I’m thrilled to bits to have my personal essay, Lost Girl of the Never Never, included in Desert Writing: Stories From Country, out this month from UWA Publishing, edited by Terri-Ann White.
In July 2013 UWAP, with the NT Writers Centre and SA Writers Centre, won the Australia Council’s Special Publishing Grant for this project, worth nearly $50,000. The one-off annual grant is awarded to larger, innovative publishing projects that contribute to the development of Australian culture. Desert Writing met such criteria with celebrated Australian writers commissioned to draw out rich voices from the desert.
From September 2013, six writers packed their four-wheel drives with papers, pens and ideas and drove out to Tennant creek in the NT, the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjnatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia, and Mulan in Western Australia to work with groups and individuals wishing to write. Both Aboriginal people with a profound connection to country and residents of more recent arrival who had made the choice to live in remote places participated in workshops.
The collaboration was developed to use stories to celebrate desert places and their people as a whole, maintaining a natural geographical region rather than state or territory divided. The anthology allows for a broader exploration into cultural links and traditions, expression and identity, all the while celebrating new writers and writing.
My essay brings to Desert Writing some stories from the years I spent living in the Australian desert and how it’s affected all other places I’ve lived since. It asks whether a place ever truly leaves us, and explores my experience of the Never Never. I’m honoured to have my work published alongside the other rich voices in this wonderful anthology, which welcomes the reader into the vitality of remote communities, often isolated but full of commitment and hope.