Spring symbolises the end of winter and a time for renewal as the weather becomes warmer and trees spring to life.  

September 1st was also National Wattle Day – a day celebrating Australia’s national floral emblem, land and history.  

The Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) blooms in early spring and is distinguishable by the yellow blossoms that appear in large numbers from the tree’s branches.  

The golden wattle holds significant cultural meaning for many Australians and Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples used wattle to predict the migratory patterns of whales, as well as for food, medicine and timber for instruments.  

The golden wattle is both an emblem for the change of season and our rich and diverse cultural heritage.   

What better way to celebrate our national emblem than think about Australia’s equally rich contribution to literature. These eight must-read novels explore our unique history, landscape and culture.  

Eight Great Australian Novels

Dirt Music by Tim Winton [B1664] 

Winton’s West Australian coastland is physically and psychologically perilous for the people who live by it, but its beauty still compels. Each member of the trio at the story’s centre is differently damaged and dangerous. Winton’s narrative tension is extraordinary. 

The Dry by Jane Harper [B2274] 

Set in drought-ravaged rural Victoria, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his hometown Kiewarra to attend the funeral of his former best friend, Luke Hadler. 

The Yield by Tara June Winch [B2336] 

August Gondiwindi returns home after her grandfather’s death. She has been living on the other side of the world for a decade. But the home she left is not the same, and she is confronted by the news that a mining company is trying to repossess their family home. An exploration of language and land, connection to home and Indigenous rights, Winch’s novel of a culture dispossessed is a marvel. 

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey [B2061] 

Summer, 1965. Charlie Bucktin, a bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an unexpected visitor: Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious and solitary, Jasper represents danger and intrigue, so when he begs for Charlie’s help, Charlie nervously follows and witnesses Jasper’s horrible discovery. 

Rabbit Proof Fence by Dorris Pilkington &Nugi Garimara [B1756] 

Nugi Garimara tells the story of three young girls who in 1931 escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement north of Perth intending to walk home to the northern desert. We see the realities of social policy at that time, but the focus is on an extraordinary effort of willpower, knowledge, strategy and stamina. 

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe [B2314] 

Pascoe challenges the hunter-gatherer stereotype for pre-colonial Indigenous Australians, citing evidence of land cultivation. Pascoe’s research includes diaries and records from early explorers. A controversial and thought-provoking read. 

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham [B1638] 

Tilly returns from fashionable Europe to her mother, ‘old Mad Molly’, and to the small country town in the Victorian wheatbelt where she grew up. In this inventive first novel, part pastoral, part Gothic, there is much comic brio as Tilly brings haute couture to the backblocks. 

Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld [B2356] 

This lyrical and haunting tale of aboriginal women across four generations is a re-imagining of the epic Australian novel. Spanning different regions across an ever-changing and ancient landscape, the story follows the women’s efforts to unravel family secrets and recover what they have lost as a way of finding redemption.