I have just completed my first literary tour within Australia! The tour company I work with is called ASA which stands for Australians Studying Abroad. Just at the moment, I think it needs a new temporary name of ‘Australians Studying Australia’ for we all learned a lot about our country and its writers and artists.
The tour went to New England and the Hunter Valley, and particular highlights for me were visits which a traveller on their own could never have experienced. We had fabulous talks by three authors – Richard Anderson, a farmer, who writes crime novels that reflect the challenges faced by those on the land; Sophie Masson, who writes mainly for children and whose exotic background has enabled her to write an amazing range of books; and Barry Maitland, whose wonderful series of crime novels set in London and featuring detectives David Brock and Kathy Kolla, has now been added to with a trilogy of crime books set in Australia. It was also a great treat to visit the studio of artists James Drinkwater and his partner Lottie Consalvo – the studio was an amazing sight and it was fascinating to learn about their inspiration as artists. And the visit to the private library of some dear friends left me quite green with envy, but also thrilled that wonderful rare books are being treasured and cared for, and shared with tour groups. We stood in the room where poet Judith Wright was born and listened to her niece read the poems, we visited the Dorothea Mackellar Centre in Gunnedah, admired a great set of paintings telling the story of bushranger Captain Thunderbolt, learned about Federation (ironically in a time when the states of Australia are closing borders to each other) at the excellent Sir Henry Parkes Museum in Tenterfield, and so much more.
It was a treat and a privilege to lead my first Aussie tour.
Do you have plans to travel in our own country this year? Is there a literary location in Australia that you’d like to see? Let me know by leaving a comment.