Who doesn’t like a rainbow of wildflowers? Gorgeous native blooms. Splashes of colour in a beautiful landscape? I found this recently in Perth. After my national reading Conference in Fremantle, I joined a small walking group with Ryan as our guide. He was fun, smart and handsome. Bright sunshine and comfy shoes for walking, we started at the Queens gardens with 3 keen tourists. We spotted the Peter Pan statue and the black swans gently circling the ponds. We finished at the Kings Botanic Gardens.
We walked and chatted, stopped and looked carefully. Past the WACA stadium, the Trinity boarding college and onto bushland and later Heirisson Island, noticing the odd kangaroo. The latter place occupies an area of 285600 square metres and is connected to the two foreshores by the Causeway.
Ryan navigated us past interesting places, flora and fauna, over sandy estuaries and onto a bus ride to King’s Park and Botanic Garden. For Tracey, everything was a WOW experience! She was bursting with child like curiosity. For me, it was peaceful, positive and a healthy cultural experience. And Michelle, a keen observer and guide herself, kept up with all the info. and answered our questions cheerfully. We were indeed fortunate to see beauty rich and rare, with salt bush, parrots, acacia and eucalypts.
Strolling around the splendid Botanic Gardens on a Sunday is a treat. Leisurely. Easy going. Camera clicking.
Over the tree top bridge, viewing the city and watching families gather for picnics or play. The native scents of peppermint, the large boab tree, birds chirping and the glorious wildflowers in their displays – all part of the experience of nature. Red kangaroo paw, red eyed wattle, bottlebrush, wax flower, honey myrtle, fairy fan-flower, birthday candles, Queen of Sheba, banksias, scallops and royal hakea. And lastly a look inside the Aspects Cafe filled with gifts and gorgeous art, books and Australiana.
BUT, before all of this, I was fortunate to attend the 8th National Reading Conference in Fremantle held at the Literature Centre, Old Fremantle Prison. I was trapped inside. Happily trapped and nurtured! Like minded, passionate authors and illustrators of children’s books all huddled together. Not rations, but plentiful to abundant.
Eight of the best! Shaun Tan, Stephen Michael-King, Glenda Millard, Lisa Shanahan, Felice Arena, Ronojoy Ghosh, Leila Rudge and Dianne Wolfer. Excellent panel discussions. Exuberant personalities, both introverted and extroverted. Heart-felt testimonies. Lesley Reece warmly welcomed us to the Conference. Her team carefully nurtured us. The volunteers gladly served us.
Apart from freebies and prizes, delicious food, author signings and a well stocked book shop, some of the messages conveyed to the audience included – Truth, nurturing children’s literature, anthropomorphism, language, drawing, inspiration, modern families, too much white space, How to get a book published, publishing secrets and many other wondrous things.
I enjoyed drawing dogs with Leila Rudge, watching Stephen Michael-King paint in front of a live audience, Shaun’s sketches, and Felice’s dances on stage. I met new people, mostly from WA and small regional country schools. I managed the contrast between the very cold first day and the not so cold second day. I enjoyed the intimacy and power of the Cicada experience with Shaun Tan – master artist and story teller. I discovered that Ronojoy or Tin Tin as he prefers, would like to live on a space ship and started writing for his small son.
I marvelled at Glenda’s exquisite poetic voice – she said, ” in everything there’s a crack, that’s where the light gets in.” I adored Lisa Shanahan’s mastery of dramatic voice, rhythm and rhyme, her reading of ‘Hark, It’s me, Ruby Lee’. And the ZING! in her playful language. Finally, I was uplifted by Stephen Michael- King’s, moving, compassionate longings, tears and stories of his family and growing up. I learnt a lot from Dianne Wolfer about animals, moments of weird synchronicity and purchased her Middle Grade novel called, The Dog with Seven Names. Dianne also has written The Shark Caller.
There was art for sale, 2 book shops to browse in, the exhibitions of Queen Celine by Matt Shanks and The Dam by David Almond. Shaun Tan exhibited a unique retrospective exhibition – his parents generously assisted here with six pieces from their private collection.
Congrats Director Lesley Reece for allowing us to connect, empathise and participate in such a joyful conference. Well worth the imprisonment!!