On a residency program such as this, I confront my urban/suburban condition and to some extent my suburban upbringing. My reading over the past week is so far from it all. Land divisions, wheat growing, irrigation methods, people fighting on through drought and floods. Bill Gammage’s book Narrandera Shire (1986) is teaching me to look at the countryside with new admiration. Neil Murray, once of The Warumpi Band, and now mostly a solo singer/songwriter wrote of how white Australians ‘live on the land, not in it’. One thing Gammage’s book will have drained out of me (for awhile anyway but hopefully forever) is the tedium I’ve often felt from car travel on familiar Victorian and NSW roads. Having said that, turning his enormous library of facts and anecdotes from the 19th and early 20th century into pieces of theatre is no easy task. Amongst this indecision, I’m reminded of attempting in the late 90s a series of poems about The Wimmera. I didn’t do very well and it was a dent to the confidence. Some years later (kind of slowly) came the realization that my writing strengths are probably in ‘human nature’ rather than landscape and nature itself. So it seems prominent people of the more recent past or fictional characters based on Narrandera’s history will inevitably be the end result of the residency, as much as I’d like to break over into rural history dating back much further. Regardless of my failings on this level, I’m thankful for Bill Gammage in opening my eyes strongly away for a time from what original Ultravox frontman and now academic John Foxx calls urban environments, that is – ‘grey nature’. Gammage and Foxx, now there’s an unlikely combination!