Vote 1 for NEST – Courier Mail People’s Choice Award

August 18th, 2015 by inga

CM People's ChoiceA lovely surprise: Nest has been included in the shortlist for this year’s Courier Mail People’s Choice Book of the Year award.

The winner is decided by readers, not judges and panels.

If you’d like to vote for Nest (you don’t have to be a QLDer), you can do so here.

Polls close 5pm 18 September.

The winner will be announced Friday, 9 October, at the QLD Literary Awards.




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Shallow Crossing

August 18th, 2015 by inga

the-escape-shallow-crossing-9611956This piece was penned at the Shallow Crossing nature writing retreat earlier this year, on the magnificent Clyde River – Bhundoo – after a week’s immersion.

We drag our kayaks to the boat ramp, awkward in our life vests and rolled-up jeans. Afternoon light plays on the water, inviting us in.

I launch my companions first, slipping on the mossy cement as I clamber into my own boat and push off with the paddle. Tipping and tentative at first, we break the surface, and then we’re paddling upriver, sun in our faces, sun off the water. Bonsaid trees lord over golden rocks, swallows dart, and beneath the clear shallow water, the tide flattens green fern over riverstones.

We’re against the tide and into the wind but paddling is effortless amid beauty. The surface ripples and ruffles, while deeper eddies run still. Here and there, the river branches off into dark streams and rivulets and I would follow them all. Overhead, trees cast their reflections, just as they have for millennia. Here, I can believe it. The flash and gleam of light, the plop and bubble of others, below – the constant play of a world within a world that knows its own secret.

Trees have come down, in flood, and risen again, sending up fresh sapplings at right angles to their discarded trunks, who they were before. All the time the river, the rise and fall, the turning tide.

We round the bend below our retreat and catch a glimpse of our host high above, captain of the ship, on deck to make sure we have not capsized, or given up – and then he is gone. He wants to be sure we see this place as he does. On cue, the lyrebird sounds from the dense scrub below The Escape, its call as complex and joyful as the scene it has helped to set.

We reach the crossing, the line at which we have been gazing all week, the sound by which we have set our horizon. Water rushes over river rock, and the cement dip of the gravel road, which disappears up around the bend. It’s the road we must all take tomorrow, returning to our own lives. We turn our backs on all that for now, and drink in the river, wondering why we did not get out on it sooner.

We return on the current, breeze on our backs, and life is this, only the occasional dip of a paddle to keep us on track. Two pine-clad islands signal the turn before our boat ramp, and the shallow pools where fish spawn. It’s too soon to land. We paddle on, buoyed by the tide, to see what is around the next bend.

A hawk follows, above, as we pass over rainbow riverstones. Everything is mirrored, either side: twice as many trees, two of each of us. The world above is the world below; we are in the water and in the trees, in-between and everywhere. Nowhere. Here, there is all the time in the world. It’s easy to forget.

This is Yuin country. An eel made this river tens of thousands of years ago – Bhundoo. Our heads are full of this story and others, our tongues still rolling over the words we have learned – new to us and older than anything we know. Our bellies are full of oysters, scallops and king fish, and produce from the land. Bhundoo is one of the cleanest rivers in the world. I feel whispers across the water, over my wet forearms, and stop paddling to listen.

But we’re here to find our own stories. The light is going, and we turn for home. I exit first, side-on the boat ramp, paddle across the bow onto land to steady me, and I’m out. My skills are applauded, and then I’m sliding on the slippery moss, back into the water, all pretence of grace gone amid squeals of laughter. Still, we drag our yellow vessels across the grass and return them to their racks pumped and victorious, and raise our fists above our heads.

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Nature writing @ Woodfordia

June 1st, 2015 by inga

Woodfordia The PLantingSo, what is nature writing anyway?

It’s a question I’m often asked and one I’ll be answering this  long weekend at The Planting, the funky festival at Woodfordia. The Planting began as a project to regenerate the site of the Woodford Folk festival in the off season. It has been so successful (the planting is all done) that it has expanded to include all sorts of environmentally-themed performances, demonstrations, workshops, and stalls.

This year The Planting will include … nature writing. On Sunday morning I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to describe the natural world and in the afternoon giving a talk about the history of nature writing, including Australia’s (long but somewhat unsung) tradition – and its role today as an environmental strategy.

It’s a fun, cheap, camping-based weekend festival and the weather looks perfect: cool and clear.

For those of you who are not able to get along, I’ll be posting the text of my talk here in coming weeks.


Workshop @ 8.45am-11.15am

Talk @ 3.45pm -4.30pm.

Tickets here

Programme here.

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Nest longlisted for the Miles Franklin

April 3rd, 2015 by inga

Miles H









I’m very proud to announce that Nest has been longlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award. As a long time student of Australian literature, it means a great deal. It’s a wonderful list of books, featuring a few new names among the more familiar – and predominately blue and green covers! Congratulations to all of the authors, particularly my Hachette stable mate and pal, Favel Parrett.



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5 May – Environmental Writing Workshop

March 10th, 2015 by inga

shallow crossing

As part of Olvar Wood’s inaugural nature writing retreat at The Escape, near Bateman’s Bay, I’m leading a workshop on the art and business of nature and environmental writing. It is ideal for those new to nature writing as well as professional writers working in environmental fields.

Whether you’re writing for your local government publication, volunteer newsletter, or just want to capture place more effectively in your fiction or non fiction – this one-day intensive in a gorgeous setting will inspire.

You’ll focus on techniques for bringing landscapes, flora and fauna to life for your audience, including: evocative description, effective use of emotion, and the importance of story. You’ll also consider issues such as anthropomorphism, culture versus nature, and the challenges faced when writing with an environmental message.

The workshop uses a combination of instruction, inspiring examples of nature writing, practical writing exercises, with plenty of opportunity for group discussion. You’ll come away with a stronger understanding of nature writing, contemporary environmental writing, and a practical toolkit for sharing your love of nature on the page.

Date: Tuesday 5 May (9.30am-4pm).

Cost: $125, including lunch and morning tea (the food, by the way, is fabulous!).

Booking close 17 April. For all enquiries and bookings, please email

Shallow Crossing is about 2hrs from Canberra or 30 mins from Bateman’s Bay.


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Nests taking over Townsville

March 4th, 2015 by inga

The good people of Townsville have chosen Nest as this year’s One Title One Townsville book. It’s a massive bookclub event run by the Townsville Library. The city’s bookish folk will all read Nest and discuss, tweet, Fbook etc about it. Then, at 6.30pm on Friday 22nd of May, I’ll be talking about the novel and answering questions afterwards at the Mercure Inn.

This year it’s all part of the Savannah Writers up North Literary Festival, which runs from 21-24 May. David Malouf, Samuel Wagan Watson, and Judy Nunn are among the writers appearing.

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Protected: In the Wake of the Raftsmen

March 2nd, 2015 by inga

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Nest longlisted for the Stella Prize

February 15th, 2015 by inga

Stella2015Nest has been longlisted for the 2015 Stella Prize. It’s among fine company, including Helen Garner’s This House of Grief, Maxine Beneba Clark’s Foreign Soil and Ellen Van Neerven’s Heat and Light.

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7 Feb – QWC Whispers Salon: A New Day

January 29th, 2015 by inga
QWC1On Saturday, February 7, I’ll be taking part in the Queensland Writers Centre’s February Whispers event, ‘A New Day’.The salon will feature readings from Emerging creative non-fiction writer Warren Ward and poet and short fiction writer Carmen Leigh Keates, followed by a Q&A with me. I’ll also be reading from a work in progress  – my (as yet untitled) next novel.The salon will conclude with a musical set by O’ Little Sister.

Posted in Books, Mr Wigg, Nest, New Writing having 1 comment »

19-22 Feb – Perth Writers Festival

January 20th, 2015 by inga


I’ll be taking part in the lovely Perth Writers Festival this year. It looks like a great line up, including Maxine Beneba Clarke, Brooke Davis, Kristina Olsson, and Ellen van Neerven. I’m looking forward to Bob Brown’s opening talk  and Elizabeth Gilbert’s hook up with Hillary Mantel.

I’ll be talking with Emily Bitto about small communities and secrets of the past, and Annamarie Weldon and Deb Fitzpatrick about nature as muse.

I’ll also be teaching a workshop on how to develop your first draft into a finished manuscript.

And I’ll be reading from Nest along with some of the other authors longlisted for this year’s Stella Prize as part of the Domestic Double Standards panel.

Details and bookings here.

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About notes from olvar wood

Notes from Olvar Wood is the title of a work-in-progress, my acount of living among trees in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This blog features some of my observations of the Wood's non-human inhabitants, the too often forgotten genre of nature writing, and occasional reviews and publishing news.