recent writings
john birmingham 'John Birminham's "A Time for War" is revealing as well as interesting. His treatment of Australia's latest military adventure overseas - by elements of our Special Air Services (SAS) Regiment - evokes, consciously or otherwise, key elements of our military mythology. His SAS troopers are infused with the values and the spirit of the legendary Australian digger: iconoclasm, independence and gritty determination in the face of adversity. The story of the battle of Shahikot is nothing less than Gallipoli in Afghanistan. All that is missing are the (Australian) casualties and the consequent matting of Australian and American blood on a "Turkish" hillside. Australian citizens and military planners it seems are not the only ones having trouble escaping these particular 'ghosts of battles past' - an underlying theme of Birmingham's essay....'

So begins my essay on John Birmingham's 'A Time for War: Australia as a Military Power', publisheed in Issue 20, 2005 of Quarterly Essay. Click here to see where to read my remarks in full as well as Birmingham's response to my and other commentaries on his original piece. John Birmingham, you will recall, is the author of He Died with a Felafel in His Hand and Weapons of Choice.

secret squirrel 'Initially considered an undergarment, t-shirts 'came out' in the period between the two world wars...'

This piece, entitled 'Wear, when, why: t-shirts', is a brief history of the humble tee. It was written for the maglette Squirrel: a creative collaboration for secret squirrel clothing, edited and published by my daughter Catherine.

Squirrel combines stories, poems and artistic creations with fashion shots of t-shirts produced and sold by Secret Squirrel Clothing, a small, Sydney-based company owned by my other daughter Brianna. An example of Bri's t-shirts (and her friend Pam's brilliant fashion shots) is shown below.

Click here to read in full the history of t-shirts. You can view more Secret Squirrel tees by visiting the Secret Squirrel Website where you can also order a t-shirt or a copy of the mag.

secret squirrel tee

horse tee from Secret Squirrel Clothing

australian journeys Since retiring from full-time academe three years ago, I have been researching a book-length work entitled Australian Journeys: Colonial Endeavours, Imaginaries and Reckonings. This deals with the period 1840 to 1920 and interleaves the experiences of ordinary Australian convicts, settlers and gold-seekers and their families (who happen also to be my forbears) with the story of our broader (and I would argue unfinished) search for a national identity.

Click here to download a pdf version of an introductory overview to the forthcoming book.