In Australia, the lure of bounty from mineral riches has drawn generations of fortune hunters to its western third. For some this was a stop on the road to a better place, for many a destination for new beginnings, but for its original inhabitants dislocation was inevitable.
In the 1980s Perth became a byword for ‘new wealth’. In the 21st century it has grown into a boomtown the likes of which Australia hasn’t seen since the 1850s. There is evidence this is starting to slow, but what will be left when the mining boom is subdued?
Western Australia is also huge and separated from the eastern populations by such a vast desert that it may almost be an island of its own. This creates unique issues and perspectives which challenge the ideas and presumptions of the rest of Australia.
Griffith Review 47: Looking West, co-edited by Julianne Schultz and Anna Haebich, examines booming Western Australia through essay, memoir, fiction and poetry by some of Western Australia's most exciting and innovative writers.
Griffith Review 47: Looking West is a collaboration between Griffith Review and Curtin University.
‘From intriguing images of the Carrolup Aboriginal Art Movement to making popular music in the west; from sharks and crocodiles to miners and migration, from the desert to the wetlands, and so much more, Looking West, turns the spotlight on the multi-textured stories and images of Western Australia. Through the work of some of the state’s most talented writers and commentators, it draws back the curtains to open up forgotten corners of history; record fierce struggle, celebrate achievement and challenges us to recognise the richness and diversity of the land beyond the Nullabor.’ Dr Liz Byrski
‘Following bestselling editions focusing on Queensland, New Zealand and Tasmania, heavyweight Australian literary journal Griffith Review finally turns its compound critical eye on WA with Looking West… Looking West is a multifaceted collection of essay, memoir, reportage, fiction, poetry and photo essay embracing everything from WA’s unique flora and fauna, mining, farming and the arts to our fear of sharks, Aboriginal footy players and homegrown crime fiction… There’s a terrific interview with Tim Winton by Madeleine Watts…’ William Yeoman, West Australian
‘These two editions of Griffith Review [Looking West and Tasmania – The Tipping Point?] are shot through with love, desperation and great storytelling.’ Chris Wallace, Canberra Times
‘It is an eye-opener to realize that the state is central to national prosperity…this is the message via memoir, essay, fiction and poetry… This portrait is loaded with insights into the politics, environment, geology,
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history and creative impulses that inform the state. Also investigated are dishonesty and preservation; ownership and pillage; developments and the dispossessed; ingenuity and segregation; immigrants and Indigenous; and football and sharks. Be confronted by what you think you know about the state.’ PSnews
‘Through a rich array of contributions including essays and memoirs, fiction, poetry and a photo gallery, the book sets out to paint a picture of WA. Over 40 contributors, many from Curtin, provide rich insights into the history, environment, politics and creative impulses that inform the State. I believe this special edition will find a wide and appreciative audience who will revisit it again and again. It is a volume that invites and rewards re-reading, and I congratulate everyone who has been involved in its creation.’ Professor Deborah Terry, Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University
In the media
A number of contributors to Looking West have been interviewed about their essays.
Watch editor Julianne Schultz discuss possible futures for the boom state on ABC TV News Breakfast.
All over Australia – from the east to the west - crime writing is flourishing. But it’s in the states of Western Australia and Queensland where this trend has really taken hold. The two states share an unusual history of government secrecy and police corruption. Listen to David Whish-Wilson talk crime writing on ABC RN Books + Arts with Matthew Condon.
When Ashley Hay arrived on the Abrolhos Islands off the northern coast of Western Australia her head was spinning with the story of the infamous wreck of the Batavia, that occurred in 1629. But as she discovered there’s a whole lot more to this ‘cluster of tiny islands’. Listen to Ashley discuss her journey with Geraldine Doogue on ABC RN.
We often talk about the need to tell Australian stories on TV, in film and on the stage. Well The Noongar people of Perth and the surrounding country are finding new ways to tell their stories and to affirm who they are. They’re contributing to the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project. Listen to the founder and chair of this project is the award-winning novelist Kim Scott, who explains it all on ABC RN Books + Arts.
Peter Newmanargues that Perth has set national benchmarks for sustainable urban development on ABC RN Ockham's Razor.