Prize-winning poetry from Jude Aquilina

Talented SA poet, Jude Aquilina, has just won the 2016 Adrien Abbott Prize with her poem Adrift on Lethe which we’re sharing with you here today.

The Adrien Abbott Proze was launched in 2012, in memory of Adrien – a gifted writer and inspirational teacher of English, who died before her time in May 2012. The theme for 2016 was ‘Memory’, with a prize of $500.

Adrift on Lethe

I have forgotten what it is like to hold my nakedness like a wildflower. I have forgotten the silent potency of colours, their barbs ambushing me with a childlike urge to stop and touch a pretty bit of litter. I have forgotten how to ride a bicycle; god knows, I pushed a hole in the privet hedge during those cruel months of disbelief in balance. I have forgotten the face of my father and the gossip between his clocks as they tick-tocked and chimed in disharmony. I have forgotten the sting of cold concrete on my bare bottom and the bite of a ruler on my knuckles for forgetting my underwear. I have forgotten the dream of flying – willing myself to glide down from the loquat tree and swoop over the heads of aunts and uncles; I have forgotten their eyes, their pets, their grappa and backyard goats. I have forgotten who and what I used to be. I have forgotten to comb my free time for cowry shells and spider orchids. I have forgotten how to read the shores of my old self.

The judge, Mark Tredennick, commented that ‘in the end, for its grace of language, idea and form, “Adrift” stood out … Lovely poem, which I know Adrien would have loved, and which brings her to mind to all of us who knew her.’

Congratulations Jude!


Tadpoles in the Torrens cover Tchr edn V4.indd

If you enjoyed this, why not grab a copy of Jude’s edited collection of children’s poems, Tapdoles in the Torrens: Teachers’ Edition. It also features poetry from Max Fatchen, Peter Coombe, Mike Lucas and Sean Williams, just to name a few.

Baked Stuffed Sardines

Victoria Cosford’s Amore and Amaretti is a food-lover’s delight: a romance, an escape and a tribute to Italian cooking all in one.

Here, she describes old widower Annunzio, with whom she had to share a flat at Portoferraio while they were both working at the same restaurant. At first she is daunted by the old man, but soon she finds comfort in his gentleness and eccentricity, not to mention his baked stuff sardines …


Annunzio soaks his underwear in Omino Bianco bleach; returning to our apartment, I see the line of large, blindingly white square underpants and billowing singlets which marks his bedroom window. Each evening before work, he and I pause briefly for a spumantino at the same bar.

At night after Annunzio and I have scrubbed the kitchen down, we set up a small table and two chairs out the back of the kitchen and have our dinners. I only ever eat two things, which I alternate: char-grilled swordfish with Annunzio’s lemon-olive oil emulsion drizzled over the top, or bulgy buffalo mozzarella sliced with ovals of sweet San Marzano tomatoes and spicy basil. This too is Annunzio’s favourite meal, the tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, their glossy egg shapes sliced vertically and arranged over the cheese.

All Annunzio’s movements are ponderous. He rotates his thick fingers slowly over the plate, salt and pepper scattering. The basil leaves, the new green olive oil, and then the slow messy business of eating – teeth clicking, oil spraying, bread sopping up the juices and gumming his conversation. We both eat too much bread and drink too much wine, and then wander, two unlikely friends, down to Bar Roma at the water’s edge to sit watching the boats. Annunzio tells me stories from his life over his baby whisky; I spoon pistachio-green gelato into my mouth from a silver dish and feel safe and very young.

Annunzio’s stories all follow the same pattern: past restaurants he has owned or managed, which failed, leaving him jobless, defeated, disillusioned and desperately poor. People he had trusted who had turned their backs; countries he had lived in, whose languages he had learned, which had finally disenchanted  him. The woman he should have married and whom he still loves instead of the sick woman who was his wife. His huge yellow teeth seem to bite something – perhaps the air – as he speaks. The clicking boats with lives of their own, their rhythmic nodding, canvas clapping, are like some massive beast slumbering restlessly. That he can make me feel like this – sweet somehow, and pure, and uncorrupted – is one of the best reasons for loving him.

Annunzio’s blunt fingers press mixture into splayed sardines. L’impasto consists of bread soaked in milk, finely chopped parsley and garlic, ground mortadella, grated parmesan, sultanas and pine nuts. He shows me how to pinch up the sides of the sardines and place them in neat rows in a baking tray, slipping a bay leaf in between each. Then he splashes white wine over the top and bakes them for about fifteen minutes.

Sarde al Beccafico

(Baked stuffed sardines)

2 slices day-old rustic bread
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons pine nuts
80–100 grams mortadella, as finely chopped as possible
2 tablespoons grana or parmesan, freshly grated
Grated rind 1 lemon
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
750 grams fresh sardines, filleted and butterflied
Bay leaves
White wine
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 200 °C. Soak bread in milk briefly, then squeeze dry. Place in a bowl together with sultanas, pine nuts, mortadella, cheese, lemon rind, garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper and combine well. Place about a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of each sardine and arrange on baking tray with a bay leaf between each. Sprinkle wine over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve as part of an antipasto.

Amore and Amaretti, where you can find Annunzio's recipe for Baked Stuffed Sardines

Fish Carvings from Catherine Truman

One of our major releases for this year is the latest SALA monograph, Catherine Truman.

With a lush, evocative text from Melinda Rackham, this book delves into the fascinating world of Truman’s art.

One of her earliest series, the Fish Carvings, has echoes throughout her career.


Catherine Truman by Melinda Rackham


Truman’s first solo exhibition, Fish Carvings (1987), held at the Contemporary Jewellery Gallery in Sydney, intuitively articulates a feminist discourse of difference in conceptions of ageing and beauty. Carved in two woods – youthful pink fleshy Australian silky oak and wide-grained greying mangrove, embedded with steel and lead – her Fish sit with the body, present in their own right, rather than being absorbed into the portable gallery of the wearer’s body.

Acting as a counterpoint to the carvings, a grid of handcoloured black and white images of women (and some men) of all ages wear the pieces. As Truman is fond of mentioning, given the right nutrients fish do not appear to get older, rather they will continue growing to fill the space that contains them. Instead of deteriorating with lived experience, her ageing subjects radiate the beauty and individuality of a rich interior life. The National Gallery of Australia quickly acquired a neckpiece from this series.

Fish Carvings from Catherine Truman by Melinda Rackham

Image by Catherine Truman

Blessing the Fleet from Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island

Almost an Island: The story of Robe

Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island is full of fascinating information about Robe on the Limestone Coast. One of the great traditions of the area is the blessing of the fleet, which happens every spring. Liz explains:

Blessing the Fleet

Every spring, at the start of the rock lobster fishing season, people gather at the Robe marina for an important ceremony. The Blessing of the Fleet brings peace of mind to the fishers and their families who are involved in what remains a risky way to earn a living.

According to celebrant Jan Bermingham, the tradition started sometime in the 1950s under the influence of immigrants arriving in Australia from Italy and Greece. Blessing the fleet is a strong tradition in Mediterranean countries where it is held every season to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. When the custom was introduced in Adelaide, an Anglican priest serving on the Limestone Coast thought it worth doing at Robe too.

Fishers have a reputation for being superstitious and the ceremony has real meaning for the community. At one stage it was moved to the end of November, weeks after the season started, so it could be part of a village fair designed to draw tourists to the town. ‘The local fishermen had the Church of England priest down here on the morning the season opened to bless them as they went out to sea. They were not going to wait a whole month,’ says Jan.

‘Even though a lot of fisherman don’t grace the doors of a church they are very, very conscious of their God.’

The ceremony involves a brief service, which seeks God’s blessing and commemorates the lives of fishers lost at sea. Teenagers then dive into the harbour to retrieve a wooden cross.

As the daughter, sister and aunt of professional fishermen, Jan knows the worry many families experience. ‘When we lose a boat everybody feels it,’ she says.

‘They don’t like to show emotion but they are so bonded together, and they know it could have been one of them.’

Blessing the fleet, from Almost and Island

Decorated fishing boats gather for an early Blessing of the Fleet ceremony, c. 1950s. (Courtesy Met Riseley)

Griller Thriller from Dean Lahn’s Beat Heat Eat

Dean Lahn's Beat Heat Eat

Gentlemen … raise your forks

Dean Lahn’s Beat Heat Eat is one of the most hilarious and practical books we’ve ever published at Wakefield Press. Designed as more manual than recipe book, Lahn has a simple blokey way of describing how to make some delicious food. But let’s be clear: this is not the way your Nanna would cook. Take, for example, the genius simplicity of Lahn’s Griller Thriller. Is he serious? Is it dangerous? There’s only one way to find out …


Have you ever come in late and felt the need for a melted cheese toastie? Quickly satisfy your craving with this trick.


(A) a toaster

(B) bread

(C) cheese


Grab your toaster and turn it into a grilling machine by flipping it onto its side.

Work to the height of the slots in the toaster. Press the toppings flat if you’re over the limit.

Insert bread and cheese into toaster, ensuring the heat elements are clear of the toppings. Heat until done or the toaster pops.

Keep a close eye on the toaster and be ready to hit the eject button. This kid can light up real quick.

Danerous cheese toasties from Beat Heat Eat


Use this shortcut at your own risk.

You may also want to check the warranty on your toaster.

We agree, Dean, it just isn’t cooking if the activity doesn’t pose grave danger to you and your belongings! Why make grilled cheese the boring safe way? See this and more of Dean’s recipes in Beat Heat Eat, available here.

Friedrich Gerstäcker’s take on Tanunda

Friedrich Gerstäcker's Australia

Friedrich Gerstäcker, the German explorer who travelled up the Murray in a makeshift canoe in the 1850s, is a fascinating character. Celebrated as a travel writer in his home country in the 1800s, he fell out of favour and his work is little known in Australia. Historian Peter Monteath has released a translation that is of significant historical importance – but is also a wonderful read to boot. You can find out more and purchase the book here.

Here we have Gerstäcker’s thoughts on arriving in Tanunda, where a religious war of sorts had split the town …

Tanunda – named after the Indian locality – is a little town of several hundred inhabitants, its buildings perhaps slightly English in taste, but its population entirely German aside from a couple of possible exceptions. It as a very strange feeling for me to find myself suddenly – in a foreign land and continent and even in an English colony – surrounded by nothing but Germans, and in fact a purely German way of life and doings. On occasion, especially when I saw little groups of people standing here and there in the street and heard everyone speaking German, I had to stop and think whether I really was in Australia. But that is exactly how it was, and in the end I even got used to it – I think I would even have got used to it if they had spoken Chinese, since being thrown so quickly from one language into another as I have been incessantly over the last few years makes one rather indifferent to such things.

Tanunda is remarkable not only for its Germanness but also for its religious factions, and I was particularly intent on finding out more about them. The most important congregation among them is that of the Kavelites or Old Lutherans, who have however recently suffered a quite significant dent in their unity because of a few simple arithmetical errors. Previously the congregations of Tanunda, Hahndorf, Langmeil and Lightspass – all German localities – belonged together to one church. Then – and I do not know even myself whether it was in spring this year (1851) or autumn last year – Pastor Kavel had the fateful idea of prophesying in advance the end of the world, precisely to the day and hour, and he was thoughtless enough not to postpone the date for something like a thousand years, but to cut very close to the bone. The result  was the same as befell the famous Preacher Miller in the Yankee states: the good Lord did not deign to do him the favour of lifting the world off its hinges at the prescribed hour; everything continued in its pre-ordained path, except for the Kavelite church.

It is said that at the prophesied hour the whole congregation headed out to a small creek about two miles from Tanunda and half a mile from Langmeil to await the Messiah. But what happened instead was a violent storm that drenched them thoroughly, and that night they slept in their beds again instead of in Paradise.

That made a bad impression on the congregation. The people had absolutely counted on their own destruction, and now they found themselves all hale and hearty – apart from an occasional cold perhaps – and as remote as ever from eternal bliss. The unfulfilled prophecy shattered their faith in the prophet himself, and a portion of the Kavelite congregation seceded from Kavel. So Langmeil chose Pastor Meier, a former missionary to the Australian Indians, as their pastor, and only Hahndorf and Tanunda, and perhaps Lightspass too, maintained the true faith, since the Meierite congregation was strongly sceptical of the imminent end of the world. Pastor Kavel, however, undeterred, postponed it to the transition from 1899–1900.


Pastor Kavel, described in Friedrich Gerstäcker's Australia

Pastor Kavel, image from Wikipedia

What people in Tanunda – that is in the unbelieving part of Tanunda’s population, since Tanunda is divided into the Saints and the Children of the World – have to say about the congregation and its beliefs borders on the fabulous, and one must indeed exercise caution in believing their reports, for I almost fear that the Children of the World have exaggerated a thing or two. But of course nothing is impossible in religious mania. In any case, I wished to gather as much information as possible in that short time, and so I visited Pastor Kavel, and was very amiably received by him. I had arrived in Tanunda at a very interesting time, since Pastor Kavel had just been married to his housekeeper several days previously, and the rather unique situation had arisen that although Pastor Meier in Langmeil and another pastor, Mr Mücke, who had established a liberal congregation in Tanunda (to which I shall return later), were both ordained by the government, Pastor Kavel did not consider either of these gentlemen worthy of performing his marriage ceremony and therefore travelled to Adelaide with his bride in order to be married by the civil registrar. The congregation in its turn was not satisfied with this, neither with the civil marriage – although he subsequently on his return to Tanunda had the marriage blessed by one of the elders – nor with the marriage itself, whereby the people felt that he should have avoided ‘appearances’ in such a matter. But in the case of marriage, if one wished first of all to ask permission of the entire congregation, nothing much at all would come about in the end – at least, not in such a way that both parties would be comfortable, and this is something that each man can best judge for himself.

The next day was a Sunday, and of course it was taken for granted that I would attend the Kavelite congregation, after which I was invited to dine with the Pastor. The service was of course the Old Lutheran one, but with an enormous number of hymnbook verses and Bible texts. The singing was never-ending, and although I do not wish to present my opinion as infallible, I really do not believe that our Lord God can be so intent on having half the hymnbook sung to Him every Sunday. That day I had to sing 32 hymnbook verses. And the texts? I am firmly convinced that the people who wrote those hymns – for they can hardly be called poetry – surely had the best of intentions and expressed their most intimate feelings therein, but it nevertheless remains difficult to sing or say, for example, ‘all-beneficent‘ in two syllables.

Pastor Kavel preached well and fluently. By ‘well’ I of course do not mean to say that I was in agreement with the intention of the sermon, but he spoke as though with innermost conviction, and I would like to believe that to his credit. Moreover he spoke in such a way that I can well understand that he could thereby win over the class of people with whom he was dealing. Otherwise his sermon was an extract of the greatest intolerance that any faith is capable of producing. It was only for his chosen few that the kingdom of heaven will be open, and one sentence in his sermon I will never forget: ‘Those who really act according to God’s word but do not have the true faith will, regardless of their good and otherwise God-pleasing deeds, be irredeemably damned and go to the Devil. In fact, God will hate such people all the more, precisely because of their  good deeds, as He sees such deeds as a kind of hypocrisy, since they do not hold the true faith.’ And that is supposed to be a God of love.

Read more on Friedrich Gerstäcker’s adventures here.

Jetties in the Eyre Peninsula

The wild weather last week was nothing more for many of us than an excuse to play cards by candlelight for a few hours. For some people, especially on the Eyre Peninsula, the storms were much more destructive. After seeing pictures of the battered Port Germein jetty on the news, we’ve been thinking about Jill Roe’s memories of the area from Our Fathers Cleared the Bush


Jetties have played an important role in the history of Eyre Peninsula. Between the 1860s and the 1920s, some 39 jetties were built along the Peninsula’s estimated 3200 kilometres of coastline, from as far west as Fowlers Bay to Port Pirie on the eastern side of Spencer Gulf and on nearby islands. This may not sound a lot, but, as will be evident from a glance at a map of the peninsula, by the early 20th century the region was well served by coastal shipping – mainly ketches and schooners – and it should be remembered that some stretches of the coastline, especially the majestic limestone cliff faces of the west coast but also some of the sandy eastern bays, were not suited to jetty building, or necessitated the building of very long jetties, as at Port Germein – until recently the longest jetty in South Australia. A telling instance of how tricky the approaches could be is the early pastoral port of Elliston, halfway up the west coast, where it was sometimes impossible for ships carrying essential supplies to enter Waterloo Bay, with its narrow entrance and uncertain tides. The misery that attended the turning back of ships is only too easily imagined.

Our Fathers Cleared the Bush

Many older residents of Eyre Peninsula can recall when the arrival of ‘the boat’ was a main event of the week. At Tumby Bay, where I watched it most frequently, you had to be there at the right moment to see it come in. This meant on a Tuesday at about 2 pm, and thus for me in the early 1950s, during school holidays. There I’d be on the beach, with the small east-coast township at my back, squinting towards Port Lincoln, past the estuary of a mangrove-fringed creek and a then uninhabited rocky headland, hoping to see the Adelaide Steamship Company’s MV Morialta appear on the horizon and watch it berth at the town’s main jetty. There was something exciting about the way it suddenly bore down on you, and the Scottish-built ship had a certain style, due in part to a painted funnel.

There were always people on the jetty to welcome the Morialta, in addition to the wharfies busy loading and unloading cargo. Indeed, on most days you would find people scattered along the jetty, fishing, chatting, and otherwise relaxing. For them, as for many people living on Eyre Peninsula, jetties had become an integral part of life by the 1950s. The regular arrival of shipping at the small ports along the coast provided a focal point for town and country folk alike.

There were two jetties at Tumby Bay at that time. The older, shorter one, which was finally demolished in the 1990s, dated back to the 1870s, when it was built to serve various mining ventures in the hills to the west of the town, and it was still being used a century later for recreation and shade on hot days. It even had a diving board. The main jetty, a longer and stronger construct a few hundred metres to the south, dates from the early 1900s and thankfully still survives. Only just, however. In 1972 the body responsible for the state’s jetties decided that Tumby’s days as a port were over and, with costly maintenance needed on one section of the jetty, prepared to demolish it. When work was about to begin, appalled residents formed a picket line at the town end of the jetty, and the demolition was called off. Since then, with extra funding from local sources, the jetty has been strengthened and is as popular as ever. It features in all the town’s advertising, and is part of its not inconsiderable tourist appeal.

It is no wonder jetties were popular. They enlivened many small coastal settlements and, with many parts of the wheat-growing areas far from the coast, were a godsend to farmers. Prior to the building of jetties, farmers had had to get their grain harvest to the beaches by horse and cart, load it onto small boats and row the boats out to deeper water to be re-loaded onto the waiting ketches – when they turned up, that is. Even after the coming of rail, it was still cheaper in some places to use what was called the ‘mosquito fleet’ in the 1930s. (As a student at the University of Adelaide in the mid-1930s, the historian Russel Ward once worked on ‘the mosquito fleet’ during the long vacation.) With the jetties in place, produce could be brought to storage sheds at the base of the jetty, sent on trolleys up the jetties and loaded straight into holds.

Windjammers at Port Germein

By now, however, the future of these historic constructs is far from secure because, as the story of the Tumby jetty may suggest, they are costly to maintain. In an attractive publication entitled Jetties of South Australia: Past and present published in 2005, compiler Neville Collins warns that, while major bulk-handling ports such as Port Lincoln and Thevenard are flourishing, as maybe some recreational sites are also, the smaller jetties are under threat. Indeed, some have already gone, such as the jetty at the historic port of Lipson near Tumby, which was demolished as early as 1935. Collins does not spell it out, but it seems clear from his outline that the economic underpinning is slipping away and that there will need to be strong community support and a profitable tourist industry to sustain them.

It must have been some subliminal awareness of this situation that caused me to decide, on a journey back to the Peninsula in January 2007 as a preliminary to this project, that I would walk the surviving jetties. And, with a couple of regrettable omissions – of the tiny village of Haslam on Anxious Bay, south of Ceduna, of which I was unaware at the time, and Port Neill, north of Tumby Bay, where I missed the turnoff – I more or less did just that: from Fowlers Bay, baking in the hot sun way out west, to as far as the fish nets piled up on the Cowell jetty at Franklin Harbour, halfway up Spencer Gulf. Admittedly I was not brave enough to walk the entire length of the narrow jetty at Elliston on a chilly Sunday morning by myself, and it seemed enough at the time to find that the now somewhat shortened jetty at the lovely but solitary Louth Bay was still there, but overall it was an enriching experience, and one to be recommended to visitors.

Perhaps it was on one of the jetties fronting Spencer Gulf that I was reminded of the once-ubiquitous advertising slogan, accompanied by the ringing of ships’ bells, ‘It’s time YOU went on the Gulf Trip’. Introduced before World War I by one of the three shipping companies then competing for the coastal trade, the Gulf Trip became a standby of the Adelaide Steamship Company, which had gained a monopoly on the coastal trade by 1915, and proved popular in the interwar years. There were two main variants on offer: a short trip from Port Adelaide to Port Lincoln with a brief stay there (three to four days), and a longer trip from Port Adelaide to Port Augusta with calls at Port Lincoln, Cowell, Whyalla, Port Pirie and the old copper port of Wallaroo (six days). Travel up the west coast was never such an enticing prospect, with long stretches of towering cliffs and some dangerous bays along the way. The most worrisome was surely Elliston, where bad weather and rough seas meant shipwrecks sometimes occurred. Safer harbours further west, at Ceduna in Denial Bay for instance, made things easier, but these remote and not especially productive parts had their own problems. There was even an occasional mishap in the normally placid waters off Tumby Bay, and the waters near ‘the Althorpes’ between Kangaroo Island and the western tip of Yorke Peninsula had a reputation for roughness.

It may sound as if the maritime history of Eyre Peninsula is an uncertain story, for all its variety and interest. It was undoubtedly rough-and-ready at times, and it is true that its most colourful aspect – the great grain races that saw mighty sailing ships arrive in Spencer Gulf from Europe until as late as 1949 – was already becoming a thing of the past by the onset of World War II. But local and coastal shipping still seemed sound after the war, with several larger passenger/cargo ships in operation in the 1950s. MV Moonta, built in Denmark in 1931, lasted until 1955, when its cargo side became unprofitable and it was sold off; it had offered six-day trips from Port Adelaide to Port Augusta and back which took in Kangaroo Island. It ended up being used as a casino on a beach on the South Coast of France. The Morialta, purpose-built pre-war but not brought into service until after World War II, lasted only a year longer, until 1956; a comfortable ship, it was advertising cruises to the smaller ports of the lower Gulf, from Adelaide to Cowell and back via Tumby Bay, Port Neill and Arno Bay in 1950. Three years later, in 1960, the queen of them all, the MV Minnipa – another Danish-built ship which began its 33-year service to Eyre Peninsula in 1927 – was finally withdrawn from service, due to a decline in patronage. With that, the coastal shipping that dated back to 1839 seemed to come to an end.

Read more from Our Fathers Cleared the Bush by purchasing the book here.

Olive and Asparagus Frittata

Spring is announced by the new season’s asparagus bursting from the ground, freshly pickled olives and the traditional symbol of new life – eggs! Which also means: olive and asparagus frittata!

Celebrate with this easy, flexible recipe from Russell Jeavons’s Your Brick Oven. Great for an appetiser.

Olive and Asparagus Frittata

(makes enough for eight as an appetiser)
1 large onion
olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus
1 cup new season’s black olives
10 eggs
salt and pepper
fresh herbs, oregano, parsley,
chervil, chives

Slice the onion and cook it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pot until it is sweet and creamy, but not brown. Trim the asparagus and toss into boiling water for one minute then remove to cold water to cool. Cut the blanched asparagus length ways into quarters. Split the olives in halves and remove the pips.

Combine the eggs with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the freshly chopped herbs, sweetened onion, asparagus and olives.

Pour the egg mixture into a non-rusting pan lined with silicon paper small enough to make the frittata at least 5 centimetres deep. Cook in a slow oven until it is set. Beware of too much heat, as the eggs will overcook and dry out.

Egg dishes test the steady hand of a good cook – be kind to them. The finished frittata should be fresh and juicy.

Allow to cool and set. Refrigerate if it is to be eaten later. Frittata can be served as a meal or cut into small squares for appetisers.

Olive and asparagus frittata can be cooked in a moderate brick oven

The brick oven in action at Russell’s