Author Helen Gildfind will this month launch her first book The Worry Front, a short-story collection with references to the west’s refineries and the old quarry at Newport Lakes.

The collection – covering themes such as the medicalisation of the human body and human and animal relationships – includes her Griffith Review-winning novella titled Quarry.

“I grew up in Newport and have lived both near the Newport Power Station and Newport Lakes for over 30 years,” Gildfind said.

“It’s such a distinct part, this side of the city.

“Throughout the stories, the refineries are this paradoxical thing where they’re very beautiful at night but they’re so destructive and toxic.”

Although the locations aren’t named, anyone familiar with Hobsons Bay will recognise them.

In one story, two siblings describe the Altona Mobil refinery as seen from the roof of their home in the back streets of Seaholme.

“Over our back fence lay a stretch of empty land full of weeds, burnt-out cars, dumped rubbish and upturned trolleys,” the sister says.

“That place lit up at night: kilometres of white lights ordered into floating geometric patterns.”

In another, the protagonist swims laps to lessen her pain from a terrible injury and looks at the fog-blurred lights of the refinery, centred perfectly in the metal-framed glass walls. It’s a reference to Bayfit Leisure Centre at Altona North and the refinery is a metaphor for her body – “It’s a terrible beauty. How she loves it.”

The Worry Front will be launched by novelist Andrea Goldsmith at Readings’ Carlton store on April 12. It is also available at


Goya Dmytryshchak