Gothic audio plays, transportive reads and captivating conversations are all ready to whisk your minds away this week. Enjoy this latest gathering of literary pursuits perfect for imaginary lockdown getaways. For more ideas, check out the previous edition of our 'Bookish Pursuits' series. 

If you’ve been escaping to other times and places due to complete despondency about the present moment, you may be interested in the recently announced ARA Historical Novel Prize longlists. There’s an abundance of exceptional – and exceptionally transportive – stories to get through, from A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville to Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss. The State Library of NSW has also recently awarded the Australian History Prize to Grace Karskens’ People of the River, “an impressive reflection on the pivotal place river landscapes played in the early history of Australia.”

On Tuesday 14 September, Australia Reads is celebrating stories that matter for the much-loved Australian Reading Hour – a day when all Australians are encouraged to set aside one hour to read. Share your own stories that matter and check out the more than 300 Australian authors and illustrators who are participating in live and virtual events. 

Learn about the decades-spanning work of master bark painter, David Malangi Daymirringu in this exhibition from the MCA. The intricate artworks “follow important sites, ceremonies, waterholes and stories that encompass ancestral knowledge connected to the artist’s Manharrngu clan of central Arnhem Land”.

Get a pen and paper ready to mark your favourites because Queer Screen Film Fest has launched its program – and they’re bringing back Wild Nights With Emily, the smash hit from Mardi Gras Film Festival 2019 where “Emily Dickinson shakes off the shackles of her historically maligned reputation”. 

Art Gallery of NSW has partnered with Black Dog Institute for a new series of webinars called 'Culture Dose', "an online art experience with your wellbeing as its primary focus". 

Originally meant to come to the stage in August, the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre has transformed Kangaroo, the dark and poetic play written by Miranda Gott, into a transfixing audio play you can listen to for free at home. Listen in before it disappears on Monday 13 September.  

Acclaimed poet Omar Sakr has written two poems about the impact of COVID for the Information and Cultural Exchange. Read his interview with Daniel Nour on the power of poetry in the pandemic: “Together we weave the song of human history, which also shows us the path forward.” 

Cabaret, change-makers, fascinating conversations and stunning musical meditations are all available to stream now with the Sydney Opera House

Discover the surprising place a tiny oil sketch holds in Australian art history – and more talks from the State Library of NSW curators about their favourite stories, or learn about the platypus journal in its fortnightly series, ‘A Foreign Country: Travels through the Past’.