City of wonders

AUS edition of Vulture's Gate

Vulture’s Gate is set in a future Sydney where packs of feral boys take shelter on the north shore and the oppressive Colony governs from a walled community on South Head.

Outside my window, Lane Cove National Park lies green and glossy. I’m sitting in our caravan, Gloria, while rain patters down on the roof and the muted roar of Sydney drifts across the parklands. Sydney is simply amazing. A crazy juxtaposition of landscape and architecture, harbours, rivers, rocks and lush bushland.

My first visit to Sydney was in January 1974. As my dad drove through the city, I hung out the window and breathed in the hot, heady odour of a place that seemed the polar opposite of my hometown of Melbourne. Sydney smelt of steamy heat, sweat and beer (six o’clock swill). The doors of every pub were flung open and the footpaths were crowded with men in blue singlets drinking glasses of ale. Everything seemed golden and larger than life. Last night, just after the Professor and I arrived, we walked through Lane Cove National Park and the air smelt as foreign as I’d remembered it – sweet and heady, of winter wildflowers and damp earth.

In the early 1980s I spent eighteen months living in share houses around Sydney. I was a bit of a punk and Sydney suited me down to the ground. The landscapes of Sydney seeped into my imagination and decades later became the backdrop for my novel Vulture’s Gate. The wildness of the north shore provided plenty of hideouts for the runaway kids in Vulture’s Gate and a base for a tribe of Festers and the scary Sons of Gaia.

Circa Sydney 1982 - my mohawk hair cut was growing out but I still had too much attitude.

Circa Sydney 1982 – my mohawk hair cut was growing out but I still had too much attitude.

Tomorrow, the Professor will perform two Punch & Judy shows at Vaucluse House. I haven’t visited Vaucluse for a long time but I took elements of it to create a house used by the corrupt Colony to house young children in Vulture’s Gate.

When the Professsor told me about his shows up here, I decided to tag along for the ride. I didn’t expect  so much of my past to come back to me nor how many scenes from the imagined future of Vulture’s Gate would come back like flashes from a life I’ve never lived. Stories do that sometimes, the past, the present and the future all intermingling to make for a much bigger life, a brighter canvas, a different way of seeing the things you take for granted. It’s hard to take any aspect of Sydney for granted. Definitely, a city of wonders.

(Apologies to my  beloved hometown, Melbourne).



Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never disappears.”

Keep in Touch

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, 24th April, 2021
    In Conversation with H. Hayek, 5.30 pm
    The Younger Sun Bookshop - Yarraville
    Further information
  • 24th May - 11th June
    Young Writers Collective - WA
    Fremantle, Geraldton & Albany
    Further information
  • July- September 2021
    Writer In Residence
    Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School
  • 22nd - 27th August
    Children's Book Week
    Schools across Melbourne
    Further information

@kirstymurray on Twitter