2020 Winter Reading Retreat

2020 Winter Reading Retreat
August 18–31, 2020 · Tyraman Retreat


Thinking through the tipping point of the last summer, one feels that this fire season has shifted Australia's consciousness of itself and its land. On second thought, one reflects that such shifts depend on how we register the nation's self-consciousness.

If we take book publishing as our measure of shifting awareness then we see a rapidly expanding field of writing in Australia that deals directly with the dynamic of self-consciousness and consciousness of land. From a large number of books it will suffice to mention Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu, Bill Gammage's The Biggest Estate On Earth and Billy Griffiths' Deep Time Dreaming as exemplars of a shifting 21st century consciousness.

Yet – as Deep Time Dreaming so excellently charts in its history of Australian archaeology – our shifting self-consciousness has deep roots in the 20th century. One of these roots is Eric Rolls' 1980 classic A Million Wild Acres, a book described precisely as: 'a bomb landed in the field of the Australian consciousness of itself and its land.' Another root is Sylvia Hallam's 1975 Fire and Hearth, a pioneering study into Noongar fire use.

We will be taking a close look at both these keystone texts at this August's winter reading retreat at Tyraman Retreat in the Hunter Valley from August 18th – 31st, 2020.

What is the reading retreat?

The reading retreat provides an environment that is studious, social & ecological. The idea is to make a space that pulses between solitary reading, social interaction & being in nature. There are two layers to the retreat. The bottom layer is the slow-burn activity of the readers who stay for a week or more. The top layer is the short-burst energy of those who come for a weekend. The relation between the two layers is what makes it hum.

Sounds good – but what does that actually look like?

Check out some images of previous retreats: 2018 Winter Retreat & 2019 Winter Retreat

How long & How much?

The retreat is active for 14 days. There are two price categories – Long Weekend & Long Haul – on a sliding scale from Minted to Intern

Scale: Weekend / Long Haul

Minted: $1500 / $3000
Ok Boomer: $1000 / $1500
Good Salary: $600 / $1200
Bad Salary: $400 / $800
Student/Poet: $250 / $500
Camping: $200 / $400
Scholarship: Free (2 spots)
Intern: Free (3 spots)

What does that get me?

You get a bed & you get fed;
you get to roam across a vast & beautiful property;
you get enriched by the vitality of fellow readers & the brilliance of special guests;
you get a field trip to a remnant rainforest & a fire-managed landscape;
you get a book & you get specially-printed CDR artwork;

What will we read?

Eric Rolls' A Million Wild Acres: 200 Years of man & an Australian forest & Sylvia Hallam's Fire & Hearth: A study of Aboriginal usage and European usurpation in south-western Australia

The two weekends will be curated around these two keys texts. The first weekend –22/23 Aug– we will take on the theme of the bush, excerpting from Eric Rolls' book, screening Ross Gibson's film about Eric & going on a field trip to a remnant rainforest nearby. The second weekend –29/30 Aug– will face up to the theme of fire , looking at Sylvia Hallam's book alongside other mythic, psychoanalytic & poetic aspects of fire, culminating in a field trip to a fire-managed landscape.

What is the living situation?

The sleeping arrangements are the one sticking point at Tyraman. There's two large dorm-style rooms with 8 beds in one room and 6 in the other. We endeavour to mix & match sleepers to make everyone as comfortable as possible – but you do have to be up for the group sleeping scenario. Or you can camp! This year we're going to set up a base camp scenario for crew & for those who crave quietude &/or to keep the costs down.

Tyraman Retreat is an amazing place with huge roaming potential. The house & surrounds is commodious & light-filled & delightful to spread out into. Winter is the best season to be at Tyraman.

What do the special guests do?

The special guests add extra dimensions. Michael Farrell reads a grace poem before dinner every night. Gary Warner adds ears to our idea of what reading is. Barbara Campbell takes reading outside and outloud. Ross Gibson gives the gift of conversation. Vanessa Berry embodies the love of reading in a way that is contagious. Jane Richens and Brian Doherty take us on a field excursion to their 600 acre property of remnant rainforest. There's more to come too.

Getting there and back?

Readers will have to make their own way to and from the retreat and will have to supply their own poisons and medications.

Interested?

RSVP/Queries: info@deep-reading.org