2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway


I’m delighted to be part of the Book’d Out Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop celebrating Australian writers and stories. I’m giving away a copy of my latest novel Turtle Reef, and a copy of Jilted by the fabulous Rachael Johns. The giveaway is only open to Australian residents. Stop by the other blogs on the tour to win more great prizes.

My Australia Day blog post is about a little Australian native orchid, that connects my memories of a lost brother with my upcoming novel, Journey’s End.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThere is little more poignant in life, than helping to pack up the house of a loved one who has died too young. This has been my sad task recently, since the untimely death of my brother, Rod Scoullar. He was a learned man, a man who loved Australia’s fauna and flora – a naturalist of the first order. His study was a gold-mine of nature books, stored on impressive floor-to-ceiling shelves that covered an entire wall. It was here that I found the holy grail for Aussie orchid lovers – Australian Indigenous Orchids Vol 1 & 2 by A W Dockrill. These are hard to find volumes, and sell on-line Ravine orchid 4.ashxfor up to $200 a set. But aside from being the definitive treatises on native orchids, they also provided me with a wonderful link to my new book, Journey’s End, which will be out in late May.

Journey’s End is concerned in part with a woman’s journey through grief. I’m deep in the edits at the moment. Little did I know when I was writing this book that it would take such a personal turn. It’s set in the wild, mountainous, subtropical rainforests of the Great Eastern Escarpment, and the rare Ravine Orchid (Sarchochilus fitzgeraldii) plays a significant role in the story. So I looked it up in my brother’s books, and found a glorious, full-colour plate of this beautiful and delicate flower.

Ravine orchid 4The Ravine Orchid is found in wet, humid rainforests of the Great Dividing Range, where waterfalls cascade from the tablelands. It is lithophytic, which means its roots cling to rocks or creep into humus-filled crevices. Old colonies form mats many meters wide, and relish the constant play of cool air through the deep, damp ravines. Plants also occasionally grow on the moss-covered buttresses of ancient trees. The fragile flowers appear in October and November, and are up to forty millimeters wide. Colours vary from pure white, white with a red heart, to a rare all-crimson form. They are borne on graceful, pendulous stems which may measure more than a meter long. Quite a sight, when draped in full bloom on the rocks above a mountain stream.

Ravine orchid 3I was fortunate enough to buy a tiny specimen from the Tinonee Orchid Nursery when on a research trip for the book last year, pictured right. According to the wonderful Ray Clement, it should do well in the climate of the southern Victorian ranges where I live. So far so good. One day it may flower, and I’ll think of my brother, and his passion for Australia’s marvellous native plants.

To go into the prize draw leave a comment on this blog post. Don’t forget to check out the other blogs at Book’d Out to be in the running for more great prizes!! (Entries will close at midnight on Wednesday January 27th)

Dingo Creek Rainforest Nursery

Dingo creek blog 1I’m on a research trip, immersing myself in the beauty of the Manning Valley, a few hours drive north of Sydney. This area offers a breath-taking combination of rivers, rainforests, mountains and beaches. Its lush landscapes and national parks will provide a stunning setting for my new book. Aussie author Di Morrissey was born in Wingham, and she still lives in the valley. It became the title and setting for one of her bestselling books.(The Valley Pan Macmillan 2007)


Dingo Creek Blog 2I’ve been staying with an old school friend, Kim Gollan, who lives at Bobin, about an hour’s drive east of Tapin Tops National Park. Kim and her husband Pete run the magnificent forty hectare Dingo Creek Rainforest Nursery. They mainly grow plants endemic to the mid north coast of NSW, in order to conserve these species and make them available to home gardeners, farmers and restoration schemes. For example, they have provided thousands of plants for the Lord Howe Island World Heritage project, and the Manning Valley lowland flood-plain rainforests regeneration plan. They are also caretakers of Wingham Brush and Coocumbac Island (see previous post)

Dingo Creek 3Kim’s stock-list reads like a Who’s Who of iconic subtropical rainforest trees: black booyong, flame tree, sassafras, tamarind, rosewood, yellow carabeen, Moreton Bay fig, plum pine, corkwood – the list goes on and on. There are lines of potted Red Cedars, a species logged into commercial extinction in the 1800’s. Along the driveway, wild cedar saplings spring up around a parent tree that Kim planted twenty years ago. Tree-ferns, stag-ferns and fish-bone ferns germinate naturally in pots and under walk ways. The place is bursting with life.

Dingo Creek 2It’s not just the nursery and gardens that are impressive. Kim and Pete built their own character-laden mud-brick & stone home. Exposed beams and the extensive use of natural bush timber gives the house a delightful earthy feel. It seems to have risen organically from the hillside.

Dingo Creek 1There is so much to see here! Rugged Tapin Tops National Park, high on the Great Eastern Escarpment. Legendary Ellenborough Falls, a horsetail waterfall on the Great Bulga Plateau with one of the longest single drops in the southern hemisphere. Or browse the stock at Tinonee Orchid Nursery, including a wide range of native orchids growing wild in the Manning Valley.

Exploring this magnificent region with Kim as my guide has been an amazing experience. I hope I can translate some of this beauty into words.