Tag: Queensland

SCBWI Queensland authors’ and illustrators’ exhibition

Have you ever wondered how authors and illustrators get their ideas? Or about the process involved to bring a new book to life?  In this National Year of Reading 2012, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Queensland (SCBWI) have collated a special exhibition…

JOURNEY OF A BOOK: Celebrating books, from idea to publication

The exhibit is in the Brisbane Square Library, George Street, Brisbane. It features the work of 18 children’s authors and illustrators from south-east Queensland and contains original manuscripts, objects of inspiration, images and the published books and illustrations. Exhibitors include authors, David McRobbie, Nette Hilton, Prue Mason, Pam Rushby, Josie Montano and other well-known local authors and illustrators.

WHERE: Display cabinets and both wall spaces, Level 2, Brisbane Square Library, George Street, Brisbane.

My fellow Australians….especially those who abhor arty types like me

I’m a children’s author. My job is to tell stories to Australian children and beyond our shores. Stories that will stir them, make them laugh, take them into another world, stories that will make them think. 

I don’t expect to win a literary prize any day soon, (although it would be very nice to) but I don’t begrudge those who do. It helps their careers in an industry where Australian authors earn 6-10% of a book’s price.

We children’s writers run school workshops to survive, but schools’ funding for arts exposure has diminished. A vicious circle forms. More outside work means less time and energy for authors to write, which equals less publications, lower earnings.

 Government literary grants and awards for writers and artists are as valid to Australia’s development as a nation as sports funding or farm aid to those battlers on the land. That’s why we in the arts community, plus those Australians who believe in what we do, are so angry and dismayed at the new Queensland government’s action, under Premier Campbell Newman, to slash the State’s Literary Awards.

Many of us believe it’s the start of a pogrom against the arts in our beloved country.

When Winston Churchill was asked why didn’t he cut arts funding when money was needed in those darkest days of Britain’s battle against Nazi Germany, this great tactical leader replied, ‘Then what are we fighting for?’ 

Do you support funding the arts? Do you think it’s an essential part of our society?

Thank you to Fiona MacKenzie for the use of the Flickr image.


Peter from Copenhagen … a short story

The Brisbane River

When you’re flying over south-east Queensland and below you are the unmistakable, sinuous curves of the Brisbane River, you know you’re home. The river is why our city is here. Its waters carved the landscape out of ancient rock and laid down fertile flood plains.

It’s a highway and an obstacle to passage. Even in modern times, there are Brisbanites who rarely venture across the river to suburbs on the other side.

A source of food and water, transport, communication and recreation over millennia; life-giving, life-taking. The Brisbane River has many stories. This is one of them…. 

Before South Bank, before Expo 88, and after the ramshackle rows of warehouses were razed to the ground, a wide expanse of grass-covered the banks of the Brisbane River’s south reach, opposite the city – waiting for ministerial decisions on its future.

Along Stanley Street, the bordellos and bars had gone by the early eighties and small business ruled the roost – like the Brett’s Timber and Hardware office where I worked ….

One lunch hour, I escape the drudgery of keying data into a computer and take my sandwiches down to the river’s edge. Stunted trees offer little shade, but anywhere is good to escape an air-conditioned office.

A man stumbles along the grassy embankment towards me. He clutches an open bottle by its neck, the contents hidden in the paper bag; his hair is close-cropped and grey; his clothes crumpled and his face is blank.

There’s no escape route and I’m alone in the park. In the end I don’t run away – that’d be a cowardly thing to do. He’s only a harmless, old derelict.

He stands for a moment and focuses on me. I nod a greeting and look away, hoping to discourage him from coming closer.

The man weaves down to the riverbank and gazes across the water for several moments before dropping the bottle. He unbuttons his shirt, unzips his trousers, staggers and hops as a pants’ leg gets tangled in his shoe. He topples like a felled tree.

After a moment or two, the man sits up and shakes his head. He removes his shoes and socks, then tugs the trousers from around his ankles and pushes himself to his feet.

What is it with humans? The brain registers imminent disaster, the heart speeds up, but the body is frozen. As the man heads for the river’s edge, I say nothing. Not even a warning.

Nobody swims in the Brisbane River – not even by choice, not in that reach of its serpentine length. Wide, tidal, silent, a habitat for bull sharks – its strong flow evident by eddies swirling along the surface.

The man climbs down the barrier of large, jagged rocks and lower himself into the water. It’s cold, but he keeps going and pushes away from the edge. In seconds the river catches him. He tries to turn back, but it’s too late. The current pulls him out into deeper water. Only his head is visible as it bobs along in the current, like a tennis ball thrown in a flooded creek.

I run along the bank, trying to keep him in sight, but the river is faster than me.

Then he’s gone.

Later, a laid-back cop from the Gabba police station records a witness statement – I’m a perfect witness; every detail etched in my memory. I ask questions. With a grin he says, ‘Lots of derros go swimming in the river and don’t live to regret it’. I persist with my questions.

Who was the man? Why did he do it? The cop relents, or maybe he wants to get rid of a young female witness before she turns into a blubbering mess.

They retrieve his clothes from the grass. In his trouser pocket, they find fifty-five cents and a passport.

‘He’s a Peter something-or-other, can’t pronounce his name,  from Copenhagen,’ says the cop.

Peter from Copenhagen also owned a Commonwealth Bank passbook with the total of $12.54.

That’s all they know about him. That’s all they need to know.

Back at work, I get into trouble for taking a three-hour lunch break.

I say nothing. It doesn’t seem right to blame it on Peter from Copenhagen.

© Sheryl Gwyther 2011

(First published in Ripples & Reflections – an anthology about the Brisbane River ISBN 9781921555046)

The Kangaroo Point Cliffs reach of the Brisbane River - image courtesy of Radio FM88