canberra ho!

This is a 30,000 word novella about seven bushwalkers on a twelve day trek on a remote and rugged trail that starts at Echo Point Lookout in The Blue Mountains and ends in Canberra, a trek pitched as a journey to the heart of Australian life and culture.

Barry Flack, tour guide, well meaning but clumsy at times, suffers an accident early in the walk and loses his vision. The group must elect a new leader. The two candidates are Bull Longmore, Eastern Suburbs businessman, or Suniti Krishnatri, overseas student and part time waitress. You will need to read the book to find out who is chosen to lead and how things get a lot worse when the losing candidate struggles to accept the result, and then there is the bad weather and ensuing calamities.

Some background

This story was a long time in the making. It began in 2010 during my screenwriting course in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong (under the guidance of writer, Catherine Fargher). One of our tasks was to develop a treatment for an original movie. Our Prime Minister at the time was Julia Gillard. I was deeply dismayed at how rudely she was being treated by both her political opposition and the national media, often because she was a woman, not for her leadership or management skills. You can read all about that elsewhere. Julia had great experience and a good temperament which in another time and place would have made her a Prime Minister for a longer term. I was angry. So I set about writing a movie about an allegory about Australian leadership, in particular political leadership. I forget why I chose comedy, maybe as a first time challenge. It morphed into a challenge to write a movie that we could show on the eve of every national election (a la the Australian classic Don’s Party). I, in turn, got this idea from a clever and heart-warming Russian comedy The Irony of Fate set on New Year’s Eve in Moscow and Leningrad, and which is shown on television in Russia every year on New Year’s Eve. So I didn’t lack ambition. I went through all the steps and wrote the logline, a pitch document, one page synopsis, a twenty page treatment and a 100 plus page screenplay. I got some good feedback from Catherine and a good mark as part of the formality. I even tried for a while to find a champion for the screenplay but alas, I haven’t found them yet. Finally I was content to shelve the project as a rewarding learning experience. Some years later I was a member of a fiction writing group (Keira Fiction Writers Group within the South Coast Writers Centre). At different times members of our group did exercises in short and long fiction. One year, we even wrote a collaborative novel (Love,Seated) and had it edited and self-published. I have a pdf copy, so contact me if you are interested in reading it. One year, as an exercise, as part of my attendance at this group, I decided to convert the screenplay into a novella. I liked the idea of sharing the story with a wider circle of people, even though Julia Gillard was long gone. But the questions about our politics and leadership, as well as our desire for a good laugh, remain.