When I first read the manuscript for The Flying Optometrist, it reminded me of driving from Perth to Kalgoorlie many years ago. It was my first visit to Australia from my home in England, and I remember the overwhelming sense of space, vast distances and vivid colours. Wherever we stopped, there was a little shop and friendly local people; I’ve learnt throughout my years of living here that this is typical of rural Australia.
The inspiration for Spinning Tops and Gumdrops came to me while watching my grandchildren at play. I grew up in a country town in the 1950s, a time when billycarts, milkshakes, double-dares, Ginger Meggs and the sixpenny Saturday morning serials at Hoyts were our main preoccupations. The outskirts of town marked the extent of our horizons. The city was somewhere we might visit one day, and the wider world merely a rumour.
When I was a child in the 1950s, running away to the circus was an exciting prospect. For children, the circus was an exotic place, where you dressed up in sparkling costumes, travelled around the country in colourful caravans, played with dangerous animals and performed daring feats.
To even think about making a book about the Great Barrier Reef is daunting. Where do you start? The idea of a little guide sprang up: Tilly the hatchling turtle, guide and traveller.
December 2017 will mark the centenary of the 1917 conscription plebiscite in Australia. For the second time during World War I, Australia declared 'no' in response to the question of conscription proposed by then Prime Minister Billy Hughes. By 1917, voluntary enlistment had waned and conscription was proposed to keep up with troop requirements overseas. The question of conscription was debated across Australia and was divisive politically, socially and religiously.
Joan Lindsay’s classic mystery novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was first published 50 years ago. The National Library is marking the occasion with an event, ‘Where’s Miranda: 50 Years of Picnic at Hanging Rock’.
Here are six things you might not know about the book and its author.