Time is a Traveller: The Localness of Meaghan Morris

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Katrina Schlunke


My aural introduction was Peter Allen’s song, ‘Tenterfield Saddler’. And most of you will know that ‘At Henry Parkes Motel’, Meaghan’s famous essay on mobility, comfort, desire and banality, is situated in Tenterfield where Meaghan’s early childhood took place.

 The overblowness of this song, the calculated ridiculousness of its nation branding via the melange of Australian animals—kangaroos, emus, cockatoos—all ‘up ahead’, only underscores the poignancy of the public secret of Allen’s homosexuality and his early death through HIV.

 The song, as you may have caught, may have felt, includes the heartbreaking camp of the transnational subject: ‘been all around the world and lives no special place’. And the recognition by that subject that the figures of their hometown, the grandfather living on manners, and the grandfather’s son—Peter Allen’s father who took his own life—have no point of belonging, no line of connection, ‘Except in this song’.

 If only Peter had read, heard, interacted with Meaghan. Today I would like to salute all the ways Meaghan has made it possible for the queers, swats, smartarses, girls, women, and those of us from the country and from public high schools—to be here. Meaghan has made it possible for us to imagine ourselves as both ‘here’ and ‘there’. And not just in a song.

Article Details

The Meaghan Morris Festival
Author Biography

Katrina Schlunke, University of Sydney

Katrina Schlunke is an Independent Scholar affiliated with the University of Sydney and the University of Tasmania. She is also a co-editor of 'Cultural Studies Review'.