Writers at Stanton - Robert Drewe
05-Sep-2017 • 1pm
Whip Bird - Robert Drewe
The Cleary family’s reunion is not just any family celebration. To be held in November 2014 at Whipbird, a new vineyard in the foothills outside Ballarat, the occasion marks the 160th anniversary of the arrival in Australia of their ancestor Conor, a skinny fifteen-year-old infantryman from Ireland who couldn’t hit an outhouse door, sent to help maintain order in the colony of Victoria and crush the Eureka rebellion. Among the more than 2,000 relatives gathered at the vineyard walks the ghost of Conor Cleary narrating events past and present through the eyes of his great-great-grandson Simon ‘Sly’ Cleary, former keyboard player for the rock band Spider Flower, now suffering a delusionary mental belief that he no longer exists.
Whipbird is both a sharply observed, vividly imagined, satirical portrait of contemporary Australia and a modern comedy of manners.
And Robert Drewe pulls no punches. Nothing is sacred as he takes on the mining boom and conservationists; everyone from investment bankers and real-estate agents to sea-changers and tree-changers, vegans and Paleo practitioners, First World smugness, global-warming, retirement, divorce, death, sudoko and artisan brewers. And the nonchalant disrespect and disillusionment of the young.