The yellow envelope
Covid-19 & muting the Angel of Death

The art of tree change

Sue & Paul Oates with Suvista Opal - second prize at the Boonah Show
Sue & Paul Oates with Suvista Opal - second prize winning calf at the Boonah Show

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

Phascogales and Other Tales: A Queensland Tree Change by Paul Oates, Independently Published, 2020, ISBN: 9798651038121, 237 pages with 296 colour photographs, available from Amazon.com, paperback US$29.07, eBook US$3.00

TUMBY BAY - One of the core functions that evolved as part of the PNG Attitude oeuvre, if we’re allowed to use such terminology, is the encouragement of writers, both old and new.

This has largely been interpreted as meaning Papua New Guinean writers, as through such endeavours as the Crocodile Prize.

Along the way, however, quite a few non-Papua New Guinean writers have also been discovered.

Sometimes they were established writers who had come into the fold and at other times writers who discovered themselves through interaction with the website, particularly the Comments facility.

Often the subject matter aired on PNG Attitude inspired writers. My alter ego, Inspector Metau, owes his creation to articles that appeared on the website.

These writers went on to join their Papua New Guinean peers as regular contributors to the website. Together they have brought a new kind of dynamic in the unique cultural mix that is PNG Attitude.

One of those writers is regular contributor Paul Oates.

I’ve got to know Paul through helping to edit and publish two of his books, Small Steps Along the Way and Life on a Coral Atoll, the former of which is available as a free download on PNG Attitude.

I think I might be right in saying that neither of those books would have been written and published if Paul had not become involved with PNG Attitude.

Fitz - Phascogales coverPaul has now written a third book, Phascogales and Other Tales: A Queensland Tree Change, which chronicles his escape from the clutches of professional public service to a small tree and cattle farm in South East Queensland.

A phascogale, by the way, is a small Australian carnivore with a voracious sexual appetite that ultimately results in its death.

You’ll have to read the book to discover some of the other unique idiosyncrasies of this little critter.

The term ‘tree change’ often has hippy connotations: harassed individuals working in high stress jobs in the city fleeing to the countryside for a bucolic lifestyle close to nature.

Neither Paul nor his wife, Sue could be called hippies. Their ‘tree change’ was much more than a simple lifestyle adjustment.

They had serious intentions of becoming self-supporting farmers and perhaps passing that legacy on to their children.

Australia is a largely urbanised nation but farming runs deep in its collective psyche. Even high flyers working in the cities are not that far removed from their Arcadian antecedents.

This book is about how two professional people decided to get back to their roots by creating a small tree and stud cattle farm in South Eastern Queensland.

It chronicles the planning and execution of their change and all the high and low points they encountered in the process.

It also relates often amusing encounters with a variety of wild and domestic animals, including the wily phascogales of the title.

So too it describes many of the kind, irascible and sometimes unfriendly people with whom they met or had to deal with along the way.

For anyone contemplating a similar tree change this book is a valuable insight into what to expect.

The book is replete with nearly 300 colour photographs, and there is also a super economy e-book version.

If you’ve read Paul’s other books and like his style of writing I would recommend you dip into this one too.

And if that doesn’t turn you on there’s an intriguing chapter by his wife, Sue, that will tickle your fancy.

Comments

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Simon Davidson

I concur with Phil's review article comments, specifically his line "about writers who discovered themselves through interaction with the website, particularly the Comments facility."

I find the ace editing of Keith Jackson and comments section of seasoned writers like Phil Fitzpatrick, Ed Brumby Chris Overland and many others in Australia and PNG very helpful in my evolution as a writer of prose and poetry.

I can never thank enough the blog and the commentators. They have been like oxygen to my lungs in my brief literary journey.

The collective input has been like a goad to guide me and others to the literary uplands. Thanks a zillion.

Estelle Allan

Have read and enjoyed Paul’s first two books so much. Can’t wait to get my hands on this latest one.

Michael Dom

Em nau wantok!

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