As many of you will know, I have recently relocated to Western Australia (WA) after almost 21 years of living in the UK. I am originally from Victoria, on the other side of the country, so even though I am back “home”, as it were, I have never lived in WA before, so it is all very new and exciting — and a little bit strange.
For those who don’t know, WA is Australia’s biggest state — it makes up almost a third of the entire landmass, most of which is desert (or what you might call the Outback). The state’s population of around 2.6 million people (in 2014) live largely in the fertile south-west (home to the Margaret River wine region) and the capital city of Perth.
Until 2015, I had never stepped foot in WA. But when I did so, on an all-too-brief holiday, I immediately fell in love with the laidback lifestyle, the open spaces and the weather. I have returned for longer holidays several times since, and in June 2019 made the leap to move here permanently, choosing to settle in Fremantle, a historic port town just a 30-minute train journey south of Perth.
Living here for only a short time it strikes me how little I know about WA culture — its music, art, theatre and literature, in particular — because when you grow up on the south-east coast of the country it’s all very Melbourne and Sydney-centric. (Something I also noticed when I lived in Queensland for a few years in the mid-1990s.)
But what I have learned is that WA has a very strong literary tradition, with numerous successful writers, past and present, and a handful of independent presses, including Fremantle Press, the University of Western Australia Press and Margaret River Press, being based here.
I thought I would use my blog over the next few months to celebrate WA writers and review books written by the people who live here (or come from here). I’m regarding it as a bit of a journey of discovery and hope you might come along for the ride.
I’m not a complete ignoramus though. In the past, I have read many WA writers and I can see from my archives that I have already reviewed some, including (in alphabetical order by author’s surname):
- Prime Cut (fiction, 2011)
Claire G. Coleman
- Terra Nullius (fiction, 2017)
- Elemental (fiction, 2016)
- Lost & Found (fiction, 2014)
- The Shark Net (non-fiction, 2000)
- Spinner (fiction, 2010)
- The Newspaper of Claremont Street (fiction, 1981)
- Mr Scobie’s Riddle (fiction, 1983)
- The Well (fiction, 1986)
- Sixty Lights (fiction, 2004)
- Sorry (fiction, 2007)
- Five Bells (fiction, 2011)
- A Guide to Berlin (fiction, 2015)
- Finding Jasper (fiction, 2012)
- The Good Parents (fiction, 2008)
- The Golden Age (fiction, 2014)
- True Country (fiction, 1993)
- Benang (fiction, 1999)
- That Deadman Dance (fiction, 2010)
- Taboo (fiction, 2017)
- Jasper Jones (fiction, 2009)
- To the Islands (fiction, 1958)
- The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea (fiction, 1965)
- Line of Sight (fiction, 2010)
- The Riders (fiction, 1994)
- Dirt Music (fiction, 2001)
- Breath (fiction, 2008)
- Eyrie (fiction, 2013)
- Island Home (non-fiction, 2015)
- The Shepherd’s Hut (fiction, 2018)
My TBR includes novels by Josephine Wilson, Geraldine Wooller, Annabel Smith, Michelle Johnston, Marcella Polain, Madelaine Dickie, Steve Hawke and Dave Warner — just to name a few!
Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend a good read by a WA author?