Fred Smith: The Dust of Uruzgan

Fred Smith has been described as "Australia's secret weapon" in international diplomacy. As a career diplomat, he served for two years in southern Afghanistan. Working alongside Australian soldiers in Uruzgan Province, Fred's second career as a musician came to the fore, his guitar serving as a bridge not only to the troops, but also to the people and tribal leaders of that war-torn region. His song, "Dust of Uruzgan", captured the hearts of many serving in Afghanistan, and "Sapper's Lullaby" has become an anthem for soldiers and their families. His acclaimed album, Dust of Uruzgan, earned him comparisons to Eric Bogle, John Schumann and Don Walker.

Now, with Australian forces out of Uruzgan, Fred has written a book – The Dust of Uruzgan - the first comprehensive on-the-ground account of Australia’s involvement there. Part memoir, part history, part eyewitness reportage, it offers a sympathetic explanation of an obscure and impoverished province where tribal leaders conspire against one another in a society devastated by thirty-five years of warfare.

In conversation with Genevieve Jacobs, Fred Smith offers reflections from two years working as a diplomat, political officer and songwriter on the frontline of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan, recently distilled into his fascinating memoir, The Dust of Uruzgan.

Tickets: $10 (includes a complimentary glass of wine or soft drink)


Stranger than Fiction – Light in the Dark?

Authors Sulari Gentill, Kaaron Warren (picture by Art Atelier) & Sean Williams (picture by James Braund)

Authors Sulari Gentill, Kaaron Warren (picture by Art Atelier) & Sean Williams (picture by James Braund)

Fiction acts as a way of analysing the world, often addressing complex experiences, including grief, loss and fear. By exploring strong emotions we can work through them, and perhaps, lighten the load. Sometimes a bit of humour helps too. Meet three writers of fiction – with a focus on ‘genre’ – all unafraid of the dark as they explore the need for a light side to it all.

Not so long ago, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do…other than turning off the iron. That feeling did not go away until she began to write. And so Sulari became the author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries: an award-winning series of, thus far, seven historical crime novels set in the politically tumultuous 1930s, and The Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world.

Kaaron Warren has been publishing horror and science fiction for more than 20 years. She’s won awards close to home (Canberra Critics Circle Award) and far away (the Shirley Jackson Award (USA)). She’s sold more than 200 short stories, four novels (the latest of which, The Grief Hole, was launched at the Canberra Writers Festival) and six short story collections including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls. She recently completed a Fellowship at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, where she researched murder, politics and art.

Sean Williams is an award-winning, #1 New York Times best selling author of over forty novels and one hundred stories, including some set in the Star Wars and Doctor Who universes, and some written with Garth Nix. His latest is Twinmaker: Fall, the concluding volume of his Twinmaker trilogy. Sean Williams is the 2016 ACT Writer-in-Residence, an initiative of the ACT Writers Centre in collaboration with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. The initiative is funded by artsACT, ACT Government. Normally he lives up the road from the Australia’s finest chocolate factory with his family and a pet plastic fish.

Tickets: $10 (includes a complimentary glass of wine or soft drink)


Only in Australia – Book Launch

This book is about the Australian difference. It is about how in economic and social policy, Australia now diverges significantly from comparable countries. 

This volume brings together economists, historians, and political scientists to delve into what makes Australia so different. The book suggests that the 'special path' that Australia has followed for over a century is the product ofphysical circumstances, historical accidents, fateful choices, and the unique personalities thrown up by an extraordinary land.

Contributors to Only in Australia include Geoffrey Blainey, Nick Cater, Henry Ergas and John Nethercote.

Only in Australia will be launched at Muse by Senator David Leyonhjelm and introduced by its editor Dr William Coleman from the ANU College of Business and Economics.