Monday, October 19, 2009

Return from Oz

RHYS: I know I've been invisible and silent for a while, but I've had a good excuse. John and I have been in the Australian Outback. This was one of those trips that we've put off, until we realized that we can't count on good health forever and we should do it while we're both fit.

It was not by any means a first trip to Australia. In fact Australia has played a big part in my life. I went to work for Australian Broadcasting in my twenties, met John in Sydney and reluctantly moved to California with him. My brother followed me to Australia, married and settled there. My parents also settled there when they retired. So for a while my whole family was in New South Wales.

I visited many times. I was there when my parents died. So the place carries powerful memories and emotions for me from weddings to funerals. But my experience of the Land Down Under has all been of the Eastern coast--green, fertile, lots of lakes and rivers. I realized I should never really know Australia until I had visited the Red Center.

So this trip took us to Alice Springs, to Uluru, to various bright red mountains and gorges with secret waterfalls and refreshing cold pools. We went to Darwin and Kakadu National Park and saw more crocodiles than we wanted to, and water buffalo and camels and kangaroos, frilled lizards, goanas and zillions of birds. We have come home sated with nature--and with a greater appreciation for the real outback; lonely cattle stations bigger than Belgium, supporting one cow per acre, red dust that clings to everything, amazing sunsets. It's an impressive country and there is nowhere else on Earth that I have been that has given me the impression of being truly far away and different. I've taken pages of notes and hope to write a book some day.

And speaking of books, this trip has meant that I missed Bouchercon--the World Mystery Convention--for the first time in many years. Of course now I'm regretting this and hope that my Jungle Red Sisters will chime in with reports on the convention and any juicy gossip that's fit to print.

HALLIE: Well, the #1 bit of gossip from Bouchercon is that Rhys Bowen (yes OUR Rhys Bowen) won the Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery for A ROYAL PAIN. Congratulations, Rhys! To add to your formidable collection.

I came back early after teaching at the wonderful Sisters in Crime before-conference writing workshop. Donald Maas's session was fantastic--gave me a slew of ideas for revision my WIP (work-in-progress). And Nancy Picard's talk left me laughing and inspired, a great combo.

Indianapolis was great -- and I especially loved meeting all those librarians! There were about 80 of them at the Sisters in Crime Librarian's Tea...another brilliant moment.

ROBERTA: Yes, big Rhys congrats to you! Jim Huang and his committee did a wonderful job with the convention--an amazing and backbreaking job if ever there was one. I was very proud of the presence of Sisters in Crime in Indianapolis--organizing a few of the events was my swan song on the board. Not sure how I'll fill up my time--maybe a trip to Australia??

In fact my hub and I are discussing where to take vacation next year. We've never been to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, South America, India--a long list of possibilities. Would be happy to hear suggestions!

RO: So jealous! I've had the Aussie fantasy ever since The Thorn Birds and all of those great Australian movies/series from the 80's - A Town Like Alice, Breaker Morant, The Last Wave, Gallipoli. I did get to meet Bryan Brown once (and practically fainted) but that was as close as I've gotten.

RHYS: Thanks for the congrats. I was really surprised to win this time, given the serious historical writers who were my fellow nominees.
A Town Like Alice has always been one of my favorite books, which was one of the reasons I was so anxious to see the real town. It doesn't have much going for it apart from its location, actually. Right in the middle of the continent and fabulous mountain ranges around it. (Oh and I loved the movie, speaking of Bryan Brown....very sexy guy.)

So the Australian Outback is crossed off my bucket list. I still have to see the pyramids in Egypt and go on an African safari, but I'm less and less inclined to subject my body to those long flights and all that airport annoyance. One thing that came across about Australia was how pleasant the people are. Even the airport security guys could joke and speak in pleasant tones. And everyone in stores has time to talk. If it weren't so far away, I'd get rid of the condo in Phoenix and spend my winters Down Under.


  1. Australia was one of those trips of a lifetime. I've been lucky that for many years, hubby's travel was covered, and when he went to meetings in nifty places, I could tag along if I could fork over airfare. And then I had a job that let me travel to some great locations as well. I had to wait for the kids to be old enough to leave home alone since we had no local family. I haven't done Egypt, but we did go to Africa.

  2. Oops -- and I forgot to add, we just got back from Quebec City, which was a fascinating place. I posted some of the highlights on my blog while I was there.

  3. Sounds like it was a great trip. Glad you had fun.

  4. Congratulations, Rhys!

    Damn, Rosemary. I had everything crossed, I swear.

    Paula Matter

  5. It's a good thing Australia isn't closer. It'd be overrun with Americans because it is THE most perfect place to take a vacation. Sydney is my kind of town.

  6. Thanks, Paula! I had a lot of good juju sent my way. I've convinced myself that I came in second and that's fine by me!

  7. Congratulations.

    I have some distant relatives there. Wonder if I could come up with an excuse to visit them sometime.

  8. Hallie's right, Australia is THE perfect place to visit: the scenery is spectacular if you like beaches, mountains, desert or rainforest. Sydney is an incredibly beautiful and sophisticated city and the food is outstanding. Australians are friendly and speak English (good on yer, mate!) and the animals are a lot of fun.
    And no, I'm not getting paid by the Aussie tourist board for this.

  9. Yay Rhys! It as such fun to hear your name called! Roberta and I yelped with delght! And welcome home...we missed you! Hurray hurray hurray

    Rosemary, you were also Queen of the May. I never saw you without some coterie of fans...congratulations..

    Very very tired..home from Bouchercon, plane delayed by..snow! Yikes...