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.
I have others coming up during the year, and am really looking forward to meeting Chris Hammer and Sulari Gentill on the Snowy Mountains trip, as well as visiting some places connected with Henry Lawson. Later in the year, on my Queensland tour, there is Fraser Island to explore, in the steps of Patrick White and several artists, as well as the Maryborough of Mary Poppins’ creator, P.L. Travers, and much more. My co-leader David Henderson (who is an amazing artist as well as a brilliant ‘teacher’ of art appreciation) is also leading an enticing tour in Queensland. Goodness knows when borders might open for overseas travel, but at least we can get to know Australia rather better in the meantime. There are a few rooms still available on these tours and I’d love you to join me.
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.
The Dorothea Mackellar Centre in Gunnedah
Sir Henry Parkes Museum in Tenterfield
“Where the roads lead…”: A Literary & Artistic Journey from the Darling Downs to Fraser Island – August 2021
ASA Tours – An Artistic Journey from the Darling Downs to Fraser Island – September 2021