Peninsula Writing 1983-1985


Issue #1 – 1983. $3.75

Doing some Autumn cleaning over the holidays I found lots of photos that I’d not originally considered good enough to make it into a photo album, but I wanted to keep.

Among them were some photos of Liam Davison and Gavin Duffy printing Peninsula Writing in the 1980s.

Peninsula Writing was a quartely local literary magazine that Liam, Gavin and I founded in 1983 to promote and foster creative writing on the Mornington Peninsula. Liam edited the prose, Gavin created the artwork, graphics and design, including five terrific coves and I edited the poetry. We all typed, stapled and folded. The little magazine featured poetry, prose and reviews and lasted five issues.

In some ways it was the very worst time to try to publish a magazine. No desktop publishing or laser printers, or internet, we typed the whole thing out by hand, made offset masters and printed it ourselves on an offset machine borrowed from the local church. Very hands on! We struggled with all the usual stuff; distribution, advertising, sponsorship and getting the damn type black enough! If only we’d waited a few short years …

I was a bit surprised that nothing much exists about this short-lived little magazine now. Not one image on Google Search, and no article anywhere I can find. It wasn’t ground-breaking historical stuff, but it was part of a little local movement and I think it deserves a little better than nothing.

So, I intend putting together a series of blog posts, one on each issue, with some scans, lists of contributors etc., just to put the record out there. For I feel it was something worthwhile.

Below: a break in the printing. Liam Davison, Gavin Duffy and Jackie Davison (Liam’s mum, who had access to the church offset printer)


Below: Liam working the offset printer. We always struggled to get the print black enough.


Below: Me with the first copy of ‘Peninsula Writing’


Remembering Liam and Frankie Davison

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I was shattered at the news last Friday of the death of our closest friends, Liam and Frankie Davison in the Malaysian Airlines disaster in the Ukraine. He was a fine novelist and short story writer, and a wonderful human being. We were friends for over forty years, since Teacher’s College. He was my mentor, my listening post, my fellow editor at Peninsula Writing, cycling friend, just friend. At some time, when I’m a bit stronger, I intend putting up something more substantial online to honour his writing and try to bring together various pieces of writing. Meanwhile, you can read an obituary by Nat O’Neill HERE, read some of Liam’s writing at his Gillhaney blog HERE or read his most recent piece in The Griffith Review HERE.

There was also a piece about Liam’s writing in the Sydney Morning Herald by Gregory Day HERE.

Some details about the memorial service on Sunday are below:

Sam and Milly, along with their extended family, invite friends to gather at Toorak College on the upper playing field overlooking Port Phillip Bay on Sunday 27 July 2014 at 2:30pm, to pay tribute and share our love for Liam and Frankie.

Liam and Frankie’s family’s have been extremely touched by the love and support received over the past week. In 2011 Frankie and Liam visited The Annapurna Self-Sustaining Orphan Home in Pokhara, Nepal, where they were both touched by the incredible work being done there. These efforts rely largely on donations, in which the Davisons were instrumental over the last few years.

A trust has been set up for the Orphan Home in Liam and Frankie’s memory. Rather than flowers, we ask that those wishing to continue their support to the Davison family make donations to this fund.

With much love and thanks.

Annapurna Self-Sustaining Orphan Home, Pokhara, Nepal

Account Name: Amelia Davison Annapurna Orphanage

BSB: 06 3550

Account Number: 1036 2702


My 2012 Books of the Year

Just in time for Christmas shopping, my books of the  year awards!






Christopher Ricks – Dylan’s Vision of Sin



Fire Diary – Mark Tredinnick

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Christmas shopping list.

Take this to Readings or Collected Works

Richard Ford – Canada*
Gerald Murnane – A History of Books

Christopher Ricks – Dylan’s Vision of Sin*
Iain Sinclair – London Orbital
Robert Penn – It’s All about the Bike
Michael Langley – Journals
Tony Taylor – Fishing the River of Time
James Boyce – 1835
Paul Carter – Ground Truthing
Austin Kleon – Steal like an Artist
May Ward – The Comfort of Water
Geoff Nicholson – The Lost Art of Walking

Mark Tredinnick – Fire Diary (Puncher and Wattmann)
Robert Adamson – The Golden Bird
John Tranter – Starlight (UQP)
Lisa Jacobson – The Sunlit Zone (Five Islands)
Michael Sharkey – Another Fine Morning in Paradise (Five Islands)
Brook Emery – Collusion
John Tranter (ed) – Best Australian Poems 2012 (BlackInc)


You can read the full list, and past winners on my website here as well

Surprise in the late light

Sometimes, you get surprised. I went for a walk along the beach tonight, at the end of the day, just about the shortest day of the year. I was interested to see what ‘my creek’ looked like after a week of rain. It was nice: brimming full and mixing with the bay in a kind of oily mix back and forth between the bay and the brown creek.  I took some photos and a couple of videos of the beach and the waves with my iPhone; nothing special, but a nice light. But, fiddling with my phone I must  have somehow taken this shot, which was my favourite of the set. A blurry, dark, brooding evocative kind of piece with a glimpse of light in the eye of the wave washing along the sand.

It’s harder to get those kinds of surprises in writing. The conscious-ness of it I suppose. Maybe that’s why so many writers (and other artists) took to drugs at some stages? To get out of the rational a little bit, and to discover something else under the surface.  It’s nice to have surprises sometimes. And, you might not even think the photo is any good. You can see the rest of the set here and make a comparison. But, for me, there is something in that shot that I hadn’t seen, hadn’t even been looking for, but found somehow.

Nice to find that, right at the end of the week.

Mt Martha Lands and People

Anyone who’s read this blog the time will know how much I enjoy and appreciate local history. And, there’s something really satisfying about a well written natural local history. I like the passion that goes into them. I like the appreciation of the local and the specific. I like that, in a time of globalisation, there’s still space for the really personal and regional.

One of my favourite books last year was local history of the Wimmera region and I must admit I thought I’d read everything about my own area, the Mornington Peninsula.

So delighted to find out about a new book I hadn’t seen before. ‘Mt Martha Lands and People’ by Winty Calder. Apart from the ghastly cover, which is probably designed for the local tourist market, it’s a beautifully detailed and comprehensive natural local history.

Sections include the natural environment, the first people, the meetings and clashes of cultures, the early results in coastal development, Federation to World War I, suburbanisation between the wars, and World War II itself and its effect on this area (many marines were stationed here for rest and recreation). Finally, it also charts the changes from role to suburban and importance of keeping some of the open spaces. I never say never for a surprise to find it in the local newsagent. It’s a labour of love, I like that too.

Funnily enough, I couldn’t find one image of the books cover on the Internet, so I scanned one in. It seems not everything, especially the local, is on the web yet.

Oh, also dictated this post aloud using Dragon Express software on my new blue microphone. I’m keen to use a lot more audio this year if I can.

Paperwork Explosion

A bit off-topic perhaps, but this 1967 advertisement for IBM office equipment (I love office equipment) by the Henson Company is connected to writing and thinking. I also like the strangely spooky soundtrack, the Orwellian modernism and the Midwich-Cuckoos(ish) look of all the speakers, like they’ve been hypnotise or something! There’s a rather more considered analysis of all this than mine here

Morning Coffee

Morning. Coffee. This time of year there’s a kind of grey light in the kitchen around 7am with the day struggling to begin. But you don’t turn the light on. It’s a kind of silly challenge to put these pieces together in the half-light. You put the coffee on, and the thin blue flame of the gas cooker licks around the burned looking bottom of the coffee maker. Somewhere outside there’s a bird, or the wind rustling in the oak. A couple of times, a hot air balloon has filled the sky outside. Mostly the sky is empty and you stand looking out at it, trying to make sense of the day, and waiting for that reassuring whoosh as the coffee makes it way from the bottom of the pot into the top. That sound, and then that smell of fresh coffee, is when the day really begins.  There’s a poem there somewhere.