Tondorf, C 2016, 'Lure' and 'Does the coast have a place in the Australian gothic landscape', MHum&Media thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright C Tondorf 2016
Australian beaches are synonymous with white sand and bright sunshine, but in this Creative Research Thesis – consisting of a creative-writing project and an exegesis – I investigate whether the coast is a credible Gothic location.
In the exegesis, I argue that there is a genre of literature and film that could be recognised as Australian Coastal Gothic. Acclaimed authors, including Tim Winton, Robert Drewe and Peter Temple, have penned dark, brooding novels about troubled men who retreat to the coast. The sea, where they surf, swim and fish, has a sublime beauty, arousing feelings of awe and wonder. These men harbour secrets; sometimes they’re menaced by grotesque characters. Often they’re mourning a woman’s death. Like Frankenstein’s monster (Shelley 1818), they long for a mate – the feminine is lost. In Australia the coast is not often the site of Gothic unravelling. Historically, it’s the continent’s interior that traps the Gothic hero. The land is imbued with evil. This tradition emerged in nineteenth-century colonial Gothic writing, and continues today in film and literature in works such as The dressmaker (Ham 2000), Wolf creek (2005) and The dry (2016). But the authors of Australian Coastal Gothic have returned to a practice established by the earliest English Gothic novelists and Romantic poets. They extoll the sublime, almost ethereal beauty of the coast, describing tumultuous seas, jagged rocky outcrops and flooded reefs. These images are powerful and beautiful, but tinged with danger. The beach and sea have a dual nature, so powerful they could destroy the protagonist, yet they’re just as likely to inspire and restore. The coast is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Gothic locations.