On The Red Highway and its themes

Excerpt from an interview in the magazine Australian Aboriginal Art, June 2009

Darwin-based author and arts writer Nicolas Rothwell is particularly known for his interest in Australian Indigenous art and culture. His fourth book, The Red Highway, follows Rothwell’s mystical and sometimes fictional journey through northern Australia, a beautiful place strangely unfamiliar to most Australians. He travels from Darwin’s beaches to deep into the Kimberley, encountering along the way a variety of local people – from an aging priest and a cattle station “queen” to artists and art centre managers. While exploring deserted coastlines, hidden towns and the vast landscapes, Rothwell discovers how both ancient and modern Australia connect to the landscape – and to himself. Continue reading » » »

Science and sceptics shrink Darwin’s big idea

By Nicolas Rothwell. First published in the Australian Literary Review, February 4th 2009. It also appears in The Best Australian Essays: A ten year collection, published by Black Inc, April 2011

Charles Darwin’s emotional trajectory and intellectual legacy reconsidered from Darwin on the bicentennial of his birth

Early in the morning of January 12, 1836, the young naturalist Charles Darwin, on board the Royal Navy’s HMS Beagle, caught his first glimpse of Sydney Harbour and the fledgling colony of New South Wales. He expected wonders: but what he saw, as he wrote that day in his diary, was a level landscape, “bare and horizontal strata of sandstone, covered by woods of thin, scrubby trees that bespoke useless sterility”. Darwin was close to his 27th birthday and fresh from the Galapagos Islands, his mind brimming with rich, strange impressions, an instinct for pattern and order coming alive inside his heart.
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With interior designs

“Wings of the Kite-Hawk” review by Noel Purdon. First published in The Weekend Australian March 22nd 2003

Nicolas Rothwell takes a journey into the metaphors and realities of the Australian landscape

AS he demonstrated in his novel Heaven & Earth, Nicolas Rothwell is a conceptualist. In order to construct a novel he needs an architecture that will also serve as a weight-bearing metaphor to support his massively collected material. In Heaven & Earth that metaphor was the brain of communist Europe cracking into fragments. Because he writes both with the skills of an on-the-spot journalist and the curious, dazed distance of the metaphysician, he failed to convince some critics of his literary power. And yet it was there, as surely as it is in Robinson Crusoe, the allegory overseeing the observation.
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