Australia Illustrated

In Australia Illustrated Tania McCartney has created her own eclectic schema for detailing quirky and eccentric icons of Australian life with multicultural perspectives. The popular culture tenor of the work is obvious in both text and image in this, the first of her many books which McCartney has illustrated as well as written.

Organised with introductory pages describing this ‘big, beautiful and diverse’ country which include sections on native animals, sport, and iconic Aussies, the text then covers Australia’s six states and two territories. The contents of these eight sections range from expected topics such as icons (buildings or landmarks), to more flippant headings such as Monster Shakes (from the Australian Capital Territory), Food Trucks (New South Wales) and Gelati (Queensland). The children depicted come from a wide variety of cultures from which foods here are often derived, for example, Italian caffé (in Victoria) and those served at the national multicultural festival (ACT). Indigenous culture is represented, for example, by Bush Tucker and two iconic Australian sportspeople Cathy Freeman and Adam Goodes.

This work will appeal to children’s love of detail; there are many things to notice in each double-page spread, lists to recite and jokes to uncover. While not intended as a definitive guide to Australian multicultural culture, this is a lively, beguiling and sometimes poignant introduction to it – e.g. The Northern Territory section depicts two children, arms over shoulders, gazing at the sacred rock of Uluru: ‘No sound but the heartbeat of a country in the deep night air.’