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5 May 2005

Authors Robyn Davidson and Barry Hill will speak about drawing inspiration from desert people and places during a free forum at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Sunday.

The Writing the Desert forum is part of a series which coincides with the exhibition Extremes: Survival in the Great Deserts of the Southern Hemisphere and involves artists, writers, adventurers and musicians discussing the seductive nature of deserts.

Hill and Davidson will join 666 ABC presenter Louise Maher, who spent six years in Alice Springs, in talking about how the desert has affected their writing. They will also read from their works.

Barry Hill is The Australian's poetry editor and has won Premiers' awards for poetry and non-fiction. His 2002 work, Broken Song, on central Australian anthropologist Ted Strehlow, also won the National Biography Award. Hill's other works include The Rock: Travelling to Uluru and a book of poetry, The Inland Sea, inspired by travel and research in central Australia.

Robyn Davidson travelled solo from Alice Springs to the west coast in 1977, with a dog and camels for company. The journey is documented in her book, Tracks, which won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and was published in many languages. Davidson wrote Desert Places about the Rabari nomads in India and is currently in Canberra on an Australian National University HC Coombs Creative Arts Scholarship.

Writing the Desert takes place in the National Museum's Visions Theatre on Sunday, May 8 from 2-3.45pm.

Two other desert forums are planned for Sunday afternoons:

  • Surviving the Desert on World Environment Day, June 5, with guests including Extremes curator and desert archaeologist Dr Mike Smith and explorer Kieran Kelly, who completed the first crossing by foot of Australia's Tanami Desert in 2002.
  • Singing the Desert on July 10 with guests including composer Gordon K Williams and Aboriginal country singer Warren H Willams.

Extremes: Survival in the Great Deserts of the Southern Hemisphere continues at the National Museum until August 21.

For interviews or images please contact Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or email

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