John Ross (ed.): The Penguin Book of Australian Bush Writing

Afternoon tea

Susan K. Martin


The Penguin Book of Australian Bush Writing
edited by John Ross
Viking, $32.95 pb, 356 pp, 9780670076413


Twinings has recently introduced a new tea flavour called ‘Australian Afternoon Tea’. On the box is an image of kangaroos silhouetted against a red rocky background, which is a sort of amalgam, or perhaps amalgum, of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. This book is like that tea – more Australian than Australia, in a packaged, labelled form that relies heavily on recognition, stereotype, and sentiment. I have to admit that when I started reading the Introduction I thought it might be a parody, but perhaps that just shows jaded sensibilities. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that as ‘Australians we carry a certain vague longing for the bush’. Perhaps I am not drinking the right tea.

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Susan K. Martin

Susan K. Martin Susan K. Martin is Professor in English and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) for the College of Arts, Social Science and Commerce at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Her books include Reading the Garden: the Settlement of Australia with Katie Holmes and Kylie Mirmohamadi (MUP, 2008), Colonial Dickens (ASP, 2012), and Sensational Melbourne (ASP, 2011), both with Kylie Mirmohamadi.

Published in March 2012 no. 339

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