Outbound: Landscape as Character
From Indigenous oral traditions, to the paintings of Eugene Von Guerard, to the books of Ethel Turner – the Australian landscape has proved a powerful and enduring presence in our national storytelling. But parts of our vast and diverse landscape are changing. Do the sweeping plains and ragged mountain ranges beloved of Dorothea Mackellar still inspire Australians and inform our sense of nation?
Panellists Cate Kennedy and Adrian Hyland have written extensively – and to critical acclaim – about Australia beyond city limits. Between them, through fiction and non-fiction, they’ve explored the freezing Tasmanian wilderness, the tropical Gulf of Carpentaria and the bushfire-prone communities of regional Victoria. (Alexis Wright, also slated to appear in this discussion, had to cancel due to illness.)
Host Sophie Cunningham asks how urban sprawl, climate change, Indigenous affairs – even globalisation – affect the way Australian writers view and present the land today. Is the Australian landscape as powerful and evocative a character as ever? And, with such a diverse geography, does it even make sense to regard the land as a single literary subject?
Sophie Cunningham is the author of five books, the most recent of which is City of Trees: Essays on Life, Death & the Need for a Forest. She is a former publisher, former editor of Meanjin, former Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and was a co-founder of The Stella Prize. She is an Adjunct Professor with RMIT's Non/fiction lab.
Adrian Hyland is the award-winning author of Diamond Dove, Gunshot Road and Kinglake-350,which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award for non-fiction in 2012. He lives in St Andrews, north-east of Melbourne, and teaches at La Trobe University.
Cate Kennedy is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The World Beneath, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. She is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has been published widely.