Barcaldine Fires up Inspiration
By Roz Pulley
Article courtesy of The Cairns Post
Stepping outside the comfort zone has paid off for teacher
turned writer Angela Murphy, already tasting success in the
world of words.
Cairns writer Angela Murphy is convinced that when the mood
takes you, good things could lead to even greater creativity.
In July of 2002, she headed down to Barcaldine in Central
Queensland for the launch of a new book - Songs of the Unsung
Heroes - in which her poetic tribute to the Australian working
woman is featured.
So stoked was she by the blazing Barcaldine sunset that Angela
wrote a short story about a country woman whose age and health
have forced her to leave the land and move to the city. The
2,700-word tale, Goodbye Sunset has turned out to be a triumph.
It has just won the short story category in the biennial Queensland
Rural Womens Network Cultural Competition. Angela says
it was rewarding just to be short listed and thrilling to
But for someone who gave up the security of a permanent job
at the Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE to dedicate
herself to writing, it meant even more. When you get
something like this, then you realise that youre going
in the right direction. I fell very encouraged.
Angela says her winning sorry was heavily inspired by the
blood red sunsets and sweeping horizons of Barcaldine. Anecdotal
gems from her childhood also played a part, as did the knowledge
that older people feel an acute sense of loss when their independence
Goodbye Sunset is a monologue in which the central character
- a widow whose children have all left home and whose only
company is a blue cattle dog - sits on a backyard swing and
casts back over her life as the afternoon sun disappears.
She s saying goodbye to the sun, to the life,
to her independence, says Angela. When I went
to Barcaldine, what really impressed me was that huge sky.
The first night we were there the sunset was just spectacular.
The whole sky was scarlet and the railway tracks running to
Longreach were running red. So that became the backdrop to
Angela said her trip to Brisbane for the rural womens
conference - where her win was announced - was made possible
through a regional quick response grant from the
Commonwealth Governments Regional Arts fund, managed
in Queensland by the Queensland Arts Council.
The funding is there to help regional writers and artists
access professional development. Grants of up to $1000 can
be made available at 48 hours notice if the funding is urgently
Angela says she has been writing since high school, but only
became serious about it earlier in 2002 when she took long
service leave from TAFE, where she had been a disability integration
officer and developed curriculum resources for the disability
sector. When I went back to TAFE in July, I realised
I was going back to something Id done for 10 years.
I had a great time there but it was time to move on.
Angela has now built herself a writing studio, attended play
writing workshops, successfully ventured into travel writing
and plans to concentrate on two draft novels - possibly turning
one into a play. She also wants to add to her two existing
degrees with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing to
keep me on task and give me some direction.
Ill be looking at techniques involved in all
the genres. Im very passionate about my writing now
and really enjoy what Im doing. Theres a bit of
that theory that when you do follow what you want to do and
youre passionate about it, you get rewards for your
effort. I put a lot of energy into writing - mental energy
and emotional energy - but I get a lot of enjoyment from it.