Sunday, May 20, 2012

Round the New England blogging traps 26 - romance with a dash of geology

On Freedom and Flourishing, Winton Bates What is the case for government funding of mitigation research? looks at the justification for government funding of climate change research. Winton was co-editor of Neucleus with me back in those distant days.

Staying with the University of New England, on Northern Rivers Geology Rod has continued his fascinating analysis of New England's geology and geography. To illustrate my point, have a look at Where the river joins the sea. One of the reasons why UNE was so influential in its earlier days lay in its adoption of a broader regional focus. Sadly, it still has to recover that.

Still sticking with UNE, New England blogger and Armidale Express journalist Janene Carey had a fascinating profile of local independent MP and UNE Chancellor Richard Torbay. In a comment on an earlier post, Janene asked me questions for Richard. Personal events intervened. But, Richard, I would be a darn sight happier if you were to come out with a broader New England focus including support for self-government.

If you go to Canberra without that broader base, then you are likely to be ineffective.

Mark's Clarence Valley Today remains a superb photo blog. It helps that I know the areas that he writes about quite well, but he just has some fascinating stuff. 

Published by Penguin, Cathryn Hein's new book is described in this way:      

When a tragic horse float accident leaves young showjumper Brooke Kingston unable to properly manage her family's Hunter Valley property, she believes nothing worse can happen. Until she discovers her well-intentioned family have employed a new farm manager for her beloved Kingston Downs. But stubbornness runs in the family, and Brooke isn't about to leave her home or abandon her darling horse Poddy. Working on the principle possession is nine-tenths of the law, she digs in her spurs and stays put.

You will find her blog here. Now Cathyrn and fellow New England writer Bronwyn Parry are doing a rather effective job in cross-promotion. 

Cathryn describes Bronwyn's latest book in these terms: 

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can’t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive.

The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.

I have yet to read Cathryn, although I intend to do so as soon as I can get to a bookshop. I can tell you that Bronwyn is a bloody good writer. She really is, and her sales attest to that.

I know that I carry on about this, but we New Englanders really don't have access to our own cultural life because we don't exist! I try as best I can, recently not well, to feed back to you some of the depth and texture of our life, but it's hard.

The broader New England is a natural historical entity in the way very few Australian areas are. We exist because geography and history dictate that we do. Yet I would bet you London to a brick, to use a now ancient phrase, that the Armidale Express would classify Bronwyn as an Armidale or, at best, a Northern Tablelands' writer.

The Newcastle Herald would classify  Cathryn as a Hunter Valley writer. And yet they write in a common genre, draw from related geographical experiences, are understandable to each other and cross-promote.

I always knew about the commonalities and links. I did not realise until started writing in detail about the North just how deep and unique our history and cultural life has been. And damn all Australians or even New Englanders know about it.     


Janene Carey said...

Of course the Armidale Express would proudly call Bronwyn an Armidale writer! After all, she lives here - well, on the town fringe - but I'll admit she does draw on broader landscapes in her books. The last one was a fictionalised spot near Inverell, I think, earlier ones have been further west.

Jim Belshaw said...

She gets around!