Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Blogger
Category: Events

Clunes Booktown

Last weekend I visited the little former gold-rush town of Clunes, in central Victoria, to attend a book event. Clunes, as well as being a pretty little historic town, has also reinvented itself as a “BookTown” which I think was a brilliant move. I blogged about my visit on the WordWenches so you can read it there, but I had a lot more photos that I want to share that I couldn’t fit on that blog. So here goes:

Entering ClunesWhen the beige-gold late summer/autumn paddocks, and grey-green eucalyptus forests give way to autumn color, you know you’re getting close to a town or settlement. Australian native vegetation isn’t generally deciduous and doesn’t change color in autumn, so the trees and shrubs that do are exotic (imported) species generally planted by early settlers who wanted a taste of “home

This photo was taken entering the town of Clunes.

I didn’t take this photo of some of the shops in Clunes — my photos all have cars parked in front of the shops and buildings, and I couldn’t get a clear shot, so I couldn’t resist “borrowing” this one to give you a sense of the historic feel of the town.  I think this was taken some years ago.clunes shops


This is another pic of some of the shops in the main street— note the stone and brick construction, again signalling how very prosperous Clunes was after the gold rush.

Most of them are well-preserved historic buildings. There were several very good cafes and restaurants, a number of craft and tourist-style shows and of course the usual kind of shop that any town needs for its residents.



I took quite a few photos of some of the pretty houses around town. Don’t you love the aged slate roofing tiles?

It’s a classic old Australian style, with a veranda going right around the house, or at least on three sides, which helps keep the house cool in summer.

I lived in a house like this when I was 10 and 11 years old, and I loved the verandah so much.



1873 house


Here’s another house I liked.

Built in 1873, it was obviously built by a prosperous miner, not only because it’s made of brick, but that wrought around around the veranda was quite expensive.







There were several magnificent old bluestone churches — Catholic, Protestant and Anglican — a sign of how very prosperous the town was after the gold rush.

One of them was in the process of renovation — another sign of how prosperity is returning to the town.






There are still a few signs of the gold mining left around the town — here are a some mullock heaps — piles of dirt and rocks left after being dig up and mined for gold.

You can often see these in the countryside near old gold towns, a remnant of the times. The mine holes will be covered up for safety reasons, but I’m not sure why these mullock heaps remain — perhaps because they’re also a historic reminder.

I couldn’t help peering closely at them just in case I spotted a few gleaming specks of gold in the glorious autumn sunshine. But alas, it was all worked out years ago.

I loved this big old warehouse in the main street, where huge slabs of native wood were stored, waiting to be bought and polished up and made into table tops or benches.

I love this kind of thing and would love to have a table of a bench with a top like this.

And though it wasn’t really cold, it was nice to have the fire going. Quite a few places had fires going, for the atmosphere as much as anything. I love a real fire, don’t you?



Here are a few more Clunes houses and these are the sort of pretty old houses you’ll find anywhere in Victoria — in the suburbs of Melbourne, in small country towns and regional cities. 

Weatherboard (wood) with corrugated iron roofs, verandas and iron lace or decorative woodwork. And mostly single story — we don’t go for double story houses here very much, except in the city where double storied terrace houses were all the rage in the 1880’s. A lot of the modern house are double story too, but they’re not nearly as pretty in my view. And very few of them have verandas, which I think is a shame.


So that’s it, my visit to lovely Clunes BookTown. I hope you enjoyed it.

 If you want to see more photos of Clunes, go to my Word Wenches blog.




BookBub Special

My book, MARRY IN HASTE, the first in the “marriage of convenience” series is on special for a short time at $1.99. Mainly in the USA but there is a reduced price also in Australia and the UK by the look of it, so check your local e-book seller.  
Universal link:
MARRY IN HASTE was given a coveted starred review from Library Journal  who said: ” With deep character insight, subtle humor matched with rapier wit, and brilliant repartee, Gracie puts a refreshing spin on a classic romance trope and delivers another knockout Regency that will keep fans enthralled.
It was also given a Desert Island Keeper rating from All About Romance. You can read it here.
Scroll down below the image for a short excerpt.

My hero in this book is Major Calbourne Rutherford, who’s been a soldier most of his life. Returning briefly to England on the trail of an assassin, he discovers he’s now Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives — in particular his wild young half-sisters. 

Poor Cal, he’s used to having men jump to his every command. Now he’s discovering sisters — in fact every woman he comes across — are quite a different matter. As he tells his old army friend, Galbraith:

“Remember that time when I was still wet behind the ears and they gave me that troop to command—most of them from the stews of London and only in the army as an alternative to being locked up in prison for God knows how long.”

“Lord, yes. Thugs and villains to a man. Scum of the earth.”

Cal nodded. “Trying to control my young sisters is harder than that.”

“Harder than commanding that riff-raff?” Galbraith gave a snort of amusement. “Pull the other one, Cal. I’ve seen grown men—hard nuts they were too—shaking in their boots when called up before you for some infraction or other.”

“Yes, but they knew I could have them flogged.”

Galbraith shook his head emphatically. “Don’t remember when you ever resorted to flogging.”

“I did once or twice—extreme circumstances.” Cal stared into his brandy glass. “But you can’t flog girls or even threaten it.”

Galbraith nodded. “Quite right, too.  Delicate creatures, females.”

“And soldiers don’t burst into tears at a—very mild—reprimand, or flounce from the room, or sulk, or look at you with big wounded eyes! Or ignore my—very reasonable—orders and go their own merry way!” 

There was a muffled sound from the chair opposite. Cal narrowed his eyes. “Are you laughing at me, Galbraith?”

His friend pulled a large handkerchief from his pocket, blew noisily into it and said with an unnaturally straight face, “No, no. Wouldn’t dream of it.” 

Universal link:


It’s ANZAC day here, which is a big day in Australia and New Zealand — commemorating soldiers fallen in all wars, though the ANZAC tradition began after WW1. ANZAC stands for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps which fought in WW1 and were used by the British Army more or less as cannon fodder. These were untested troops from far flung colonies and the British had no good opinion of them.

The result was utterly tragic. The campaign (the real purpose of which was to draw enemy fire, allowing British troops to land elsewhere) was a success in tactical terms, but a defeat in real terms. The ANZACs held their position under constant fire for long after they were expected to. The casualties were appalling but the bravery, individually and collectively, of the ANZAC troops was outstanding. (This photo is of my grandparents. He was not one of those original ANZACs. He fought in Flanders, was badly gassed and died while my 19 year old father was off at war.

There are few (if any) of those original WW1 soldiers left, but the wastage of life and the courage of these boys under impossible conditions made such an impact on two young countries (Australia, like most of these soldiers, was not yet 20 years old) that it became a national day of mourning.

In the cities and country towns there’s a march to the local war memorial and a dawn service. And instead of the significance of the day fading over time, it seems to have grown.
Now it’s a day of commemoration of all people fallen in war. It’s a public holiday on Monday in most states, though not Victoria, where we stick to the actual date of 25th April.


Last year, with CoVid hitting and much of the country in Lockdown, a “Light up the Dawn” campaign was begun, and the dawn service was held all over the country, in small country towns and in the streets of suburbia. 

In the hour before the dawn, people gathered outside their homes, in driveways or on balconies, lighting the night with candles and lanterns, waiting for the breaking of dawn. The ANZAC service was streamed live on ipads and mobiles. There was even a lone young woman playing the last post on her violin in a cow paddock in Queensland.

It was very moving, people in small family groups, some with kids in slippers and dressing gowns, some former soldiers wearing their medals, others wearing their father’s/grandfather’s/husband’s medals, all standing outside, separately-but-together,  in the chilly, silent streets, holding candles , waiting as the sun slowly rose.

There was an underlying symbolism, too, to this event happening across the country — we might be unable to leave our homes, we might be waging this silent war against CoVid, but we will still remember the fallen. And in a strange way, this street-side scattered, very personal ceremony that was happening all over the country brought us all closer.

Now it’s back to sort-of-normal  with CoVid more or less undercontrol in some areas, but not in others — for instance  Western Australis is currently under Lockdown, and so “Light up the Dawn” will continue there — and, I suspect, at many other places, simply because it felt so special out in the street, commemorating the day with your neighbors.

I will be baking ANZAC biscuits (cookies if you’re American)  which, apart from being traditional, were the biscuits women sent to their men at war, as they were:
a) delicious
b) kept really well (important as it often took months for the care packages to arrive)
and c) were made of ingredients most people had in their pantries anyway.

They’re very easy and yummy. I make the mix in one pot, melting the butter and golden syrup in a large saucepan then mixing the dry ingredients in. (Anything to lessen the washing up) Recipe here.

Some like them crispy and some prefer them softer and chewier. Either way is fine by me. And if you bake them crispy then leave them out, they’ll soften anyway, so it’s not hard to get whatever  biscuit  style you prefer.
Do you prefer your biscuits crispy or chewy?