Rosebank – “out Cobaw way”

I’m very keen to tell you about the imminent arrival of “Among the regulars”, but for now it’s Rosebank.  I’ve just come back from a 3-week stay at “Rosebank Retreat“, generously granted through the Victorian Writers Centre, Mary Delahunty, the Sidney Myer Fund and Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.  And as the old cliche goes, it’s not a retreat as much as an attack.  The idea being, give a writer a place to stay and very little “real world” commitments, and the writer will write.

Before I tell you if that actually happened, let me give you a few images of the place and the surrounding area…

Rosebank Retreat
If you ride a trailbike through this, there's a lot you won't hear...


a curious and talkative local...
Macedon Ranges from the Cobaw State Forest


I had no strong plans for what I’d do here.  I wanted to write poems, maybe a dozen if I’m lucky, hopefully at least a handful.  I didn’t have any subjects, ideas, not a single rhyme scheme either.  The plan was to let the plan emerge out of the place, see how it affected me.  If you can put yourself into the photos above, you can guess – while it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely you won’t be refreshed and stimulated being here.  Oh, yeah, and by “here”, I mean between Woodend and Lancefield, not far from Hanging Rock.  Or, as we were told by someone at the nearest (8 kms away) General Store, “out Cobaw way”.

It may be way too early to talk about the quality of what I’ve written up there, but I did come out of it with a lot – something approximating the quantity of work I’d hoped for, but two other things happened.

I learnt more about how to work with my own creative energy – took breaks when I needed to, observed how my moods affected my writing, and above all, was reminded of “the power of the walk”.  Every time, without fail, if I went for a walk, some small or large poetic problem would be solved, especially if I wasn’t deliberately trying to solve it.

I also took on some new approaches.  More of that another time.

Big thanks go to George Dunford, novelist, travel writer and The Wire afficianado.  We shared Rosebank, and he gave me space when I had that “I’m getting creative” body-language, and we filled the evenings with food and drink and audio books (yes, believe it or not) and numerous in-jokes.

If you get a chance to spend time at Rosebank, do so.  Bring all your writing tools and something to take your mind off the writing too.  And remember that when you come back into the “big smoke”, you’ll feel a little weird, and you’ll miss the echidna, the kangaroos, the cows, the rosellas, the rusted old farming equipment, the wind shivering over the hills, the open spaces of the day…  and you’ll have to work out for yourself how to re-create little miniature retreats in your everyday life.


  1. hackpacker says:

    I’m expecting The Wire to inform both our work. I’ve introduced Stringer Bell into my humble Australian country town as he tries to get those kangaroos to work as hoppers for him. You very kind not to mention my dad joke tendencies.
    Hope you’re sticking to some Rosebank resolutions or at least finding away to keep the writing going.

  2. Norman says:

    Great photos, Andy. Very evocative. They are making me look forward to a camping trip when I get back from Europe.

    Sounds like the environment was helpful for your writing too. Excellent!

    I’m eager to hear you have copies of Among The Regulars in your sweaty palms. If so you may send a copy to Poste Restante, Krakow or Budapest and surprise me. Or just wait until I get back. I am thinking to be home before MIFF starts 🙂

  3. Andy says:

    Thanks, Norman. I’ll definitely send you a copy as soon as it comes. I want it to travel. Does it matter which city I send it to?

    As much as we want you back, especially for MIFF, stay as long as you can (psychologically and financially)! Once you’re out of Europe, it isn’t easy to just pop back over. 😉

    PS. My palms aren’t that sweaty – it’s getting to Autumn time here, under 20 degrees. 😉

  4. Maxine says:

    Looking forward to reading/hearing the results of the residency Andy!

  5. Norman says:

    Hi Andy!

    Today I went to Duino Castle where Rilke started writing his Duino Elegies” poem series.

    While I was thinking about Rilke shouting his poetry into the teeth of the fierce Bora wind coming off the Adriatic, I also had an image of you, as another “writer-in-residence”, striding through forests and across paddocks, declaiming into a hot northerly…

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