By Tim Bowden

ISBN-10: 1865080667

ISBN-13: 9781865080666

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Back in the Bonney Theatre the evening organised by the Apex Club went on regardless. A play, ‘A Bard’s Banquet’, with players from the Arts Council of South Australia, was delayed to keep the acts in time with the scheduled banquet — but by 9 pm, with still no sign of the food, the curtain went up. According to the Arts Council touring manager Mr J Maxwell, the famished but lubricated crowd was rowdy, somewhat unruly, and beyond caring for the finer points of theatre. Penelope Goes West An organiser mounted the centre stage to appeal for order, but was hit on the neck by a tomato.

Sadly, many other early English travellers and settlers were not so enlightened with their first-contact experiences. After selling his cattle in Port Phillip, Eyre took a boat back to Sydney in October 1837. He was aware of Sturt’s epic voyage down the Murray River in 1830, and that no European had yet travelled overland from New South Wales to South Australia. Sturt was planning to take stock to Adelaide himself, but generously gave him good advice on navigation and how to deal with hostile blacks.

The visitors’ centre is a smart modern building with rammed-earth walls, and the Gardens — we were told — are supported by the Western Mining Corporation as well as the South Australian Government and other sponsors. The Gardens are built on degraded land to illustrate how Australia’s natural plant and animal species and their ecosystems can be recreated and restored. We waited for the rain to clear before inspecting the sodden ‘arid’ surrounds. A bedraggled and unshaven young man approached. ’ I pleaded guilty.

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PENELOPE GOES WEST: On the Road from Sydney to Margaret River and Back by Tim Bowden

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