Tropics of the Imagination Logo

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The Cairns Institute in association with the School of Arts and Social Sciences,
James Cook University,
present the second biennial

Tropics of the Imagination

A conference on writing and the arts in the tropics

Monday 31st October – Tuesday 1st November 2011

Rydges Esplanade Resort
Cnr. Kerwin Street & The Esplanade, Cairns, QLD.

Conference Convenor
Stephen Torre

Conference Organising Committee:
Professor Hurriyet Babacan, Foundation Director, The Cairns Institute (Chair)
Eve Stafford OAM, Director Savvy Arts
Leslie Sparks, Cultural Services & Facilities Manager, Cairns City Council
Dr Russell Milledge, Lecturer in Creative Arts, JCU
Associate Professor Stephen Torre, Arts and Social Sciences, JCU

The aims of the conference are:

  • To provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research into writing and the creative arts in the Tropics;
  • To provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of current and past practice of writing and the creative arts in the Tropics;
  • To form a scholarly community for research into writing and the arts in the Tropics within the Cairns Institute in James Cook University;
  • To develop relations between the JCU research focus groups and other researchers and institutions nationally and internationally;
  • To provide a forum for building cooperation, collaboration and consultancies between the JCU scholarly community and relevant individuals, groups, and creative industries in the North Queensland region.

The conference welcomes papers and presentations from anyone with a professional interest in imaginative, creative or artistic work, including artists, art-workers and administrators, and academics.

We will accept papers on a wide range of topics including the special themes for the 2011 conference:

  • Environment as Character
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Sensuality, Sensitivity and Creativity
  • Abundance, Wholeness, Well-Being
  • Hidden Tropics: the unspoken, the invisible
  • Voices of Place and Habitus

Keynote Speakers:

  • Nicolas Rothwell. Nicolas Rothwell was educated in European schools and was a classical scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, before becoming a foreign correspondent. He is now the northern correspondent for The Australian newspaper. His many writings include several books. Wings of the Kite-Hawk (2003), is a set of linked journeys into the Australian landscape: its past and its present, its people and its half-remembered secrets. Another Country (2007) tells the story of desert journeys and encounters with mystics and artists, explorers and healers encountered in travels in Northern and Central Australia. It also gathers together groundbreaking pieces on Aboriginal art and society, and on Darwin and the lure of the North. The Red Highway (2009), a fiction set in the far reaches of the continent, is a sequel to Wings of the Kite-Hawk. Journeys to the Interior (2010) consist of essays, portraits, and landscape accounts, with a core series of four explorations: of the story of literature in the Australian landscape; the relationship between consciousness, thought and wilderness; fragments and man’s need for coherence, and musical form in the bush.
  • Vilsoni Hereniko. Originally from Rotuma, Professor Hereniko he is the author of Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma and co-editor of Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific, as well as numerous scholarly articles, essays, and plays. He was also the editor of the award-winning journal The Contemporary Pacific from 2002-2008. Many of Hereniko’s plays have been produced in Oceania, the United States, and England. His feature film The Land Has Eyes premiered at the Sundance Film Festival followed by screenings at international and indigenous film festivals around the world as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. An award-winning teacher, he has taught at the University of the South Pacific, the University of Washington, and for the University of Pittsburgh (semester-at-sea). He was also a Fellow of Corpus Christi at the University of Cambridge in England.
  • Geraldine Dyer. Dr Dyer is a Psychiatrist with the Remote Area Child & Youth Mental Health Service in Cairns. She has been experimenting with the use of art in treating patients in the tropics.

Conference Progam

Final Conference Programme available HERE.


Accommodation is available at the conference venue, Rydges Esplanade Resort, at a special price of $119 per room for delegates. When booking please mention that you are a delegate to the Tropics of the Imagination 2011 conference, and quote the following reference: Block Code Reference # 678200. Booking should be made directly with Rydges Esplanade Resort.

Contact details:

Rydges Esplanade Resort, Cnr. Kerwin Street & The Esplanade, Cairns, Qld, 4870
Phone 61 7 4044 9000
Fax 61 7 4044 9001

Cairns city and surrounding suburbs and beaches have many suitable hotels and resorts available for overnight stays, from budget to 4 star. Please see here for other accommodation listings:

Information about Cairns and the Cairns region is available here:

Public Transport:

Conference Costs

Start: 31 October 2011 (Day One)
End: 1 November 2011. (Day Two - Half day)

Day 1 only: $85.00
Day 1 & 2: $125.00
Day I & 2 Student Price: $100.00

Optional Melbourne Cup Lunch day 2: $45.00
Early bird discount, includes Day 1 & 2 and Melbourne Cup Lunch: $120.00. Early bird cut-off is 30 September 2011.

All prices include GST.

See HERE for Registration/Payment form.

Conference Melbourne Cup Lunch

Tuesday 1st November, 12:45pm

Rydges Esplanade Resort
Summer Breeze Buffet, including welcome drink

Cost per person is $45, payable with registration.

  • Cash bar will be available for additional individual purchases of drinks.

Details and Menu available HERE.


Please contact the convener Stephen Torre: Tel (07) 4042 1052, Fax (07) 4042 1390, Email Stephen, Skype stephen.torre1.