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In 1960, newly minted teacher PETER O’BRIEN started work as the only teacher at a bush school for students from the age of five to 15, in the remote town of Weabonga, two days’ travel by train and mail car from Armidale, NSW. He was only 20 years old and had never before lived away from his home in Sydney. In this extract from his engaging memoir, Bush School, we meet Peter as he travels to the town, arriving at what will be his new home.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Biographies have long fascinated readers, serving as guides for how to live our own lives or often just giving us an intriguing peek into the world of extraordinary people. In this round-up we look at a comedian with a disability, a magician with a learning disorder, the real man behind Walter White of Breaking Bad and more. But we’re bending the biography rules a bit by also including a book by a philosopher that will prompt you to think about living a better life, a book about Aussies at war and an account of Queensland police leading lives of corruption. Read on >
  • 'Books, and lovers or friends, mark and change us. And we, in turn, mark and change them.' Melbourne novelist CATH CROWLEY writes about her longtime love of secondhand bookshops, and how the histories she found and imagined there led her to write Words in Deep Blue. Read on >
  • Best known for his role as a team captain on ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks, ALAN BROUGH has also worked as a radio presenter,
actor and stand- up comedian. In the 1990s he also appeared in a series of TV commercials as a drag queen called Marge. He had always wanted to write, and now he has fulfilled that ambition with his new children’s book, Charlie and the War Against the Grannies. He tells us about the books that have made him the reader and writer that he is today. Read on >
  • KIRI FALLS was introduced to the works of English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) when she saw the 2004 BBC production of North & South. Last year, the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, Kiri decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly renovated Manchester home of the great lady. Read on >
  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • Most of Lonely Planet’s publications can fit snugly at the bottom of a backpack, but The Travel Book is a volume best left at home on the coffee table to inspire adventures.  Read on >
  • Creativity is often thought of as a special gift bestowed on only a handful of lucky people. But as Australian novelist SUE WOOLFE points out, it’s a skill that you can cultivate. Here are five tips she used to create her latest collection of stories, Do You Love Me or What? Read on >
  • The nose is a wonderful thing. A new study has found that the human nose can distinguish between at least one trillion different smells. I love nothing more than sticking my nose inside a blooming rose as I walk Baxter along the street. But I also have a passionate hatred of the choking diesel fumes disgorged from nearby cruise ships. So even though I may be able to detect over a trillion odours, there are many of them I don’t want to smell! Kate Grenville’s new book, The Case against Fragrance, has had me pondering the aromas, the scents and odours that enter my nose – whether I want them to or not. In 2015 Kate started to get frequent headaches and other signs of ill health and, strangely, they seemed to get worse when she was on tour to promote her latest book.After some effort to isolate the cause, she discovered that it was perfumes or other fragrances that were the culprits. She felt debilitated. She loved to meet her readers but was bombarded with fragrances in crowded rooms. She was compelled to find out what it was about perfumes that could be causing her these health problems. She opened a can of worms. Read on >
  • SABRINA HAHN has been WA’s go-to dispenser of green-thumb advice to radio listeners for more than 20 years. Now, in Sabrina’s Dirty Deeds, she shows you what to do in your garden and when to do it. In this extract she outlines how to encourage good predatory insects. Read on >
  • The exact percentage of people with dyslexia is unknown, but it’s estimated at between 5 and 17 per cent of the population. And many people may not even be aware that they have the condition. There’s no cure for it, but now there’s a new way to help people overcome dyslexia – and it’s as simple as using a new font. Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Elspeth Muir’s memoir begins at the funeral of her younger brother, Alexander. She describes him in the coffin: ‘Beneath the lid was my brother’s soggy body – fresh from the refrigerator – pickled in embalming fluids, alcohol and river water.’ From this visceral description until the end of the book, Elspeth’s writing is superb, sinuous and unrelentingly engrossing. Read on >

  • On Thursdays, 42-year-old Ted and his dog Lily talk about boys they think are cute. Ted fawns over Ryan Gosling and Lily scandalously suggests Chris Pratt. Friday is therapy day. Ted endures an hour in an overlit office and craves cookies while Jenny, the feckless therapist, tries to achieve insights into why he and Jeffrey, his partner of six years, split up. Read on >

  • When a book is finally finished, I find it hard to think about it any more … I want to fill my head with something totally different, with a new book. My favourite book is the ‘new’ book I’m working on, still working out and trying to make better than the books I made before it! Before I held a copy 
of Jeannie Baker’s latest book, Circle, in my hands I had no idea ... Read on >

  • 5 Star Review Shortlisted for the T.A.G. Hungerford Award in 2014, Portland Jones’s Seeing the Elephant is a rewarding and poignant read that addresses the themes of war, post-war life, grief, change and friendship. Read on >

  • 5 Star Review Hannah Kent’s magnificent Burial Rites brought her to international attention – and deservedly so. A meticulously researched and nuanced portrait of the last woman sentenced to death for murder in Iceland, Burial Rites marked the arrival of a genuine literary talent. Her latest novel, The Good People, will not disappoint. Read on >

  • 4 Star Review Doyle’s debut is funny, engaging, fast and fascinating but, above all, it reads as a warning. I was thoroughly rattled by its ending. Read on >

  • 3.5 Star Review What makes multi-volume historical fiction such as this enjoyable are two things: strong and unconventional characterisation and a basic respect for the historical facts. Read on >

  • 3 star review ‘Write what you know’ is sage advice for any budding novelist. This author has done just that in describing how a single mother PR consultant buys a run-down blueberry orchard in northern Victoria. This interesting book certainly makes one appreciate that next punnet of blueberries. Read on >

  • 3.5 star review Two races uneasily share the great forest: the Earth Walkers, who draw their power from the moon, and the Tribe of Trees, who worship the sun. Each clan sees the other as savage and unreasonable and there’s no understanding between the two. Read on >

  • This 21st ‘Rebus’ book proves that there is plenty of life left in the series. The fraught relationships between Rebus, Clarke and Fox lie at the heart of the narrative and are just as important as the convoluted strands of their intertwining investigations. Read on >

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