Where the Pelican Builds: Writing in the West
The arid and semi-arid parts of Queensland west of the Great Divide, north of the border with New South Wales and south of the Gulf of Carpentaria - including the Channel Country and the Gulf Country, and towns as diverse as Birdsville, Mt Isa, Longreach and Normanton - form a unique region that addresses the rest of Australia, and increasingly the world, with a distinctive literary voice. The two defining features of Western Queensland as a region are its remoteness and its landscape. Since colonial times, the more populous coastal and northern regions of Queensland have tended to dominate discussions of the state's literary traditions. Nonetheless, the writing culture in Western Queensland looks back to a tentative but distinctive regional language with its own images and histories, beginning with Sir Thomas Mitchell's journal of his exploration of central western Queensland in 1846, developed by bush poets including "Banjo" Paterson, and taken up later by major writers such as Patrick White and Janette Turner Hospital. Today new technologies are expanding opportunities for local writers to make their presence, their views and their region known and knowable. This chapter explores the history of literature in Western Queensland, and the evolution of the region as a distinctive literary landscape.
By the Book: A Literary History of Queensland