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First edition
AuthorTim Winton
PublisherMcPhee Gribble
Publication date
May 1991
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages426 pp
Preceded byIn the Winter Dark 
Followed byThe Riders 

Cloudstreet is a 1991 novel by Australian writer Tim Winton. It chronicles the lives of two working-class 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.[1]

It was the recipient of a Miles Franklin Award in 1992.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

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.[3]

"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."[1]

Major themes[edit]

Winton's novel is a celebration of community and how people search for connection within family, with the past and the environment within which they live. Peter Garrett talked about the use of landscapes in the book :[1]

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."[1]

Historical context[edit]

Cloudstreet is framed by many key events in world history, including World War II, the Korean War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.,[4][5] 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.[6]


In 2003, members of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) voted Cloudstreet as their favourite Australian novel.[7] That same year, Cloudstreet came out on top in a readers' poll organised by the ASA and ABC Radio National.[8] Cloudstreet was the "overwhelming favourite" in the 2010 "ABR Favourite Australian Novel" poll conducted by the Australian Book Review.[4] In 2012, viewers of First Tuesday Book Club voted Cloudstreet #1 on a list of "10 Aussie Books You Must Read Before You Die".[9]


Related to Cloudstreet[edit]



Paige Gibbs adapted the book into a radio play in 1996 for ABC Radio National.[13]


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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] Winton worked on the script making changes to the characters and the timeframe.[4]


In May 2016 an operatic version with music by George Palmer was premiered in Adelaide by the State Opera of South Australia.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Books – Cloudstreet by Tim Winton Reviewed 2/03/2010 Transcript". ABC. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Miles Franklin Literary Award – Every Winner Since 1957". Better Reading. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Cloudstreet by Tim Winton". Penguin Books. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Cloudstreet Brian McFarlane Published in June 2011 no. 332". Australian Book Review. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Context and Background". Nebo Literature. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Cooke, Eric Edgar (1931–1964) by Hugh Collins". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  7. ^ Raging, Catherine (27 May 2003). "Authors' top reads", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  8. ^ Knox, Malcolm (26 November 2003). "Readers' poll puts Winton on cloud nine", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  9. ^ 10 Aussie Books You Must Read Before You Die, First Tuesday Book Club (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Tim Winton Author Bio". Booktopia. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  11. ^ "AWGIE Stage Award". Australian Plays Award. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Past Nominees and Winners 2002". Helpman Awards. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Cloudstreet's Adaptations". Austlit. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  14. ^ "AusStage". Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  15. ^ "Cloudstreet Nick Enright & Justin Monjo". Currency Press. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Airdate: Cloudstreet 17 March 2011". TV Tonight. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  17. ^ "Review: Cloudstreet (State Opera of South Australia) – 14 May 2016". Limelight. Retrieved 23 January 2017.