Kerryn Goldsworthy: Adelaide

Don’s conundrum

Gay Bilson

 

Adelaide
by Kerryn Goldsworthy
New South, $29.95 hb, 304 pp, 9781742232621

 

This year is the 175th anniversary of European settlement in South Australia. The University of Adelaide presented a series of public lectures collectively called Turning Points in South Australian History. Bill Gammage gave the first and showed by an accretion of primary sources that, prior to white settlement in 1836, Aborigines kept a tidy landscape thanks to the controlled use of fire. First Adelaidians exclaimed that the landscape was close to an English garden. Henry Reynolds gave the second lecture, and made much of the political and social timing of the settlement, after the abolition of slavery in London and just before the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand. The idea of terra nullius was in its preliminary colonial tatters.

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Published in October 2011 no. 335
Gay Bilson

Gay Bilson

Gay Bilson was, for twenty-five years (1973–1998), a restaurateur and cook in Sydney. She has created and directed several events centred on food and community, often for the Adelaide Festival, and was an associate director under Peter Sellars for the 2002 festival, producing programs such as Nourish (feeding patients in a large public hospital) and The Edible Library. In 2004 she directed Eating the City, a large community project created by the Spanish food artist and psychologist Alicia Rios, for the City of Melbourne. As an extension of this project, she recorded oral histories with the communities who took part.

In 2003 Bilson was the recipient of an Asialink residency, spending three months in Sri Lanka studying its food culture. She is the author of Plenty: Digressions on Food (Penguin, 2004). Plenty won the Nita B. Kibble Prize for Women’s Life Writing and was named The Age Book of the Year in 2005. Her most recent book is On Digestion (MUP, 2008), one of a series of essays in MUP’s ‘Little Books on Big Themes’ series. In this extended essay she questions many of the assumptions we make about agriculture, produce, and dining in Australia.

Bilson lives in rural South Australia, believing, with Cicero, that ‘If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need,’ except that, 2000 years later, she would add water and the Internet to these requirements.

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