In Search of Space, Journeys In Wild Places (2017)
In the introduction to In Search of Space, Ross Brownscombe points out that ‘nature writing’ which ‘explores the poetry and magic of wild places’ has not developed into a strong tradition in Australia. Compared to North America and the UK this is certainly correct, and true writers in this genre are few and far between. Some of the finest in the tradition here are probably authors of fiction rather than more conventional non-fiction ‘nature’ writers, people like Richard Flannigan and Tim Winton, who develop landscape as characters in the way they develop the humans in their stories.
There are, of course, a growing number of authors from indigenous traditions who speak about and for Country. I love the quote from David Mowaljarlai, repeated by Tim Winton in Island Home, who sees the world as ‘everything standing up alive. When I’m high on a mountain looking out over country, my life force (Unggurr) flows out from inside my body and I fall open with happiness’. Despite our shared love for land, their perspective is going to be different to an Anglo author. Whereas Country is peopled and storied for many Aboriginal and Islander people, us Australians of European linage often seek refuge in the ‘blank space’ that wild spaces represent. We go into them to find adventure and challenge, solitude, recreation, perspective, spiritual guidance and, sometimes all these things. Our relationship is profoundly different because we must create ‘something’ from what is essentially a blank canvas when it comes to culture. Trying to compare a book on nature writing by an Anglo man with an indigenous author in any meaningful way is beyond me in a short review so I won’t try, beyond noting that all Australia is indigenous land, even those places that we have declared ‘wild’ or ‘wilderness’, with the few exceptions of ‘orphan country’, land with no people left with connection to or responsibility for that place.
Most of my current work is on the various blogs and sites on the right hand menu. Apart from campaign work (FoE Melbourne, Australia and the Yes 2 Renewables project) my main writing project at present is the Mountain Journal. Links to other work can be found to the right.
I have also started to load older published articles. These can be found at the My Writing link. Theres lots more to come when I finally get around to it.