Working at Elizabeth Farm

Working as a guide at a historic home sounds, for many people, like a dream job. But is it? Last year I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Jacky Dalton, who works at Sydney Living Museums. I subsequently asked her about how she came to be in her job and this is what she told me. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS My first connection with Elizabeth Farm was a ghost tour almost 16 years ago, and I immediately felt a connection with the property even though I had no experience, or interest, [...]

2018-03-24T01:33:07+11:00March 14th, 2017|Colonial History, Life|7 Comments

A cold day in… Elsinore

We all know Hamlet never set foot in Kronberg Castle at Elsinore (Helsingør, Denmark) because, um newsflash - Shakespeare was not producing documentaries. But I couldn't resist the temptation to go there. And given how bloody cold it was (yes they're icicles on the downpipes) I'm not at all surprised Hamlet was wondering whether or not life was worth living. Apologies to those of you who have already seen these on Facebook. Yes, I go on work trips to interesting places.  No, my working life is neither glamorous [...]

2018-03-24T01:35:50+11:00March 9th, 2017|Life|3 Comments

The people you meet…

Given that writing is such a solitary act, I had no idea how many people I would meet in the process of writing my book. And what wonderful, friendly and helpful people they would turn out to be. In England, when I visited Elizabeth Macarthur's birthplace (a tiny village in north Devon) I met Sheila Cholwill, her husband Colin and her good friend Rose Hitchings. For two days they showed me around, fed me, introduced me, and generally just made me feel extraordinarily welcome.  Octogenarian Mr Bowden showed me through [...]

2018-03-25T12:51:45+11:00December 10th, 2016|Life, Writing|4 Comments

Indigenous Immersion

For the past three days my ongoing adventures in biography have immersed me in Aboriginal culture and I attended: Indigenous Cultural Awareness course Indigenous Language Intensive Guided tour of the Mt William stone axe quarry Want to know what I learned? I'm happy to tell you, but first some context. In the course of my research I've become more and more interested in the interactions between the Macarthur family and the Aboriginal people whose lands the family colonised. The various relationships are often only hinted at but seem to have [...]

2018-03-25T13:01:26+11:00November 27th, 2016|Life|7 Comments

Vale Inga Clendinnen

Inga Vivienne Clendinnen AO, FAHA,  author, historian, anthropologist and academic died yesterday aged 82. What a sad loss to the Australian life of the mind. Clendinnen's sharp insights and beautiful prose were (for me) best displayed in Dancing with Strangers: Europeans and Australians at First Contact (2003, Text Publishing). This small but perfectly formed exploration of the relationships and interactions between the Europeans and the first Australians in the earliest years of white settlement in NSW is a book I have returned to many times. Clendinnen illuminates without failing to [...]

2018-03-25T13:03:51+11:00September 9th, 2016|Life, Writing|8 Comments

Had a coffee with my publisher yesterday…

Wow. It feels unbelievably good to say/write that out loud. After much deliberation and a lengthy discussion with my agent (ok, yes, it was over lunch but we both drank water - honest!) I decided to go with Text Publishing. In the end I was lucky enough to receive seven generous offers for the manuscript. I can't imagine that will ever happen again so I was careful to enjoy every minute! And speaking at length with the wise, intelligent and enthusiastic editors from each of those houses has been a [...]

2018-03-25T13:15:49+11:00August 12th, 2016|Life, Work in Progress, Writing|25 Comments


Are you a bookmarker?  Or a page corner turner? Perhaps you're a memory artist, flicking through the pages until you are back to where you left off. Of course if you're the e-reader type then you have no choice - it's the little flag or it's nothing.  But even without the flag the e-reader remembers.  If you want to lose your way in an e-book you might have to do it metaphorically. Me? I'm an old-fashioned lover of bookmarks.  Out and proud. Naturally the ones I love best are those [...]

2018-03-21T14:54:27+11:00May 18th, 2016|Life|0 Comments

Marrakech – where the medieval meets the 21st century.

It's entirely possible that I might be in Marrakech this week.  No literary musings, no reviews - all I've done is work and sleep (badly).  But now I have two and a half days to explore this wonderful place.  My hotel (riad karmela) is down a tiny alleyway* and from there I can walk through the labyrinth of souks to the central square at Jmaa el Fna.  The streetscape is charming and the people are friendly and kind. Morocco is a 21st century country but Marrakech provides a glimpse [...]

2018-03-27T20:22:11+11:00March 12th, 2016|Life|5 Comments

Lost Trades Fair 2016

It's on again. The wonderful Lost Trades Fair, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March 2016 at Kyneton Racecourse: 10am - 4pm Here's what I had to say about it last year... Given the huge crowds attending the Lost Trades Fair over the Labour Day weekend, perhaps some of the wonderful trades on display aren’t really lost at all.  More hiding their lights under a bushel – or a bushy beard. While I presume having a beard was not a necessary [...]

2018-03-27T20:48:36+11:00February 5th, 2016|Life|0 Comments
Go to Top