Delicious descriptions from Down Under: Alan Gould on the Monaro (and thereabouts)

Tharwa - Angle Crossing, New South Wales
Monaro country after the 2003 fires

While I love reading to escape to other places and times, other cultures and ways of being, I also enjoy reading about the familiar, about places I know and experiences I’ve had. Alan Gould, whose The lakewoman I reviewed recently, is a local writer. The lakewoman, in fact,  is primarily set in England, France and Germany, but  the hero Alec Dearborn does return to Australia towards the end, and before that often thinks or talks about it. His Australia is the country surrounding where I live, an area we call the Monaro, to be exact.

Here are some descriptions from The lakewoman that describe this region;

He went on to describe the Murrumbidgee River that flowed beside The Dad’s place, how it used to run flush after rain, with the brown waters mounting each other like so many panicky sheep in a pen. How it might be a trickle at the end of a summer without rain, like glassy infrequent spillages between rocks.


Sometimes he would try to describe his part of Australia, the streaky, silvery, airy, dry spaces of his pastured and lightly timbered country, sheep standing immobile in fog as the crows called mournfully through the whiteness.


How, for instance, a Monaro mist would transform a big brittlegum into a delta of pale grey veins against the white. Or how the last hour of sunlight in this airy woodland could angle so searchingly under the foliage to suffuse the planet’s surface with aureolin gold.

This is not verdant country, nor is it particularly welcoming. But, it is spacious, golden and airy – and it lifts my heart whenever I drive through it. Gould captures its particular variety perfectly.

10 thoughts on “Delicious descriptions from Down Under: Alan Gould on the Monaro (and thereabouts)

  1. There’s something about reading about your own location that is quite magical – even when the writer is talking about the local bus route, which happened in a booker short list novel some years ago. It is, after all, not any only bus route, it’s yours!

  2. I’ll never forget how the first time I went overseas by myself, to New Zealand in Year 7, I found myself missing the silver-grey-green of our trees, even though the lush green-ness of the trees in New Zealand were, certainly, pretty. I guess silver-grey-green just means home to me 🙂

    • I guess most of us are stuck – even though we enjoy something new – with the place/landscape we are born to. There are exceptions of course and I’ve come across some westerners who made Japan their home but for most of us I think we are drawn to our own colours and shapes?

      • But it doesn’t take long for one’s eye to change. After two weeks holidaying in the Outer Hebrides, as the ferry drew near to Skye the landscape seemed scrofulous with trees.

        • Ah, Judith, and we are currently holidaying in another tree-rich place, Japan. In fact, I was just thinking of you the other day but will aim to make a comment on that on your blog when I get some proper time!

  3. Good on you for spotting those Whispering, and yes they are delicious. Although there are so many delicious descriptions in this book, that one about the panicky (dust coloured Australian) sheep in a pen is brilliant – that’s exactly what a (muddy) flooded river looks like. Such an evocative image, summing up in a nutshell his nostalgia for home.

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