Posts Tagged ‘Wear the Fox Hat’

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. 🙂