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Kanawinka Writers and Historians, are a network of writers and historians,
working together to promote, write, research and publish books on the
South East of South Australia.
Kanawinka Writers and Historians
Kanawinka Writers and Historians have already published a number of books
about the region, including the very successful Celebration South
East Series and are currently working on the publication of several
historical resource documents as well as a Chronology of the South East
in printed and data base form. In 1994 SEBP initiated the Biennial
National Community History Awards, which are presented at the State
Experienced members of the group provide writers with editorial assistance
and have been involved in editing publications for Tourism South East. They
also help with advice on publishing and undertake commissioned writing and
recently held a successful workshop on Book Design with Michael Bolan of
Wakefield Press as principal speaker.
SEBP was the inaugural winner of the ABC Regional Development Award.
History (In the beginning….)
In 1989 there was no shortage of talent among writers in the South East but their
books had limited sales so a small group met at Heather Carthew’s house in
Millicent and South East Book Promotions was formed. Its main aim at the beginning
was to create an awareness of books on the South East or by South Eastern writers
and to sell them! It quickly began to make its presence felt and among its foundation
members were many Millicent and district people – Heather of course, Geoff Aslin,
Mark Greenfield, Rosemary McCourt, Pam O’Connor as well as Evelynne Bowden from
Penola.. They were soon joined by more writers from Naracoorte and further afield
– such as Kingston and Keith.
Kanawinka Writers and Historians
(formerly South East Book Promotions)
South East Book Promotions, now known as Kanawinka Writers and Historians, began
in a small way. Founded by writers and historians from across the region, its initial
aims were to promote the sales of books written about the South East by people from
the South East. These books were a rich resource for the region but at that time had
only limited and localised distribution.
SEBP rapidly had an impact and sales increased, so it was decided to expand its
objectives. It published a series of small booklets on different aspects of the region
– the South East Celebration Series – and ran workshops and offered editorial advice
and assistance with publishing, writing etc.
In 1994 it organised the first ever National Community History Awards. The Award
attracted nation wide support from community historians and major publishers and
expanded from one prize – the Christina Smith Award - to a second and third Award
the Ebenezer Ward Prize for a smaller book and SA Historical Society’s Award for
the best SA History entered. Unfortunately after the 2002 competition the Awards
were cancelled due to difficulty obtaining sponsorship but they had succeeded in
raising the profile of Community History and bigger players had begun establishing
prizes in this genre. Although this was a sad decision the group had the satisfaction
of knowing that Community History was becoming recognised among the serious history
discipline and the Awards had played a significant part in this.
A big leap forward to the group was when SEBP won the inaugural ABC Regional Development
Award in 1994 and the prize money gave the group freedom to expand its assistance to
writers and to initiate new programmes.
In 1999 the group gained a Centenary of Federation SA Grant to organise a series of
lectures on different aspects of the history and development of the region. These were
highly successful and attracted prominent speakers. In 2001 SEBP gained a grant from the
State History Trust to assist in publishing, Exploring the Anatomy of a Region, the
proceedings of these lectures.
SEBP‘s next major enterprise was to publish a facsimile copy of Christina Smith’s The
Booandik Tribe of SA Aborigines, which had been long out of print. Demand was so high it
soon went into a reprint and then yet another further down the track.
The group has run seminars on writing and publishing but there is much ‘off the record’
sharing of advice and assistance with editing, writing, publishing etc. and useful tips
are often brought to meetings or circulated on the internet, so information sharing is
an important aspect of what the group is about.
Another enterprise that literally made history was the running of a regional State History
Conference, which was held at Struan, a gracious venue that enhanced the variety of high
quality speakers and who will forget the walk through the private cemetery with the then
State Historian Rob Nicol?
All during these years its members continued recording the region’s history and The Last
Jam Sandwich by secretary Judy Murdoch in 2000 won the SA Historical Society’s Award for
the best S.A history, a well-earned tribute to a talented writer and meticulous historian
who has been a great driving force to our organisation.
In 2003 the name of the group was changed to Kanawinka Writers and Historians as this was
seen to reflect its wider interests and objectives. The Kanawinka Fault runs like a spine
through the South East and into Western Victoria. It is the determining factor in the depth
and flow patterns of underground water – water that is the region’s lifeblood. The name
Kanawinka gives an identity, a richness and unifying force to writers, historians and
researchers from the South East and across the border. It also has the added attraction that
Kanawinka is an Aboriginal word for tomorrow – so we are entering the Land of Tomorrow!
In 2005 KWH won a grant from Australian Stories – one of only twenty awarded in the whole of
Australia - to transcribe notes made by George Goyder when in 1864 he re-valued 70 South
Eastern properties. Making these transcripts easily available has been a great asset to
South Eastern and indeed South Australian early history. Supported by State Records, the
Surveyor General, the Botanical Gardens and the Department of Heritage and Environment, who
wrote contributions for Through the eyes of Goyder, the Limited edition book is a high
quality production with superb illustrations, extensive maps and valuable supporting material.
Yet another winner for this vibrant group, it won a design award and is a jewel in the crown
of our group.
Setting up a website gave the group a much wider exposure and put us squarely in the 21st
century while preserving all that has gone before. A glance at the range of books handled by
the group over the years and its activities is impressive.
There are many notable characteristics of KWH – its dynamism, its ever interesting meetings
that are always worthwhile and have many side benefits such as information sharing over
delightful meals. It is also dynamic – watch this space could well be good advice for something
new is always happening. It may be a group enterprise or an individual publication but there is
always a sense of living and growing. Currently besides numerous books in the foetal or neonatal
stage by individuals the group is working on an annotated version of Clayton’s diaries that cover
a period of great growth in the South East. Also on the ‘books’ is a compilation of a series of
tourism topics and the possibility of a Roadshow – Unlocking the Past, a collaborative enterprise
by Shauna Hicks and Gould’s Historical Groups coming to the South East in 2011.
Kanawinka is well named the Land of tomorrow!