Thea Astley Lecture 2007, Byron Bay Writers Festival
AbstractLet me thank the festival’s organisers for inviting me to give this lecture in recollection of Thea Astley, a writer strongly linked to the country of far north Queensland and the tropical Australia that I study and frequent and love.
My title already gives away not just the assumptions behind my choice of subject, but also my starting point – and since this is the briefest of talks, no more than a late afternoon amusement, a half-hour of verbal travel, let me plunge strait in to the landscape: what it is, how we see it, and invent it, and move through it with our eyes and words. I would like to make a few forays, to advance tentatively, on a set of related fronts, to explore a realm that seems at once smooth and continuous. I hope to spread before you a different form of country, and to peer into the cracks and fissures in our version of pastoral: though looking too deep into cracks and caverns can be hazardous, as readers of fairy-tales and travellers in the deep Outback know.
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