Natural Imaginings: The Literature of the Hinterland
This chapter explores the shifting literary representations over the past 150 years of Brisbane's hinterland. South-East Queensland - the region encompassed by Coolangatta and the McPherson Range to the south, Cooloola and the Blackall Range to the north, and the Great Dividing Range to the west - represents one of Queensland's most significant literary landscapes. For millennia, its inhabitants elaborated the meaning of the landscape in a rich complex of stories and other cultural practices such as the bunya festivals. Colonisation disrupted but did not obliterate these cultural associations, which remain alive in the oral traditions of local Aboriginal people and, in more recent times, have surfaced in the work of writers like Oodgeroo Noonuccal and her literary successors. European interest in the Moreton Bay region developed slowly. In colonial times, the south-eastern corner of the colony came to be represented in literature as a region of cultural contrasts, in which the urban life of Brisbane was juxtaposed against the natural or rural character of the surrounding region, which was often characterised as a hinterland in the figurative sense of a relatively unexplored and mysterious territory. This contrapuntal representation of South-East Queensland was first elaborated in a number of novels by Rosa Praed. Today, however, the sharp literary contrast between urban and natural environments in South-East Queensland is disappearing as the hinterland's relationship with Brisbane undergoes a radical transformation. Conurbation is obliterating the natural environment and generating a vast suburbia that already stretches from Coolangatta to Noosa, and is now spreading up the river valleys of the Scenic Rim. The longstanding literary dichotomy of 'urban' Brisbane and the 'natural' or 'rural' landscapes of its surrounds is transmuting along with the landscape and economy of South-East Queensland.
By the Book: A Literary History of Queensland