Tag: australia

Coming Home

Stranger in a Strange Land: Guest Post by Robyn Walker

Coming Home

Last of my guest bloggers for the week from the Under the Southern Cross anthology is Robyn Walker. The floor is all yours Robyn!

Thank you to Jacqui for the opportunity to write on her blog, and thank you to all of Jacqui’s readers too – I hope you find this piece as interesting to read as it was for me to write.

Given that both Jacqui and myself are Australians living in Britain, it made sense to make that the theme of my guest post. Before I start though, here’s an excerpt from my novella, ‘Coming Home’. The purpose in sharing this particular extract will become clear afterwards. Honest!
Read More

Red Heart

Aussie –ness in fiction: Guest Post by Isabelle Rowan

Red Heart

Today I’d like to welcome Isabelle Rowan as my second guest blogger from Under the Southern Cross. Come on down!

*

A story set in Australia about Australian men sounds easy enough right? Well, that’s what I thought…

The problems really began when I tried to pin down an aspect or notion of ‘Aussie-ness” to write about. Where do I start? How do I get across who we are when we’re all so different? More importantly, how do I avoid the stereotypes? So, no Crocodile Dundee, even though I wanted to do something about the outback! Hmm….

One of the themes I really wanted to explore is our relationship to the land. There is something about Australia that conjures images of red earth, vast landscapes and endless skies, yet most of us live in cities or suburbs. Since migrating to Australia in the 1960’s I’ve lived my life as a suburb dweller, far away from the deserts of central Oz. I walk on footpaths, meet friends in cafes and do all the things that happen in most other countries, but the land is often there in the back of my mind, nibbling away at my dreams and reminding me to walk barefoot now and then. Sure I’ll admit I’m an old pagan, but I honestly believe that the land is there within us all if we are willing or able to look.
So that’s where I started.
Read More

Body on the Beach

Historical Research for ‘The Body on the Beach’: Guest Post by L.J. LaBarthe

Body on the Beach

Today I’d like to welcome L.J. LaBarthe as my first guest blogger from the Under the Southern Cross anthology. Take it away, L.J.!

*

One of the great things about writing a historical—at least, for me—is seeing how a place has changed over the years… or how it hasn’t. In researching for “The Body on the Beach,” I learned a lot about the buildings on Hindley Street, Adelaide, and what they were originally used for. Places that I know to be seedy, awful dives, never used to be; once upon a time, they were considered formal establishments. Other places, which I know as, for example, a McDonalds restaurants, used to be a seedy dive of a pub. It’s so interesting to see how things have changed, where a new coat of paint can liven up an exterior.

Hindley Street has always had a bad reputation for as long as I can remember. While efforts have been made in the last ten to fifteen years to clean it up a little, introducing things such as uni student housing, more restaurants and a strong police presence at night, there’s still the lingering remnants of what was considered the underbelly of Adelaide. In the 1980s, Hindley Street was home to late night cafes and falafel houses—those still exist and still make the best damn falafel rolls I’ve ever had—and there were dingy, dirty, smelly pubs with carpet that was so sodden with spilled booze and who knows what else it was like walking on a sponge. Those pubs are gone now, changed hands and cleaned up, to become pokie pubs or uni student pubs or blues lounges.
Read More

The Complete Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Nanolomo: The Complete Adenvtures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

I’m not sure how well-known outside of Australia these stories – and art work, especially – are. Even if you didn’t read, or had read to you, the stories of the gumnut babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, their friends Ragged Blossom, and Mr Lizard, and those dastardly Banksia men, if you’re Aussie, you know the image of a gumnut baby well. These you can see on the cover here, whose dress and life is based on the gumnuts produced by the eucalyptus tree.

Taking an educated guess, I’d say the illustrator and author of these stories, May Gibbs, was trying to create a kind of Australian fairy in that very Victorian/Edwardian vision of what a fairy was (certainly not the darker Celtic Fae, but rather a kind of sweet creature who hopped from flower to flower). It would be an interesting question to explore – the creation of Australian folklore and tales in the absence of one that immigrant Australia could call its own. How indeed do the gumnut babies sit along side the Aboriginal Australian dreamtime legends and storytelling – not uncomfortably, but Gibbs was certainly, and not surprisingly, employing a more English tradition in her depiction of the Australian bush and Australian nature.

And I think that is good thing. Being blessed with a gift for illustration and wonderful detail (I don’t have a copy of the book on hand but I remember the pictures of both the Australian bush and under water scenes, with clever detail that uses the minutiae of nature in creative ways) though, Gibbs saved it from being merely twee and sweet and gave us something quite beautiful. For me personally, I think it gave a connection back to Australia (as a child, I was brought up in Jakarta) that I think was vital, for it only became a lived experience when was 9.

The stories themselves… I think there was something a little deeper in them than most of the other children’s books I read. There was adventure, but there was emotional connection, and fear, and friendship too. But really, I’d give these to someone just for Gibb’s lovely illustrations. 🙂

And who else is writing for Nanolomo? Click to find out!