An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Glossary of Australian Terms for 'In and Out of Step'

The Australian Bicentennial occurred in 1988. The novel is set between 1988-1990.

anti-Metherell campaign: teachers’ union protests against the changes to the New South Wales (NSW) state school education system introduced by the then NSW Liberal Minister for Education, Terry Metherell.

arvo is Australian slang for afternoon.

BHP (today known as BHP Billiton) is a global mining group that includes steelworks such as those based in Wollongong south of Sydney. In Australia, it is the top producer of iron ore and coal (thermal and metallurgical).

bloke is Australian slang and means an ordinary man

Bob Hawke was the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia from March 1983 to December 1991 and therefore longest serving Australian Labor Party (ALP) Prime Minister.

chook an Australian term for chicken; sometimes it is used as an endearing nickname . Often nicknames suggest a metaphoric clue to the person’s appearance or behaviour.

CWA is an abbreviation for the Country Women's Association. It is a non-profit, non-party political, and non-sectarian organisation for country and city women. Members work for the welfare of all women and children through representation to all levels of government, undertaking fundraising events, providing networking opportunities and teaching life skills.

dux is Latin for leader. It is the title given to the student with the highest overall academic score in the graduating year (Year 12) of high school. The American equivalent is valedictorian.fella - an informal word for a male that is not age specific. It can also be used as universal term for either gender.

Esky is used in Australia as a generic name, it more correctly is a trademark owned by Coleman Brands Pty Ltd and which specifically identifies an Esky brand name portable icebox cooler.

Federation refers to the process by which the six separate self-governing British colonies of New South wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia formally joined together to form one nation, Australia, in 1901.

Federation architecture is the style prevalent in Australia in 1901. A limited range of colour schemes were used prior to WWII because of the narrow range of pigments in paint. 

fella is an informal word for a male that is not age specific. It can also be used as universal term for either gender.

H.E.C.S is short for Higher Education Contribution Scheme. It is an interest-free federal government loan to Australian students who attend Australian tertiary education institutions and pays for their university fees. It is repaid through the Australian tax system when a student’s study is completed. Repayment begins when the student's taxable income reaches a set level post study.

HG and Roy are a comedy team whose parody of sport commentary gained them a wide fan base and popularity across Australia.

The Herald (also known as the Sydney Morning Herald or the Saturday Herald/Sunday Herald) is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia. It is a supersized broadsheet.

HSC is an abbreviation for the Higher School Certificate that is the highest award in secondary education in New South Wales. To be eligible for the award, students must complete Years 11 and 12, satisfy HSC course requirements and sit for state-wide HSC examinations in their chosen subjects.

‘MASH’ was a novel by Richard Hooker, later a feature film, and then a long running American TV series.*A*S*H_(TV_series)

The MASH trophy as used in 'In and Out of Step' is a parody of the above image combined with the two fingered gesture. The two fingered gesture is regarded as an insult in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and the United Kingdom as it means, “F*** off”. It is used ironically by the English staff at Keimera High.

mate is used when a person is trying to achieve some kind of rapport. Anyone can be a mate.

The Melbourne Cup is the premier thoroughbred horse-racing event in Australia held on the first Tuesday in November each year. It is widely known as 'the race that stops the nation.'

Minties is an Australian iconic brand. It refers to a white, chewy, square mint-flavoured lolly in a wrapper (candy). A long running and very successful advertising campaign linked a wide range of everyday experiences (good and bad) with the catch phrase, 'It's moment like these, you need Minties.' After viewing the attached link, overseas readers may better appreciate the embedded joke on page 193 of ‘In and Out of Step’.

Mungo Jerry was an English rock group See

nong is Australian slang and is used as a mild and/or endearing insult. It means a bit of a twit, or idiot.

Persephone (the daughter of Demeter) was stolen by Hades (King of the Underworld). This Greek myth explains the origin of the seasons. Links that give you more information:

Port Kembla is a major seaport south of Sydney NSW that was established in the late 1890's to facilitate the export of coal from the mines of the Illawarra region. Major steel works were subsequently established in the area. It is very close to Wollongong.

RSL is an abbreviation for Returned Services League. Anyone who served in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is eligible for full membership. The RSL provides vital advocacy services and support for all current and ex-serving ADF personnel as well as a club where people can meet and socialise. Civilians are also able to join.

A sloppy joe is an Australian term for a sweatshirt, windcheater, sweater or sweats.

A squatter’s chair looks like 

The sword of Damocles is an allusion to a legend ( and is used in 'In and Out of Step' by Paul Selton to comment on Talbut's precarious situation and the dangerous nature of the 'game' that he plays. It suggests impending danger.

TAFE is an abbreviation for Technical and Further Education. TAFE provides students over sixteen years with an alternative pathway to study that includes vocational courses as well as traineeships for industry and Defence. The learning and social environments are very different to that found in high schools. TAFE also provides night courses for mature aged students returning to study who did not graduate from high school.

toey is Australian slang and means being on edge or excited or nervous.

trackie-daks are the bottom half of the tracksuit, not the whole. The whole tracksuit is the trackie. A tracksuit (made from stretch material or velour) is very commonly worn in Australia.

tunnel has two meanings. Literally, it is a passage, often underground. In Australian surfers' slang, tunnel is used derogatorily to refer to a woman; it reduces a woman's value to her vagina.

‘Sway’ at the end of the novel is how I visualise the relationship between Cassie and her mate. Ideally, the final scene would have closed on the lyrics but copyright costs were too high to do so.

Wee Waa is a small town in northern NSW and has become Australia's major cotton growing area

A whiteboard is a name for a glossy, usually white surface. It replaced blackboards in Australian classrooms. Erasable non-permanent markers are used on it instead of chalk. As a matter of interest, in 2011, Smartboards have replaced whiteboards in many Australian schools.

The fictional township of Keimera is a composite of three NSW towns. Below are scenes from one of those towns.




The Australian Bicentennial occurred in 1988. The novel is set between 1988-1990.

anti-Metherell campaign: teachers’ union protests against the changes to the New South Wales (NSW) state school education system introduced by the then NSW Liberal Minister for Education, Terry Metherell.

arvo is Australian slang for afternoon.

BHP (today known as BHP Billiton) is a global mining group that includes steelworks such as those based in Wollongong south of Sydney. In Australia, it is the top producer of iron ore and coal (thermal and metallurgical).

bloke is Australian slang and means an ordinary man

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    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    An era, a show and a legendary album

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    John Shortis and Moya Simpson’s playful sense of humour was evident from the moment I entered their Bungendore property. Their next-door neighbour’s gates featured a sign that read 'Ironing done here'. The wall plaque near Shortis and Simpson’s front door read 'Irony done here'.

    Over a steaming mug of coffee, we discussed the inspiration behind their current cabaret show Fifty Years Ago Today.

    Cobargo Folk Festival commissioned the cabaret after Shortis and Simpson’s acclaimed festival performance about Eurovision and the context out of which it evolved.

    John said, ‘That show was really an entertaining look at the history of Europe post World War 2 linked by bad songs.’

    Fifty Years Ago Today
    marks the anniversary of the launch of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in June 1967 in the northern hemisphere.

    Apparently, the album’s release date in Australia was delayed until July 1967 because the British producers did not trust Australian printers to faithfully reproduce the elaborate artwork of the Sgt Peppers album cover. The covers were produced and printed in England and shipped here via the Suez Canal. Regrettably, the six-day Arab Israeli war broke out and so the shipment was detoured around the South African cape. The album was launched in Australia at the end of July.

    The cabaret’s story line positions the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the context of what was happening globally at the time. It also provides fascinating insights into the backstory of the album’s creation, dating back to the early 1960s when the Beatles were mop tops, in the heyday of swinging London.

    John said, ‘You can’t tell the story of the Sgt Peppers album without showing the Beatles’ evolution from catchy pop rock songs to complex artful experiments in music.’

    Sgt Peppers
    is the first Beatles’ album after they gave up touring.  The album marks The Beatles’ arrival as recording artists instead or touring musicians. For instance, ‘Ringo’s drumming is more orchestral in its approach. McCartney’s bass work transitioned from simple bass lines that filled out the pop rock sound to complex, intricate bass countermelodies that actually featured on the Sgt Peppers album rather than being fill.’

    Shortis and Simpson’s Fifty Years Ago Today incorporates humour and poignant stories as well as songs of different tempos and styles from that Beatles’ milestone album as well as songs by other famous musicians from that era.

    I was fascinated to learn that the Beatles’ celebrated producer, George Martin, used his background in producing Peter Sellers’ Indian characters on comedy records to bring together Indian and orchestral musicians to produce George Harrison’s Within You Without You.

    John said, ‘While the lyrics are hippy trippy, the music is quite extraordinary because it follows the traditional rhythms and scales of Indian music.’ 

    Moya said, ‘It was a nightmare to learn!’

    John admits to scoring the music into a computer software program and practicing to it every day for ages so that he could synchronize his keyboard part with the rhythms.

    Another interesting aside is that, in celebration of the link between the Beatles and Peter Sellers, Moya sings the Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers’ hit Goodness Gracious Me in the cabaret as part of the side story to the Sgt Peppers album.

    Fifty Years Ago Today was not designed as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, although people who lived through that era may relish the show as such. It provides insight into a seminal moment in music and world history when world music influenced the Beatles music not only in composition but also in performance.

    As we talked, it struck me that the show was very much like a great meal: lavish, prepared with great care, nutritious and good for the soul, and an experience not easily forgotten. The cabaret utilises the rich harmonies of a large choir, the vocal skills of its musicians, and the rocking talent of a hot backing band. It has appeal for all ages.  I also realised that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album prepared audiences for the emergence of another musical phenomenon, Queen, masters of pomp-rock with its diverse rock styles and intricate vocal harmonies.

    This cabaret should not be missed when the show comes to  your part of the country.

    © Christine M Knight

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    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Acknowledging Indigenous Heritage in the Palerang region

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Recently, I wrote a blog about the restoration of The Carrington Inn. My article about the inn also appears in the District Bulletin's December issue. The District Bulletin reports on country living in the Palerang region. I feel it would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the importance of Indigenous heritage as a side bar to the Carrington article.

    Heritage places are a visible reminder of Australia’s history and identity. If they are neglected or demolished, then part of our history and identity is lost. When they are protected and restored, they add value and dimension to our community. This applies equally to the heritage represented by the traditional owners of the land. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous heritage when promoting awareness of colonial heritage as it shows respect for Indigenous culture.

    Before European settlement, Indigenous people represented an unbroken culture that was inextricably linked to the land and history of the continent. That relationship and life as Indigenous people knew it changed drastically as a consequence of Dr Charles Throsby and Hamilton Hume's exploration of the region in 1820.

    By the end of 1821, Europeans had settled the region. The provision of a mail service in 1837 formally made the settlement a town while the arrival of train services in 1885 resulted in the town becoming the hub of the region. Cobb and Co coaches transported travellers to far flung settlements. 

    During this period and into the twentieth century, Indigenous people experienced a history of exclusion, denial, and were silenced. Many Indigenous people many died as a result of white settlement (disease and conflict). Indigenous heritage is in the land, in sacred places, lore and values. By contrast, colonial heritage is in buildings and property and its laws.

    To better appreciate the impact of the European arrival in Australia and related issues, click on  The Dispossessed.


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    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    The Restoration of the Carrington Inn, Bungendore

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Late October, I met Innkeeper, Richard Graham in the motel carpark of The Carrington Inn a few weeks after it had reopened.

    Originally known as The Lord Carrington Hotel, the property was built between 1884-85. It was named after the newly appointed governor of NSW. When the governor retired, the inn became The Carrington Hotel.

    In the 20th century, descendants of the Winters sold the property to Toni Dale who reverted the property to its original function from a domestic residence. It later changed hands until Richard bought it eight years ago.

    As we walked through the half acre of man-made gardens' entrance to the Wintergarden complex, I was struck by their intrinsic naturalness and the patterns of dappled light. Richard said they are ‘one of the largest publicly accessible private gardens in the region.’ He credits the illusion of a much larger space to the use of meandering sinuous paths.

    There are three distinct themed locations within the Wintergarden complex: The Tom Wills Tavern, The Empire Hall and Salons – fine dining, and Myee’s Tearoom. Myee is pronounced my. The tavern’s namesake and a local, Tom Wills was a leading Australian cricketer from 1856 and is said to be the founder of Australian Rules football. Heavy drinking was apparently part of the sport's culture at that time and purportedly played a role in his tragic death in 1880.


    Maria Myee Gallagher, 1889-1967, was the granddaughter of the original owner, William Daniel Winter. ‘An educated woman of many talents, Maria Myee never married and lived in the hotel throughout her life.’ She was a skilled pianist and taught the piano as well as the sewing arts and painting to locals. She was also well-known for her charitable work in the town.

    The interview and tour began in Myee’s tearoom. Its décor, like the rest of the complex, ‘pays deference to the 19th century colonial Victorian nature of the Carrington Inn.’ An airy and serene space, the tearoom’s authentic hand-painted stencilled wallpaper, pale green wainscoting, slate floor, furnishings, and hanging baskets suggest a Victorian garden conservatory.

    When I asked about the ideas underpinning the renovation process, Richard explained the choice before him. Restore the inn to look like the property as it had been in 1885 or restore it to reflect the Victorian era from 1885 but have modern restaurant equipment. For commercial reasons, he opted for the latter.

    After much research, Richard and his team distilled the Victorian period to a single restoration intention: ‘allow modern-day patrons to appreciate the aspirational nature of the Victorian era’ and witness a different lifestyle.

    The aspirational mood of the period is clearly visible in the style of ceilings in the tavern and the Empire Hall and Salons. The tavern’s patterned copper ceiling is reminiscent of Tudor ceilings and represents the revival of British styles during the Victorian era. The decorative tin ceiling in one of the salons is another popular architectural element from that period as are the subtly lit, rounded vaulted plaster ceilings in the Empire Hall.


    The Victorian theme is evident in the use of decoratively etched glass mirrors, beautiful period-styled drapery, luxurious furnishings, dining settings, and décor accents. Thirty-three hand-painted artwork reproductions tell the colonial story, including artwork by Tom Roberts. In the tradition of the time, a picture of Queen Victoria dominates the Empire Hall.

    The attention to authentic detail is also seen in the use of deeply embossed wall covering (Lincrusta) in  the Empire Hall. Lincrusta was invented in Britain in 1877 by the same man who invented linoleum floor covering some years before.


     Having visited many famous historic sites, I found The Carrington Inn as striking as places like Chatsworth House and Hampton Court in UK. Of course, The Carrington's pristine interior décor  and the inn are much smaller in scale than those other historic UK properties.

    As Richard told the stories behind each room’s décor, I realised that he is more than the owner and operator of an enterprise that happens to exist in a heritage property. He is keenly aware of his custodial role in restoring, documenting, and protecting heritage.

    As I left that afternoon, I realised that heritage places not only add dimension to the character of a community and its diversity but to its unique features of streetscapes as well.


    Left to right: Mark Summers, General Manager; Edwina Fitzgerald, Accommodation Manager; Me, Innkeeper; Merili Pihlamäe, Venues Manager; and Andrew Stansbie, Executive Chef.


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