I convinced my Beringharjo guide to speak to me in Indonesian. His aunties thought they were speaking to me in Indonesian too but I thought they were speaking Javanese. It didn’t matter much as we were soon speaking the language of cloth. Their second-hand fabric was mostly old kain, hemmed lengths of cloth that Javanese women traditionally wear wrapped around the body (in English we’d call it a sarong but in Indonesia a sarong is a tube of cloth with a seam on the short edge and is…Continue Reading “Butterfly Batik (2)”

I changed my website theme today and in the process I revisited a journey I made over twenty years ago. I was looking for something suitable to use as a background for my header image when I came across my old batik shirt. The fabric was so worn that it ripped every time I put it on but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out because it reminded me of the boy at Beringharjo Market, his aunts and the fastidious tailor. So for many years it has been…Continue Reading “Butterfly batik”

Students at Pinrang workshop

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited Indonesia, but this is my first time in Sulawesi. It’s the jigsaw-piece-shaped island that always seemed somehow remote, even though it’s only a two-hour flight from Jakarta. My visit here this time is the result of kebetulan. When I put in a grant application to the Australia-Indonesia Institute I gamely stated that I would visit a school in Makassar to do a writing workshop with the students. I had a vague plan to get the BRIDGE team…Continue Reading “Sulawesi Selatan”

Kancil at Museum Gajah

I finally got to see the Wonoboyo Hoard at the National Museum of Indonesia today. It’s an incredible collection but  photos are not allowed, unfortunately, so you’ll have to come and see it for yourself. On my way into the museum I picked up a Flat Traveler all the way from the 14th century (the out of focus, ghostly look is intentional). Kancil has agreed to come to Sulawesi with me and share her thoughts about the 21st century along the way. BTW – the elephant…Continue Reading “Jakarta: Museum Gajah”

Iceland coastline near Stykkisholmur

Stykkisholmur is a small fishing village in western Iceland. Ngurah Rai International Airport is in Indonesia, on the island of Bali. What’s the connection? Volcanic ash. Right now, Ngurah Rai International Airport is a little quieter than usual; an ash cloud from Mount Raung, a volcano in East Java, has airlines so worried that they have cancelled flights out of the Denpasar airport. Stykkisholmur is home to the Eldfjallasafn Volcano Museum, where, along with amazing volcano-inspired art and a geological display, you can view an informative…Continue Reading “Ash clouds and aeroplanes”

Readers at Castlemaine Launch. Photo by Peter Mansell

I’ve had three book launches in the past three months. There are probably some really productive authors out there who could launch three different books in three months, but not me. I launched the same book three times. Is that excessive? In my defence, the launches were in three different places – Castlemaine, Ubud and Melbourne. The Castlemaine launch was the original first time new book new author never done this before launch. It was at the Castlemaine library on a chilly Saturday afternoon in August. To…Continue Reading “Launch”

It has been almost three weeks since Tiger Stone was launched at Castlemaine Library and questions have been asked in certain circles about the absence of a post launch post. My excuse(es)? Life got busy, my eyes hurt, the VLine commute is killing me and the dog ate my homework. Hmmm. Last week I visited a high school – primarily to convince anyone who would listen that 14th century Java is really really fascinating, but also to help the Year 12s prepare for their upcoming Indonesian oral exam. Unlike me,…Continue Reading “The dog ate my homework”

Dictionaries

The last exam I sat was my NAATI exam. NAATI stands for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. There were hundreds of us all crammed into Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne, all different ages and different ethnic backgrounds scribbling away in I don’t know how many different languages. I’ve still got my official NAATI translator rubber stamp in a box somewhere but as I passed the exam a good 15 years ago and haven’t done any official translating for at least…Continue Reading “Translation”

Kancil (detail) by Dina Indrasufitri

Tiger Stone (my first novel) will be published in Australia and New Zealand in two weeks (August 1) so I guess I should get used to talking about it. It’s all making me feel a bit like the rabbit in the spotlight so let’s talk about Dina’s drawing instead. Dina is a Melbourne-based artist and journalist. She read a draft of Tiger Stone last year and a couple of weeks ago she sent me this drawing. I really like this image. Kancil looks wise but feisty and maybe just a teeny…Continue Reading “Meet Kancil”