Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rest In Peace Lyrebird 'Chook'

He shimmied and he shook
Like no ordinary chook.
He was handsome, he was bright,
He had feathers bronze and white,
A little chestnut black and grey -
His tail a wonder in display.

Chook died peacefully on 29 December 2012.

Chook was hand reared and lived for 32 years. He arrived at the Adelaide Zoo from Healesville Sanctuary 20 years ago. Now his aviary is silent.

In researching for my book about Lyrebird James and Edith Wilkinson, I don't think there is a you tube I haven't watched. This one of Chook is one of my favourites but then there are so many favourites.

Condolences to Adelaide Zoo and fans of Chook.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tango Tangents. La Mama Sunday 18 December 2011

We are just having too much fun with this show ... last chance to see before 2012!!

Presented by The Sunset Sisters with special guests Tango Mundo.

Tango songs and stories from a woman’s point of view. A lively mix of original songs by Faye Bendrups, Alison Richards and Ella Filar, some classic ‘Euro Tango’, the work of Argentinian writer Luisa Valenzuela and the voice play Last Tango in Brunswick by Alison Richards and Jackie Kerin.


La Mama Courthouse

$25 Full | $15 Concession

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ten Tellable Australian Tales

I have been locked in the study trying to cobble together a presentation for the OWOVM Conference next week. How to squeeze all I want to share into 15 minutes is proving problematical. As well as sharing information about the storytelling networks I'm plugged into around Australia and abroad, I want to share the work I have been doing on the Ten Tellable Australian Tales. I've chosen these three: Edith's Lyrebird which you can see on the video clip, Split Dog and Phar Lap.

1. Edith's Lyerbird is the story of James and Edith Wilkinson. James was one of the first male lyrebirds to be filmed and recorded in display. Edith was a flower farmer in the 1930s living on the slope of Mt Dandenong. Soon this story will be available as a book but it will be called Lyrebird! a true story. This version will be more detailed with loads of information about these birds and other songbirds that live on the mountain. Illustrator: Peter Gouldthorpe. Publisher: Museum Victoria. Yes .. the spoken story is connected to the book like blossom to fruit!

2. Split Dog comes from my fascination with tall stories. He apparently appears in Nth American folk tale, sometimes as Davey Crocket's dog but his adventures have also made it into Australian folklore.

3. Phar Lap the wonder horse. This tellable is written in ballad form. Reciting traditional verse and contemporary original poetry is still popular. In my city of Melbourne, any night of the week. you will find poets, declaiming, rapping and rhyming in pubs across town. Only last week I had the fun of reciting Phar Lap in the Carbine Bar during the Cocktail Hour! You can hear more about this one on the Museum Victoria website, and you can hear me tell it to you ... website here.

Writing this post has been a diversion from the task at hand - now its back to work!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Frocks on Bikes and Kamishibai update

Now you might be thinking what this post has to do with storytelling or my continuing evolution as an artist.

The story is a little convoluted I admit. For months now I have been working on the kamishibai-on-
bike-project. My old bike was not suitable for a rig. After weeks of browsing bike shops - eight in all, I found the perfect bike at psbikes in Yarraville.

It's stylishly black, like the traditional kamishibai bikes and a step-through, so I no longer have to heave my leg over a bar. Peter Santos brings these bikes in from Sweden - it called a Pilen (that's Swedish for 'arrow').

The next step was to design and build a box for the Kamishibai and a stand for the bike. Peter has come up with a design in steel and Ted Smith (the K maker) has inserted some earth magnets in to the base of the K to fix it to the top the box. Clear as mud?

All this will make perfect sense soon. Peter and I are just waiting for the box to be powder coated black to match the bike. I will then be able to show you a pic.

So what's all this got to do with 'Frocks on Bikes'?

Nothing really ... well ... sort of connected. While I'm waiting for the rig, I am enjoying my Pilen. Last weekend I welcomed the Frocks on Bikes as they rode the bike punt across the Yarra River to western side. Then with skirts flying and ladylike banter, we pedalled in single file to a pleasant cafe for lunch.

I love my new bike!

Learn more:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mentone Public Subscription Library: An Author for All Seasons

Friend and fellow storyteller, Julia Reichstein is a great supporter of oral storytelling and the Storytelling Guild (Vic).

Julia has been the organiser behind the series of talks based at the Mentone Library: An Author for All Seasons. In a fine bit of planning, I was booked months ago, for November to coincide with the racing season.

Mentone has a strong history of racing and gambling; there was time when many properties housed thoroughbreds and horses could be seen working out on the the sandy tracks and swimming in the Bay not to mention the sly two-up games hidden in the tea-tree scrub. In 1947 Tom Woodcock moved into the area and kept a stable.

So ... thanks to Julia I had a chance to spruik my book Phar Lap the wonderhorse (available in all good bookshops, Museum Victoria and on line).

Pictured is Julia hosting An author for All Seasons. A more relaxed and welcoming mc you will not find anywhere.

Story mates, Beth Cregan and Matteo rocked up and as we are normally separated by water (Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River) and freeways, it was wonderful to catch up face to face.

Buy a copy of Phar Lap the wonderhorse here

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Oral the Written and other Verbal Media. 12 to 14 December 2011

Hosted by Victoria University, the Oral, the Written and Other Verbal Media (OWOVM) Conference on Poetics and Discourse will be held in Melbourne, Australia from 12 to 14 December 2011.

With the theme of ‘Testimony, Witness, Authority: the politics and poetics of experience’, the conference brings together practitioners and researchers in a forum to explore the variety of ways experience is reproduced and cultures built through oral, written and other verbal media.

To be held at Victoria University’s city campus in Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne, the 2011 conference will feature language, voice and text from scholars, composers and performers.

I'll be presenting at the conference alongside Michael Hyde and Christine-Martin McDonald in a sessional called Tellable Stories.

See the program here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Big West Festival Big Sing

Last night I was flying! It was the opening of the big West Festival.

With 200 other voices, I stomped and clapped my way through four hip hop numbers. We were the backing vocals for MASSIVE the only hip hop choir in Australia.

Behind us was the Maribyrnong River and on the other side, the grand stand at Flemington Racecourse rose up to the sky.

A storyteller is always on the scout for a good tale to tell. This is a story of folk coming together and celebrating life - full throated, full bodied, and full spirited. Looking at at the crowd it occurred to me that the word 'multiculture' may now be old hat. Somehow this word suggests a mosaic made up of difference. Last night was certainly multilingual and multicoloured but the overwhelming feel was simply of one community celebrating together. Time for a new word perhaps? Or maybe this is what the word the means ... hmm.. beautiful ...

This pic was taken from the stage. Standing squeezed up against my fellow sopranos, I held my camera up high and clicked.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting ready for the BIg West Festival 2011

How much fun have we had re - rehearsing Tango Tangents for the Big West!! We've been hard at it all day and this what it looked like in my sun room.

That's Faye Bendrups (keyboard), Alison Richards (vocals), Dave Evans (accordion) and Guillermo Anad (viola).

How lucky am I to have these wonderful people making music in my home!

Bookings: Tango Tangents: November 16 The Big West

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Village Festival Saturday 5. Edinburgh Gardens. Kamishibai

Under the elm trees in the Edinburgh Gardens, 30 degrees and blowing a light northerly.

I have told stories for several years now at this festival and this is the busiest I have ever been.

At midday, on the knocker, I had a full mat of children ready for stories. Apart from quick survival breaks I was talking and singing for over 4 hours. Lucky for the vocal chords of steel.

The Kamishibai was very popular - I over heard one adult fellow talking about the 'amazing wooden box'. The simplicity of the kamishibai seems to be invisible when the story casts its spell.

And here's a pic of the Famous Village Dog Show.
Only in inner suburban Melbourne could such a bizarre event have gained such popularity. It's hysterical and what's more the dogs seem to have a ball!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Keeping Books Alive. Conference. 26 November 2011

click to enlarge poster

Children's Charity Network and the Australian Children's Literary Board Seminar.

A professional development seminar designed to inform and inspire secondary and primary teachers, librarians and those interested in promoting literacy.

Speakers include Michael Salmon, Meredith Costain, Phil Kettle and Gabrielle Wang and many others.

I will be there telling stories. My mantra for those who don't already know: Before there were books, there were stories. Oral storytelling is connected to the book like blossom to fruit.

Features of the day include many prizes, gourmet catering, great ideas to implement at the work-place, latest news and availability of presenters, handouts, signings and lively discussion.

Registration fee: $110

Please direct all enquiries to:

Rob Leonard

Ph (03) 5282 8950

Fax: (03) 4206 7811


Monday, October 31, 2011

Big West Festival. Tango Tangents. November 16 2011

I'll be having fun in the Big West Festival. Alison Richards and I met at NIDA in 1974 and we are still creative buddies.


Presented by the Sunset Sisters.

photo: Ponch Hawkes

Alison Richards, Faye Bendrups and Jackie Kerin are divas of the Melbourne stage and together they light up the night. Their supreme command of song and story will bring a fresh set of tastes to your jaded palates. Tango Tangents explores Tango culture from a woman’s point of view with a cocktail of original songs by Faye Bendrups, Alison Richards and Melbourne’s ‘Queen of Cabaret’ Ella Filar, together with classic ‘Euro Tango’ songs like Jealousy, the work of Argentinian writer Luisa Valenzuela and the voiceplay Last Tango in Braybrook. This is something special, darlings – drink deep.

CREATIVE TEAM: Alison Richards, Faye Bendrups, Jackie Kerin with special guests Guillermo Anad and Dave Evans

VENUE: Bluestone Performance Hub
10a Hyde St Footscray

DATES: Wed 16 Nov, 7pm

TICKETS: $20 / $15



Friday, October 21, 2011

The Village Festival 3 - 6th November. Edinburgh Gardens Nth Fitzroy

Music, dance, magic, storytelling and more ...
click on poster to enlarge

Creative collisions all around.

I've been taking stories to The Village since 2008. Always a joy. There are people I only ever meet at The Village - the children are growing taller.

Last year my friend Matteo and I told stories in a beautiful Mongolian yurt, this year I will be back in the little circus tent. I love this little tent. Ten people and I have a full house and we can enjoy stories on an intimate level.

The Village is a place of hope and optimism, joy and beauty.

Call in and say 'gidday'.

Storytelling: Saturday Nov 5 midday- 5.00
Learn more about The Village and its creators here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kamishibai swap library with UK collaborator - Derek Carpenter

The internet is a wonderful thang!

Here I am in my study in Melbourne Australia chatting via skype with Derek Carpenter (aka Bo the Clown and a dozen other characters). Derek is in his office in the UK in Newcastle.

Derek and I share a love of kamishibai and a passion for sharing stories and building repertoire.

This has led to the Kamishibai Library of Swaps. Kamishibai is a hungry beast and requires a good collection of stories. By swapping you can build your collection and help someone else build theirs. Put a story in - get one out! The world is a big place. Living in our separate hemispheres we're not concerned that our material will overlap. The stories listed have been created by us or inspired by stories out of copyright.

Learn more about Derek Carpenter here
Library of Swaps here
and here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making original artwork for Kamishibai storytelling

The house is looking like a confetti bomb exploded and there is no room to eat at the table. But it's all in a great creative cause.

Inspired by the beautiful animations of Lotte Reiniger, I thought I would try my hand at making pictures by cutting up paper. This series illustrates the old folk tale about the cracked pot whose flaw meant the earth was watered and flowers could bloom amongst the stones.

The pictures are A3 size and I will have them printed for my kamishibai and keep the originals safe.
Experimenting with this kind of storytelling has been the highlight of my year. I have made new friends across the globe and am relishing using whatever visual art skills I have lurking in the back brain.

Kamishibai friend in the UK, Derek Carpenter and I, have set up a swap library on his website. It's a work in progress - the idea is ... you put a story in, you get a story out. Of course you must have copyright or permission from the author/artist to be a contributor.

It was Derek who introduced me to Lotte Reiniger. Please enjoy an example of Lotte's work and be inspired also.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Carrum Sailing Club. Claire Saxby and Christina Booth

Yesterday I had the pleasure of pedalling my bike to Yarraville - a pretty little precinct in the inner west of Melbourne. With narrow streets, petite wooden Victorian cottages built close to the footpaths and tangled gardens reaching through picket fences - yes ... riding is the best way to enjoy.

Friend and writing buddy, Claire Saxby, was launching her latest picture book for young children. Yarraville's social life centres around the the art deco Sun Cinema, the Sun bookshops and the coffee shops. A fabulous place for a book launch.

While my preoccupation is telling stories to children rather than reading, I still need texts to work with. Claire's previous book, There was and Old Sailor (illustrator: Cassandra Allen) with its rhythmical language and rhyme is a staple in my repertoire. The Carrum Sailing Club is a story with strong sensual appeal. We are invited to feel the sand, get wet and eat. We're invited to dance, fly, hide and explore.

Its a skill and a half to pack so much into 32 pages and with minimal text. There's no doubt, Claire's knowledge and experience of poetry gives her an edge when it comes to writing for the very young.

With beautiful Illustrations by Christina Booth, I reckon this book is a winner.

The Carrum Sailing Club by Claire Saxby and Christina Booth.
publisher: Windy Hollow

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stories in Bunnings

I had been looking forward to this gig for a while.

Might not be for everyone but I am wedded to the idea of taking stories out of libraries, schools and dedicated performance spaces and delivering them in the streets, markets and other places where folk gather.

Eastern Regional Libraries invited me to take my tale telling skills to the Bunning store in Scorsby. Yes!!

Maria, who was working on family activities, had arranged a space for me in the outdoor furniture department. It was perfect - right next to the nursery.

For almost 3 hours I had the pleasure of sharing the best of my stories with people who might not hear them otherwise. A tale well told will weave its spell wherever it is unleashed.

I also learned something. The Bunnings' staff are just like in the ads! They are the friendliest, sincerest folk you will find. And that's a true story.

Cut flower farms in the Dandenongs c1920 -30

Still researching for my book Lyrebird! It's never ending ...

In trying to grapple with what a cut flower farm might have looked like back in the the 20s - 30s I have been emailing and driving and googling!

Friends suggested I visit Cloudehill - nursery and gardens in the Dandenongs.

Jeremy Francis responded to my emails with warmth so I made the journey to speak to him face to face. Cloudehill is breathtakingly beautiful but I was there on a mission. I will return and devote a day to exploring these gardens and I will return again and again.

Jeremy has built Cloudehill out of an historic working garden originally created by the Woolrich family in the 1890s. The top half of the property was a cut flower farm for many years.

In my true story, Edith Wilkinson's cut flower farm was on the west side of the mountain facing towards Port Phillip Bay. Her property was probably burned in the 1962 fires and is now part of Parks Victoria. She'd cleared a small swathe in the forest for her business. This photo, taken at Cloudehill shows a bulb meadow behind which you can see the blackwoods and the mountain ash. Did Edith's property have a similar margin? I suspect so.

The book: Cloudehill: A Year in the Garden by Jeremy Francis

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lyrebird! Behind the scenes, behind the book

It takes a team to make something really special. And yes ... in case you had forgotten ... it's all about birds!

After working for several years on the text of my next book, we are finally moving onto the next stage. With the support of Melanie Raymond (publishing Museum Victoria) and independent editor and author Nan McNab, the words are done! But the next phase is inviting an illustrator on board.

We are delighted to have Tasmanian, Peter Gouldthorpe on the project. Peter is a well loved and highly decorated artist. Peter's work reflects a deep respect and wonder for landscape and the animals and people within it. His talent for capturing Australian subjects with warmth and accuracy is wondrous.

In a flying visit to Melbourne to visit family, Peter and partner Jennie, managed time to visit Museum Vic and explore the bird collection under the watchful eye of Wayne Longmore, senior collection manager, vertebrates.

While Wayne wheeled out the specimens, Peter took pictures and I finally got to the bottom of my confusion - 'bell miners' and 'noisy miners'!! Don't even think about it. Scientific names are long, hard to say and remember but common names do your head in with common misunderstanding!

There is melancholy behind those doors in the Museum, where all the dead and stuffed reside but there is also great beauty.

Learn more about Peter Gouldthorpe here.
Museum Victoria Books here

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kamishibai spotting

I'm told that some folk like to spot trains - spotting the Kamishibai is a much more interesting pastime in my view.

Here it is in Ballan. This little town turns into a story town once a year for National Literacy and Numeracy Week. The first pic is Hagrid having a go at telling a story. Not sure if using his wand as a pointer is wise!

Fairy Amanda looked a picture next the K and bike. A little unstable on the sloping path, I couldn't have told my stories without the help of a kind fairy

I'd like to say that I rode my bike and the K to Ballan but it is 80 ks and I was due to start at 10.00am so I confess - I cheated.

It is my joy to take stories out onto the street and test my metal as a storyteller. The street was good enough for Shakespeare!

At a more serious event at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Bernard Caleo presented a brilliant session for secondary students. A tough audience they say - Bernard had these young people spell bound. And how beautiful does the Ted Smith Kamishibai look floating in classic black?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tango Tangents. La Mama Sunday August 28 2011

Well ... it would have been nice to get a photo of the full theatre on Sunday afternoon but I was on stage with my colleagues strutting me stuff. This pic was taken just before the doors opened.

A glorious Melbourne day, the folk could have been forgiven for choosing a walk in the park but they didn't - they came to Tango Tangents.

Our entertainment, Tango Tangents is a glimpse into the rich world of Tango culture which includes music, poetry and stories - sometimes sentimental, sometimes satirical and sometimes with a political edge.

Sunday's performance was a tryout of the material and judging by the response, we are on the right track.

If you missed out we will be back at La Mama on December 4 and 18.

Written by Ellar Filar, Jackie Kerin, Faye Bendrups, Alison Richards and Guillermo Anad with short story by Luisa Valenzuela.
Technical support: Alan Davies.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kamishibai around the fire. Daylesford 2011

Story mates, myself, Matteo and Bettina Nissen responded to Anne E Stewart's invitation to visit Daylesford for Words in Winter. On the Saturday night and around the fire, Annie decided to film us telling stories in her lounge room. Perched on the coffee table and comfortable in thick socks and ugg boots, I began proceedings with the story of Split Dog. So at last you can see my beautiful Kamishibai in action. The yearly trip to Daylesford has become locked into the storytelling calendar and providing we are in the State, some of us always manage the trip to this beautiful town.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aireys Inlet Festival of Words 2011

I've just returned from the Aireys Festival of Words. Magic happened!

For years my friend, storyteller Bettina Nissen has banged on about how people give you things, special things, 'magic objects' she calls them. 'They are things that only storytellers are given because we recognise their value', she says. Bah! and Tosh! I have never been given such a thing. And then on Friday at Aireys Inlet Primary School, after telling the students the story of Phar Lap, a teacher presented me with this little wooden horse. It had been left behind by a past pupil who had been involved in a class project that centred around the story of Phar Lap and my book. I recognised it in an instant. A magic object! A palpable sign that my book matters. It will live on the shelf in the family room where I will see it every day and be reminded, in moments of doubt, that stories are important.

Following my wonderful Friday in the primary school with some of the most courteous and welcoming people I have met all year, I was programmed on Saturday to present alongside Elizabeth Honey and Roland Harvey.

Elizabeth Honey revealed her writing and illustrating process with us and read her story That's Not a Daffodil. As a gardener, I have to say - this book is a must. I weep to think that children are growing up without experiencing even the joy of growing a carrot top. But a daffodil! Now that's another kind of magic to share.

Roland's comedic eye and spectacular bending of space and perspective had the audience enthralled. With so much to share, he made good use of the lap top and digital projector.

There were so many wonderful things about this festival. As always a great opportunity to meet people working in the same field, the Saturday night dinner and the wonderful workshops and discussion panels, but there was also the walks along the cliff and the beach, the birds, the wattle and the cafes and the bookshop ...

Saturday was International Lighthouse Day and the flags were flying. How beautiful is this picture? It was also National Bookshop Day and the Aireys' bookshop was celebrating. Judging by the the bustle of people in the shop there is still great support for independent bookshops.

And now its time to unpack and repack the story box for a big week of storytelling in schools and kindergartens around Melbourne.

Think of me in the the traffic!

Listen to Phar Lap the wonderhorse recorded by Museum Victoria.

Phar Lap: audio

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tango Tangents rehearsal: La Mama 28 August 2011

Do we grow funnier as we ripen?

My friend Christine took this photo of myself, Alison Richards and Faye Bendrups rehearsing our show in the sun room at the back of our house.

I'm squeezed into black and trying to learn to walk in an extremely high pair of shoes borrowed from my daughter who bought them for her school formal. Faye is wearing a high viz jacket and sensible shoes - well why not? Alison, as usual, is very focused and drawing our attention to the fact the time is ticking and we need to stay on task!

The songs are sounding fantastic. Alison and Faye's harmonies are a knock out. Hope some of you can make on the 28th August.

Bookings: La Mama

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aireys Festival of Words 2011

Well ... I have just returned from Daylesford's Words in Winter where I have been eating, drinking wine and sharing stories with friends. When I have their permission I will show you some lovely pictures of the weekend and maybe even a short film!

Now I shall re pack my bags and pack the story box, fill the car with petrol, check the map and head down to the coast to Airy's Inlet for their Festival of Words.

The program looks very exciting, most events are free, thanks to generous sponsorship and I can't wait to walk along the beautiful beaches and breathe the ozone.

I will be spending Friday with the local primary school children and on Saturday I will be sharing stories alongside Elizabeth Honey and Roland Harvey.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kamishibai goes to the ABC Melbourne Studios.

This Kamishibai needs its own blog!

Still sharing with Bernard Caleo who started the whole fascination with one word, "Kamishibai", I was up at sunrise and on the train with the K to meet Bernard in the foyer of the ABC studios at Southbank.

I love microphones and soundproof studios and all that tech stuff. Here is ABC arts journalist Michael Shirrefs twiddling dials in preparation for a Kamishibai performance. I will say no more because very soon the performance will be available for all to see on you tube. I'll say this ... there is a snail, a narrow escape and ... well you'll just have to wait.

The Kamishibai is now off to Daylesford for Words in Winter. One of my favourite regional arts festivals. Myself with some kamishibai tales, a digital tale and possibly a ballad about race horse will be on a panel with Jan (Yarn) Wositzky, Matteo and Anne E Stewart.

More info : Words In Winter August 2011

original Kamishibai artwork by Bernard Caleo

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tango Tangents: La Mama 28 August 2011

Today I have been rehearsing Tango Tangents with Alison Richards and Faye Bendrups. (pic Faye at the piano and Alison singing.)

Faye and Alison have been busy composing a lively mix of original, tongue twisting, acerbic and moving songs. The songs are woven into a short story by Argentinian writer Luisa Valenzuela which Faye has translated.

Myself and Alison have collaborated on a spoken piece for three voices, Last Tango in Brunswick, echoing the tango sensibility.

Much hilarity along with some serious rehearsal and a fashion crisis. We would love to see you at Tango Tangents.

Artists: Alison Richards, Faye Bendrups, Jackie Kerin, Guillermo Anad with special guests Tango Mundo.

Tickets and Bookings and info: La Mama

Monday, August 1, 2011

Storytelling Australia. South Australia 2011

Storytelling Australia (the national body of storytellers) celebrated the 2011 Gathering in South Australia. It was extraordinary!

I arrived on Thursday in order to have time to catch up with SA friends - I lived there for 10 years and have some very special people I love to see when I visit.

On Friday night the Gathering 2011 launched into full swing with a concert of stories.

Tellers from around the country held the audience spellbound with diverse and dynamic performances. Encouraged by Graham Ross from SA, I told the story of the the foundation of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. You can read this story here - its called No horse, no cart, no shoes.

The following day we were locked in discussion with storytellers from around the country, linked into the dialogue via skype. How cute is that map with the microphone in the middle - it says it all. Opinion was beaming in from WA, Q'ld and NSW. Present were reps from the ACT, Vic and WA. The outcome is that the National body of storytellers will soon have a new logo, and a user friendly welcome page to all the member story groups around the country. Hopefully this will make it easier for those of you overseas to contact us and share stories. Watch this space for developments! Gael Cresp, Anne E Stewart (pictured) and myself represented Victoria.

The final day was a day of workshops - a vigorous and exhausting exchange of ideas and resources.

It would be remiss of me if I did not share this new resource, revealed to me over the weekend.

Montgomery Kelly's book Out of the Storyteller's Hat is the book all of us working in the 3 - 7 zone have been waiting for. Generously illustrated by Siovan Kelly, spiral bound for easy photocopying and tracing, this is a resource for both the experienced and the beginning storyteller.

I will be promoting this book wherever I go!

A website for this book is still a work in progress but you can learn more here

  • Out of the Storyteller's Hat
  • $49.95 plus postage.
  • Email: Monty:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lyrebird! A book from the heart.

Twelve years ago I visited the Healesville Sanctuary with my family and we were held captive by 'Nova' the resident male lyrebird. He danced and sang at our feet as if his life depended on it. And I suppose it does. Well ... the survival of his genes depends on his performance skills as it is through his singing and dancing he persuades a female to mate with him.

Since that time, and like a new convert, I have wanted to tell the world about this magical bird. And so now ... years later, I am doing just that.

I work very slowly - each word is polished, each sentence sounded. You can't write about a musician without attending to the musicality of your own language. The text for a picture book is almost done but I needed to visit Nova one more time and revisit the mountain home of the bird I'm writing about.

We drove up the Black Spur Road and turned down Archeron Way. Lyrebirds scuttled in front of the car. Every time we stopped and switched off the engine we could hear their full-throated singing. The Mountain Ash, the tallest flowering trees in the world, disappeared into the cloud and at times we found ourselves in a monochrome scene.

We called into Healesville and visited Nova. He was dancing when we arrived. When his keeper entered the enclosure with a bucket of wriggling food, he strode impressively passed us before taking to a branch and resuming his singing.

I'm counting the days until I can share with you my new book but in the meatime if you would like to hear a Lyrebird story and enjoy some archival footage of the first Lyrebird recorded and broadcast on the wirless click here.


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