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426 pp


Tim Winton


Publication date
May 1991


Originally published
May 1991

McPhee Gribble

Fiction, Novel

Cloudstreet t0gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcQhwzZcTSmfu3liDl

Media type
Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Sam Pickles, Dolly Pickles, Rose Pickles, Ted Pickles, Chub Pickles

Tim Winton books, Australia books, Novels

Australian literature 101 tim winton cloudstreet

Cloudstreet is a 1991 novel by multi-award winning Australian writer Tim Winton. It chronicles the lives of two working class Australian families, the Pickles and the Lambs, who come to live together in a large house called Cloudstreet in Perth over a period of twenty years, 1943 – 1963.


It was the recipient of a Miles Franklin Award in 1992.

Cloudstreet introduction and context

Plot summary

Precipitated by separate personal tragedies, two poor families flee their rural homes to share a "great continent of a house", Cloudstreet, in a suburb of Perth The two families are contrasts to each other; the devoutly religious Lambs find meaning in hard work and God’s grace, while the Pickles hope for good luck and don't share the Lambs' appetite for hard work.

"Over 20 years, their lives become entwined and the shared family experiences, birth and death, marriage and adultery, joy and loss, bind them together in ways they could not have anticipated."

Major themes

Winton's novel is a celebration of community and how people search for connection within family, with the past and the environment withing which they live. Peter Garrett talked about the use of landscapes in the book :

But he writes about the physicality of our landscapes and whether it's sort of, you know, railway cuttings, or bits of the desert, or the coast, or the estuaries where they go fishing occasionally, and he casts that landscape across the top of the lives that people are leading and their emotional landscapes are sort of contrasting against the landscapes of things they're doing at different times.

Australian author Mem Fox writes of Cloudstreet, " ... If you have not read Cloudstreet, your life is diminished, it's diminished. If you have not met these characters, this generous community, these tragedies, the humour. It is so funny. Every so often, there's a sentence where you just burst out laughing. And it could be in the middle of a tragic paragraph and you just howl, you just literally laugh aloud. It is so wonderful."

Historical context

Cloudstreet is framed by many key events in world history, including World War II, the Korean War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy., where Australia was, for the most part, comfortable and conservative, characterised by backyard barbecues, by wives – who were no longer needed for the war effort – consigned to the home, and by the growth of the Australian dream of owning a new home. World events influence the Lambs and Pickles, but distantly, like an echo that sends ripples across the surface of their lives. The novel focuses on the domestic, and this serves as the filter through which history is measured. The most prominent historical character within Cloudstreet is the Nedlands monster, whose real name is Eric Edgar Cooke, a serial killer. The Australian Dictionary of Biography writes that Winton's novel Cloudstreet embodied the social impact of Cooke's crimes. There was a change in personal and household security and a loss of the relaxed style of living.


In 2003, members of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) voted Cloudstreet as their favourite Australian novel. That same year, Cloudstreet came out on top in a readers' poll organised by the ASA and ABC Radio National. Cloudstreet was the "overwhelming favourite" in the 2010 "ABR Favourite Australian Novel" poll conducted by the Australian Book Review. In 2012, viewers of First Tuesday Book Club voted Cloudstreet #1 on a list of "10 Aussie Books You Must Read Before You Die".


  • 1991 Miles Franklin Award
  • 1991 NBC Banjo Award for Fiction
  • 1991 Western Australian Premier's Book Award Fiction
  • 1992 Deo Gloria Award
  • 1999 AWGIE Award (for playwrights Nick Enright & Justin Monjo)
  • 2002 Helpmann Award (Best Direction of a Play : Neil Armfield)
  • 2002 Helpmann Award (Best Play)
  • Radio

    Paige Gibbs adapted the book into a radio play in 1996 for ABC Radio National.


    Adapted for the stage by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo, the theatrical adaptation opened in Sydney in January 1998 under the direction of Neil Armfield, produced by Company B and Black Swan Theatre for the Sydney Festival. Seasons followed in Perth, Melbourne, London, Dublin, New York and Washington DC, with the Company B cast touring the production until 2001 with minimal recasting. A lengthy adaptation at 5 and a half hours, the play attracted rave reviews around the world. The adaptation is published by Currency Press. It received the Helpmann Award for Best Play and Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Play in 2002.


    The six-episode television miniseries Cloudstreet is an adaptation of the book, filmed in Perth in 2010. Winton worked on the script making changes to the characters and the timeframe.


    In May 2016 an operatic version with music by George Palmer was premiered in Adelaide by the State Opera of South Australia.


    Cloudstreet Wikipedia

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