This morning there was no alarm to wake me. No jarring metallic welcome to the day. Instead there is a swirling symphony of bird song with notable soloists like the bowerbird, with his architecturally daring nest furnished with stolen baubles, and the raucous comedian of the bird world, the galah.
It is a spectacularly sunny Sydney day. Centennial Park, one of the city’s most loved green havens, is literally sparkling after the recent deluge. As usual there is a action everywhere. Serious joggers lap the novice keep-fitters; kids on bikes wobble along with increasing confidence. A flock of schoolgirls from a local school suddenly sweep past on a lunch-time run, matching pristine white shirts. Two women ride by on horses prancing in haughty disdain. A small bus disgorges a group of Chinese instantly fascinated by the gaggle of large, plump geese feasting from worms plucked from the still moist lawns. They push closer until a large white goose turns and races at them wings outstretched, honking noisily. Laughing, the tourists retreat.
On the park benches people read newspapers, eat their sandwiches or just watch the world go by. I walk down Dickens Road, past the beautiful lakes where dozens of black swans glide gracefully as coots and smaller waterfowl zip between them like speedboats. Busy, busy. Several Pelicans, the comedians of the waterbird world, sidle up to anyone who looks like they might have food. Turn left at the little mobile tea shop, past Willow Pond and the flying fox colonies. And there is the end of my quest, the Labyrinth.
Joan London’s poignant The Golden Age and The House of Grief, Helen Gardner’s harrowing reportage of a crime that shocked the world, are standouts on the longlist for Australia’s prestigious $50,000 Stella Prize, which celebrates women authors, and which was announced yesterday. The longlist for the Prize, which was first awarded in 2013, also includes three debut writers.
Full long list is: