'A few weeks ago I climbed a creaking staircase and walked along the corridor to the old banquet hall at the majestic 19th-century Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo, outside Melbourne. Today, it is a popular spot for wedding receptions. But it was here in 1898 that Alfred Deakin delivered a mesmerising speech that galvanised national politics.' (Introduction)
'Lesley Potter’s Mistress of Her Profession opens with the gripping case study of midwife Sarah Ann Hopkins, who immigrated to NSW with her family in 1848. Few midwives had formal credentials at the time, but Hopkins held a midwifery diploma by direct instruction from the Westminster Lying-in Hospital in London.
'On Hopkins’s voyage to Australia aboard the Steadfast she was appointed to the voluntary position of matron, working under surgeon superintendent John Read. Their team consisted of two assistant matrons and a male nurse attendant. Potter says the records reveal “the stress, anxieties, strenuous nursing and midwifery care” that confronted them.' (Introduction)
'Anna Broinowski’s revealing documentary Pauline Hanson: Please Explain! ran on SBS television a year ago. Throughout 2015 the award-winning filmmaker had unfettered access to Hanson and her Fed Up campaign, as Hanson attempted to win a Queensland Senate seat at the 2016 federal election.' (Introduction)
'According to folklore, black cockatoos are harbingers of rain. In Harriet McKnight’s debut novel, Rain Birds, the clouds do eventually break open, in the wake of an unseasonably hot spell that exacerbated inflammatory situations in a regional Victorian town.' (Introduction)
'For longevity and versatility, Garry Disher has few Australian equals. His tally of books is now more than 50. He has specialised in crime from both sides of the argument. Thus far, eight books feature thief and burglar Wyatt, while there are seven for police officers Challis and Destry. Disher’s latest novel is a signal departure in one way, though lawlessness is central to its business.' (Introduction)
'Riffing off authors such as Gerald Murnane, Shaun Prescott builds an idiosyncratic vision that is simultaneously banal and powerfully moving. The Town is the debut novel of this short fiction writer from the NSW Blue Mountains. The narrator comes to an unnamed NSW country town to work part-time while writing a book on the disappearing towns of central-western NSW. He finds share accommodation with Rob in a townhouse and a job stacking shelves at the local Woolworths.' (Introduction)