Maggies' Party - The Story Behind the Series

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The beautiful Australian Magpie has always inspired me. As a young girl I clearly remember looking through an enormous arch shaped window of a very old building onto towering gum trees. I was searching for the group of magpies that were making the most heavenly sound. I had just started in the junior school choir at the time and we practised once or twice a week. I thought “These birds are incredible. Here they are throwing together a complex choral masterpiece on a whim from the trees when we, in the school choir, were struggling to hold a two-part harmony.”

Much later I learned that these stunning bird songs were actually battle tunes performed to assert territorial dominance but at the time their music seemed like a glorious celebration of the Australian bush. It’s hard to imagine a bush setting like this without the melodious warbling of the Australian Magpie. This idea of the magpie song celebrating Australia’s natural beauty is the inspiration behind ‘Song to Waratah’ and ‘Maggies’ Party’.

The ruby reds outside my window...

The remote property where we live is in the Central Western farming district of NSW. The first house that we lived in was built in the early 1900s half way up a steep hill and faced a breathtaking view. No wonder the property name of ‘Park View’ stuck! The garden there dropped away suddenly to a patchwork of endless plains that were ever changing depending on the seasons. The quilt of paddocks was set against a backdrop of deep blue mountains.

Outside our bedroom window there was a very old wooden fence supporting a range of old fashioned ruby red grapevines. We would find the mornings (apart from the birds and farm animals) were very quiet. We are here, just as we were at Park View, often woken by the maggies’ song and dance going on in the grapevines. These maggies have made our garden, and the house paddock beyond our garden, their home. As the window reflects the morning light, they can’t see us easily on the other side of the window and are usually unaware that we are so close by. It is a wonderful way to start the day – seeing them frolic without a care in the world and play in the ruby reds! From there popular choices for the maggies often include a dance and shake under our sprinkler (from which the idea behind ‘Sprinkle Toes’ was born) or a twirl on our hills hoist, which led to ‘Harmony in the Hills’. My clothes line rarely has so few clothes on it though!

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