It's been a project that has been a long time coming. One that I first dreamt of attempting back in 1989 when I was just 17 years old. Back then, I was a high school student whom had just won my high school's writing award for the third straight year, only this time for poetry rather than prose. Not surprisingly, my winning poem was about a railway line. Not your everyday commuter line that rushes into the city. Rather, a railway line that had seen better days. One that was now in the process of being dismantled before nature would spend the next decade reclaiming the landscape that was once rightfully hers. To me it was a powerful visual, one that a Remington typewriter, black and white photocopier and a budget priced 35 mm camera could simply not do justice to. My how times have changed.
Fast forward to the present. Technology has come along in leaps and bounds. Today it is possible for anyone to produce a Book, whether it be an eBook full of poetry, or a full colour cookbook of their Mother's favourite recipes. Finally there was a platform for me to launch the project I had first envisioned when I was a teenager. During the time that has passed between the idea first coming to mind and today, the railway landscape that I remembered from the 1980's has altered drastically. Many of the remnants from the steam era have long since disappeared, and following further railway rationalisations around the turn of the Millennium, many structures from the Twentieth Century have followed in their footsteps. The time to undertake a project such as this was now, as I believe that many of the structures featured in this first book will be non-existent in the decades that follow.
Last Train to Brisbane is the first of what I hope will be many Last Train books. Combining hauntingly beautiful railway photography with classic Australian bush poetry, in a publishing sense is a huge risk. It's like trying to find a unique audience within two very niche markets. However, in an age where each year we lose a little more of the Australia that we've so often romanticised in the past, overseeing a project like this not only combines two passions of mine, but ensures that the memory of our railway past lingers that little bit longer.
Last Train to Brisbane is a lasting tribute to the small country towns of south east Queensland where it was once possible to board a train to Brisbane. Towns that still have reminders of our railway past waiting to be discovered by a whole new generation. Not only was writing and producing this project on such a small budget a big undertaking, the research and time spent travelling to each of the places featured in this book was equally time consuming when compared to writing a novel. But when you're busy immersing yourself into the nostalgia of each town and meeting the people who have helped preserve a small slice of our railway history, the reward is more than just the book sales that follow. History has a way of kindly remembering the poets from Australia's past, and while I do trust you will enjoy browsing this collection again and again, I also hope that this work may still be recalled fondly a Century from now.
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So with my first photographic poetry collection now available, my thoughts now turn to the next Last Train instalment. The next book will take my love of the rails on the road once more, this time exploring the Brisbane Border Ranges and another of my favourite abandoned railway lines, the Murwillumbah line in northern New South Wales. With each book available in either hardcover or softcover 8 x 10" premium edition print, each title will be colour themed so that they form a beautiful line-up on your bookshelf. With Last Train to Brisbane completed 6 months earlier than announced, watch for the next instalment to be available before Christmas 2017, after which I will already be exploring the south west coast of Western Australia for future editions.
And for those who are budget conscious like myself when it comes to making purchases, keep an eye on Blurb's website, as they regularly have 3 day special offers that can save you 10%, 20% or even 30% off the purchase price by entering the code displayed at the top of their website. Making the title available exclusively through Blurb keeps the retail price 40% cheaper than had I made the book available through Amazon and other online channels, and best of all, the book is posted from either Melbourne, San Francisco or the Netherlands depending on where you are located.
Until next time, take care