Australia Fair

Disclaimer: I realize that as a native of Pittsburgh, PA, I have NO ROOM at ALL to make fun of place names. In Pittsburgh? We talk about the Beaver Valley, the Quaker Valley Fighting Quakers, and we won’t even get into the towns of DuBois and North Versailles. That would be “doo-boys” and “nort ver-sales.” I’m not kidding.

Why aren’t more erotic novels set in Australia? A very, Very Nice Editor at Kensington gave me a copy of an article (can I use your name? I don’t know if I can say who you are, but you’re awesome!) from the NY Times, and it’s so awesome, I had to PDF it for those who can’t access the joy that is this treasure of unintentional humor: Download your copy or read it online.

What superficially appears to be an article about a zoologist who studies the kangaroo is really a treasury pot of inspiration.

For the record: I love kangaroos, but then, I have a toddler who loves The Wiggles, so I’m pretty much in love with the whole of Australia for giving me four gyrating men who entertain him so I can sit down and catch my breath for 30 minutes.

But erotica? In Australia? Clearly, there needs to be more of it.

Take, for example, some of the NAMES OF THINGS in Australia.

The nailtail wallaby. Imagine that erotic hero nickname.

Or, the part that caught the Very Nice Editor’s eye:

The fabulous oolacunta, a rat kangaroo that is now extinct, streaked across the desert at speeds that made it seem to float above the ground. One naturalist and his assistants, working in relays with fresh horses, pursued an oolacunta over rough terrain for 12 miles in 1931 before finally catching up to the little fellow, which then keeled over and breathed its last.

Oo! La Cunta! It hovers across the ground until it collapses and dies from exhaustion? Remind you of any overworked glistening orifices® you know?

As Bill Bryson noted recently, Australia also has a startling collection of town and location names that would drive the average erotic author to fits of combustible creativity. Bryson’s examples are fine enough: “Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jiggalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong.”

But then, consider these other fine examples of where Caden “Nailtail” Wallaby and Anita the hovering oolacunta could met up in hopping sexual bliss: Will their Loveday include a stop in Carrickalinga after a drive through Cockburn?

Gosh, I love Australia.


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Deb says:

    OMG, I get to lay claim to the first comment!

    Those Aussies definitely have intriguing turns of phrases.  And let’s face it, no matter what it is, “goliah” sounds vaguely sexual.  I have a feeling that they also glisten moistly…

  2. 2
    Joanna says:

    Two words:  Captain Feathersword (he loves to dance).

    Could feathersword be a new euphimism for cock?  Probably too insubstantial sounding….

    (For anyone who is confused, I’m channelling the Wiggles here).

  3. 3
    Tracy says:

    The Wiggles. My 5 year old LOVED them when he was 2 and 3.  There was something vaguely disturbing about them, yet, like SBSarah, I loved that they gave me a break for a half hour LOL

    Joanna~My hubby and I raised our eyebrows at Captain Feathersword’s name too LOL

  4. 4

    My best friend moved to Australia because, oddly enough, she married an Australian.  I’ll be sure she sees this link.

  5. 5
    Todd says:

    Of course, Pennsylvania can boast towns called Paradise, Virginville, Blue Ball, and Intercourse.

  6. 6
    Teddy Pig says:


    These are Smart Bitches Titles.

  7. 7
    Hilary Sares says:

    Of course you can use my name!  And be sure to mispronounce like everyone else. Say-ers is how you say it, but a misbegotten ancestor could not spell and left out the y.  I didn’t get his DNA.  This is the best website on earth, my go-to for the worst in romance (and hey, I can hear the hearts tenderly beating at the sight of those big, bold, badly painted men—you’re not fooling me).  OK, I can promise that I have the all-time most godawful cover, ever, period, like nothing you have ever seen, to share with the Bitches and their devotees, but Sarah, send me your address, Kensington doesn’t let editors near scanners.  Your take on the oolacunta, moistly yearning, made me acronymic with laughter.  Rock on, Great One!

  8. 8
    sara says:

    One of my guy friends (hell, ALL THE MEN I KNOW, maybe even the gay ones, ‘cause hey, they like mantitty) would give their left ones to live in a town called Tittybong. If it lived up to the promise of the name, of course.

  9. 9
    Teddy Pig says:

    Oh please, may there be a holder of the title Miss Tittybong.

  10. 10
    Keziah Hill says:

    Ah, Smart Bitches, you just have to get the Australian humour. It’s dry, dry, dry. Self deprecating and laconic. What other nation would have a town called Dunedoo (pronounced dunny doo – a dunny is an outside toilet). And we just love our overseas guests stumbling over Wooloomooloo (one of my great pleasures was watching a BBC television news reader pronounce this).

    But this brings up the whole issue of national stereotypes and mythologies. Most people think Australians live in wide open spaces, with kangaroos hopping down the streets, and we often like to think ourselves like that too. The lure of the Red Heart of Australia with Uluru haunts our national consciousness. In fact most of us live in cities. Out of a population of 21 million, about 8 million live in Sydney and Melbourne.

    When you read Australian romance writers (and we have a lot of successful category writers) so much of their work is based in rural and remote Australia. Hardly anyone writes about inner city Sydney (my home town) or Melbourne. You have to go to crime writers like Peter Corris for Sydney and the wonderful Leigh Redhead (with an ex stripper for her sleuth) for Melbourne to get the city feel.

    There is a belief that the real Australia won’t sell unless it’s in the Outback. And while the Outback has lots of erotic possibilities, (the landscape is truly stunning), there’s lots of scope for stories in the urban environment. But I don’t see many being written.

  11. 11
    Chicklet says:

    Minnesota has a town called Climax. And I think, by definition, it doesn’t get any better than that. *g*

    Oh, except you have to go through Embarrass to get to Climax.

  12. 12
    Kalen Hughes says:

    OK, I can promise that I have the all-time most godawful cover, ever, period, like nothing you have ever seen, to share with the Bitches and their devotees

    I’m dying to see this!

    And I’m feeling pretty damn happy that I haven’t the vaguest idea what the Wiggles even are. So clean and pure. So clean and pure.

  13. 13
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    And we just love our overseas guests stumbling over Wooloomooloo

    Did I learn how to say that correctly from Monty Python’s “Bruces” skits?  (I’m lousy at any kind of proper phonetic language, but it would sound approximately like Walluhmuhloo.)  I had no idea the spelling made it look so frightening.

    Ohio has a “ver-sales” also.  I have to stop and force myself to say it wrong on the rare occasion I have to talk about it.

    Of course, for road-trip entertainment, it’s hard to beat a song about towns in Massachusetts called “Entering Marion.”

  14. 14
    Keri Arthur says:

    Keziah said: There is a belief that the real Australia won’t sell unless it’s in the Outback. And while the Outback has lots of erotic possibilities, (the landscape is truly stunning), there’s lots of scope for stories in the urban environment. But I don’t see many being written.

    It is being written—it’s just that it’s not very well known in Australia. (Australian’s have an age old habit of ignoring or putting down anything that’s Australian, after all.)

    My dark urban fantasy series is set in Melbourne, and doing quite well in America :)

    As for place names, you’ve also gotta love Iron Knob, Maiden Gully, Cockburn, Burrumbuttock, and Titybong

  15. 15
    Bron says:

    You don’t even need Aboriginal placenames. When I was growing up in Canberra (Australia’s capital city, even though it was more like a town at the time) there was a saying amongst the local guys that just used local suburb names – mostly named after dead politicians – to describe their activity: Downer, Turner, Upper Cotter.

    But seriously, Keziah was right about most of the population living in cities. Although I do think that culturally there has been a little more awareness of landscape beyond the city, because it was such a large part of the Australian cultural mythology, but I also think that has changed over the past few decades. Now our the common ways of talking about the ‘geography’ of the country identify four ‘regions’: The City (all the major cities are on the coast); The Coast – the coastal strips between the cities, now increasingly densely populated; The Bush – regional (sparsely populated) areas beyond the cities and the coast; and The Outback, which is the huge, very empty space in the middle.

    Although I’ve lived in inner city Sydney for a while, I now live in the bush and travel in the outback, and I love it :-) However, there are an awful lot of Australians who never venture beyond the coastal fringes.

    However, I can’t just now think if any potential erotic place names :-) I did do a trip on bush roads in Victoria yeas ago, where we crossed creeks with evocative names like ‘Dead Cow Creek’ and ‘Mad Dog Creek’, which might fit into a gothic novel…

  16. 16

    And don’t forget Bald Knob in Queensland:)

  17. 17
    Tally says:

    Jessica Dee has a romance that’s set in Sydney and Melbourne coming out.

  18. 18

    Here in Florida you can always meet your sweetie in Kissimmee, or travel to Yeehaw Junction for a good time.

    But my favorite town name in the state is still Two Egg up along the Panhandle.  Kind of says it all.

  19. 19
    Keri Arthur says:

    here in Vic, we have an additional region—the country. These are regional areas that hold pockets of densely populated towns, and is not the same as the bush. I live in the country :)

  20. 20
    soco says:

    My sister-in-law once worked for a company in the Detroit area and routinely had to give customers directions.  Where was it?  Right off I-75.  Big Beaver Rd. Exit 69.

    Who says DMV workers have no sense of humor?

  21. 21
    Keziah Hill says:

    My dark urban fantasy series is set in Melbourne, and doing quite well in America smile
    Keri! How could I forget you! Vampires and werewolves in Melbourne! Your books are wonderful! I think it’s as you say, romance isn’t on the shelves in Australia (much – Borders is an exception). We have such an odd attitude to it. On the one hand, Australia doesn’t have a hugely influential religious right like the US and we are pretty secular and laid back, but on the other hand we have this wowser streak. Our censorship laws until relatively recently were terrible and every now and then we have another outbreak of conservatism.

    And even though we can be very anti intellectual, often the reason for people expressing anti romance views are based on a type of intellectual elitism.  All quite puzzling

  22. 22
    Keri Arthur says:

    It’s puzzling, because we have a lot of great romance authors in Australia (Bron, Anne Gracie, Stephanie Laurens, yourself, Anna Campbell… the list goes on.)Everyone is doing great business overseas, more so than some of the ‘greats’ of Australian literature, and yet we’re basically ignored. Or worse, mocked for what we write. But I think the tide is starting to turn, thanks to the work of RWA and El Prez Anne :)

    As for the censureship laws—I think we’re luckier than some countries. Our laws have always been somewhat fluid rather than overly strict and stupid. Are you old enough to remember No.96? That was produced back in the 70’s, and very risque for its time

  23. 23
    Sandra D says:

    Don’t forget the lovely Newfoundland for wonderfully evocative place names: Come-by-Chance, Blow-me-Down, Lushes Bight, and of course Dildo. has a complete list of some of the better names, an author could really work with these I think.

  24. 24
    Keziah Hill says:

    All that said, looks who’s on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the most infuential papers in Australia today!
    Go Bron Clarke!

  25. 25
    che says:

    I live outside of San Antonio where there is a Women Hollering Creek.

  26. 26
    karibelle says:

    Sandra D. said:
    “Don’t forget the lovely Newfoundland for wonderfully evocative place names”

    Too true.  My grandmother is from Pouch Cove, Newfoundland!

  27. 27
    Josie says:

    I have a friend from the States who whenever he tries to speak to me with an Aussie accent seems to just channel Steve Irwin… Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why there isn’t much erotic romance set in Australia? I imagine that could be a bit of a mood killer when the hero is seducing the heroine but all you can hear is “Oim just gunna stick me finger in there roight love? I’m gonna getcha all roiled up!” :-)

    Seriously though, I have to agree with Keri and Keziah, there is a strange attitude towards romance in Australia. As a reader it can be difficult to find the authors/books you want to read, including home grown writers. This is a particular shame considering some of the fabulous authors we’ve produced.

    BTW I love your Riley series Keri and have gushed about it to many people! *ends fan girl squeeing*

    However, it’s not all bad news, especially for Bronwyn Clarke… There is a very positive article congratulating her recent RWA win in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning! I was quite excited when I read it!

  28. 28
    wendy says:

    Sandra, we also have a Come-by-Chance. I begged and begged but the old man refused to buy that house in Policemans Knob. I am sure that the Weekend Australian Magazine deliberately find houses for sale in exotic sounding places to advertise.

  29. 29
    Estelle Chauvelin says:

    Josie: I’m not going to copy and paste the first paragraph of your last post because, well, I’m on a work computer, but my thought is that perhaps the goal needs to be “Less Steve Irwin, more Hugh Jackman.”

  30. 30
    Bron says:

    The Sydney Morning Herald?????

    Bron sits in stunned silence for a moment


    Thanks, Keziah, for letting me know. I knew AAP had put out a story on their news feed last night, but the SMH? Wow.

    I just picked up a copy of the local paper ‘cos I made the front page of that (which, since we’re a small town, isn’t hard!!), but it never occurred to me to look at the SMH.

    Interestingly, my experiences with the media the past couple of months, and the response to the story that went out about me finalling in the GH have given me the string impression that the tide is turning somewhat in Oz regarding the romance genre – probably due to successes like Keri’s, Anne Gracie’s and Anna Campbell’s in the overseas single-title market, and the increasing success of authors like Bron Jameson, Marion Lennox and Barb Hannay in the category market. While the media releases re my GH have gone out from my uni’s PR area and have mentioned my research, it has been the genre rather than the research that has been picked up on my the media – and while I’ve had to deal with the Barbara Cartland questions, they’ve been asked in a more positive light, with definite interest in the contemporary genre.

    I’m also aware that Australian publishers are beginning to take an definite interest in the genre; maybe we’ll actually see locally acquired romances published here before too long.

    So, yay to Keri, Anna, Anne and others for being such fantastic influences!

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