Good Reading : February 2006
FEBRUARY 2006 ı goodreading 17 writer’s house extremists shut her family out for daring to follow their convictions. Keen bush walkers, the Darks dis- covered a secret cave a couple of hours’ walk from their home and rumours circulated that Eleanor spent much time writing there. Apparently they exploded the cave floor with dynamite to create an inner space large enough to accom- modate them during weekend jaunts in the bush. But worse rumours abounded. It was said that during World War II Eric Dark trained volunteer defence forces at the cave, in case the Japanese invaded Australia. Later, they were accused of training a private guerrilla ar my there and then of sending signals to the Japanese with a lamp from Echo Point. Eleanor Dark was awarded the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal for the best Australian novel in the years 1934 (for Prelude to Christopher) and 1936 (for Return to Coolami), plus an OAM. Her son donated the house to writers in memory of his mother and it is now used as a writers’ centre, provid- ing stimulating manuscript development programs and lively engagement with the reading public, fellow writers, literary organisations and publishers. Manning Clark said of Eleanor: ‘In her novels and in her other works she made a major contribution to the intellectual and spiritual life of all Australians. She helped us understand who we are. She taught us that we could stand alone.’ For more infor mation visit www.varuna.com.au Eleanor’s writing studio still houses her cigarette-burnt desk, her books, paper and pens, and two incomplete novels written in longhand The studio stands in the garden, a short walk from the main house Eleanor Dark: A Writer’s Life by B Brooks & J Clark, published by Macmillan, is out of print but copies may be available from your local library.
December January 2006