Chooks, Books, Cooks and Wombats

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Time to be me again

Today I
- wrote 3421 words of the next novel. Quite decent words- it takes me three days to get a book flowing. Every time I begin I think ‘this is never going to work.’ Three days, on the dot, it does.
Five more days like this one and the first draft will be done.
- answered possibly fifty emails
- sorted out a bunch of dvds
- had a long breakfast, and a longer lunch, and read Calvin Trillin’s essays
- chatted with a friend, and varied conversations with my husband
- fed the wombats. Fed them again when Phil missed out and began to chew the hose in revenge.
- mooched around the orchards, seeing if there are any avocados that I can cover with grow bags to keep them safe till Christmas feasts (there are), checking that no frost has bitten the plum blossom (it hasn’t- yet) and that the apricots and apples are slowing getting ready to flower, and are there any interesting new droppings around?
- cooked dinner: fresh asparagus, carrot and tomato salad for me, with the same but with mashed potato and savoury mince for Bryan - he prefers recipes that date no later than the 1950’s, which suits me when I don’t feel like a large dinner. Which is mostly.
Also, of course, I’m writing this.
On the flight back from Albury I suddenly realised that for the first time in three years, since I accepted the offer of the Laureateship, I have no major speeches or media campaigns in front of me; no travel, except for a couple of days for SPELD in Brisbane in October, until the end of January, except for local events or short travel strictly for pleasure.
It was as if a granite cloak slipped off my shoulders.
I promised myself I’d devote two years to advocacy when I accepted the laureateship. It’s now been three. But all I wanted to achieve has been at least begun, and will keep going with those who are far more qualified than me.
Time to be me again. To write, to think, to mooch about the bush, which I have missed deeply, to pant vegetables and to harvest them. Even, luxuriously, to spend time with friends without checking the clock.
The three sofas piled with papers that had been left as ‘non urgent’  are finally clear enough to sit on. We have three new two metre high bookshelves, as the mountains of books are slowly put in their correct categories too. (No, I am not obsessive  about imitating  a library’s orderliness, but when you have about 20,000 books some categorising is necessary).
Two new filing cabinets, and the papers to fill them at least piles on the right cabinet, even if not sorted yet.
Biscuits in the biscuit tins; seedlings sprouting, ready to plant. I have almost unpacked the suitcases, ready to store upstairs. Even the cushion covers have been washed.
It is incredibly good to be back home. And even better to know that I can be myself again.

I loved being part of the Sydney Story Factory's Pen to Paper Challenge!  There is still time to donate, support the work of this incredible organisation by donating here.

Wombat News

Grey Grey has a baby in her pouch! Or did yesterday - there was no sign of the bulge tonight. Which means it’s now old enough to leave in the burrow under our bedroom while Mum goes out to graze - well out of the way of nips by Wild Whiskers. Hopefully we’ll see the baby in two or three weeks. Will send you pics!
The spring grass is finally growing: the wombats spend more time grazing now than napping in the sun. In another month or so they’ll become totally nocturnal and we’ll only see them by torchlight - the end of spying on the secret life of wombats for a while.

New Books

The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman 
Part comedy, part love story, the threads of Shakespeare's life drawn from his plays. Could the world's greatest writer truly put down his pen forever to become a gentleman? He was a boy who escaped small town life to be the most acclaimed playwright of the land. A lover whose sonnets still sing 400 years later; a glover's apprentice who became a gentleman. But was he happy with his new riches? Who was the woman he truly loved? 

COMING SOON - If Blood Should Stain the Wattle
In 1972 in Gibber's Creek, and across the nation, the catchcry is, 'It's time'. 'And we must sing a rebel song And join in rebel chorus.' In 1972 in Gibber's Creek, and across the nation, the catchcry is, 'It's time'. Time for old folk, time for young folk, time for everyone to welcome a renewed Australia with a new, idealistic Labor Government. It's also time for Jed Kelly to choose between past love, Nicholas, the Labor member for Gibber's Creek, and Sam from the Halfway to Eternity commune. It's time for Scarlett O'Hara to dream that one day she might walk - and become a doctor - despite being in a wheelchair. And for Leafsong, the commune's 'mute monster', it's time for others to see her true beauty as she opens their eyes and changes their lives with the exact food that someone will love and need. It's also time for Matilda Thompson to face her ghosts and reflect on an extraordinary life that began by a billabong in 1894.

Recent books

The Ghost by the Billabong
Hippies wear beads, demonstrators march against the Vietnam War, and the world waits to see the first human steps on the moon's surface. But at Gibbers Creek, Jed Kelly sees ghosts, from the past and future, at the Drinkwater billabong where long ago the swaggie leaped to his defiant death. But is seventeen-year-old Jed a con artist or a survivor? When she turns up at Drinkwater Station claiming to be the great-granddaughter of Matilda Thompson's dying husband, Jed clearly has secrets. As does a veteran called Nicholas, who was badly wounded in the Vietnam War and now must try to create a life he truly wants to live, despite the ghosts that haunt him too. Set during the turbulence of the late 1960s, this was a time when brilliant and little-known endeavours saw Australia play a vital role in Neil Armstrong's 'one giant leap for mankind' on that first unforgettable moon walk. 

Cyclone, created with the brilliant Bruce Whatley.

Christmas Eve 1974 is remembered as the night tropical Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin. Now, over 40 years later, this book tells the story of a city's indomitable spirit and shows the powerful force of the storm.

Barney and the Secret of the Whales, created with Mark Wilson.

What is the sailor's secret about the treasure of Australia's colony? The second book in a series that explores little-known history about Australia's fascinating past. Barney Bean is keen to make his fortune and he hears a secret; a sailor's secret about the treasure of the colony. But how can chasing whales make you rich? Is adventure at sea worth leaving everything he loves?


13 October 2016 - Luncheon for SPELD QLD, Brisbane.  Book here.
14 October - Young People’s event for SPELD QLD
21 October - Winners of Pens Against Poverty ACT ceremony
25 October - Launch of the Monkey Baa 2017 season, including Diary of a Wombat: the Play, Sydney  
26 October - ACT Children’s Day at the National Museum, Canberra
29 October - Workshopping Diary of a Wombat, Monkey Baa Theatre, Sydney
19 November - Wombat Foundation AGM, Bungendore NSW
30 November  - Pathways Conference keynote, Canberra
30 January 2017 - Try Children's Services event, Melbourne
18-19 March - Wombat Conference, Penrith NSW
18 March - Sydney. Opening performance of Diary of a Wombat, Monkey Baa Lend Lease Theatre Darling Harbor, 6.30 PM!!!!!
7,8, 9 April - Literary Festival and performance with the Newcastle Orchestra, Newcastle, NSW
26, 27, 28 May - Literary Festival Townsville QLD

The October Garden

Everyone, it's snail time. 
Read more here.

Pizza Recipes!First find your wood fired oven. These pizza's below were cooked in the two giant community ovens in Albury, on the banks of the gently flooding Murray. They’re manned by volunteers, heated by any fallen tree collected by the council. Anyone can take their food to be cooked in them on Sundays- three minutes for a pizza, four for a quiche, and now and then they have speakers and food prepared and given out free, as we did two weekends ago.  And it was magic.   Have a look at my interpretations of some of the recipes pizzas

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