Late last year, for three startling months, I enjoyed the privilege of being 2009 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence. I was based in Brisbane from July to September, and the Queensland Writers Centre (who administered the programme) also sent me to various other places in the state – my first genuine outback trips.

While I was in Queensland, I wrote a series of poems which I’m calling The Adventures of Kore Rawa on the Moon. I could just as easily have called it The Adventures of Hinemoana Baker on the Moon. The poems became my way of negotiating my experiences of this new, extraordinary country, and a way of expressing what I was seeing – and what I wasn’t seeing – while I was in Queensland. The name of the poems’ main character – ‘Nothing Nothing’, ‘Kore Rawa’ in Māori – was inspired by the beautiful indigenous words in Australia that have so many pairs of ‘o’s: Toowoomba, Oodgeroo, Woolloomooloo. The concept of ‘nothing’ also speaks to experiences of invisibility, to the concept of ‘terra nullius’ – sadly so significant in Australia's history – as well as to the Māori concept of ‘Te Kore’, which is a state of ultimate potential and creativity.

I also made an audio version of this poem –the spoken text in a setting of field recordings from my Australian journeys. The album is called Gondwanavista: An Outback Soundwalk. The name 'Gondwanavista' comes from one of the hosts of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum – Trish. 'Gondwanavista' was a description of the view she showed us from the top of a 'jump-up' – the 75-metre mesa plateau formation on top of which the museum sits.

Final PDF