Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The launch of A Terrible Paradise

To celebrate the epublication of A Terrible Paradise, the third of my historical novels set among the Irish Diaspora of the nineteenth century, all three of my enovels will be available from Amazon at a special price for a short time.

A Terrible Paradise is a romantic drama set on the notorious Norfolk Island during the last years of the convict era when those employed to administer the settlement were able to exercise their sadism in a reign of brutality against those who could not retaliate in the knowledge that their superiors in
Sydney and London cared little for the welfare of the convicts.

For Alice Cartwright, though, the fate of one of the convicts weighs heavily on her. He speaks to her on the journey to the island from Van Diemen's Land. he knows her name. Despite his ragged appearance there is something about his bearing that tells her he is no ordinary criminal. She convinces herself he has committed no crime. But discovering why he has been sent to Norfolk Island is impossible. Her mother forbids any talk of convicts under her roof and none of the young men who work for the dreaded commandant dare offend the wife of the superintendent of agriculture by answering her daughter's questions.

The more she is denied information the more determined she is to rescue her convict from his plight. She cannot imagine how many lives she will be putting at risk by her actions or whether her love for this man of mystery will be returned if she succeeds.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hidden Ireland in Ballarat around 1900

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute
Twilight Talks
Autumn 2011

Val Noone
Fellow of the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne

will talk about

Hidden Ireland in Ballarat around 1900

Most of the Irish who came to Victoria in the 1800s spoke Irish, but much of their story remains hidden. This illustrated talk will focus on some remarkable efforts around 1900 to maintain and revive Irish Gaelic culture and language in Ballarat and the goldfields region. Seven aspects will be discussed: preliminary efforts by Patrick O’Farrell of Sebastopol; theatrical performances at Mary’s Mount girls’ secondary school; decorative art in books and scrolls; an Ararat welcome in Irish to the visiting Irish patriot and international labour leader Michael Davitt; a manuscript sent from Ireland to the Reidy family; and a hurling match between the Springbank and Bungaree. The conclusion will show that the Ballarat efforts, like similar ones in other parts of Australia, were linked to developments in Ireland, New Zealand and North America.

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute,
Sturt Street, Ballarat
May 27
5.30 – 6.30pm – refreshments at 5.00pm

Monday, May 16, 2011

the puppeteer and the student - another great twilight talk

In her research for her PhD Jennifer Pfeiffer   conducted an international collaboration and residency with 5th generation Shadow puppeteer, A. Selvaraja from Chennai.

She will talk about the challenges the project presented, particularly those of communication, and cultural difference. In overcoming these difficulties, she details the poetics and story-telling strategies they employed to create their multi-media public performance. The talk will be augmented with visual examples from the production, The Window.

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute,
Sturt Street, Ballarat
May 20
5.30 – 6.30pm – refreshments at 5.00pm

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two great writing workshops in Ballarat this May

May 21 -

Chapter One: Elements of writing, from plot to publication

Presenters: Alison Arnold and Cath Crowley
 Some of the topics they will explore include:
  • How do you write a character that burns their way onto the page? 
  • Are you tripping over plot holes? 
  • Is your dialogue shining or sagging? 
  • Agent or unsolicited? 
  • How do you pitch your book? 
  • How do you get published?
Join Cath Crowley and Alison Arnold for a masterclass that will inspire you and your writing. 
Alison Arnold is an editor at Text Publishing. Cath Crowley has taught creative writing for over ten years and is the authors of numersous novels including: Chasing Charlie Duskin (aka A Little Wanting Song), The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain and Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally) and Graffiti Moon.
 details and booking

May 28, June 25, July 23, August 20 

So you want to write a novel!
A course for serious writers over four Saturdays, with Jill Blee

This course is designed for writers who are embarking on a major work of fiction. Over four Saturdays the participants will be encouraged to examine the components of the novel in relation to their own project. They will be guided through plot development, characterisation, choosing the form of narration which best suits the story they are telling, writing dialogue and the effective use of description.

Dr Jill Blee is a writer and historian, and teaches writing at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne. She has published numerous novels including The Liberator’s Birthday, Brigid and The Pines Hold Their Secrets.
 details and booking

Monday, May 9, 2011

Another great Twilight Talk

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute
Twilight Talks
Autumn 2011

Gib Wettenhall

will talk about the amazing unknown Indigenous history of the Gunditjmara’s eel aquaculture systems and associated stone house settlements at Lake Condah in south west Victoria – probably the oldest fishtrap and associated village system in the world by several thousand years.

He will also tell us about the Eumeralla War the people of Lake Condah fought over a 6 year period in the 1840s to stop dispossession by squatters including the author Rolf Boldrewood of Robbery Under Arms fame.

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute,
Sturt Street, Ballarat
May 13
5.30 – 6.30pm – refreshments at 5.00pm

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Identifying the Irish in Ballarat

Ballarat in the first couple of decades of gold was such a melting pot of nationalities. There were English, Irish, Scots, Cornish and welsh as well as people from all over Europe. In the district around Ballarat there were pockets of people who had all come from the same region of the Old World to seek their fortunes in the new. The descendants of the Italians and Swiss are still living in places like Daylesford and Hepburn Springs today.

And then there were the Chinese, so alien to all the Europeans that they were despised, abused, excluded from the camaraderie of the goldfields and blamed for everything from muddying the drinking water to causing the disappearance of poultry from the coops in people's backyards.

Among this collection of humanity the Irish were between 15 and 25% of the overall population. Not all were Catholics and not all Catholics were Irish although the clergy was so and had little time for those who didn't conform to the customs and practices their brand of Christianity demanded.

In the early days there were too few priests to have much of an impact on how Irishmen related to their fellow goldfields citizens. As Irish women represented 75% of all single female immigrants, marriages across religious lines were common, the clergy of all faiths being resigned to baptising the offspring of such unions and counting them in their flock.

The promulgation of the Syllabus of Errors by Pope Pius IX in 1864 changed all that. Henceforth it would be much more difficult for Catholics to get into heaven, and on the goldfields of Victoria the Irish Clergy were committed to making sure the new rules were adhered to with absolute obedience.

Mixed marriages were an abomination, children could only be educated by Catholic teachers in Catholic schools, and all communication with those outside the Church were to be limited to necessity only. The Irish Church in Australia was building a wall around itself which would stay in place, and encourage derision from those outside it, until a wise old pope decreed that it be pulled down in the 1960s.

Jill's books dealing with the Catholic Church in Australia

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What was happening in Ballarat once all the fuss of Eureka had died down?

This had to be the first of many questions I had to ask myself as I embarked on the novel writing part of my PhD. But where to find the answers. Fortunately for me Ballarat has wonderful resources. There are several collections of memorabilia which can be accessed.

The Australiana Room of the Central Highlands Regional Library has books, newspapers and pamphlets pertaining to the history of the district and beyond from teh beginning of European settlement. it also has maps, directories, records of property ownership and the like, and all the local newspapers are on microfilm. 

The Gold Museum houses the Ballarat Historical Society collection and has a wonderful photographic collection. The genealogists have more records and the Sovereign Hill Museum Association is a font of knowledge about what Ballarat was like in the first decade of gold. On top of that there is more information to  be had from the historical societies in some of the little hamlets around Ballarat such as Buninyong and Woady Yallock.

Then there is the Ballarat Mechanics' Institute. There it is possible to read every newspaper ever printed in Ballarat in hard copy in the beautifully restored library and reading room. The Institute also boasts an extraordinary collection of books, newspapers and journals sourced from around the world for its members. This fine collection, now beautifully housed in the Old Mining Exchange contains many rare and hard to find volumes and is well worth seeing. There are tours of the Institute every Thursday and the building will be open all over Heritage Weekend, Saturday, May 7 and Sunday , May 8.
Ballarat Heritage Weekend

Monday, May 2, 2011

Invitation to a terrific Twilight Talk

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute
Twilight Talks
Autumn 2011

Assistant Curator, Gold Museum

Claire Muir

With a little help from her friends at Sovereign Hill

Will entertain us with

Horrid Novels:
Victorian Gothic, Sensation and Supernatural Fiction

The performance will include an account of Victorian popular fiction on the Ballarat goldfields by Jan Croggon and a scene from the melodrama East Lynne by Barry Kay and Eloise Gooding

Ballaarat Mechanics Institute,
Sturt Street, Ballarat
May 6
5.30 – 6.30pm – refreshments at 5.00pm