Wednesday, September 7, 2011
During the day Woodlands Mansion reigns over expansive views of vineyards, farms, valleys and mountains - a majestic queen with layered skirts of cream lacework. But at night it breathes inwards with a sigh of longing. Once home to a wealthy family near the historic Queensland village of Marburg, Woodlands yearns for its rooms and lawns to be filled with the laughter and chatter of children again.
Every two years her sighs are suspended as busloads of children spill out onto her grounds. The squeak of a bicycle on the veranda stops - a little ghost has playmates once again. The Ipswich Festival of Children's Literature has arrived. And the night tour for authors begins.
In the cellar nine lost souls buried beneath the foundations remain quiet. There is no rush to frighten the school children in the morning. No need to interfere with the authors' power point presentations.
Hush, the authors huddle and listen at the foot of the stairs to the turret. Is that the sound of a mother's cry at the window? Notebooks flip. Pens scratch. Lips bite.
Let the festival begin.