Australia Day in Books

As the booktrail mantra is to discover locations and countries via #booktravel then what better on Australia Day than to capture the essence of the country via its fiction –

Let’s travel with Kate Morton, Tim Winton, ML Stedman and many more…

and see their Australia….

Brisbane -and Tamborine Mountain Kate Morton New South Wales - Kate Grenville Leeuwin Lighthouse - inspiration for Janus Rock in ML Stedman's book Perth - where Tim Winton  is our guide The Rock - set near to Mount Macedon
Brisbane -and Tamborine Mountain Kate Morton
New South Wales – Kate Grenville
Leeuwin Lighthouse – inspiration for Janus Rock in ML Stedman’s book
Perth – where Tim Winton is our guide
The Picnic at Hanging Rock – set near to Mount Macedon

Brisbane –

forgotten garden

Kate Morton takes us to Brisbane in the Forgotten Garden, a tale of a lost little girl abandoned on a ship to  Australia,  a missing writer known as the authoress and the secrets of an aristocratic family – all interwoven to provide a magical tale of hidden secrets and a mystery that has endured across the decades.

Within this book there is a book of fairytales which comes alive and which holds a special memory linking time and place – Cassandra remembers reading her stories on a hot Brisbane day. It’s these stories that transport you in this novel – to Cornwall and to the magic of writing, but it all starts in Brisbane…..

After crossing the Brisbane river,they bypassed the centre of town and drove through Paddington with its corrugated-iron toadstools cut into the hills

Nell lived in  ‘a wooden house on the hillside, with its peeling lemon-paint and overgrown garden, the neighbourhood cats that followed her everywhere…

Tamborine Mountain –

secret keeper

Granted there may not be much of the novel set in Australia but it is the backstory of one of the characters where we are taken back to the wonders of tambourine mountain where both she and the author herself grew up that really capture the imagination –

This is a story of wartime secrets and one secret in particular that has endured for decades that finally starts to unravel many years later.

Whipbirds cheered overhead, insects burred, the waterfall in Dead Man’s Gully chipped and chattered. Fragments of light and color jittered as she ran, kaleidoscopic.

No one else knew it but the creek was magic.

Then Vivien discovers some lights    And that was when she had noticed then, several of them or orange and twinkly, blinking at her from the very bottom of the pool.

And that’s when Vivien had realized: there was a hold in her creek that ran all the way to the other side of the world.

Childhood notions of there being a tunnel from Australia to the other side of the world reawakened here….this is evocative writing at its finest!

New South Wales –

secret river

This is the journey of a family of Brits at the turn of the 19th century as they are deported to Australia for crimes committed by the man of the house -William Thornhill

They are taken to the  New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. As they try to make this part of the world their home, they are soon forced to realize that tough measures are needed to survive even if it means unsettling those who who already claim the land.

Enter the world of  early colonial Australia and get a sense of how difficult a life the early settlers had.

New South Wales had a life of its own now, beyond any intention that any man – the Governor, even the King himself- might have. It was a machine in which some men would be crushed up and spat out and others would rise to heights they had never dreamed of before.

Mount Macedon


Deemed to be one of Australia’s classic and during mysteries, the picnic at Hanging Rock is set deep in the Australian bush at the isolated and imposing Hanging Rock. It’s 1900, and a class of young women from an exclusive private school go on an excursion but their trip ends in tragedy when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish after climbing the rock. Only one girl returns, with no memory of what has become of the others . . .

The Rock is the main character in the book and has a haunting and bulky presence. It is the scene of the crime but reveals nothing, it is the danger that surrounds the girls, its the sheer size and imposing beauty of the Australian outback that hides tragedy….

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse


In the town of Point Partageuse, Australia during the 1920s, a light house keeper (Tom) and his wife (Isabel) find a life boat with a dead man and live baby in it wash up on their beach.

Isabel has suffered several miscarriages. Life is tough and lonely on Janus Rock. A baby would change things. Who would know if they passed the baby off as their own?

This places may indeed be fictional but they are clearly routed in the  authors imagination and based on real places . Janus for example is  a place of solitude and reflection –

“On Janus there is no reason to speak. Tom can go for months and not hear his own voice. He knows some keepers who make a point of singing, just like turning over an engine to make  sure it still works. But Tom finds a freedom in the silence. He listens to the wind. He observes the tiny details of life on the island”

Perth – 


The Pickle family have inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. The shared experiences of the two overpopulated and chaotic families join together in ways that non one could have expected.

As for Winton’s Perth –

Perth is the biggest county town in the world trying to be a city.

Lester pointed to the lights above Perth water where the city hung and the suburbs began their outward roll….

This is Perth, Western Australia, whose ambitions know no limits.

There is a lot more to discover about Australia but these are just some of the gems we’ve come across but there are so many more we could travel around Australia for ever and never leave. And when you realise the quality of the writers there, those who write about this place and those who showcase their country through their eyes, you may never want to leave….

Happy Australia Day!

5 thoughts on “Australia Day in Books

  1. Oh dear, two of these authors have been less than good experiences for me. Morton and Steadman I picked up and couldn’t get further than page 20 because I didn’t care for their writing style at all. I have yet to read Winton but I’m hoping he proves more my taste

    1. It’s always interesting to discover what other people think – they say two people never read the same book but that is what makes reading so interesting! I love Morton personally but love to hear what others don’t like about her – Winton seems to be like marmite but he’s written such a range, it’ll be interesting to read more. thanks for your comments. Always keen to learn more

  2. All great picks, I can’t stand Winton though!
    I adore all Kate Morton books and The Picnic at Hanging Rock, they’re my absolute favourites!
    A fun trail book to do would be “Playing Beattie Bow” by Ruth Park, as she goes all through The Rocks in Sydney both in modern and colonial times 🙂

      1. No problem! I’m just hoping all the streets are still there, it’s a bit of a difficult place coz parts of it were knocked down, but the bones of it are there and I do remember specific places that I knew- it’s an amazing area of Sydney 🙂 I can always give a local’s pespective if you need one too.
        Her other books, particularly The Harp in the South would also work. She was a great writer!

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