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 Alexis Wright, 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.
We’ll ask them 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?
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.