Australian birds in folklore and reality

Subject: Australian birds in folklore and reality
From: "Lynne Kelly" <>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 15:12:19 +1100 (EST)
I would love to hear from anyone who has advice on birds which I can write
about drawing on their role in folklore.

I have just been awarded a doctoral scholarship as a natural history
writer at La Trobe University to write my next book(s). The real buzz is
that an English Department at a university was so keen to acknowledge
natural history writing as 'creative'.

The theme is to write about animal behaviour drawing on the folklore
(defined as folk stories, myth and legends) of the area. Like my spiders
book, it will be a personal narrative style but still "popular science",
not fiction. And I have three years of doing this - all animals, all
countries, all forms of narrative. How good is that!!!???!!!

I am starting with the Australian birds and Aboriginal Dreamtime or any
other narrative sources.

A brief example may make my (still fuzzy because I have only just started)
goals clearer. Oodgeroo Noonuccal wrote about the curlew on Stradbroke
Island with a traditional story based around its call. I haven't yet
worked out which curlew of the three there, but have HANZAB (and Damian)
at hand! The goal is then to go to Stradbroke and listen to, observe and
photograph the curlew. I can then write about the curlew as a modern
natural history writer, drawing on the observations and inspiration of
those who have written about them before to enhance my own observation and
reading. The Indigenous Liaison officer at La Trobe uni has been
unbelievably helpful about protocols and such-like and extremely
encouraging. The aboriginal stories about the birds are just gorgeous.
Part of direction in doing this may include writing for children as well
as adults. The stories of all sorts of cultures, including our own, often
reflect very careful observation of the behaviour of the birds.

My goal is to write in a way which gets everyone out taking more notice
of, and getting more inspiration from, the world's animals. I hope to
write articles as well as books.

The topic is still very flexible, so any suggestions or comments will be


Lynne Kelly

author, educator:

EUMY Education:

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