactorily to reproduce this cartographical masterpiece we Blu-Tacked it to our neighbours’ wall along the southern end of the Back Drive in order for me to photograph it. I just about managed that before the rain came down again, thereby saving it from becoming a veritable mud map.

Isn’t it wonderful when blogging friends prompt inspiration?

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s choice Chinese takeaway with which I finished the malbec and Jackie drank Blue Moon, a wheat beer brewed in the Belgian tradition in Denver, Colorado,and sold in the Co-op at Hordle, Hampshire.


  1. I wish I had a mud map to read in the mountains sometimes, directions can be rather obscure. Thanks for an interesting post Derrick and Jackies garden map is wonderful. Have a great day.

  2. The map is very beautiful. Will there be a version that shows the legend “Here there be The Beast” somewhere along the fence line? πŸ™‚

  3. Wow – Brava, Jackie! It’s the most sophisticated ‘mud map’ I’d ever seen! Now I understand why there are so many paths – because they are all crescents and they give access to the numerous beds! Brilliant!

    Thank you for posting, Derrick. I’m glad you didn’t get it wet or life may be a bit difficult at the Post.:)

    1. You inspired me to get on with this latest map project Mary, so I am very glad that you approve. I have been procrastinating re this map for too long. So thank you for suggesting it.

  4. Interesting information about “mud maps” in Australia.

    Thank Jackie for her excellent map of your garden. You have craved out your own Garden of Eden. I do hope that your family will preserve it for future generations and for your neighborhood.

    Suggestion: Don’t know how much it would cost, but it would be great to see a bird’s eye view with the help of a drone.

  5. Well, WOW! That was a good day’s work! This took the Aussie art form of mud maps to a whole new level πŸ™‚ I love the details in the key like the picture of the prevailing wind and ‘tree (deceased)’ πŸ™‚ It must have been a massive undertaking, though I do recall having seen images of Jackie’s maps before and she does seem to have a flair for making them. Rosaliene’s suggestion of a drone survey isn’t a bad idea – now I also recall that our mutual friend Geoff has one to hand, a neighbour I think. Perhaps an inveigling invitation to a Jackie dinner might be just the ticket …. just a thought……

      1. I’v e seen it if it was the same one he posted on his blog. I thought it gave a magnificent over view. Jackie sounds dubious though, so you may have to do a bit of bribing …. I also meant to say earlier that I think ‘The Head Gardener’ should be promoted to ‘Garden Curator.’ It’s a worthy title for such wonderful conception, planning and caring.

    1. So pleased you liked it, the original took 3-4 days of working out and a lot of standing and staring at the garden itself to get the paths to make sense,( and a lot of rude words during the drawing of it.) I was dreading doing this one and put it off for ages. I fear a drone would show up all my mistakes!

      1. There are no mistakes, only opportunities for new creativity! Your garden is beautiful and highly appreciated and admired by those of us with no garden or no green fingers and/or no planning ability at all πŸ™‚ xo

  6. Oh wow! I realised it was a huge garden, but still the immensity takes me by surprise. And I can report that the term mud map is still alive and well in the Australian workplace. We use it to describe the sketch plan for project implementations and such like.

  7. How strange; I’ve lived in Australia for 66 years and spent many living and working in the bush, outback and desert and never have I ever heard the term “mud maps”
    I agree that it’s a great feeling when travelling in the outback to meet up with other lone travellers.

    I recall one instance, my mate and I were about 120 miles (we weren’t metric then, north of Carnarvon in Western Australia, we’d stopped for a rest and ‘breather’, we had beer on board but didn’t fancy it, to cut a long story short, some bloke pulled his rig up behind ours, and came to check that we were okay.

    That is the done thing out there, we told him we were Jake, but moaning the only beer we had to offer was hot, “No worries” says he, with which he told us to bring the beer to the back of his rig,which we did.

    He was driving a refrigerator truck and at the rear there was this tap thing which he opened and turned a big blast of ice cold air onto our beer.

    We sat for quite a while yakking about who knows what, finished the grog, said cheers to our new mate, who we never saw again. and drove off.

    The road was dirt and corrugated, and we were probably more than half tanked, as we set off again heading north, Wonder I’m still alive to mention it πŸ™‚

    Long before the RBT days. We’d have been done like a dogs dinner! 😈 :bear:

          1. To the contrary Derrick, I trust I don’t detect a bit of tongue in cheek or false modesty, most unbecoming. There are some things that I do exceedingly well and better than most, and I’m not the least bit shy of acknowledging it openly, But I lack a decent imagination and acknowledge it; whereas you have a brilliant imagination and must acknowledge it openly.
            Here endeth the lesson for today πŸ‘Ώ

  8. Love this lesson, Derick…never heard of a mud map…yours is frame-worthy, complete with that beautiful key.

  9. I used to find mud maps all over the farm that our boys and their friends drew while playing cowboys or soldiers. I remember one that made it appear the Apache were valiantly winning the battle against the Nazis. I love Jackie’s map of the gardens. They’re a thing of beauty but the gardens are glorious!

  10. Thanks for the Revelation on Mud Maps! It sparked of rich images of the outback life in my mind. Jackie has worked out a classic. It is much better than how Mr Google might ogle at your garden.

  11. Being an urban Australian I have, of course, heard of the mud map but I had no idea where the name originated. Thanks for informing me about my own folk history. πŸ™‚ Your garden looks fabulous. It must keep you busy looking after such a plot.

          1. I can relate – I love gardening but find I have to pace myself. πŸ™‚

  12. Being a tradesman, I’m good with my maps and plans, and Jackie has done an excellent job here, and I loved browsing over them….

  13. This is far more impressive than a simple stick drawing in the mud! Jackie’s magnificent garden looks like a map masterpiece!
    Simply delightful and I remember in home EC trying to design a house with ruler and getting frustrated! I can imagine the difficulty of creating a true facsimile of your gardens and paths. It is very special!!
    The Blue Moon beer I sometimes drink usually is offered with orange slices to squeeze into it. It makes it a “summer shanty.” 🍊 Just in case it may be of interest.
    So glad you are take out after such a long project (ordeal!) Bravo!! πŸ‘πŸ‘

    1. I do like the Blue Moon beer as well as the Hoogaarden beer. In Belgium they often served the Blue moon and the Hoogaarden with an appropriate citrus slice, very nice too!

  14. Not sure if my attempted comment already sent. Great map Jackie- do much detail including weather too! I was happy when I saw Mary’s comment in the other post as I knew it meant it was only a matter of time before you’d oblige. 😊

  15. The mud map explanation was fascinating. Thank you for that. When I was working on my World of the American Revolution, I investigated maps a bit. I was fascinated by the way some Native American cultures viewed maps so differently from Anglo-Europeans–a different world view.

    Jackie’s map is amazing. Is there anything she can’t do?!

  16. I am a bit on the same path as Brian. I have only recently heard the term “mud map”. However the art of drawing such maps was very common. “Old Thompson’s place, he’d say, as he picked up a stick. Well you go up this road here, until you get to the old church that got burned down in the 48 fires then there’s a big redgum. Turn left and go on about ten miles to the school. It’s just past that. Ya can’t miss it. Big red place.”

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