Some of the published Clarence Valley high school students enjoying their books, including Nadia Smith (left) of Grafton High School who was also published in the 2018 edition.

A short cut to the long way home

Geoff Helisma|

Some of the Clarence Valley’s hidden writers are featured in an anthology of short stories that was launched on November 12.

The product of the second annual ‘Long Way Home’ writing competition, the book, Stories from the Clarence Valley 2019 – To The Island, includes stories written by adults and school students.

The first story in the book is The Big Green Wave.

The author eloquently tells a very personal story of tragedy and heroism; his evocative introduction precedes the humble way in which he tells his story (and the empathy it arouses in the reader).

“This is a true story about a day in the life of Bruce Wallace McPherson (Fed) and the tragedy of the sinking of the Yamba prawn trawler Sea Dreamer II on January 10, 1979,” he writes.

“On that day, Yamba lost a father, husband and friend when Skipper, James Bultitude, drowned crossing the Yamba Bar.

“This scroll has taken me twenty years to remember, to think about what happened and to put pen to paper.

“It is my story, but it does not define me.

“I tell you this story so it is not forgotten.

“I tell you this story because I cannot forget.”

Long Way Home co-founder Erin Brady says she and her partners in the venture are “really proud” of the book.

“The Clarence Valley is full of creative people,” she said.

“A huge amount of imagination, effort, and skill has gone into these stories.

“The result is a rich collection that’s infused with a sense of the Clarence River in all its moods.”

Co-founder Claire Aman said she was thrilled to see so many different approaches to the theme, “all with their own magic”.

“Islands mean different things to different people,” she said.

“We had virtual islands, dangerous islands, beloved islands and threatened islands.

“We had lives saved, lives lost, disasters and near-disasters, mystery, history and beauty from writers of all ages.”

Last year, the books sold out in under a week; this year, thanks to “support from the Yugilbar Foundation, Bendigo Bank South Grafton Community Bank Branch and Westlawn Insurance Brokers, we’ve been able to print more books”.

“Last year, many people gave the book as a Christmas present,” Ms Aman said.

“It’s a wonderful gift because it supports local writers, young and old, but it also reflects the stories, themes and landscapes of our region; so it’s a great gift to give anyone with a connection to the Clarence Valley.”

The book ($20), featuring 45 homegrown writers and illustrations by Junction Hill artist Yohanna Dent, is available at Grafton Book Warehouse, South Grafton News and Gifts, The Nook Yamba and Café Angourie.