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Bill’s literary tour of the Mallee

February 25, 2021

I love road-tripping around different parts of Australia, and for some time now have had a hankering to explore the Mallee-Wimmera region of western Victoria. This hankering has been enthusiastically supported by Bill (The Australian Legend) for whom this part of Australia was his youthful stomping ground. We have discussed the region and what might be included in a Mallee literary tour several times over the years – with Lisa joining in on occasion too.

Jenny Ackland, Little gods

We would all, I think, like to compile a list of books set in the region. I’ve reviewed a few on this blog – at least I think they are set in the Mallee, as the region’s borders are a bit confusing to me – such as Jenny Ackland’s Little gods, Charlie Archbold’s Mallee boys, and Sue Williams’ crime novel Live and let fry. Lisa recently posted a review of a new Mallee-set book, Anne Brinsden’s Wearing paper dresses, and last year, another, Bill Green’s Small town rising.

But, topping it all, is that this week, Bill has finally put fingers to keyboard and written a post on touring the Mallee which he has generously said I can post here too … He starts:

Sue/Whispering Gums a year or so BC set me the task of devising a literary tour of the Mallee – the northwest corner of Victoria, a triangle bounded by the Murray River to the north and northeast, the South Australia border to the west and let’s say to the south the 36th parallel, so a line from a bit north of Route A8 to the Murray north of Echuca. To read the rest of the tour, please check out his post. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you hitched a ride and took the tour too!

Thanks so much Bill … there’s a possibility we might even do a bit of this trip this month. It all depends … no glamping in Little Desert is a bit of a worry!

37 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2021 08:41

    I’ll be doing my own ‘tour’ tonight, from Melbourne to Murrayville and on into South Australia. I’ve crossed the desert from Murrayville to Nhill a couple of times, when I was 10 and again when I was 25. I think the parks people are trying to keep it unchanged.

    • February 25, 2021 21:14

      I think it’s a good thing that they are trying to keep it unchanged but there’s a real tension there – just like archives, museums, state/national libraries have – between preserving for the long haul but making it available also because who are you preserving it for besides those who want to use it!

      Anyhow, how your tour tonight went well!

  2. February 25, 2021 09:56

    Ah, I can see it now, Bill the Tour Guide.
    The Mallee Tourism Promotion committee should hire him now.
    And/or a gig at the Mildura Writers Festival!

    • February 25, 2021 17:56

      I’m not even the fourth most qualified person just in the comment streams on these two posts to fill those positions.

      • February 25, 2021 18:58

        Nonsense, you’d be a beaut tour guide, you’ve already got the Akubra and a slogan (The Australian Legend). You only have to read a couple of extra books to be able to talk about them, and you could talk about the landscape and the environment and why it’s special etc. I’ve been on a couple of bus tours in WA when I wanted to see Wave Rock and the Pinnacles and it was too far for me to drive there and back in one day by myself, and the bus drivers who were just ordinary blokes did the a sort of generalised spiel about this and that on and off and people were perfectly happy with that. (They probably had cue cards to refer to under the dash.)
        I’ve had a look at Academy Travel tours with proper experts with PhDs and whatnot, and they cost a fortune. An out-of-the-question fortune, as far as I’m concerned, because I’m not spending heaps of travel money here in Australia while there’s still a chance that overseas travel might open up again before I’m too old to enjoy it. I’m talking about a reasonably priced tour in a mini-bus with morning tea and lunch somewhere nice. (The WA bus tours stopped at footy clubs and the CWA fed us).
        You get it sorted, I’ll take the train up as far as Swan Hill and join you there.

    • February 25, 2021 21:15

      Great idea Lisa – tour guide and gig at the Mildura Writers’ Festival!

  3. February 25, 2021 12:56

    Reading based on region, no mater where in the world, is a good way to go I think. It allows one to clarify books in a different way from typical. One d
    Could also look at differences and similarities.

  4. February 25, 2021 17:43

    Can I add a children’s picture book called Mallee Sky by Jodi Toering? It’s lovely.
    https://www.walkerbooks.com.au/Books/Mallee-Sky-9781925381672

    • February 25, 2021 21:17

      Thanks Brona … I’d heard of that but didn’t know it. You can definitely add it!

  5. February 25, 2021 17:48

    I’m also vague about where the Mallee and the Wimmera meet, but Mark Brandi’s Wimmera might slide into the region.

    • February 25, 2021 21:18

      Oh yes, Rose, I remember when that book came out. Sounded interesting – and I’d still be interested. I think we should lump the two regions together but I’m not sure what Bill would say.

      • February 26, 2021 08:57

        Bill would say the two regions are surprisingly different in soil, rainfall and (therefore) tree types. But of course, planted to wheat it all looks the same. In WA the equivalent of those two regions are lumped together as Wheatbelt.

      • February 26, 2021 17:20

        I enjoyed the book, but I guess Bill will have the last word!

  6. Meg permalink
    February 26, 2021 07:31

    Hi Bill, I have a poetry book by Charles Henry Souter, titled The Mallee Fire and other Verses (1923), you may like to add to your list. Your tour sounds very inviting!

  7. Meg permalink
    February 26, 2021 07:56

    And of course, you would have to add All The Rivers Run by Nancy Cato. Also, Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany, may sneak in.

    • February 26, 2021 08:59

      Thank you Meg. I had Everyman’s Rules down there in my memory, but I couldn’t bring it to the surface.

    • February 26, 2021 09:34

      Good one Meg . I’m not sure where that train went but hopefully Bill does.

  8. February 26, 2021 11:58

    A road trip in Australia sounds like a trip to dreamland, for me. So, if it sounds so remote and even impossible, reading your accounts will definitely pull the distance closer. Are you actually going on a road trip and blogging about it? Or is this a ‘virtual’ one through books? Why, during Covid, we’re not even allowed to be dining with someone, or be in a car, who is not from the same household. 😦

    • February 26, 2021 15:37

      This is a virtual one Arti but a guide for when I actually do it which I’ve been telling Bill for some time that I’d like to do. We can do road trips here in Aus though there’s always the risk of a sudden lockdown.

  9. March 1, 2021 13:08

    Just sayin, WG, that yes I do I live en route to the Mallee (if you’re starting from Melbourne) and OF COURSE you should stop by my place for a cuppa!

    • March 1, 2021 16:07

      Thanks very much Michelle … we are actually heading that way tomorrow, which is a work day and a bit late notice, but I have in mind to organise a more focused Mallee trip when things have settled down a bit!

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