Jambin – “Wear the fox hat”

Posted: December 26, 2008 in Dust, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tell people you’re from Jambin and you get a lot of “Wear the fox hat” responses  (if you need to ask, just google it).

I sometimes attempt to triangulate it, saying “It’s up the road from Dululu, not that far from Goovigen and the nearest airport is Thangool.” But if I really want to be helpful, I mention the nearest Big Smoke twenty minutes up the road … Biloela.

Few people outside the State of Queensland can pronounce it correctly – Bill-o-wheeler – but in 2009 the place may be on more lips when its little mate Jambin, finally hits the literary stage.

My novel Dust, set there in the early 1970s, is coming out in July. The same month that Jambin, population about 20, makes an entrance in the QTC production The School of Arts, as part of Queensland 150th anniverary celebrations.

The play stars and is written by Biloela’s best-known contribution to the cultural firmament, legendary thespian Bille Brown.

The man has proved that coming from a patch of Brigalow 600 kilometres north-west of Brisbane is no impediment to an internationally-acclaimed theatrical career. With UQ buddy Geoffrey Rush, he has tread the boards with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and London, and gone on to share stage and screen with Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Jamie Lee Curtis and John Clease.

Now home to grace the local stage and screen once again, Bille Brown is making his own mark on the literary landscape.

I was in the audience at the 2007 Brisbane Writers Festival when this Shakespearian legend gave an extraordinary public reading of his short story, Playing with Fire – a childhood in Biloela, published in the Griffith Review. A heart-achingly funny coming-of-age story, it recreates 1960s Biloela with an eye for telling detail and a heart full of emotion.

It is a fascinating literary preview to The School of Arts, the play he wrote, set in rural Queensland in 1967, and my own novel, Dust, which is set in the  Biloela district in the early 1970s. 

That landscape of my youth resonated with such clarity that it became a character in the novel and inspiration for its title. I hope that with Dust’s publication during our State’s 150th birthday celebrations, I’ll be able to talk of that setting without quite so many quizzical looks: “Wear the fox hat?”

May 2009 realize your dreams and shine brightly on you all. 🙂

  1. Hi Christine

    Just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying your blog. Look forward to finding Dust once it’s released – your motivation for writing it alone had me hooked (and teary). I too just created a new wordpress blog after a friend attended Kate Eltham’s workshop. QWC is wonderful isn’t it? Very supportive.

    Take care

  2. chrisbongers says:

    Yes, QWC is the bomb. They’ve been with me every step of the way since I first shyly outed myself as an aspiring writer of fiction. Year-of-the-novel, Year-of-the-edit and that last online workshop have all been mind-blowingly good. Aren’t we lucky little Queenslanders! 🙂

  3. Stephen says:

    Hey – Don’t knock Jambin – Google actually photographed it on Street view. Only worth a few pics, but don’t knock a town that has a railroad crossing!

    It also has a “You are Here” map in case you get confused between “Uptown Jambin” and “Downtown Jambin”.

    Check it out –

    I loved it in North QLD – Think of all the good things that came from there – You’re one, eh???

  4. Inge Bongers says:

    Hey Chris,

    How are you? Was searching the internet for your book and ended on your website. I did not read much yet but think it is great. Hopefully the book will be published in the Netherlands also 🙂 I am looking forward reading it!


    • chrisbongers says:

      Hey Inge, my first Bongers post and it had to come all the way from the Netherlands! (They’re a shy mob in this hemisphere.) Wonderful to hear from you and tell Mien to expect a copy of “Dust” at Slabroek in July. love Chrissyxx

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