Elise McCune

Elise McCune is an Australian, Melbourne-based writer.

Elise McCune (33)Welcome to my website where you can see images of the places which inspire me and learn more about my stories.

Born in New South Wales, Australia, I moved to Perth, Western Australia where I raised my two children. I worked for ten years in the Western Australian Museum and during this time I travelled to Egypt and stayed in Cairo and Alexandria for an extended visit. I loved Egypt, its people and culture, and its history.

In 2016 I participated in, and passed, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program on fiction writing, centered on female authorial voices and female literary characters.

The online program was taught by Margot Livesey, Professor at the acclaimed Iowa Writers’ Workshop and author of seven novels and one short-story collection; and Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program, Professor of English at the University of Iowa, and author of six collections of poetry, five works of nonfiction, and many works of translation

I have a fascination for the beautiful landscapes of Australia which I weave through my stories. A sense of place is important to me and I like to explore how characters are shaped by unfamiliar places. I enjoy writing dual narrative stories set in two time periods: the past and the present and I also explore the theme of how the past impacts on the present.

Love, regret and yearning, and nostalgia for the past are things that most people can relate to and love is the most important of these.

I receive wonderful letters and emails from my readers, I answer every one, and I am grateful that through my stories I have, in some small way, given people something special.

Allen & Unwin Australia published my novel Castle of Dreams in April 2016.unknown

A poignant, luminous novel about two sisters, about a mother and daughter, a loved granddaughter, the past that separates them and the healing that comes with forgiveness.

Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm published  Castle of Dreams in translation in April 2017.

1e00fd8

I am currently writing my second novel. One narrative thread is set in southwestern Australia and the other in the lovely Tumut Valley in New South Wales, Australia.

Book Club discussion questions are on this blog at the Castle of Dreams page.

You can buy a copy of Castle of Dreams here:

https://www.amazon.com.au/Castle-Dreams-Elise-McCune-ebook/dp/B01ASQ8X22

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/castle-of-dreams-2

http://www.booktopia.com.au/castle…/prod9781760291846.html

https://www.bookdepository.com/Castle-Dreams-Elise-McCune/9781760291846

Contact details:

https://www.goodreads.com/EliseMcCune

http://www.elisemccune.com

Email: elisemccune1@gmail.com

And please visit my Facebook author page for updates and to chat with me.

https:///www.facebook.com/elisemccuneauthorpage

castle-of-dreams-email

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

Elise McCune

8 Comments

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

Kelly Gardiner- Australian Author

Kelly Gardiner will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to purchase tickets:http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

Unknown

From Kelly’s Website

I grew up on the edge of Melbourne, Australia, lived in Sydney for a while, and later on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Now I live in an old cottage  called Thelma in Melbourne, and in a beach shack on Waiheke for some of the year. I teach creative writing at La Trobe University a few days a week, and run writing workshops at schools, libraries, community organisations and festivals. Here’s my official-sounding biography. I have a BA in Professional Writing and Editing, a Master of Arts (Literature) and a PhD in English (Creative Writing). In my spare time I write, research, read, walk, sit about staring at nothing, and do an awful lot of gardening and cooking. Not necessarily in that order.

Kelly Gardiner’s most recent book is ‘1917’ (published early in 2017), a novel for young readers set during the First World War. Her previous books include Goddess, based on the remarkable life of the seventeenth century French swordswoman and opera singer, Julie d’Aubigny. Kelly’s historical novels for young adults include The Sultan’s Eyes and Act of Faith, set during the time of the English Civil Wars and the Inquisition. Both books were shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Her books for younger readers are the ‘Swashbuckler’ adventure trilogy – Ocean Without End, The Pirate’s Revenge and The Silver Swan – set in Malta during the Napoleonic invasion, and a picture book, Billabong Bill’s Bushfire Christmas. Kelly has worked on newspapers, magazines and websites, and her articles, poems, book reviews and travel writing have appeared in journals, magazines and newspapers as diverse as ‘The New York Times’, ‘Marie Claire’, ‘New Idea’, and ‘Going Down Swinging’.

https://kellygardiner.com/tag/hnsa/

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Kelly Gardiner presenting.

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

Alison Stuart-Australian Author

Alison Stuart will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to purchase tickets:http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

Unknown

Born in Africa in the dying days of the British Empire, at the age of ten award winning Australian author Alison Stuart moved to Australia. After a long and varied career as a lawyer, including stints with the military and fire services, Alison turned to her first passion, history.  Most of her stories have an English Civil War setting and several of them have  been shortlisted for international awards. She is loved by her readers for her ability to breathe life into the dry bones of history, particularly a lesser known period of history such as the civil war.

Alison learned her passion from history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. A past president of the Romance Writers of Australia, Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories. Many of her stories have been shortlisted for international awards and BY THE SWORD won the 2008 EPIC Award for Best Historical Romance.   Her inclination for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

Ref: http://www.alisonstuart.com

alisonstuart-1875x2775-72dpi-rgb

When grieving widow, Australian, Helen Morrow and her six year old daughter, Alice arrive at her husband’s previous home, Holdston in rural England, she is welcomed by his mother Evelyn. But the meeting with wounded and reclusive Major Paul Morrow,  her husband’s cousin, does not go so well. He wants nothing to do with them.  A coded diary, written by Paul’s great-grandmother, is found and Helen and Paul haunted by ghosts from another time and another conflict they search for answers. While they search for answers to the past mystery there is also a mystery surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele. I love reading stories with a past and present thread and the two stories entwine brilliantly.  The novel is character driven, which all the best novels are, and the scenes in early 1900’s England are a delight.

Gather the Bones by Alison Stuart is a fabulous read. This is the first book by this talented storyteller I have read and I look forward to reading more.

(This writer is NOT the Alison Stuart who also writes as Kate Tremayne and authored Fateful Shadows, Sin No More, Barefoot Angel, Innocence Betrayed or Loyalty Defiled.)

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Alison Stuart presenting.

Elise

1 Comment

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

Jackie Ballantyne-Writer

Jackie Ballantyne will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to take advantage of our early bird discounts. http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

contact

email: jgb2@xtra.co.nz

facebook

twitter: SollyMcKeen@Solly McKeen

journal (blog)

Jackie Ballantyne began writing fiction while she was working in advertising in Melbourne. Since then she has won awards and commendations for her short stories. Her first novel, ‘How to Stop a Heart from Beating’ (Random House New Zealand, 2007), was met with acclaim. This was followed by ‘The Silver Gaucho’ (The Doby Press, 2014), subsequently shortlisted for The Rubery Award, UK, in 2015. Jackie has recently returned to live and write in Melbourne after twelve years in Dunedin, New Zealand.

 Jackie Ballantyne (in her own words). 

It’s always been words. As a child I liked to read dictionaries. I sat on the floor of my aunt and uncle’s living room and read the Chambers Dictionary that they used as a doorstop. I dipped into the Greater Oxford English Dictionary that my grandfather revered and kept away from the light (?) under the escritoire. I loved our family Webster’s with its intricate line drawings. In time I built my own dictionary collection. I added exotics: a Dictionary of Culinary Terms, a Pictorial Dictionary of Roses, various medical dictionaries, language dictionaries, a Dictionary of Animal Husbandry and the Dictionary of Derivations of the English Language. At some stage I acquired a copy of The Universal Home Doctor Illustrated (Circa 1937) which was to become an essential resource when I was writing How to Stop a Heart From Beating. In the bookcase beside me are four shelves of dictionaries. I buy them pre-loved, often annotated by a previous owner. I once found a poem about a butterfly tucked inside a Dictionary of Biblical Quotations. I began experimenting with fiction while I was working in advertising in Australia.  Starting out as a copywriter, I pursued my passion with words and ways of putting them together. I spent years inventing advertising captions and jingles and one of the hardest lessons in my writing apprenticeship was to compose sentences of more than five words. Even now I am prone to one word sentences. I might no longer agonise over full stops and exclamation marks, but I’m still finicky about punctuation.

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Jackie Ballantyne presenting.

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under A Writer’s Notebook, Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

Elisabeth Storrs-Historical Novelist

Elisabeth Storrs will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10 Visit our website to take advantage of our early bird discounts. http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

WELCOME ADDRESS: Welcome addresses by Elisabeth Storrs (HNSA Co-founder) and Sophie Masson (HNSA 2017 Conference Patron)

ELISABETH STORRS HAS LONG HAD A PASSION FOR THE HISTORY, MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD.  She is an Australian author and graduated from University of Sydney in Arts Law, having studied Classics. Her curiosity piqued by an Etruscan sarcophagus depicting a couple embracing for eternity, she discovered the little known story of the struggle between Etruscan Veii and Republican Rome and the inspiration to write the Tales of Ancient Rome Saga. Elisabeth lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney and over the years has worked as a solicitor, corporate lawyer and corporate governance consultant. She is the former Deputy Chair of the NSW Writers’ Centre and one of the founders of the Historical Novel Society Australasia. Elisabeth considers herself a ‘hybrid’ author who was traditionally published in Australia, then gained a readership in the global historical fiction community through self-publishing her Tales of Ancient Rome Saga. This led her to securing an international publishing contract with Lake Union publishers.

http://www.elisabethstorrs.com

What fate awaits a Roman treaty bride married to an Etruscan nobleman from a decadent world?

The-Wedding-Shroud-by-Elisabeth-Storrs

As war wreaks havoc, three bold women must fight for their futures with wit and wiles.

The-Golden-Dice-by-Elisabeth-Storrs.png

During a siege between age old enemies, can love and loyalty withstand the betrayal of mortals and gods?

Call-to-Juno.png

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Elisabeth Storrs presenting.

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

Skylarking-Kate Mildenhall

Unknown

Kate Mildenhall will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10

Visit our website to take advantage of our early bird discounts.
http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a novel about friendship, love and loss, one that questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.

Kate and Harriet are best friends who are growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. As daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community. When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. Ultimately, a moment of skylarking in McPhail’s hut changes everything.

Praise for Skylarking

skylarking-online1

‘Kate Mildenhall’s impressive debut novel takes an historical case and re-imagines it with such sensitivity and insight that we feel this must be how it truly happened.’—Emily Bitto, author of 2015 Stella Prize winner The Strays

‘Skylarking is a strikingly real and deeply moving meditation on adolescent friendship in all its complexities—a heart-wrenching work.’
—Olga Lorenzo, author of The Light on the Water

‘A brave, beautiful and richly textured book that delicately explores the fault lines in love and friendship.’—Lucy Treloar, author of Salt Creek, Winner ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writer

‘[Mildenhall’s] research of life on a remote cape in a young colony manifests in lovingly drawn descriptions of the natural landscape … the novel’s strength lies with following Kate’s and Harriet’s stumbles and skylarking from childhood to womanhood; and their close, sometimes stifling, friendship.’ —Thuy On, Sydney Morning Herald

‘It is hard to believe that Skylarking is Kate Mildenhall’s debut novel, as her ability to create both character and atmosphere is impressive.’ —Annie Condon, Readings Monthly

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Kate Mildenhall presenting.

Have a lovely day,

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

Slottet i Regnskogen

The Castle in the Rainforest (Hardcover)

VisBildeServlet-1

This is the lovely cover for the translated Norwegian hardcover edition of The Castle in the Rainforest. The title of the Australian edition is Castle of Dreams.

Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Oslo, the capital, is a city of green spaces and museums. Preserved 9th-century Viking ships are displayed at Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum. Bergen, with colorful wooden houses, is the starting point for cruises to the dramatic Sognefjord. Norway is also known for fishing, hiking and skiing, notably at Lillehammer’s Olympic resort.

My publisher Cappelen Damm is a Norwegian publisher based in Oslo.

I appreciate Norwegian style which is characterised by simplicity although like in Australia I guess some people love their clutter!

Norway is truly beautiful. I’d love to visit one day!

Elise

2 Comments

Filed under Capellen Damm, Elise McCune, Slottet i Regnskogen, What Elise Wrote

Slottet i Regnskogen-Elise McCune

The Castle in the Rainforest (Hardcover)

VisBildeServlet-1

This is the lovely cover for the translated Norwegian hardcover edition of The Castle in the Rainforest. The title of the Australian edition is Castle of Dreams.

Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. Oslo, the capital, is a city of green spaces and museums. Preserved 9th-century Viking ships are displayed at Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum. Bergen, with colorful wooden houses, is the starting point for cruises to the dramatic Sognefjord. Norway is also known for fishing, hiking and skiing, notably at Lillehammer’s Olympic resort.

My publisher Cappelen Damm is a Norwegian publisher based in Oslo.

images-3

Bees by Tafline Laylin

Bees in the capital city of Norway now have their own ‘highway’ thanks to a pioneering initiative by environmentalists protecting urban bees. Concerted efforts to sprout pollinator-friendly plants on rooftops, balconies and in gardens throughout Oslo give bees a safe space to proliferate without having to overcome pesticides and other human-caused curve balls that have decimated global bee populations. Headed by Bybi, the project has captured the attention of private individuals, businesses and various state bodies, who can map their section of highway on a dedicated webpage.

honey-1958464__340

And, I love Norwegian style which is characterised by simplicity although like in Australia I guess some people love their clutter!

doc_704_1-ashx3-620x413

Norway is truly beautiful. I’d love to visit one day!

crocus-23664037

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

Hazel Edwards-Australian Author

Hazel Edwards will be a speaker at the HNSA Conference Swinburne University Hawthorn, Melbourne, September 8-10

Visit our website to take advantage of our early bird discounts.
http://hnsa.org.au/conference/buy-tickets/

Hazel-Edwards.jpg

An avid reader (who read under the bedclothes and in the bath), as a young girl, Hazel Edwards wrote her first novel in grade six, a mystery about adventurous children stuck in a mine. This passion for writing and character development continued and after working as a secondary school teacher, at twenty-seven, Hazel published her first novel, ‘General Store’, a book based on life in a rural town.

In 2001, Hazel was awarded the Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowship and travelled to Casey Station on the ‘Polar Bird’ ice-ship. This visit inspired a range of creative projects including the young adult eco-thriller ‘Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen’, picture book ‘ Antarctic Dad’and the memoir, ‘ Antarctic Writer on Ice’as well as classroom playscriptsand literacy material.

Passionate about literacy and creativity, Hazel has mentored gifted children and proudly held the title of Reading Ambassdor for various organisations. Currently a director on the Committee of Management of the Australian Society of Authors, Hazel was awarded an OAM for Literature in 2013.

cover-Hippo-on-roof.jpg

Hazel Edwards has written more than 200 books in a career spanning 43 years, but what she calls the “highlight of my literary career” came watching the stage show of her beloved children’s classic There’s A Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake. “I was absolutely thrilled,” she says. “I’ve got my grandson sitting alongside me, totally engrossed, a mixed audience of adults and children and a cast that were all enjoying themselves. Some of the children were mouthing along with everything, and some turned up in little pink dresses.” The show, Hippo Hippo! combines themes from the 1980 book and its five sequels, all colourfully illustrated by Deborah Niland.  The story is of a small girl and her imaginary friend, a big pink loveable rogue of a hippopotamus who lives on the roof and is causing it to leak. The hippo, as the girl will tell you, can do what he likes, including eating a steady diet of cake. It wasn’t Hazel who first came up with the idea, it was her then-four-year-old son Trevelyan, who explained that it was a hippopotamus who eats cake who was causing a leak in the family’s new Blackburn home. Hazel says her children (her daughter Kim was then aged six) and a neighbour’s child helped her to put the idea down on paper. “So many children aged around four – which is a most imaginative age – want an imaginary friend and many of them have variations of that. But it was just the fact that I captured it. We really did it just for fun.”  A classic Australian book comes to life. Photo: Supplied In its 36 years, Hippo has become one of the most popular Australian children’s books ever. It’s sold more than one million copies internationally, it’s been translated into Chinese, Auslan and Braille, it was turned into a short film in 2011, and it was given as a gift from the Australian government to the newborn daughter of Princess Mary of Denmark. But, most significantly, it’s been loved by thousands of children, their parents and grandparents, for generations. “I was signing books a few years ago in a bookstore and this really well-muscled bikie with tats came along. I had all these four and five-year-olds in a queue, and he stood over me and he said, “great book that, read it when I was a kid” and kept walking,” Hazel says. “Of all the books I’ve published, the Hippo is the one that everybody relates to. Yes I am surprised that it’s lasted that long … But I always knew it was special.” Hazel says she continues to get children knocking on the door of the same Blackburn home where she wrote the book and still resides, asking if this is the house where the hippo lives. “So I say, ‘have a look!’ I don’t say yes and I don’t say no. I think the important thing is that the children use their imaginations,” she says. “A book doesn’t really belong to the author or the illustrator once it’s published, it actually belongs to the reader’s imagination.” And, in case you’re wondering, her roof does still sometimes leak.

17424790_974036782727190_2576494029830986534_n.jpg

Thanks to Claire Slattery for the article on the stage show There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake.

The HNSA Melbourne Conference will be a fabulous event with authors such as Hazel Edwards presenting.

Good writing and reading and like the hippopotamus eat lots of cake!

Elise

Leave a comment

Filed under What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Today

The working title for my work-in-progress is One Bright Day and my story does seem shiny and bright (except for when I come to a great stumbling block in the plot). Now I have made a deadline to finish the novel I find that the words are flowing more easily. Still, I do have some way to go yet until I finish.

It’s April, 1921 and the war that impacted so many people has been over for three years. I’m spending time with Ellen, who at this moment is walking along taking in the sights of historical London. It’s Ellen’s first overseas journey and she left her home in southwestern Australia with some trepidation. It’s the English spring, and there’s nothing like a fine, spring day in England and Ellen and a friend are going on a picnic in Regent’s Park. Ellen is an artist and takes her sketchbook wherever she goes I wonder what she sketched today.

Regent’s Park, London

regents-park-in-spring-with-daffodils-and-blossom-on-trees-people-dxhjb9

Ellen, for a very special reason, goes to St Pancras Old Church in London so I’ve researched part of its history. (I love research and finding some little gem to include in my story.) I found this!

In the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church in London, an ash tree is circled by gravestones.

hardytreestsaintpancraslondon6

Thomas Hardy (before turning to writing full time) studied architecture in London under Mr. Arlhur Blomfield, an architect based in Covent Garden. During the 1860s the Midland Railwayline was being built over part of the original St. Pancras Churchyard. Blomfield was commissioned to supervise the proper exhumation of human remains and dismantling of tombs. He passed this unenviable task to his protegé Thomas Hardy in. c.l865. Hardy would have spent many hours in St. Pancras Churchyard overseeing the careful removal of bodies and tombs from the land on which the railway was being built. The headstones around this ash tree would have been placed here about that time. The tree has since grown in amongst the stones.

It’s fun writing a story!

I particularly enjoy setting my stories in Australia but sometimes my characters travel overseas. In this story it is to England and I have glimpses of the Middle East in WW1.

This the gate Ellen walks through to visit an abandoned house.

images-3

I’m looking forward to being a speaker at the HNSA Conference in Melbourne in September (details below).

This celebration of the historical fiction genre will showcase over 60 speakers discussing our theme, inspiration, writing craft, research, publishing pathways and personal histories. http://hnsa.org.au/conference/programme/ Among the many acclaimed historical novelists participating are Kerry Greenwood, Kate Forsyth, Deborah Challinor, Lucy Treloar, Sophie Masson, Sulari Gentill, Robert Gott, Arnold Zable, Gary Crew, Melissa Ashley, Kate Mildenhall, Juliet Marillier, Anne Gracie, Pamela Hart, Kelly Gardiner and Libby Hathorn. http://hnsa.org.au/conference/speakers/

Let’s celebrate historical fiction!

Elise

Ref. The Hardy Tree:   jinx-in-the-sky.blogspot.com

2 Comments

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

Spirit of Place-Tumut Valley

Another month or two and I will be finished writing my new book. It has a working title of One Bright Day. 

The inspiration for this story came from a visit by my daughter to Elizabeth’s Second Hand Bookshop in Perth, WA. As she was browsing its dusty shelves she picked up a book with pressed flowers between its pages and thought it might be a good way to start a story.

The early narrative thread (it is a time split novel) is set in the southwest of WA where I lived for several years on a vineyard so I know the area well, with detours to other parts of the world and finally, and most importantly, for this is where the heart of the story is, in the Tumut Valley where the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people lived for thousands of years prior to European settlement.

My story is about abandoned gardens and love and romance, betrayal, and of course big family secrets and what more beautiful place to write about than the lovely Valley that sits on the north-west foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

I enjoy writing stories set in the Australia and although I grew up beside the Pacific Ocean when I moved to a  five thousand acre farm two hundred and fifty kilometres north of Perth it was there I found the sense of place I’d been searching for.

A favourite author of mine, Miles Franklin used to live in the Brindabella Ranges and she was committed to the development of a uniquely Australian form of literature. While she does not feature in my story through her I felt a connection to the area. Another link was Elyne Mitchell’s stories set in the high country that I’d read as a child and remembered  fondly.

Miles Franklin

miles-franklin-overland-image

I was lately in the Valley and it was here I found not just a sense of place but a spirit of place. I travelled with two friends and we stayed in an old house with lots of history (but beautifully updated)  in Wynyard Street in Tumut. I’d already written about this street in my story so to be able to walk where my characters walk was perfect for my research.

The best part of the trip was meeting people from the area, wonderful, friendly and engaging people who took us into their hearts and their community.

Sulari Gentill, the writer of the Roland Sinclair Mysteries series, lives in Batlow, a twenty minute drive from Tumut, and we met up with her and Sarah, her good friend, who’d invited me to speak at the View Club’s luncheon (in support of the Smith Family) for International Women’s Day. We shared coffee and cake in Coffee and More in the main street (no parking restrictions) and we parked right outside the shop.

Sulari, a generous person with both her time and sharing of knowledge of the area, took us to the Sugarpine Walk in Batlow where we strolled amongst the dense stand of enormous sugar pines, the largest and tallest of pines, planted in 1928. Someone in the past had had the great idea to take out a row of pines. It’s like walking up the nave of a cathedral and is a place where marriages are blessed.

Sugarpine Walk in Winter

images-1

I had read about the bogong moths that provided a rich food source for Aborigines in the area. The moths would be hunted by the male members of the tribe as the moth lay at rest in the mountains and many bogong moth feasts occured. I will weave this through my story.

Bogong Moth

17-Moth

I met Sue Bulger, a Wiradjuri Elder who grew up on the Brungle Mission, and felt a sense of connection to her when I sat next to her at the luncheon.  Welcome to Country recognises the unique position of Aboriginal people in Australian culture and history as the original Custodians of the Land and Sue conveyed the meaning of this in her welcome to all the women at the event. I asked Sue if she’d launch my book in Tumut should I be lucky enough to have it published and she said yes.

We were also fortunate to meet Marcia from the Historical Society who kindly opened their museum to us and we spent an hour or so happily looking around. There is so much history about Miles Franklin in the museum and seeing one of her typed manuscripts and many items owned by or relating to this wonderful writer was inspirational.

I spent time with Pat who lives next door to our house in Wynyard Street. We sat together on her verandah and she told me about people from the past for she is a lady in her eighties, and we looked at clippings from old newspapers and one of the three published genealogy  books on her large family. My friends and I were invited to a country property for afternoon tea at Marlene’s beautiful family home built of local stone  and she showed us her art work made from old metal. I loved the bridal dress she’d welded from an old pressed tin ceiling and the added gauze veil with scattered pearls.

Tumut River

images 7.56.15 PM

Outside of  Tumut is a pioneer cemetery which of course we had to visit. A Chinese Funerary burner, which serves as a safe place for the ritualized burning of spiritual tributes, stood near old Chinese graves. In the photo below you can see the funerary burner to the right.

Tumut Pioneer Cemetery

Unknown-2

And while I didn’t find Pat’s great-grandparents (the Bridals) graves (next visit) I did see, on another grave surrounded by rusted railings, a beautiful shed snakeskin. A superior being, the Rainbow Serpent in Aboriginal mythology created the people and the universe. The shedding of their skin made the snakes a symbol of rebirth and renewal. I have written about the Rainbow Serpent in my story so seeing the pale delicate beauty of the shed snakeskin seemed a powerful omen of good fortune.

Unknown

We have been invited to return to Tumut, when no matter how beautiful we thought it to be, we have been assured that in other seasons the Valley is even more glorious.

And I forget to tell you that as Sulari pulled up at the  Sugar Pine Plantation my friends and I  saw our first brumby, a lovely young animal, who paused for a second to look at us before it disappeared into the shadowed pine forest.

Brumbies

images-2

All Saints Anglican Church, Tumut

churchallsaintsriver

On our last morning in the Valley my friends and I walked at first light with the mist hanging low over the river and in early evening we went around the corner to River Street and stood at the gates of historical All Saints Anglican Church to watch the last rays of evening light touch the top of the tall spire.

Friends found, a spirit of place found, and friends to share with.

We walked back slowly to our house and  when we left the next day something of the magic we’d found in the Valley came with us.

Elise

11 Comments

Filed under What Elise Wrote