The travelling cultural festival includes Australian beach cricket on the sands of Elliot’s Beach

A travelling band of Australian and Indian authors will make an appearance in the city, as part of ‘Oz Fest.’

The four-month-long travelling Australian cultural festival, is armed with stories, conversations and literature, excerpts from films featuring one of Bollywood’s first stuntwomen, and includes Australian beach cricket on the sands on Elliot’s Beach.

It has been organised by the Australian Government in collaboration with 24 government and non-government partners.

Speaking at the inauguration of the festival in the city, David Holly, Australian consul general for south India, observed how eight of the 18 cities in which the festival will be held are in the south.

Talking about the importance of culture, an important thread in establishing people-to-people relationships, he said that a wide spectrum of Indian cities such as Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hampi and Jodhpur have been drawn into the circuit.

Taking cognizance of India and Australia’s converging interests in trade, education and investment among other fields, he said, “In 2011-12, Indians were the largest source of skilled migrants to Australia for the first time.”

Michael Carter, trade commissioner and consul commercial, Australian Trade Commission, said trade, investment, education and innovation, the four pillars, were strong, growing and booming in Tamil Nadu, which he said was among the top three fastest growing states.

The festival packs in art, food, music, dance, sport, literature, films and ideas. First among the events to be held in the city will be ‘Bookwallah’, where six authors, both Australian and Indian will travel close to 2,000 kilometres by train. Authors, poets and journalists such as Michelle de Kretser, Kirsty Murray, Sudeep Sen, and Annie Zaidi among others will travel with a library and halt in the city between November 14 and 16, to participate in discussions and readings.

The other events include ‘Two oceans’, a musical collaboration between Australian Art Orchestra (AAO) and Carnatic drummer Karaikudi R. Mani and his ensemble Sruthi Laya, and Australian beach day where there will be beach cricket, yoga and food.

On November 25 and 26, there will be excerpts from films of actress and stuntwoman fearless Nadia such as Diamond Queen, along with live music. Works of Australian film-makers Baz Luhrmann, Rolf de Heer and Bruce Beresford among others will be screened as part of the Chennai International Film Festival later in December.

Mr. Holly said that even after the festival concludes, they hope to increase their presence in south India. Monday also saw the release of book ‘Walkabout in Oz’ by the ‘Madras’ man, S. Muthiah, a culmination of his various visits to the country.

“In a vague way my connection to Australia goes back to the 1930s, but I started visiting the country often after my daughter settled there. Though Australia has a modern heritage dating back to around 220 years, they have been able to sell it much better than us,” Mr. Muthiah said.

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