One of the many attractions of Cairns is the Cairns City Library Literary Trail which honours 26 authors, who either wrote about or were residents of North Queensland , with a range of artworks . One of those featured is the late Xavier Herbert (1901-1984) , above , who wrote the Australian l938 Sesqui-Centenary Award novel Capricornia, about the Northern Territory .
It is in a prominent position against a wall near the drive through book returns slot. Designed and executed by Sarah Austin , it is white stoneware clay cut to incorporate the design , using underglaze colours fired to 1220 degrees Celsius.
Austin explained the artwork combined neo-classic elements of the library building and the almost classic nature of Xavier Herbert's writings. It light-heartedly depicts the reading public catching the words and messages contained in his books . Issues such as nationalism, Aboriginal land rights and other social issues . An owl in a tree represented his "wiseness", parrots repeating those wise words .
Books depicted are Capricornia , another novel set in the Territory Seven Emus , his part autobiography Disturbing Element, a collection of short stories Larger Than Life , Dream Road illustrated by Ray Crooke and the epic Poor Fellow My Country , winner of the Miles Franklin Award for Australian literature , at the time said to be the largest novel ever written in the nation. Not included is the novel Soldiers' Women which Herbert said was inspired by his observations of liberated women in Sydney during WWll.
The Cairns libraries website includes an alphabetical guide to the Literary Trail in which his first name , Xavier , is presented as his surname , so that he appears to be Herbert Xavier , before William Yang and Desmond Zwar . More posts about the Cairns Literary Trail authors to come , including the well known Territorian whose memorial was stolen .