I need to write about Australia

Hemingway once said something like he couldn’t write about America in the states, he had to go to Paris. And to write about Paris he had to go to Africa. And so on, and so forth… I write about Paris mostly, and I’m working on a new book set partly in Neolithic France/England and modern day England. I’ve also written a first draft set in the year 2035 in L.A. I’ve felt the pull of foreign shores since I read the Little Golden Book, Come Over to My House, as a small child (which has disappeared from my book shelf??). I’ve been known to sacrifice potential financial independence on the altar of freedom to travel far too often and willingly.

But now we all find ourselves grounded temporarily by this awful virus and I find myself clipping my own wings. I’m in a 9 year, a year to let go of whatever is no longer serving me, but in less than two months I have gone from planning to celebrate my 50th (next year) in France to declaring I will never leave Australia again.

Perhaps my deep-seated desire to make a home for myself has finally pushed its way to the surface? Could be why I always write about houses…

I’ve never been afraid to travel. The threat of terrorism didn’t put me off. The idea of tsunamis and earthquakes doesn’t scare me. Okay, maybe a little when the whole building was shaking like jelly in Bali last September. I was planning a trip to India sometime in the future and yes, the legendary bad drivers worry me but you get them everywhere. My first husband died on the way home from work so if I have the choice, if my number is up, I’ve always said I’d prefer to be somewhere exotic, thanks all the same.

So, humouring my inner-scaredy cat, why have I suddenly been so keen to swear off overseas travel, possibly forever? It feels like more than fear. It feels, right now, like good sense, but maybe ask me in a few months…

On that subject, I feel the need to write about Australia. Even my memoir is set in France and the UK even though I have spent less than a year there all together in my nearly 49 years. I need to reconnect with my own country, a place I’ve loved but have been plotting to escape since my single-digits.

What do I love about Australia? The wildness. The brutality of the landscape. I grew up in a rural town then went to school in a regional city and I love those old towns, like Castlemaine and Mansfield in Victoria and Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah in New South Wales and of course, Boonah in Queensland, home to my parents. I love the cities, too. Sydney is beautiful and Melbourne is classy, and Brisbane is the perfect mix of both.

I have family and friends in Tassie, Northern Territory and South Australia who I must visit. I love the long, hot days and summer storms and giant Moreton Bay fig trees and rainbow lorikeets. I love the snow covered Ghost gums of Mt Buller with wombat tracks winding between them. I love swimming pools and creeks and the endlessly blue ocean fringed with the fine, white we do so well in Australia. I love rusted corrugated iron and empty streets. I love the rain but I also love that searing heat and the deep shadows under old-fashioned eaves.

My painting, The Verandah, acrylic on canvas, 2005

I’ll find something to write about…