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Holiday Blog: November 2022

The creek down below the house is roaring with another flood, which means that instead of gossiping with guests eating smoked trout pate, green soup from the contents of our garden, and dark or white chocolate, orange biscuits, my most meaningful conversation today has been with the microwave.

It beeps orders at me with the dark enthusiasm of a Drill Sargent.

‘Take out contents now!’

‘You have not yet removed the contents!’

‘Stop immediately and attend!’

‘I don’t take orders from a microwave,’ I mutter, and the microwave beeps back to me.

The floods have been frequent here for the past two years, but we’re on steep land. The force of water is extraordinary, but it rarely rises high. The main damage is washed out roads, including roads that are no longer roads, but landslides that have been washed out to sea. My heart wrenches for all those who live on flood plains, where the water seeps quietly and deadly, destroying your home.

The dearth of company is going to be remedied soon, with visitors staying through December and January. There is and will be vast amounts of cooking – the cakes and puddings are already made; much laughter, enormous amounts of fruit and veg to be picked and munched, and swimming in the creek whenever it is placid enough.

By the end of January, I may be glad of the peace, though I’ll miss them all, badly. Though the wombats won’t. The wombat idea of paradise is a lots of grass, soft but stable soil, and an absence of human beings. These days we hardly see them – they emerge for two hours in the dark, munch, then go back to the burrows for a another 22 hour nap.

The kangaroos are so fat their bellies wobble. The paddocks are filled with flocks of king parrots and rosellas, eating the grass seeds. I tried to photograph them in flight. First, I shouted at them, then yelled ‘Bang!’ Then ‘I am a human, mistress of all I survey’ which sensibly they ignored. I then asked Bryan to walk into the middle of the mob.

The birds just kept munching. The wildlife around here has no respect for what humans presume are the dominant species on this planet. I suspect the birds are correct.

Wombat news

See above – very little, except a lot of bouncing babies...

New Books You Might Like To Buy To Help Pay For Gumboots that Don't Leak and Other Necessities

Ages: 3-103

Yep, It’s 20 years old! I don’t feel like it could be that long either.

Ages: 3-103

This is the newly released ‘prequel’. How did Mothball know humans could provide carrots? All will be revealed, with much hilarity and the most exquisite as when as joyful artwork Bruce has ever created for this series.

Ages: 10+

This has just been released, too, the second inThe Girls Who Changed The World series. Ming and Flo Fight for Freedom came out earlier this year, and is still in bookshops, though either can be read as a stand-alone. They are exciting, adventurous, at times hilarious – and except for the presence of Ming Qong, all based on areas of history where women’s roles have been ignored or even hidden.

Book three is currently being edited. It’s dedicated to all the young people who are already changing the world, and who will keep doing it.

A book for grown-ups, though anyone over fourteen might love it too. It’s just been released in a cheaper paperback edition.

Australia, 1848 onwards: three young women are forged in friendship. One has been sold in marriage, and will brew illegal hooch with a bushranger; the second is as broad as a cart horse, and as useful, and will build a business empire. The third will vanish as she walks down the aisle on her wedding day, in a scandal and mystery that will rock the colony and beyond.


To my great joy, The Society of Women Writers has just given me the Alice Award for A Lifetime Contribution to Australian Literature. I wish I could have been there to receive it, but travel is difficult these days. The ceremony was held at the Women’s Club in Sydney, where my grandmother was proud member and long-term treasurer. She and my other grandmother were also the first to encourage me to be a writer, in the days when ‘no one can make a living being a writer dear. Go and do something useful, like vacuum the floor…’

To all the judges, members, readers …thank you, more than I can say.

The August Garden

After vanishing in drought and fire and looking totally dead, my beloved deep red leafed smokebush has come back. Never give up on a deep rooted shrub!

Unless you garden is under water, plant. Plant everything, just about any veg, fruit trees, ornamentals. Years like this are rare – bung almost anything in, and it will grow. It will grow even better if you feed it. Also weed and mow – for once the grass is growing far faster than the wildlife can eat it.

That’s about it for December really. Plant everything. Weed and feed, and delight in the result.

Some Seasonal Recipes

Salsa (excellent on top of grilled or baked fish, or mix in stir fried chicken and you have a fabulous salad)

Not Really Ice-cream But Better (possibly to replace the Christmas pudding, or even to have for breakfast)

Two Christmas Stories

This first one is for everyone who has asked me to continue the Matilda saga. What comes next, and how does Gibber’s Creek cope in a changing world? So here is a Christmas present, from me to you.

Ghosts at the Billabong
Download PDF • 94KB

Second Story

This is 'a chapter from my darling friend Elaine Harris's forthcoming coming book on Anne Boleyn, featuring a Christmas some years before Henry made her his Queen for the period often described as a thousand days..' You may remember Elaine as a presenter on ABC radio in Canberra and Tasmania.

Happy Hever Castle Christmas – 1528
Download PDF • 158KB

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