As a fourth generation grazier and author living 600 km northwest of Sydney my childhood was spent roaming the bush. Along with my brothers and sister we concocted stories and games, our outdoor adventures complimented by home schooling taught around the dining-room table with lessons sent through the mail from The Correspondence School in Sydney. A love of reading and an oral tradition of storytelling instilled by our parents, combined with an outdoor life to create the unbridled freedom-both physically and mentally, of country life.
The old droving adage, ‘the bush gives you too much time to think’ is true. Even now I find myself running through story concepts as I drive along river banks and duck beneath the sticky webs of scuttling bush spiders. I have always used cinematic visualization when writing scenes and believe a strong sense of place is needed to cement a reader in the author’s world. For how can you fully engage your audience if they can’t hear the gentle lap of water or the whisper of wind through grass? Such attention to detail, born of the managerial aspect of rural life has helped to make me more attuned to every environment I encounter and this has been of tremendous assistance when scene setting regardless of location.
I love the many forms of the written word and draw on my rural environment for inspiration regardless of whether I am writing in that context or conjuring more urban descriptive verse. In the same way that a meditative mind finds peace, my agricultural life has provided clarity for my writing endeavours regardless of the topic. It’s been my ‘day’ job that has allowed me to write authentically about both the bush that I love and the emotional attachment that many of us feel towards our extraordinary landscapes.
The image of the pastoral industry as an idyllic (albeit harsh) existence, was perpetuated by artists such as Frederick McCubbin and described by icons such as Banjo Patterson. This rendering of Australia’s rural heritage into a romantic ideal has intrigued me from my earliest days and helped form my writing. Yet when it comes to closing the study door and facing a blank computer screen my environment fades. An author may choose to draw on their surrounds, however ultimately you must create a new world. In the end only you can create your story and as long as you have passion for your task you’ll succeed.