Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Currum Sailing Club on Playschool

This morning thousands of children all over Australia had the pleasure of listening to the story and enjoying the pictures of The Carrum Sailing Club by Claire Saxby illustrated by Christina Booth.

I cannot imagine a more more rewarding experience that to sit back with a cuppa and see your book read on the ABC on  Playschool.

Claire is an old friend. We have share many adventures and supported each others development as writers and storytellers over many years. Her book, There Was an Old Sailor (ill Cassanda Allen) is one of the most loved and popular stories I tell and its no fluke it has sold over 20,000 copies.

Claire has the knowledge and the creative instincts to create wonderful books for children of all ages but her catalogue of stories for early childhood is truly exceptional.

What a buzz it was to climb on my bike this morning and pedal over for some breakfast and to share the Playschool moment with Claire

More info about Claire Saxby  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birds in display

November can't come soon enough. Lyrebird! a true story will be in sale! In the meantime I'm spotting displaying birds all over the place.

At considerable expense I went to the Australian Ballet to see the re-staging of Robert Helpmann's work 'The Display'. I was curious to see how he'd choreographed the bird. The Lyrebird in the ballet was to be feared. Human size and sizzling with testosterone - there was nothing fairy-like about this bird. First performed in 1964, the ballet seemed dated and at times corny but having said that, I was riveted and every time the dancer/bird came on stage, my heart raced.

Not all the birds spotted have been lyrebirds. There was a peacock ... I went to Festival Indonesia on Sunday and when I arrived there was an exquisite dancer on the main stage. Through gesture, movement and facial expression and dressed in  an elaborate costume, the dancer became the bird in front of my eyes. I wondered as I was watching if ever a male dancer performed this dance and how that would alter the performance.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The true story of Phar Lap the wonder horse.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is more than a horse race. For over 150 years this race has stopped the nation. Folk dress up, drink, eat, place their bets and abandon all dignity as they cheer their horses to the finish.

These days The Cup draws competitors from all over the world and I believe over 700 million people in 120 countries and territories watch it on television.

Of course there have been many famous winners of The Cup but there is one that is firmly and immovably lodged in the hearts of Australians and New Zealanders - and this of course is the great  Phar Lap.

Now .. if you don't know the story of Phar Lap, you can learn all about him from my book, beautifully illustrated by Patricia Mullins and Published by Museum Victoria. This book was engrossing to research, challenging to write and it is so much fun to promote every year at Cup time. My vintage suit is a tight fit  (seems to be shrinking) has served me well for several racing carnivals.

You can purchase Phar Lap the wonderhorse at all good book stores. 

Its always in stock at Museum Victoria and I  love donning my outfit and visiting book events and sharing the love of the great horse.

Listen to Phar Lap the wonder horse and interview here.

pic: Flemington Racecourse with Phar Lap 

The Melbourne Cup is the highlight of a four day racing carnival 
3 - 10  November 2012
Flemington Racecourse.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jan (Yarn) Wositzky tells the story of William Buckley

For the past couple of years I've been maintaining the blog for Storytelling Australia (Victoria). A tad time consuming but it does however motivate me (Lois Lane like) to go and see other storytellers at work when I can.

Recently Jan Wositzky  invited me to meet him at a small western suburbs primary school where he was performing his show Buckley. This is an extraordinary tale of a convict who escaped in 1802 and spent the next 30 years living with the Wathaurong people.

For me Buckley's story is very important . I live in an area of Melbourne where he walked; where the names of key players in the story, Gellibrand and Derrimut are woven into the maps and streetscapes.

Together with others in my community and with the support of Hobsons Bay Council, I have been involved in activities to educate the local folk and especially the children, about our past. One of these projects has been the publication of a booklet about the First People of Hobsons Bay

Here Jan is pictured holding a copy of the The Yallukit-Willam: the First People of Hobsons Bay. You can download the link or contact Hobsons Bay Council for a hard copy.

Visit Storytelling Australia's site and on the blog, you can read a detailed interview with Jan and learn more about Buckley or visit

If you would like to see more about our GetUpOut West activities, better still become involved, we're on facebook: GUOW.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 Art Day Out Melton

pic: this historic bluestone cottage has enjoyed several reincarnations including police station and private residence

What a glorious spring day and how grateful we all were. In a week of destructive wind and cold temperatures, the organisers of the Art Day Out in Melton would have had cause for concern. But today, nature was kind. There was a gentle breeze, not a cloud in the sky and the Willows Historical Park was transformed by colour, music and some unique stalls. This festival was planned to perfection. From the moment of arrival, smiling relaxed faces waved cars through and welcomed artists by name as we checked in.

pic: I thought I had a few badges! These little gems are made from souvenir tea spoons

Felt more like fun than work and that's how it should be. My day was very satisfying. I met some extraordinary people of all ages including folk from the U3A, musicians, fellow authors and a remarkable young girl with a passion for stories to rival my own. Still in primary school, my new best friend took to the story chair and entertained us with my favourite Chinese Folk Tale! This young one will go places for sure!

Thank you to the organisers for inviting me. I sold several copies of Phar the wonder horse and I'm planning to return to the community in November when Lyrebird! a true story is published.

pic: snapped before the crowds arrived, these coloured tents looked fabulously festive set out in a ring on the emerald grass

pic: Bruno Letierri hosting a discussion with John Marsden, Michael McGirr and others

Friday, September 7, 2012

Telling old stories to very young people. August 2012

Telling old stories to very young people. August 2012
I've been having fun with very young people in childcare centres. Its quite something  to have the undivided concentration of babies. The capacity of these minds is awesome to contemplate. These young ones are learning language skills, physical skills and acquiring a sense of self and others  at an exponential rate. In just 10 years they will outstrip me in my computer skills, maths (that wouldn't be hard) and most they likely they will be bilingual. 

Each little one, a bundle of potential.

Here we are working with rhymes, hand claps and string stories, universal and as old as time. 


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