Sidney Nolan spent much of 1947 exploring Australia. In early July of that year he travelled to Queensland spending six months going between, Tamborine Mountain, Bundaberg, Maryborough, and from there out to Fraser Island. Following two months on the island he further ventured north on to Cairns, Port Douglas, Green Island and Cape York Peninsula. In mid-1948, after marrying Cynthia, he moved to Sydney and it was at their Wahroonga house that he began painting prolifically and prodigiously. Indeed some of his finest paintings were painted in 1948 in Sydney.
It is difficult to place the exact location of this work. However, "at the very end of 1947 Nolan joined a Royal Geographical expedition inland from Cooktown. This was his first taste of the true outback - arid plains sparsely punctuated with windswept vegetation." (J Clark) The related work, Blackboys, (private collection, New South Wales), also from 1948, and recorded as being a landscape of the Cape York interior, renders the same wide blue sky, distant landscape and low scattered vegetation interspersed with native grass trees. It is likely therefore that this work is based on sketches done in the Cape York area.
"It takes courage to consider not only the grotesque ugliness and madness, almost always an ingredient in the Australian landscape; but also, what is even more trying, Nolan grappled with the frightening, useless, lost sweetness of the same wild bush, which produces such a tension - quaint and delicate living fossils posing baffling questions from incredibly remote ages of geology and bush silence. Between sweetness and ugliness is a new strangeness in Australia, new to Art, and poses questions never asked before in Art, symbolised by the aboriginal grass trees spooky remoteness." (Neil Douglas cited in J Clark Landscape and Legends, Melbourne.1987.p.99)