The original homepage of Carmel Bird, an Australian author.

 

MOST RECENT BOOK
WRITING THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Memoir
(Fourth Estate)


READ LATEST SHORT STORY
first published in 'The Age' (Melbourne) in December 07): "Waiting to be Seated'
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The following link leads to an interview in Atlantis. It is an interview with me conducted by 
Dr Gerardo Rodriguez Salas 
from the University of Granada. 

http://www.atlantisjournal.org/
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November 2006
The following memoir was published in 'The Sunday Age' 

  Summer at Port Arthur 1953

  The coastline of Tasmania is pretty ragged. To my father and uncles and their friends this coast was a clear invitation to go fishing in the summer holidays. To me the beaches were naturally an invitation to swim – and then the intricacies, cliffs and crenellations were an opportunity to imagine, to enter into fantasies and romances. The scariest things for me were the blowholes where the sea roars and boils up into a deep hollow in the rocks and sucks small children and dogs and blissfully unsuspecting honeymoon couples to their doom. There are sad stone monuments carved with the names of the dead, rising in poignant testimony to lives lost to the waves, speaking in mute warning on sunny, carefree afternoons.

Father, mother, uncle, aunt, six kids, car, ute, boat, trailer, caravan, tents. It was in the early fifties, just after Christmas, and we trailed down the east coast of Tasmania until we finally reached Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula where we set up camp for two weeks. I must have been about thirteen. There was a broad grassy piece of flat open land that went from the sea to the ruins of the old convict settlement, and that’s where we camped. We had it all to ourselves. The idea of ‘tourism’ in Tasmania then was fairly new. There were primitive showers and toilets nearby, but that was it, really. As far as I know nobody asked us what we were doing, or cared. We built a fireplace for cooking.

  On New Year’s Eve we had fireworks. The gold-grey ruins of the shells of Victorian prison buildings loomed in the background, a great miserable threat with gaps and crumbling hollows and rusty bars. The wild waters of the jagged coast surged before us. But on the grass between the two extremes, where our gipsy caravan had settled, we feasted, and then screamed as we sent up rockets and showers, whirled Catherine wheels and hurled squibs. We cast wild and devilish shadows as we leapt about in the light of our bonfire.

  The locations of our summer holidays were governed by where it was good to fish, and this time the history of the Tasman Peninsula was an added extra. For me the past became the focus of my days. With my cousin Loris I explored the land and the ruins. I had brought with me a creepy old book called Shadow Over Tasmania and we referred to it for information on things we found, or thought we found. We would take lunch and disappear for the day, walking for miles and climbing all over the forlorn and eerie walls of the old derelict prison buildings. We had sketch books and box brownie cameras and took pictures of each other staring mournfully through grim barred windows. I should point out that we thought this was holiday fun. It was also thrilling because it was quite dangerous, since much of the structure was unstable. We ignored danger signs and crawled down into spaces in the jumble and decay of brick and stone. I have memories of broken walls of lovely old red bricks. With the reflection of a knowing adult I now see that we could easily have been injured, could have become lost. At some point there was a kind of ticket-seller who let us into a cell and locked us up in the total dark and silence of solitary confinement. We would never try that again. 
TO READ THE END

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archive pages

 
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Read These Extracts

Novels
Open for Inspection
Red Shoes
The White Garden
The Bluebird Cafe
Crisis
Cherry Ripe

Stories and Essays
Automatic Teller
The Common Rat
Balwyn
Jenni and the Poets

For Writers
Dear Writer
Not Now Jack -- I'm Writing A Novel

As Editor
Daughters & Fathers
Red Hot Notes

Burning Desire
a reflection on writing, inspiration and imagination (and a look at some of the impulses behind Red Shoes).

WORK IN PROGRESS
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Author Photograph 
by 

Samantha Everton

http://www.samanthaeverton.com/

About Carmel Bird
Mailbox pix email
carmel@carmelbird.com

- TITLES -
WRITING THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE
THE ESSENTIAL BIRD
CAPE GRIMM
OPEN FOR INSPECTION
RED SHOES
THE WHITE GARDEN
CRISIS
THE BLUEBIRD CAFE
CHERRY RIPE
THE COMMON RAT
WOODPECKER POINT
AUTOMATIC TELLER
BIRTHS DEATHS & MARRIAGES
DEAR WRITER
NOT NOW JACK I'M WRITING A NOVEL
DAUGHTERS & FATHERS
THE STOLEN CHILDREN
PENGUIN CENTURY OF AUSTRALIAN STORIES
RED HOT NOTES
UNHOLY WRIT
THE MOUTH
AUSTRALIAN SHORT STORIES
CASSOWARY'S QUIZ

Many extracts published on this site are available as Adobe Acrobat files. There is is a list HERE.

 

buying books online

You can now buy my books on-line from Readings
 an independent Australian  on-line bookseller, and from amazon.com and from abebooks.com
If you have any other questions about ordering my books, please contact me (as above) or visit
www.readings.com.au

www.amazon.com

www.abebooks.com

Red Shoes


Red Shoes a novel and CD-ROM

Red Shoes - a novel & CD-ROM
Includes screen shots from the CD

Stolen Children

The Stolen Children
- Their Stories

A collection of some of the evidence given to the Stolen Generation inquiry.

Edited by Carmel Bird with a preface by Sir Ronald Wilson. Contributions from Robert Manne, Marilyn Lake, Martin Flanagan, Veronica Brady and others.

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MORE STORIES & ESSAYS

The Girl in the Freud Museum
New fiction
The Piano
A critical view of Jane Campion's film The Piano
Chinese Carpets
A visit to the psychiatrist in 1960s Melbourne
Fresh Blood, Old Wounds
Tasmania before and after the Port Arthur shootings
jayneyre@window
A fresh look at a classic

Links

ABOUT_CARMEL_BIRD | RED_SHOES | DEAR_WRITER | AUTOMATIC_TELLER | THE_WHITE_GARDEN | THE_BLUEBIRD_CAFE |
UNHOLY WRIT 
CENTURY OF AUST. STORIES
DAUGHTERS_&_FATHERS | CHERRY_RIPE | CRISIS | RED_HOT_NOTES | NOT_NOW_JACK | THE_STOLEN_CHILDREN AUSTRALIAN SHORT STORIES
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