The endless drive! 11 hours from W to W, Wollongong to Wentworth. I measured it off in CDs –
every two CDs I stopped for a break and a walk around the car, every 4 CDs I had drink,
something to eat, longer break.
I went from the spotted hills of the slopes to flatter and flatter land – by the time I
approached Mildura it was like an endless aerodrome. Grasshoppers kept swooshing towards the
windscreen, then soaring away at the last second – only individual grasshoppers, though, not
plague numbers, not locusts. There was standing water alongside the roads, after all the
rains and flooding.
When I looked at the map, Mildura and Wentworth were side by side, so I booked the cheaper
motel in Wentworth (I do almost all motels through wotif these days). Trouble was, it was a
large scale map, and they were half an hour apart. So I’ve driven on way past Mildura,
and I’ll have to double back to tomorrow.
First school visit, to St Joseph’s in Mildura. I was almost late, because my Navman
didn’t have the street number in the street – when I went to the middle of the street,
it turned out that the part of the street I needed was split off, and I had to get
directions for a big detour.
I reckon that if 80% of things go to plan, I can cover the rest. I have a USB drive to do a
PowerPoint slideshow while I talk, but I want the images to click over every minute or so,
automatically. If only it could be so easy! At least the human element—me—doesn’t
I did talk, hour’s break, talk, hour’s break, workshop. The kids were really good,
and the library people were great—best people on earth, I really believe that!
I tell myself I ought to branch out into other readings from Worldshaker, but my two
favourites work so well, I don’t want to give them up. I hardly need to read the words
any more, I have them almost by heart.
I drove on for four hours after the school visit, to the Barossa Valley. Driving long
distance is like writing a novel … you go for ages, and nothing seems to happen,
you’re as far away from your goal as ever … so you just keep going, and suddenly
realise how much you’ve completed almost without noticing.
I’m now in my motel, and it’s started raining. It torrented down last night in
Mildura. Don’t know when I’ll get to post up this blog. I didn’t expect the
motels I’m staying in to offer wifi connection, and they haven’t. I’m going to
get pizza and a bottle of red for dinner.
Whoo! the things I have been doling to my stomach! Last night it was a super spicy pizza,
with jalapeño chillier and the Lord knows what … today it was a monster sete if German
apple cheesecake. OK, take it in order …
Today’s school was Trinity College in Gawler, outside of Adelaide. Over three and a half
thousand students, the biggest school in SA and possibly all Australia. Karen—the voice in
my Navman—directed me to one part of the campus, but it was the wrong part. Can’t
blame her; the college has north, south, east and possibly west schools, each with their own
sub-principal, plus other extra schooly bits too. I finally found the way to Central Admin,
then to the main library.
It was a brilliant set-up, with a kind of theatrette, just the right size for an audience of
90. I unfurled and hung up my super-size posters. The USB drive caused problems again—no
big deal. Even the human element—me—had a lapse, because I couldn’t find the cards I
give out to decide the winner of the giveaway book—I’d forgotten where I put them—so
I asked a question instead. Which was much quicker, and fitted with the fact that I had 15
minutes less for the talk than I expected. One of the teachers came up to tell me there was
a general assembly that students had to attend in five minutes time. Oh well, quick
Another talk to another 90 students, then I headed off for an afternoon’s R & R, touring some wineries. I changed plan and went round the Adelaide Hills rather than theBarossa—much smaller, but I only got to visit two wineries anyway, and much prettier country. I only visited two, but I tasted their while range—and swallowed too, can’t bear to just spit wine out! I got a couple of bottles I particularly liked, plus a half bottle of a quality pinot noir free because they couldn’t keep it for next day. It was fun talking to the guys who pour the tastings—those guys really care about their wines, and they don’t just carry on like salesmen.
Here’s where the cheesecake came in, because I knew I’d be in trouble if I got
breathalysed—what better way to soak up alcohol than a huge wodge of cheesecake? Felt a
bit icky afterwards, though.
Now I’m at Mariann’s—an old friend and a lovely person. She occupies most of the
8th floor of a massive building close to Adelaide’s CBD—the biggest room is like a
studio, all glass windows along one side, looking out on the Adelaide hills. Pity it just
Sitting in Mariann’s big studio, with her two Abyssinian cats sniffing and canoodling
all around. Today’s school visit was in the afternoon, to Pedare College. I slept in,
then spelt the whole morning doing nothing much at all. By afternoon, it had turned really
cold, and since the college is up high on top of a hill, the wind and cold and rain together
I enjoyed doing the talks—I haven’t had a bad school yet. I’m almost out of the
oldWorldshaker cards I use for doing the giveaways. (I give away one free copy to every
class of more than fifty students). I’ll soon be onto the new Liberator cards,
business-card-size, which also include a Worldshaker cover on the back.
Tonight I get to meet with Liz Christie, who’s the Allen & Unwin rep in Adelaide,
plus some bookshop and publishing people.
Smart move, Richard. Not! I brought my camera, I’ve had photos taken along the way, and
I have the iPad camera connect so I can feed them into my iPad. But I forgot the USB cable
that goes with the camera and links to the camera connect. My new resolution to blog my
tours as I go is breaking down on every point.
Last night’s dinner was great. As well as Liz, there was Marion from Dymocks, Catharine
who does reviews, Louise who distributes to school libraries, and Beryl who’s a
consultant on children’s/YA writing. So I guess you could say they were important people
for an author—but even more, they were fun people. So great chatting over food and wine! I
really enjoyed the evening.
Today’s school was Cabra Dominican College. Great kids, great library staff, great teachers … I know this is sounding like a broken record, but I really have been lucky. We got the PowerPoint ticking over automatically from slide t slide, and I think I know how to
make it happen at future schools.
Now, after taking some display material in to Marion at Dymocks, I’m relaxing … just took photos of Marian’s Abyssinians and the view from her studio window—but I can’t do anything with them till I get back to Figtree.
Another day, another school … St Peters Girls in Stonyfell. I enjoyed doing a couple of
workshops as well as a talk to a v large audience. One problem I always have—packing up
afterwards. Posters to roll up, books, cards, laminated pictures and all sorts of odds and
ends to fit into my carry bag … and it can’t be done in a hurry. Today, After the
talk, I was still packing up when twenty or thirty girls came out on stage and began
practicing their dance routines.
I went round a few shops afterwards. I love chatting to bookshop people—there’s so much to learn from them! And Adelaide people are so friendly and willing to make time for you.
This evening, I’m going to cook up a dinner for Marion and myself—that’ll be for
Monday, hopefully. Tomorrow looms as a relaxed, do-nothing Saturday … Or rather, one
important thing to do, namely, get this blog posted!