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  • Léonie Kelsall

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW...or so they say


All writers have heard – and possibly railed against (or is that just me?) the saying, ‘Write what you Know’. The idea behind the adage is that we can more accurately portray that which we have experienced. I’m not sure I completely agree with the advice – I mean, some of us do write sci-fi and fantasy, so there’s surely an issue there!


However, as rural romances The Farm at Peppertree Crossing (2020) and The Wattle Seed Inn (2021) are set in the Murraylands – which, not entirely coincidentally, is where my family farm is located – in this instance, I was able to take the advice to heart without my regular argument!


Big sky country, the farm is hot, dry, unforgiving - and incredibly beautiful, offering something different each season.



Open, rolling plains are marked with pockets of seemingly-arid, grey scrubland which, when you venture into their depths, reveal a spring wonderland of spires of tiny native orchids, bright capeweed and soft carpets of moss in clearings between the mallee box.

The occasional flowering blue gum encircled by smaller wattles, the warming air, loud with busy native bees dressed in fluffy, soursob-yellow pollen trousers, is thick with the honey-sweet fragrance of the distinctive flowers.


Hollows in the hot red sand beneath spiky gorse bushes provide safe refuge for kangaroos, the gritty dirt idly scraped smooth by sharp claws as the doe-eyed creatures lazily recline through the heat of the day.



As the frost settles in a brittle white sheet on the barren earth, autumn finds native hopping mice and echidnas nestled into beds of dry gum

leaves and twigs in the shelter of granite outcrops that have protected their families for aeons.







...and the nights turn magically purple, alive with the mournful hoot of the hunting barn owl.









Finally, winter brings the longed-for rains. The creek flows - seemingly a miracle each year in a landscape of such harsh beauty. There is a brief moment of respite, a peaceful tranquillity spent drowsing by the wood fire as the land becomes temporarily somnolent before, regardless of our interference, it once more bursts into the lush verdancy of spring.


No matter the season, as Roni discovers in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing, being privileged to live in such beautiful countryside is an inspiration that is almost too wonderful to capture in words – so I’ll hush up now and let the pictures speak for themselves.

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