Tag Archives: Braemar College

Ashen

I’m struggling to focus today as much of my home state of Victoria is either smouldering or still in flames. Places I have lived, visited, holidayed, gone four-wheel driving, cycled and camped are devastated, damaged or remain under siege.

More than 170 people are dead. Entire towns have been razed. It might be close to 1000 homes destroyed by the time the counting is done. Countless families have been traumatised. Schools, churches, police stations, post offices and small businesses are gone.

I’ve had a few close calls with fire in my lifetime and it scares me silly. My best mate lost his home on Ash Wednesday, 1983. Yesterday he described some of the memories that will never leave him: the rumbling roar of the firefront charging toward him, the high-pitched scream of eucalyptus oils sizzling and popping, the desperation to flee while his family was intact, the policeman tearing into their driveway and yelling at them to “get out of here”, the frantic journey with burning branches and even a flaming hay shed being blown into their path.

Today’s newspapers tell me a former colleague has lost his home (and nearly his life). Other friends have been within a wind gust of losing theirs. I’m worried about several others.

I spent two years at Braemar College, Mt Macedon, where many of the students lost their homes on Ash Wednesday. Most families recover from losing homes and property, horrible as it is. I don’t believe families ever recover from losing loved ones. There are a lot of people out there who need our prayers and practical support right now.

On the road

During my time as a newspaper journalist, I became familiar with writing articles that generally had a very short shelf life. You soon learn that today’s news is tomorrow’s food for the compost worms. When you write a novel, the experience is very different. A book takes on a life of its own the minute it is published. Where and when it will make an impression is almost impossible to predict.

So it was a fantastic surprise to hear from Albion Park High School in New South Wales where an entire Year 9 class had just read Game as Ned. I received handwritten letters from each student and the feedback was blunt and brilliant. Thanks guys. You made me laugh (and my wife cry.)

I hope to be having more to do with schools as GAN becomes better known. With this in mind, I’ve signed up with the speakers’ agency Booked Out where I’m humbled to be on the same list as scores of much better known and comprehensively published wordsmiths than me.

I spent time recently with five classes of grade 1/2 students from my son’s school and, once again, was blown away by the enthusiasm of the kids and their wacky, obtuse questions. (For the record, my favourite colour is still green.) I’m also scheduled to chat to Year 9 students at Braemar College soon and join a Ned Kelly-themed panel at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. August is going to be action-packed!

Speaking of MWF, if you have read Game as Ned and want to learn more about how I tangled bushranger fact and fiction together, please join me at Federation Square’s ACMI Cinema 1 on August 25 at 10am.