Otway Books & Writers by Neal Drinnan

A History of 150 years of the Colac Botanic Gardens
Helen Paatsch
Whether the Colac Botanical Gardens were established as a result of inter-town rivalry, wanting to keep up with other Western District towns such as Hamilton and Warrnambool, or the influence of botanists such as von Mueller or Bunce we cannot say with certainty.
What we can say is that the Colac Botanic Gardens, with huge plant diversity, magnificent sweeping  lawns and situated on an incomparable site overlooking Lake Colac, is a treasured part of our heritage.
Thus opens Helen Paatsch’s extensive and colourful history of Colac’s botanical master-stroke. The sumptuous treasure passers- through don’t get to witness from the Princes Highway. From the grainy photo of the marshy bog -land that was appropriated for the site in 1865 to the vibrant herbaceous splendours that make up the garden now, this generously illustrated history offers a delightful, nostalgic and often haunting journey through one of Victoria’s finest regional Botanic
With the help of the Friends of the Botanical garden and a foreword by Professor Tim Entwistle, Helen Paatsh has woven together a history of the gardens that is in many ways a history of the town’s own finer aspirations and a volume that admirably pays tribute to the garden’s sesquicentenary.
The Archipelago of Souls: Picador $32.99
By Gregory Day
Gregory Day has sung and written his way into the Dreaming of the Otways over the past two
decades. His poetry, music and journalism serenade
the region’s majesty with a rare clarity of soul
and fresh gusts of unexpected humour . His place on
the Great Ocean Road is now a place in both its
physical and lyrical history. Day’s earlier novels
have always echoed with local resonance, now with
Archipelago of Souls, his fourth novel he moves the scene off-shore a little to the wide open yet often claustrophobic terrain of King Island. To a place where a traumatised WWII soldier might just be able to escape the memories of combat on the Isle of Crete, ‘an island as far away from King Island as you could get.’King Island has a history of housing returned soldiers after both World Wars and Day explores the ideas of war heroism, reluctant war heroism and post- traumatic stress in an era when the later term
had not even been coined as condition. The two islands at opposite ends of the earth come torepresent an old world and a new one. Crete steeped in Greek mythology and tradition and King Island, a place barely even inhabited by humans prior to white settlement. The result is a revelation about a chapter of WWII that is not widely discussed or chronicled, the horrors of dual occupation as faced by the Cretan residents and the light and dark aspects of human capriciousness. Can love survive in a morally devastated world? Certainly literature does and this volume offers a vibrant and colourful new chapter on some hidden aspects of
Australia’s wartime character.

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