I have about zero knowledge of Deniliquin, except to vaguely know that it is a country town in New South Wales. From a friend of a Deniliquin ex-pat and from the lazy web-searching of a Wikipedia page I did last night, I have it on good authority that Deniliquin is either the largest exporter of rice in the world or in the Southern hemisphere. Either claim is still pretty mammoth. I associate rice with countries who eat it as a staple. I assume they eat it because it was a crop that grew well. I think of the cascading fields of rice paddies throughout the Laos countryside, and my own uncles rice paddies. I never thought of NSW being the international production engine of rice, feeding countries and continents. It seems that my surprise shouldn’t be reserved for now; I should have done some research into where rice is produced in bulk. I wrote an application back in May for a Literature Board (now the Literature Section) grant to write a play called ‘Rice’ about, well, rice. But rice by the tonne – who is growing it, who is eating it. Mass production and mass consumption being my big themes, whittled down to two characters who eat and talk and work with rice. Rice will be the first time in quite some time where I have a grant to research and eke out a draft, and where I don’t have to double up as producer and also gather a creative team for a workshop and public outcome. From January in 2014, for half a year or so, I will just read and watch and consume all things rice. Deniliquin, I hope, may prove to be as fascinating and heady as the imagined trip to China and India I had mapped out in my head as a necessary research trip. This may not be as necessary after all, despite my travel bug desiring it. Given I like small town bakeries and small town op shops, a few weekend trips to Deniliquin ain’t looking too bad after all.