This might be the happiest time of my life.

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Wanted: Pool for Sad Homeless Bunyip

When I first came here, almost half a century ago, we walked past the bunyip pool. It was always cold by the bunyip pool, no matter how hot the air was elsewhere. The pool was deep and small, by an enormous boulder … and walking back home at night I did feel just a small amount of terror every time I passed the pool.

Which is just what the bunyip would have wanted.

And then, two months ago, we had a flood, scouring out some pools, washing away part of our road and the foundation for an electricity pole and changing the course of the creek yet again.

And now the bunyip pool is gone, the creek twisting around the boulder and leaving the pool dry.

It’s a low pool – lower than the creek – and, maybe, one day, the creek will change its way yet again, and the pool will return.

But what will happen to the bunyip?

There are pools aplenty in the creek, but they are cheery ones: the swimming hole (pictured above) where, for thousands of years of kids have laughed and splashed; the cascades where women sit and talk about life and kids and meaning; the Dragon Pool, where rainforest dragons plunge into the water on hot days and sit for half an hour or so down on the clear base, cooling down. And not a single one is suitable for a bunyip.

If any reader has the right kind of pool … a cold and shaded gloomy one, with a little terror potential, could you send a note? Address it to The Bunyip of Neverbreak Hills, and, if possible, enclose a photo of the pool, address and some directions.

And maybe soon after you might hear a mournful cry, and feel a tiny shiver as you pass. And the bunyip will have a home again – and will be yours.

On crutches

I blame it on seeing The Sound Of Music six times when I was young. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is all very well, but when you have fallen down them a dozen times, not to mention building a house, steps and walls out of granite rocks, there comes a day when your knees stop performing their proper function and become not very ornamental items in the middle of your legs.

In other words, my knees are worn out and what I thought were major injuries to okay knees in the last year have been minor injuries to not-much-left knee at all. So a. I am on crutches; b. yes, it hurts; and c. I will have mobility problems for most of this year, though hopefully there will come a time soon when those are post-operative ones, soon to be followed by knees that can climb mountains again.

But this time I’ll be more careful not to fall down them.

PS And I don’t regret a single second of wearing them out. Those knees have seen a lot of fun.

Wombat news

A few long, soft, green wombat droppings; a very few huffs in the night; and one very, very mangy wombat further down the valley, but I couldn’t catch him to have him treated. Luckily none of the wombats here have shown symptoms of mange for many years.

But the grass is green and long and delicious for a wombat. Ours are chomping for an hour or two, then going back to bed. They’ll remember us again in winter and come sniffing around for carrots – unless they are fat enough to see them through the cold.

Books out now

Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies
Ages: 14+

A tale of love, espionage and passionate heroism. Inspired by true stories, this is a take on how the ‘lovely ladies’ won a war, the first in a new series that shows the changing concepts of what it means to be a woman – and a fulfilled one – beginning in 1913. The reviews have been wonderful, and the comments too: ‘literally unputdownable’; ‘you HAVE to read this.’
I very much hope you do, and I am two thirds through the next one…..

Millie Loves Ants
Ages: Everyone

With the glorious Sue deGennaro, we dreamed this up three years ago while watching her daughters explore the valley.

If Blood Should Stain the Wattle
Ages: 12+

The sixth book in the Matilda series, written for young adults 12 and upwards.

This is Australia from 1972–1975, with the Whitlam government sweeping away twenty-three years of Coalition tradition as seen through the eyes of a country town. It was a time of intense idealism throughout the nation – even if many of those ideals differed deeply.

In Gibbers Creek, Jed must choose between her old love, Nicholas, who is the new Labor Party MP, and Sam from the Half Way to Eternity commune; Scarlett dreams of becoming a doctor, despite her wheelchair; Ra Zachariah waits for the end of the world and the coming of a new one – and is prepared to be ruthless to make sure it arrives.

And Matilda Thompson will see her father’s political dream from the 1890s made real; she will see mistakes, conspiracies, anguish and elation; and finally be proud that, even as the nation is torn apart in the Dismissal, no blood stained the wattle.

The Secret of the Black Bushranger
Ages: 8+

The third in the Secret History series. Barney has finally been given his farm, making him the youngest landowner in the colony. But is the escaped convict he helped a laughing villain or a freed slave who cannot endure chains again?  Who was John ‘Black’ Caesar? The result of years of research into this previously unknown corner of our history, this book combines adventure with insight into the early years of our first colony.​

Grandma Wombat (with Bruce Whatley)
Ages: Everyone!

Our grandkids are always perfect. Even if you are a wombat. Especially if you are a wombat … and your grandson is as stroppy as you are.

Also look for:

Wombat Goes to School
Perfect for kids just starting school or who need some extra enthusiasm for the years to come.

The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman
Ages: 12+

Could the world’s most famous author stop writing when he retired? Part love story, part historical detective work, this is the story of the young Shakespeare told by the old one, and the book where I discovered evidence that possibly, even probably, Shakespeare faked his own death. Read the book to find out why.​


Books coming soon

Goodbye Mr Hitler

The sequel to both Hitler’s Daughter and Pennies for Hitler, and the hardest book I have ever written. And possibly the best. To the thousands who have written asking questions about both the earlier books: this book will answer them and I hope give far more.

Third Witch

This is the fourth in the Shakespeare series. It is about ‘the Scottish play’, with absolutely no witchcraft and enough love to balance the evil and a woman’s voice to lessen the misogyny. And, if you think you know the play, you may not expect this ending, which has everything Shakespeare put in it — and more.

This doesn’t include many other non-public events – it’s just meant as a guide to where I may be if there is anything else possible while I’m nearby. For bookings check the terms on the website and contact Booked Out, Melbourne or Speaker’s Ink QLD.

23–24 MaySPELD QLD fundraiser and talks to young people.
27 May: Savannah: Townsville's Festival of Stories. Q&A, 'How to Speak Wombat'; book launch for Miss Lilly's Lovely Ladies and Millie Loves Ants.
June: Release of Goodbye Mr Hitler.
June onwards: a break for pre-surgery and post-surgery. Hopefully there will be more events after the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, which is the first I’ll be able to fly to, but I’m not accepting anything else definitely till after surgery. 

3 June: Keynote at Australian Childcare Alliance Conference, Gold Coast,QLD.
4 June: Book Links Brisbane, talk at the State Library, topic, 'The Forgotten Women of History: Heroism and Scandals.'
July: Release of Third Witch.
17 July: Bryan goes to see Diary of a Wombat at the Canberra Theatre.
August: Release of Wombat Wins paperback.
September: If Blood Should Stain the Wattle paperback released.
October: Koala Bare released.
25 October: Children's Day, Canberra
December: A Land of Love and Flame released (Matilda Book 7).

The May Garden

May is the perfect planting time. Plants GROW in autumn! It’s neither too hot nor too cold, and a little watering goes a long way …. Plant!
Read more here.

Magic Soup
Murderess' Apple Cake
The Ultimate Choc-chip Biscuit
White Chocolate Oaties
Hairy Nosed Biscuits

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