Bundanon window
Bundanon window

Happy, healthy, creative, joyous, surprising, peaceful new year!.

I’ve a private superstition that January foretells the year to come. Sometimes I can shape it. Sometimes I can’t.

This year, it shaped me, I hope.

I’ve been at Bundanon, the remarkable property on the Shoalhaven river that was gifted to the nation in 1993 by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd, for artists to come and work in solitude.



I’ve had two weeks here, with mostly only wombats and kangaroos for company.

Excellent companions
Excellent companions

Oh, and the characters in my next book…

Work begins on the draft
Work begins on the draft

It is set in two worlds, one red and one green, one then and one now. It is a story about stories and a search to find a home. Isn’t that what all stories are ultimately about?

My then and my now
My then and my now

And tonight is my last night in this breathtaking place. I’m so grateful for the time. The natural world is my paradise, as you know, and Bundanon has fed and fed me.



The cicadas…

the spiders…

the wrens…

the wagtails…

All of them colluding to take me deeper.

IMG_4996The river…

the rocks…

the ferns…

the gums…

Oh those gums, so varied and so true.

My saints, my markers…

Walking my way through and over this land, but being walked by it too.


The silence of the deep full moon night and the misty early mornings. The intense heat of the first week. The moist mildness of this second week. All, all…gifts. Reminders of the natural world and how it longs to support us if we will only give it time. If we will only pay attention…


I have produced so much more than I dared hope here. Can’t believe it really. And the miracle is that I get to return in April for a third week.

Tomorrow I leave, but I’m so grateful and amazed to have had this time, just as I am to wake each morning on this beautiful land. It has set me on track for the year, I hope.

May your year be fulfilling and may the way be clear.
May wonder be your default setting, every day.

Happy new(ish) year.
Buen camino.


Here’s a link to a recent piece for Eureka Street. I feel pretty passionate about this one.

And if you’d like to get a feel for the studio space I was in at Bundanon, click on this link to watch a short video. I like the sentiment on that little heart!

9 thoughts on “Starting as I hope to go on

  1. Katharine Susannah PRICHARD a favourite since many years ago reading Coonardoo. Then finding she played a part in the life of the young writer Judah WATEN and of the remarkable pianist David HELFGOTT! And the tragic story of her husband Ric THROSSELL VC. Congratulations re the residencies! Space for your writing!

  2. Such synchronicity Jim. I have Coonardoo on my desk beside me. Amazing book. I didn’t know of her connection to Helfgott. So much to learn. I’m looking forward to the immersion. Thanks for your wishes, and a very very happy and fulfilling year to you and yours. So lovely to receive your message first up.

  3. Dear Ailsa, a very late Happy New Year! What a wonderful experience you had at Bundanon and you will have in future residences in the West. A great opportunity, peaceful and beautiful just the thing for immersing yourself in thoughts and hopefully onto paper! We are all pretty busy here, birds have been very interested in our ripening grapes so netting done weeks ago,must say that the hot weather in Melbourne when it reached over 40c for a few days was not all that welcome, but we must accept what we are given and do the best we can. “That’s life” as they say! Look forward to your future posts when you are in another beautiful part of our wonderful country.

    1. And a wondrous 2014 to you too dear Bertina. A treat to hear from you. Thank you yes the weather in Melbourne is the thing I have NOT missed, though we had one pretty torrid week at Bundanon. Hope the grapes and the family all survived the heat. Trust Reg is cooking up another book – or at least that you are scheming up some travel before a book! Much love to you both, and to Liz too. Hope to see you after all the whirling. Xxxxx

  4. Bliss, what a sanctuary and to feel so much is done and there is also a return to look forward to and plan for. What a dream. I can’t wait to read what comes of it.

    You so deserve it. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. Thank you thank you lovely Soula. My wish for you – that you go there one day to paint. It would fill you up.
      But yes…I was so very very lucky. Xxxx

  5. Hi Ailsa ! This is a somewhat belated Happy New Year …but you don’t have any trouble being happy….happiness seems to find you. Bundanon sounds as if it suited you perfectly and I’ve only just viewed your comments and pics.
    I’ve just finished reading my eleventh book on the Camino : Pilgrimage to The End of the World by Conrad Rudolph. Do you know of this book Ailsa ? It was written or published in 2004 and Conrad Rudolph walked from Le Puy to Finisterre ….in 1996 (I think).His book is different from the others I’ve read in that it is not so much a narrative of the journey but impressions of aspects of the journey and features and places as well as historical information. All very interesting and well worth reading …in my opinion. Marta, Claire and I enjoyed so very much the evening we had with you last November …especially the pleasure of meeting you and listening to your fascinating comments and reminiscences on the Camino. BTW – It’s Tues.Jan 28 at 2.30pm here in Hobart. I just checked the temperature outside : 36 degrees C. A bit Meseta-like ? But, that’s Hobart. We’ll probably have snow tomorrow !!!!
    I’m waiting on Claire to ‘polish’ her blogs (which she is currently doing) so that they can be made available for you to read. I so want you to read them as (bias aside) I think writing is Claire’s forte. Marta and I are coming to Melb. Feb. 8 to spend some time with Claire. You’ll be in WA from what I’ve just read. We’ll have ‘that vino’ some time.
    Best wishes, your amigo Adrian.
    P.S. My friend’s mother who received the copy of “Sinning” you kindly signed was delighted by the surprise ‘gift’ and texted me a most grateful acknowledgement in which she said how much she was enjoying the Camino narrative and that it was ‘inspirational’. When I thanked Moya for her kind words she texted in reply, “Igualmente”. I’m meeting Moya for the first time next Saturday at my friend’s (Moya’s daughter) housewarming party. No prizes for guessing what Moya and I will talk about !!

    1. Hi Adrian,
      Happy 2014 to you too. Actually happiness is in the ether today. It’s my birthday – and in Melbourne it is 39 degrees! A hot year!
      Lovely that you have tracked down another Camino account that has moved you and engaged you. I will keep my eyes out for it. And I’m so glad that Moya liked Sinning. Hooray. Phew.
      Yes, Bundanon is a real gift and I’m hoping that WA will continue the flow. Hope. Springs eternal and feeds the artist, I reckon.
      Look forward to Claire’s words in their right timing.
      And may the year unfold for you all with surprises of the most delicious kind.
      Buen Camino, pilgrim.
      Ailsa xxxx

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