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Thursday, August 18, 2011

TRAVEL WITH SERENA -- GUEST TRAVELER, AUTHOR JEANNE MATTHEWS


Today we welcome author and guest traveler Jeanne Matthews whose mystery, Bones of Contention, takes place in the land of Oz. (No, not Dorothy’s Oz, the other one.)  You can read more about Jeanne and her books at her website, but for now, she’s going to take us on a virtual trip to Australia. -- AP

Ayers Rock
Australians have dubbed their remarkable “Down Under” continent the Land of Oz, and in many ways, traveling through the diverse and surreal landscapes does feel like an Over-the-Rainbow experience.  

I found the Northern Territory, also known as “The Top End” or “Never Never Land” to be the weirdest and most wonderful part of the country.  It occupies twenty percent of the continent but contains only one percent of the population.  Its barren center, famed for the mystical Uluru (Ayers Rock), is a vast desert of red rocks and red soil.  The Outback is studded with eerie canyons, incongruous valleys of palms, gnarled coolabahs, and the fantastical boab trees that look as if God had planted them upside-down. 

Australian Outback
By contrast, the coastal northeast is a wetland, a National Heritage Site that is home to numerous Aboriginal tribes.  Some 750 species of birds flit about through the tropical rain forest – parrots, rosellas, lorikeets, and cockatoos – and the forest teems with creatures that seem to belong to a bygone age.   

Boab Tree
Indigenous tribes have inhabited this place for over 50,000 years and the Territory offers the best opportunity to experience a bit of the native culture.  Aboriginal customs and beliefs, although not written until recently, have been passed down orally from generation to generation.  In their belief system, the past co-exists with the present and the future, and they continue to communicate with the ancestors who created the land and receive inspiration from their ancient wisdom.  Much of this inspiration is reflected in the totemic art rendered by local artists. 

I became so fascinated by the Territory’s unearthly beauties, the colorful Aussie lingo called Strine, and the ambience of Aboriginal mythology that I set my first novel, Bones of Contention, there.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Thanks so much for making Australia come alive for us, Jeanne. Readers, any of you ever been to Australia? Or is it on your Must-See list? -- AP  
      

1 comment:

Liz V. said...

Niece and her family there. On my wish-I-could-see list.