Meet authors, win books during Mary Poppins Festival

CALLING all budding scribes who aspire to having their written words published!

Whether its children’s books, thrillers, memoirs, blogs or learning how to get novels published, University of Southern Queensland’s Creative Writing on Country workshop is a great place to start.

Details of the workshop will be revealed at USQ Fraser Coast’s study centre in Maryborough as the Heritage City celebrates the birth of famous author, Pamela L. Travers, who penned the classic Mary Poppins books.

Walt Disney adapted her books for the big screen and last year her biography captured a world-wide audience in the movie Saving Mr Banks.

USQ Vice Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas said it was certainly possible that another Queensland writer could become the next Pamela L. Travers.

“This exciting creative writing workshop and competition is aimed at helping local writers build their literary skills and to inspire them to have their stories published,” Professor Thomas said.

To honour Maryborough’s link with the Mary Poppins author, Creative Writing on Country will be launched at USQHub@Maryborough, 38 Sussex Street, at 11am during this year’s festival on Sunday July 6.

USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said launch visitors could mingle with local authors, have books signed, win books, and hear about the authors’ writing journeys such as what inspired them to get started and how they found publishers. Visitors will also hear about the three-day workshop in October and learn how they can win a competition prize valued at $550.

Local authors attending the launch include children’s book writers Lincoln Bertoli and Lynda Downing, former military man turned paramedic Keith McArdle, Australian print and broadcast journalist Toni McRae, and T.J. Hamilton, a former Sydney police officer who turned her experiences into sexy stories of mystery and intrigue.

USQ Creative Writing lecturer Dr Nike Sulway believes everyone has a story to tell.

“Teaching at USQ is a great opportunity for me to hear the stories of regional students – your surroundings play such an important part in identity,” she said.

“This workshop will be a wonderful opportunity to meet other writers, grow your writing skills and experiment with a range of writing techniques while experiencing areas of cultural significance in Maryborough.

“Participants will also have an opportunity to get feedback on their story ideas and extracts from their writing.”

Dr Sulway has been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for excellence in Australian science fiction writing and has won a James Tiptree Junior Award, an international award that recognises the best works of science fiction and fantasy that explore the concept of gender.

She received her accolades for her novel Rupetta, which follows the 400-year life span of a mechanical woman.

“The idea for Rupetta came during a short-story workshop and eventually evolved into an entire novel,” Dr Sulway said.


PHOTO: USQ Creative Writing lecturer Nike Sulway will run the Creative Writing on Country workshop at USQHub@Maryborough in October.

Emu feathers keep little fingers busy

MAKING emu feather skirts and traditional head dress kept little fingers busy over the school holidays when University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast and Koorawinga Vacation Care partnered to run workshops at Scrub Hill, Hervey Bay.

USQ’s Indigenous Development Co-ordinator Linda Wondunna-Foley said the Emu Dreaming Workshops were aimed at encouraging young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to believe in themselves and their dreams.

“When Butchulla Elder Auntie Irene McBride approached USQ to support a holiday program that combined the sharing of traditional cultural knowledge with motivational activities, USQ was keen to be involved.”

USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said research indicates that children develop attitudes toward education and careers at an early age.

“Being involved in school holiday cultural activities is a good opportunity for USQ to help children develop positive attitudes and aspirations.”

Ms Wondunna-Foley and co-facilitators Sally Cripps and Vicky Scott helped the children make traditional emu feather skirts and head dresses over the two weeks.

“It was as motivating for the facilitators to engage with the young leaders as it was for the participants.”

Ms Wondunna-Foley also shared women’s business knowledge from her grandmother’s Wathaurong country at Geelong/Barwon Heads, Victoria, where she learnt to make emu feather skirts as a child.

“The children exchanged cultural knowledge and language in return and were very proud of their achievements when they completed their traditional ceremonial gear.

“Auntie Irene, who has completed a Master of Education at USQ, reiterated the importance of engaging with children in mid to late primary school to encourage them to enjoy and embrace learning through all stages of their lives.

“It was great to exchange Butchulla and Wathaurong traditions in the spirit of education.”


Photo: Showing their emu feather skirts are (back l-r) Kylyra Schiemer, Abina Page and Hannah Wondunna-Foley; (front) Kyrani Flanagan-Togo, Tulara Wondunna-Foley, Narmi Page, Torquasia Togo, Jedda Page and Diamond Rainbow.

Engineers still in high demand

BUDDING engineers who are now* considering their tertiary education options shouldn’t let the recent mining industry downturn discourage them from chasing their dreams.

Engineers Australia research shows engineers are still in high demand across a broad range of industries and the trend is expected to continue, according to University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Associate Professor Kevin McDougall, Head of School Civil Engineering and Surveying.

“Australia’s annual demand for engineers ranges from 13,000 to 20,000,” he said.

“Sixty three per cent of employers report difficulties recruiting suitably qualified engineers. The skills shortage is most acute in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. Civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering are the most sought-after disciplines.”

Early this year, USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas announced the Fraser Coast Campus is expanding its programs to include the Associate Degree of Engineering and Associate Degree of Construction at the Fraser Coast campus from the first semester of 2014.

Offered through regular face-to-face tutorials, the new flexible delivery programs will help meet the growing demand for tertiary level engineering and construction education programs across the Fraser Coast and Wide Bay region.

Accredited by Engineers Australia, the Associate Degree of Engineering offers students the opportunity to specialise in civil, environmental or mechanical engineering.

The Associate Degree of Construction (Civil) opens up career opportunities in the manufacturing and building industries as well as allied engineering projects.

Associate Professor Kevin McDougall said graduates can continue into higher degree studies including the Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Construction (Civil).

“These qualifications are recognised internationally so for anyone who likes to travel, having engineering qualifications gained through USQ will put him or her in good stead to find well-paying work in Australia and overseas – engineer salaries are very rewarding.”

Contact USQ Fraser Coast for further information on the programs on 4194 3133, Freecall: 1800 007 252, or log in to

PHOTO: USQ Fraser Coast campus at Hervey Bay.
*Issued September 18, 2013.