Making ‘unprecedented’ the word of the year, drought, fires, floods, and now pestilence has hit us one after another. With Covid-19, Cairns Tropical Writers Festival inevitably had to postpone our  2020 event, and have rescheduled it to August 13th-15th,  2021.

Emerging from under the doona to make sense of the new world, a flurry of timely books have come to the rescue.




Featured recently in ABC’s Australian Story, local author Victor Steffensen has been in heavy demand over summer to teach traditional Indigenous fire management to non-Indigenous rural firefighters, farmers and graziers. Heavy layers of charcoal left by bushfires and hot hazard reduction burns only began to show up in soil samples in the last 200 years.

Elders at Laura originally taught Victor how to do cultural burns to clean and heal the landscape. Lit in a mosaic pattern, these are cool burns that do not destroy the living microbes and seeds of regeneration in the soil. As a writer, filmmaker and musician dedicated to educating the next generation, Victor’s book is Fire Country.




It is 250 years since Lieutenant James Cook sailed past, naming Trinity Bay, Cape Tribulation where his boat The Endeavour ran aground on the reef, the Endeavour River at Cooktown where repairs were carried out over six weeks, and Possession Island in the Torres Straits where he claimed possession of the entire east coast of Australia for Britain.

While debate rages about the 250 statues of Cook in Australia, whether to retain, pull down or make new signs telling a fuller history for them, the Cooktown 250 year Expo has also been postponed to 2021. One best-selling book is James Cook: the story behind the man who mapped the world, by former rugby champion, newspaper and media personality and prolific writer, Peter FitzSimons.





Hot off the press this month, On a Barbarous Coast is a novel of Cook’s men on the Endeavour River fixing their splintered boat.
It is co-authored by Cooktown’s Harold Ludwick, a Guugu Yimidhirr guide and cultural historian and recipient of a prestigious Encounters Fellowship with the National Museum of Australia; and Craig Cormick, award-winning author and former chair of the ACT Writers Centre.
“Watching these mysterious white beings, the Guugu Yimidhirr people cannot decide if they are ancestor spirits to be welcomed – or hostile spirits to be speared.”




Reprinted over and over since 2014 and selling over 300,000 copies, the multi-award winning Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture, puts forward a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for Aboriginal Australians as a colonial myth that worked to justify dispossession.
Sourced from the impeccable eye-witness records and diaries of the Australian explorers themselves, Bunerong historian Bruce Pascoe shows evidence that Aboriginal people across Australia were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, aquaculture, irrigation and storing.

“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.” – NSW Premier’s Literacy Awards Judging Panel


This book on resilience by co-host of ABC’s The Drum is just the pick-me-up needed after months of lockdown and uncertainty. Julia Baird is a trained historian and journalist with a distinguished career in USA and Australia.
Written after surviving cancer and a brutal heartbreak, this beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation shows how we can nurture that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ – to sustain us even through the darkest times.

Written by Jules Steer

Jules Steer is the Publisher of Oasis Magazine. With a career in Business Development spanning three decades, she's stressed, #blessed, and coffee obsessed ☕

A solo mum of four "determined", "focussed" and "energetic" young kids, she is often found with her head in her hands, lamenting her latest parenting fail.

A cricket-loving hip-hop tragic, very ordinary triathlete and champion cheerleader of all things #Cairns, Jules is easily recharged with Shiraz and Vodka - sometimes in the same glass.

Warning: Most situations get sweary quickly.


BOOK REVIEW: Farewell White Man