'In Eleanor Dark’s novel Waterway (1938), Professor Channon is prompted by the ominous international headline ‘Failure of Peace Talks’ to imagine the world from a global perspective (120). Channon feels himself metaphorically ‘lifted away from the earth … seeing it from an incredible distance, and with an incredible, an all-embracing comprehension’ (119-20). This move outward from a located perspective to ‘a more detached overview of a wider global space’ signifies a cosmopolitan viewpoint, ‘in which the viewing subject rises above the placebound attachments of the nation-state to take the measure of the world as a wider totality’ (Hegglund 8-9). Yet even this global view is mediated by Channon’s position from within ‘a great island continent alone in its south sea’ (121). Gazing from a ‘vast distance,’ he views Europe as ‘the patches where parasitic man had lived longest and most densely,’ and from which humankind ‘went out to infect fresh lands’ (120). This description of old world Europe as ‘parasitic’ provides a glimpse of resistant nationalism, reflecting Channon’s location within one of the ‘fresh lands’ affected by colonisation. Channon is ultimately unable to sustain a ‘Godlike’ perspective in this scene, desiring ‘nothing but to return’ to local place (121). Although his view initially ‘vaults beyond the bounds of national affiliation’ (Alexander and Moran 4), this move outward does not ‘nullify an affective attachment to the more grounded locations of human attachment’ (Hegglund 20). Channon’s return to the ‘shabby home … of his own humanity’ brings a renewed sense of connection to ‘the sun-warmed rail of the gate’ and ‘the faint breeze [which] ruffled the hair back from his forehead’ (122).' (Introduction)
Vance Palmer's The Passage (1930) and Eleanor Dark's Lantana Lane (1959) bracket the period during which the narrow coastal strip north of Brisbane from the Pumicestone Passage to the Noosa River was being transformed economically and culturally into what we know today as the Sunshine Coast. In the 1920s and 1950s respectively, Palmer and Dark participated in changing the region, and as established writers they reflected upon that metamorphosis in literary works that reached a national audience at a time when Brisbane's near north coast was off the beaten track for professional writers. But for millennia prior to colonisation, this area had sustained a vibrant economy and culture centred on bunyas from the mountains and seafood from the coast. By the late nineteenth century, this vast economic and cultural network had been radically disrupted by the incursions of timber-getters and pastoralists, and many of the traditional owners who had survived the frontier wars had been removed. While the inscription of a new identity on the region in the twentieth century was driven by the real estate speculators who coined the name ‘Sunshine Coast’, Palmer in The Passage and Dark in Lantana Lane share a more cooperative, sustainable, egalitarian and anti-imperialist vision for the region, with some indirect and ambiguous debts to its Aboriginal past.