Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Oh Holy Night is one of my favourite carols. The soaring musical finale is full of triumph.
            Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angel voices!
            Oh night divine, the night when Christ was born.
But for many people, Christmas is anything but holy. It is a painful memory or an all-too-present horror, as broken and dysfunctional families tear themselves apart. Such Christmas experiences are as different as night from day from the triumphant carol.
            As I meditated on this I found myself writing a hymn to the hope that even the darkest of nights and the most painful memories may be redeemed by the Light of The World, Jesus Christ.
            Go into the night singing!
            For pow’rless hell no longer preens
            The shadowy spectres of ghosts once seen
            In those darkened minds of sorrow-bringing.
            Go into the night singing!
            Out of the mind and into the bliss
            Of brightest rivers of light which kiss
            The dawn of grace redeeming.
            Go into the night singing!
            With heavenly legions of glorious sound
            Bright clad with holy light all ‘round
            ‘Tis all divine and gleaming,
            Both night and day now holy, past and present blessed,
            Go singing out from night as Light’s most honoured guest.
May your Christmas be triumphant with peace and light.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Born To Live

The pandorea jasminoides climber that was planted long before our time had become the enemy - a creeping, scaling, climbing pest in pink. It had overtaken the fence-both sides- and was now invading the inside of the garden shed, writhing through bicycle spokes and coiling round the legs of folding chairs. No amount of cutting back had succeeded in quenching its appetite for greater territory. As with the Amalekites, Hivites, Jebusites et al, the only solution was total defiance and annihilation.
            It took several weeks - and numerous wheelie bin loads - to whittle away the upper foliage to the point where only stumps remained. We cut those off as close to the ground as possible, congratulated ourselves on a job well done, and made plans to put the shed back in place the following weekend. Or the one after that - we’d fought the good fight and were ready for R & R.
            It was with disbelief we viewed the tiny green shoots now forcing their way through what appeared to be dead, dry stumps. How truly glorious is the power of the Creator in the plant world. What is created to grow, blossom and reproduce continues to do so regardless of opposition. There have been such times in my life when I thought I’d given all I had to give and now please can I just lie down and die, but the dreams and hopes embedded in me by creator God, my beginning and my end, were always too strong for such defeatism. I was born to realise an identity and destiny designed by Him, and fulfil it I would.
           There is another analogy for the persistent pink pest in my garden. Unfortunately, pandorea jasminoides was totally wrong for our confined garden space. The only solution was to poison the stump and roots. Brutal but effective. In a similar way, there are times when we insist on trying to grow the gift that is in us in a way and a place it was never meant to be. The result is always ugliness and frustration. Not only is the gift God-given, there is also a God-given arena.  Find it and flourish.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Requiem For A Friend

Is there anything more delicious to the senses
Than stroking that face against mine?
The fine, miniature feel of bone-shape
 Finishing in softness of silken ear.
 His head under my hand
 He sleeps quietly on, until
 Seduced by my stroke
 He purrs.

While conceding I have loved every one of the cats I’ve owned over the years, my children insist I’ve never been as besotted as I was with Sergeant Milo, a Devon Rex with a coat of chocolate-smoke. It’s true he was allowed to sleep in our bed after breakfast on cold mornings (he hated the cold). And we did make special concessions to his habit of prowling over bench tops (was it fair to enforce new rules when an indulgent first owner had entirely failed to instill kitchen manners in the two years before he was ours?).
            His morning routine after making a toilet stop was a dive across the garden for the door to avoid the Murray Magpie - who just might be poised for a Spitfire swoop, all guns blazing - then, a manic dash for a sunny windowsill, slithering across ceramic tiles before gaining purchase on carpet and leaping from sofa, chair and coffee table to land, blinking, with a veil of terylene over his hindquarters. He would turn his head to make sure I was watching and blink twice as if to say, ‘You couldn’t do that in a fit.’
            At about 9pm he would leave whatever he was doing at the time to jump onto my lap and snuggle up with his nose hidden in the crook of my arm, or under the curl of his tail, and go to sleep. It was his signal for me to carry him to his bed in the laundry before nocturnal habits kicked in, in which case I was reduced to playing hide and seek and chasing him ‘round and ‘round the house until he deigned to be caught.
            Seven days ago Milo was hit by a car.  The damage was severe and my husband and I held him as the vet administered the chemical that stilled his generous little heart and turned his amber eyes to glass. It's hard to accept I will never again hear his soft morning meow, or stroke his velvety, chocolate-timtam face. It's hard to avoid the fresh spread of earth under the nectarine tree.      
RIP  Sergeant Milo.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


This morning I spotted an article entitled, “Do Authors really need to blog?” I tried to ignore it, truly I did, but it bared its teeth and barked at me until I rolled over and submitted. Even whimpering about being too busy didn’t work. I read it.

When I began blogging more than a year ago I was inspired. I wrote every other day. I couldn’t wait to do it again. And again. So I really identified with the first point in the article: ‘Some people try to blog daily, and many of them are eventually carried off in white vans with padded interiors.’  The thing was, I could kid myself it didn’t matter if I wasn’t getting on with my novel, or the story for next week’s writing group, because I was still writing wasn’t I? But blogging was so much fun and so quickly achieved in comparison with my other writing that I simply wasn’t doing anything else. And the longer I left my other writing, the harder it was to return to it. Pretty soon I was ready for that white van through sheer frustration and guilt.  

But now I’m being told all the reasons why I should, indeed must blog (I feel rather like a sugar addict being told that one cream biscuit won’t hurt me). Those reasons, of course, are all to do with building a platform to promote my name and get my books published. The name thing is important. Apparently, the first thing a publisher does when presented with a query letter from an unknown author is google his/her name. That presented a problem for me because my blog goes out under the pen name of Arrowhead.  It seems I really need a blog under my own name. There’s even an exercise to find out how my name presently appears (or not) on the web.

So, I must zip, to quote the words of a recently retired Australian politician. I’m about to search for my name on

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


The name, ‘Fyshwick’, intrigues me and submitting it as a prompt topic for my writing group was, I confess, a piece of whimsy on my part. I thought it would be great as part of a title for a short story. Having read some Graham Greene recently, I decided ‘Our Man in Fyshwick’ had a certain ring to it.
            I sat down with a coffee and googled ‘Fyshwick’ expecting to ramble through any number of bonny references to The Auld Country. To my dismay, there were no references to the British Isles whatsoever. There were no quaint villages so named, no colourful fish markets carrying its moniker and no character, male or female, rejoicing in its eccentricity. Fyshwick is entirely about a commercial suburb of Canberra notorious for the highest percentage of burglaries in the ACT and the only place in the Territory where prostitution may be conducted legally. I felt like a balloon five days after a kid’s birthday party.
            The name is a contrivance; a combination of ‘Fysh’, after Sir Philip Fysh, a Tasmanian politician who contributed to the establishment of Australian Federation, and ‘wick’, an Old English term for a dwelling place or village. I had no idea how I was going to make a story out of that, but a story I had to have. I had chosen the topic; I was determined to make it work.
            So I rambled some more with Google and found myself reading about the history of Fyshwick.  The land was originally cleared and developed as the site of Molonglo Internment Camp, built in 1918 to accommodate German and Austrian nationals who had been expelled from China.  Due to diplomatic intervention, these internees never arrived in Molonglo but were deported to Germany.  Several German families living in Australia were finally interned at the facility, but numbering only a couple of hundred, they rattled around in premises built for three and a half thousand souls.
            From 1942 to 1946 Molonglo was used as a naval auxiliary wireless station. Managed  by fourteen WRANs, it operated receivers for strategic radio links between Australia and Whitehall. Petty Officer Marion Stevens, who was in charge for all but the first year of operation, was famed for being the only woman appointed to run a transmitting station during the War. I couldn’t hope to do this material justice in a short story, but I found myself day dreaming about a TV mini series built around it. 
            In the meantime, I still have to come up with a story about someone’s man in Fyshwick.  At the moment I’m playing with some ideas based on its reputation as the burglary capital of the ACT.
            I have just three weeks to get my act together.


Friday, 30 August 2013


I’m not the greatest gardener in the world, but I’m keen to not be the one who incurs the wrath of the neighbours by lowering street appeal. Occasionally, I have gone beyond simple neat and tidy and attempted design and theme. It’s rarely successful, requiring as it does,  hard work and keeping at it - which might explain our having moved house more than ten times in forty eight years of marriage. Just saying.
However, over the years, I have learnt a thing or two about plants. One is that you have to keep re-potting your patio plants, otherwise they just don’t thrive. Oh, they do well for a while, then they get too big for the pot, get root bound, are invaded by pests, are worn out, like the exhausted soil they’re potted in. When that happens there’s nothing else to do but move them.  I admit I have killed a few in the process, but that was probably down to leaving it too late.
It occurs to me that there are parallel situations in life. There are people who stay too long in a job which doesn’t make best use of their true abilities or where their abilities are belittled. All too often they stay in the job because of paralysing fear, pleading age, family responsibilities, or past disappointments. Better to take a risk than to die slowly.
Then there’s the couple whose marriage is stale but either one or both won’t make the effort to seek counsel. The answer is not separation or divorce, but a willingness to change. I accept it may take only one partner to make an unsatisfactory marriage, but to improve it certainly needs both partners. Prompt action, nourishment, and ‘pest eradication’ are vital elements in that process.
Finally, as a follower of Jesus Christ for over forty years, I have observed some people slowly withering in their local church. Having exhausted what nourishment that ‘pot’ had to offer, it was time to move to a bigger or differently shaped one. They choose to stay put because of false perceptions of loyalty. It’s not that their church was a bad one, it is simply that it no longer provided what was necessary for them to thrive. A cot is the right place for a baby, but will prevent a toddler taking steps toward being a responsible teen. The children of Israel would have camped over-long in many places, but God required they follow His cloud by day and His pillar of fire at night. It was the only way they would receive spiritual food and grow strong enough to take the land of promise.

The call to growth will always require risk. I quote Bill Johnson: “God loves risk takers. It shows they are willing to trust Him.” 

Monday, 5 August 2013


Ted Bear had a problem. He felt ordinary. He wasn’t cute like Little Ted on Playschool. He wasn’t a big Thorpedo sort of Ted. He was just a middling sort of Ted.
He only did middling, everyday sorts of things. Every morning he climbed out of his middling-sized bed, put on middling-sized trousers and jacket, ate a middling breakfast and cleaned his teeth with a small toothbrush.
At school he always sat in the middle row. Not at the back with the clever kids. Not at the front where the teacher kept an eye on the naughty ones. Even in footy games he didn’t kick goals, only behinds.
“I wonder if I’ll ever do anything special,” he said with a big sigh.
When the siren rang for lunch he opened his blue lunch box. It wasn’t as big as Troy’s and not as colourful as Tina’s. Inside there was a fruit bar and cheese. Now, he liked cheese and fruit bars, but sometimes he wished for something different…or more. He wasn’t sure what he wanted.
“Could you put something else in my lunch box?” he asked his mum.
His mum thought very hard.
On Monday, there were bear-shaped carrot slices and on Tuesday, vegemite pikelets. On Wednesday, Ted found peanut butter and sultana balls. On Thursday, he had fritz chunks on sticks.
Ted sighed. Everything was very tasty, but still he wanted something different…something more.
On Friday there were tiny sandwich triangles. Ted unwrapped one. He popped it into his mouth. His eyes got round and big and then they squeezed very tight.
“Mmmmmm!” he said, licking his lips. “This is exactly what I want!”
He ate all the tiny triangles. He even smoothed out the wrap and tipped his lunch box upside down just in case he’d missed one. What made them so wonderful?
He ran all the way home to ask.
His mum showed him a big pot with a yellow label.
“Honey!” said Ted. “I didn’t know bears liked honey!”
“Bears were born to eat honey,” said his mum, who knew a lot. (*)
And that was how Ted discovered he had a BIG talent for eating honey.

He had honey on porridge and honey with carrots and honey on hazel nuts. He loved honey crackles and honeyed sausages, and even honey lemonade. He ate honey at breakfast and honey at lunch and honey for dinner. He ate it when he was glad and when he was worried and when it was rainy and when it wasn’t. And the more honey he ate, the more special he felt.
Ted became famous. People came from everywhere to ask him about honey. They came from Willunga and Wirrabara, from Darwin and Davenport. Some even came from the other side of the world! They came on bicycles and rollerblades, in cars, buses and  aeroplanes. Sometimes they walked.
The more honey he ate, the more he changed. Ted the Middling became Ted the Mighty. He conducted honey tours and wrote honey recipe books. He sang songs with his band called, ‘Honey For Jam’. He even had his own television show. With honey in his tummy nothing was impossible to Ted.
Now, when he climbs into bed and has his last spoonful of honey for the day, he licks his lips and smiles his biggest smile and reminds himself, “I was born to eat honey!”

(            (*)     Ted’s mum knew about Psalm 119:103 and Psalm 81:16 and a lot more where they came from!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Give That Woman a Prize!

Six weeks since I last posted on my blog? No! Really? I can’t make up my mind to plead extreme busyness or sheer laziness. As always, it’s something of both. Please to keep in mind that these last few months have been the most event-packed, exciting times in the life of the church fellowship I attend, but that’s another story altogether. I don’t intend to chronicle the why, how and where of laziness, but I will justify the ‘busy’ part of the equation.
I want to relate something of the recent activities that have excited and challenged me. The first one was conducting my first two-day writing workshop. I spent several weeks creating interesting hand-outs and innovative writing exercises, and planning and organising my material. I agonised over whether I had too much material or not enough, too advanced or not sufficiently challenging.  As the designated weekend drew nearer I teetered between anxiety and blasé nonchalance about the actual number of attendees.  The upshot of it was… I had an absolute ball! It was well attended on both days, the writers asked great questions, they responded positively to the exercises and several of them expressed interest in further workshops. I couldn’t wait to do it all again, the sooner the better.
Concurrent with that, I was signing a contract with Wombat/Even Before Publishing to publish my book – a biography of Marion Fromm and the work amongst landmine disabled in Cambodian. The contract actually was signed during Lifeworx Arts Expo in Mclaren Vale in SA, where my workshops were held. No wonder I was on a high.
Those two events set me thinking like an entrepreneur; I wasn’t going to wait for things to come to me, I was going out to get them. With that in mind, I’m in the process of putting several initiatives in place. Watch this space!
Also - with the prospect of spruiking my book in the not too distant future- I decided I needed a business card. I have to say I’ve always considered them to be well on the vanity side of necessity, unless you happened to be a carpenter or upholsterer, or the like, who needed something handy to write a quote on that would fit neatly in the customer’s wallet and not get screwed up or trodden on in the footwell of a car.  Vanity or not, it’s been great fun designing one. And it took me ages. Of course, two hours after finally lodging my order for a modest first run of 250 I decided they weren’t glossy enough – actually, they’re not glossy at all; an error of judgement, I feel. If you’ve got it, baby, flaunt it! I’m going to be absolutely prodigal with that first lot so I can do better in a second print just as soon as possible!
Last but not least, I wrote a short story this week, about Studley and his dog, Turd. I think it could be one of the best I’ve done.  Plus, I wrote it in between bouts of extensive editing for another writer. I think I need a prize for doing those two things at once. Don’t laugh. One half of me is a tunnel visionary and the other is anally retentive. I just can’t decide which half should get the prize.
Just to keep things in perspective, I did plan to have that story ready for a competition, but I missed the closing date by two weeks. That’s where laziness came into it. Or was it lack of motivation, and is there a difference?

Thursday, 20 June 2013


In a study about managing depression, it was discovered that ‘passage lines’ in the brain connect positive words and actions with serotonin, the ‘happiness’ trigger. This explains why passionate praise, combined with exuberant movement such as dancing, actually triggers enjoyment of God.

 Psalm 100 tells us how to enter into His presence and it begins and ends with a lot of loud shouting. Silence doesn’t get a mention.  After the loud shouting there’s singing with boisterous joy, followed by hearty thanksgiving and more loud praise. There are two reasons why we know it’s loud: firstly, the Hebrew tells us the singing was to be by massed choirs and secondly, the word for praise, in this instance, is tehillah, meaning ‘a praise shout’. This shout of praise expresses the life and soul of the worshipper – something akin to the fans welcoming the team hero as he runs onto the field. When did you last hear a sports hero welcomed with whispered reverence?

The Book of Revelations (chapters 4-7) tells me it’s pretty noisy in Heaven. It is full of loud singing, not to mention ‘noises, thunderings and lightnings’.  So when we pray for it to ‘be on Earth even as it is in Heaven’ are we prepared to accept what’s coming? Or don’t we really believe God will answer that prayer? Either way it’s foolish to expect God will answer according to our puny standards. Is it possible we have believed the religious lie that approaching God is best done in silence with folded hands and bowed head? I’m not saying there isn’t a place for silence once we have entered His courts - we certainly need intimate times of quietness so as to hear Him speaking into our hearts – but the thing to notice about Psalm 100 is that ‘come’ is a command, not a suggestion. If we are to enter His presence we need to do it the way He instructs us.

The scriptures tell us that King David, the greatest worshipper of all, was totally outrageous in his worship of his Creator. So many of the Psalms tell us that not only was he a praise shouter (e.g. Psalm 27:6) but he was also prone to praise dance, in the equivalent of his undies, and in public!  God, Himself, shouts (e.g. Isaiah 42:13).  He even shouts (shabak) over, and through, His people with great joy (Zephaniah 3:17).

Oh yes, I’m sure God loves big, loud sound!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Oscar Wilde said, "Every great man nowadays has his disciples and it is always Judas who writes the biography." No doubt there's truth in that, but for every Judas there is also a 'toadie' writing sycophantic slop, and one is as distasteful as the other.

I’m thinking a lot about biographers – because I can say now that I have joined their ranks, albeit on the lowliest rung– and wondering why we do it. It’s a hard slog: all that research and interviewing; all that dodging and weaving of delicate issues. I’m thinking, because I’m worried I’ll do it again. I keep meeting people I itch to write about.

I waded through a lot of biographies in the course of writing my own book and I was sure about the ones I didn’t want to emulate. Not for me the cheesy, sweetness- and-light treatment, but by no means do I like gratuitous scandal, either. I want to present a warts and all picture that makes the person and his actions understandable; a real person, neither saint nor devil. As Bernard Malamud said, “…all biography is ultimately fiction,” and as any fiction writer knows, a character who is entirely saint or sinner won’t engage the reader very long.

It seems to me that biographies all too often fall neatly into one or other of these two camps. Christian writers, in particular, often present a saccharine view of worthy, upstanding individuals who have done much good in this world. In the light of all that these people have achieved, why is it necessary to ignore their mistakes and failings? To address such issues is not to muck rake, but to demonstrate that the grace of God is greater than their failings. Then there is the other camp, populated by sensation seekers who delight in  the dirty linen so beloved by readers of gossip magazines. Scholarly biographers don’t fall into either camp, of course, but some do get bogged down in the painfully boring detail of careful research. 

I have great appreciation for the secular biographies written by Peter FitzSimons; he is a riveting read. His treatment of the Australian boxer, Les Darcy, was the first one I read, it being the only one of his titles not out on loan at my local library. I had no prior interest in boxers or their sport, but FitzSimons made Darcy's story completely un-put-downable. I went on to read four more titles in quick succession, each one showing me what it was to write candidly but without condemnation. 

I'm still searching for my ideal christian biographer. To be fair, I haven't, so far, read as widely as I might.  All suggestions gratefully accepted!.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Recently, I found a new-to-me second hand book shop; just one of the pleasures of being in the Barossa Valley on a gloriously mild winter’s day. To go through its doors is to experience literature overload; books on shelves, tables and floor; in stacks, in boxes and in cabinets with glass doors and key. It casts a spell. It lures you into its Aladdin’s cave of treasure, deceiving you into thinking it’s the usual higgledy piggledy second hand place, but it isn’t. It isn’t even dusty. And, like all good second hand book shops, it’s quirky. The cinema posters of old Errol Flynn movies I could understand, but the life size stuffed alligator and lioness?

This luscious display of the desirable and the downright covetable, is the work of an orderly and discerning proprietor. Every section is carefully marked by hand written signs and the arrangement is deliciously alphabetical. If it’s there, you’ll find it. No problem. And while the area housing valuable collectibles is roped off with an attached piece of cardboard informing children it’s not for them, the range of genre and titles in the rest of the shop is not at all snobby. It’s a bookshop for everyman. Which reminds me; I must take my husband to salivate over its extensive range of automotive manuals.

I barely moved past the rows and rows of W.E. Johns’ Biggles books, lost in childhood reading memories, although I did make a quick foray into the Enid Blyton’s and ‘Australian Writers’ before time ran out on me. I was utterly overwhelmed by the variety and number of treasures. Inevitably, I left empty handed because I couldn’t decide which of the goodies to take home. Libraries, too, do this to me. I keep telling myself not to go through the doors of either of them unless it is to look for a particular title or author. But that’s no fun. I can always rely on the lack of cash to referee the conflict. So I left empty-handed, but I’m going back cashed up!

Saturday, 25 May 2013


I have been mildly chastised for the recent post about my desert island must-haves. Some readers have complained I haven’t said what the books are about and why I delight in them. Pedants. Must be teachers.  Don’t they trust my enthusiasm? Apparently not. So…sigh…I will oblige, even though it feels like I’m spoon-feeding year 10 students who won’t read a book without first seeing the movie of it. 

At this point I must digress to confess that the latest screen adaption of The Great Gatsby may be the only reason I bring myself to read that book. F. Scott Fitzgerald is on a par with Patrick White, in my estimation.

Now for a quick précis of some of the blurbs. The rest, you’ll have to google.

Dirt Music: Georgie is 40, near alcoholic, on the run from her past and living in a relationship of convenience with a widowed fisherman.  A chance meeting with an abalone poacher has her on the run again.  Like all Winton’s writing, this one, too, has forgiveness and redemption at its core.

Oyster: Arriving at an opal mining community, two strangers search for family members who have disappeared. They are drawn into the twin cultures of rough-as guts bushies and religious fundamentalists. But no one wants to talk about the cult messiah, Oyster.

The Playmaker: This story is based on historical fact, and concerns a group of convicts in Sydney Cove in 1789, who stage a performance of ‘The Recruiting Officer’, a comedy by George Farquhar, to honour the King’s birthday. The convicts lives begin to parallel the characters in the play.

The Ancestor Game: Writer, Steven, sets out to discover the mysterious background of his friend, Chinese- Australian artist, Lang Tzu. The mystery links past to present and takes Steven on a journey between Melbourne and Shanghai as he unravels the meaning of family and homeland.

People of the Book: Hannah, a renowned book conservator, travels to Bosnia to work on The Sarajevo Haggadah, a Jewish prayer book. As she traces its amazing survival she is drawn into the dangerous life of the young librarian who has risked everything to save it from the ruins of the war-torn city.

The Water Boys: Set several decades into the future, the conflict between indiginous and European Australians is about water, not land. Every water source is militantly governed and guarded and there is a fierce, underground war for access. The action alternates between dreamtime, colonial times and present reality. It is eerily prophetic.

I forgot to include The Ballad of Les Darcy in part 1.This is a biography of the famous boxer in the early part of the last century. While it’s not fiction, it is nevertheless fine story-telling and meets my criteria for great Australian writing.

All the titles listed have a powerful sense of place and time, and that sense of poetry in language that makes me as proud as all else of my literary heritage.

Friday, 17 May 2013


Maybe the title of this piece should be ‘Inspired Australians’; I can’t decide. The point is, there is a body of work by Australian writers that gets my creative juices going and makes me as envious as all else!

Before 1991 I had barely read any Australian writers. I had tried Patrick White’s Voss,  hated it, and tried another of his titles (from memory, something with Mrs in the title) in the interests of giving him a fair go, but that one did nothing to change my opinion. Mind you, that was forty years ago; maybe I should try again.  Nah!! Why bother when there is just so much fine Australian fiction to be read.

Australian Literature was a compulsory unit in my first year at Uni. We began with some colonial classics, but when we moved on to more contemporary writing I was hooked. I was inspired by these authors to write with the same empathy and passion for Australia and with that sense of identity and belonging. Readers world wide weren’t put off American novels, or English ones, because they had obvious national settings and flavour, so why would they reject Australian novels for that reason? But, back then, that was the hurdle Australian writers had to jump. 

I began with Thomas Keneally, and I read everything he wrote up to and including his latest, at the time, Woman of the Inner Sea, and used them to write my final year’s English  assignment. I fell in love with Tim Winton and David Malouf. Later, I found Shirley Hazzard, Kate Grenville and Janette Turner Hospital.
So, here is my list of all-time favourite Australian reads. My desert island must-haves.

Anything written by Tim Winton, but my ten star rave is for Dirt Music.
Janette Turner Hospital: Oyster
Alex Miller: Journey to the Stone Country (I might have to take The Ancestor Game, too).
David Malouf: Remembering Babylon.
Thomas Keneally: The Playmaker
Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book (not set in Australia, but has an Aussie protagonist)
Peter Docker: The Water Boys. I discovered this book only a few weeks ago and already I have a library hold on it for a second read. In my estimation, this book should be up the top of this list with Dirt Music.

Saturday, 4 May 2013


I find it hard to believe I haven’t posted since the end of December 2012. Where has the year gone? Heck, where has my life gone! I’m reminded of something I read in a prophetic journal earlier this year:  “Expect surprise detours this year.” Aha! That’s where my life has gone…it’s been detouring.

But there have been pleasant, even enriching, detours. One of them was a ferry trip across Backstairs Passage (got to love that name!) to Kangaroo Island. It is eleven years since I last visited the Island and I couldn’t help noticing the changes. Kingscote now has a layer of the cosmopolitan on its country town core and everywhere, the message, “get the tourist”, is loud and clear. The rustic atmosphere is still there, but it’s calculated rather than hick.

We weren't there long enough for a repeat viewing of the Remarkable Rocks or the desolate grandeur of Cape du Couedic, or a dozen other delights, but  one thing I did make time for was the pelicans at feeding time. The magic of sitting cheek to bill with these ugly/awkward/amazing birds has remained with me for a decade, and I made my way to the Kingscote wharf in great anticipation. I can’t describe my disappointment when I saw that a sterile, black plastic platform of tiered seating had replaced the sandstone rocks I had perched on all those years ago. Must be hell on a hot day for tourists in shorts. And the pelicans are no longer within reach, either, but I took my seat and paid my money, anyway.  And I’m so glad I did. The pelicans are still amazing and their feeder is still enthusiastic and informative, and I was glad the audience was still enthralled, with no idea of the added joys it had been deprived of.  

Island hospitality and generosity hasn’t gone AWOL in the new sophistication, either. The gentleman from the Lion’s Club opened up, after hours, the huge shed which is their Op Shop, so that we could purchase some urgently needed items for our daughter’s new abode. In the process, we enjoyed an interesting conversation with a true ‘character’.

I’m positive it won’t be a decade before the next visit, especially when we won’t have to pay for accommodation!