about the author/illustrator Toni Cary

Even as a child Toni Cary was always an artist and a dreamer…

Then, at age 15, she came second in New South Wales for her major work at High School. It was a large abstract painting executed with house paint and acrylics on masonite, surrounded by a home-made frame built of tomato stakes. The piece was called “Human Movement in Space”. With that achievement and on the strength of her full portfolio, she was accepted to the National Art School in Sydney (then known as East Sydney Tech.) the following year. She held a special interest and tal­ent for Life Drawing, Painting and Sketching.

As an older teen, Toni took up the use of pastel, charcoal and pencil for quick sketching and illustrating family members as well as the local scenery around the Blue Mountains where she resided until the age of 20 after which she moved to Sydney.

At the age of 25 until 28, she won awards each year for her poetry through the aus­pices of the Sydney Cultural Council. Her works being recited at the Sydney Opera House on occasion. Some of her poetry and pen and ink sketches of the Sydney Opera House were published in two local Sydney writers’ magazines during that time and a humorous short series was published in the St. George Technical Col­lege monthly newsletter. Toni also wrote 13 short stories of horror which became known as “Wives’ Tales”.

Toni married and had 3 children. She studied Psychology, Sociology and Coun­selling.

From 1989 she and her former husband ran a guesthouse in Bundanoon, NSW, where Dial M murder mysteries were born in 1991. Complex interactive murder mysteries were written and run at the guesthouse and at other venues for both so­cial weekends and, after the sale of the guesthouse, for large corporations as enter­tainment and team building during their conferences both nationally and overseas. In total for around 15 years. During this time and afterwards, Toni painted and pro­duced large wall-sized canvas backdrops for themed events.

Many of her exhibited paintings won awards in Sydney, the Southern Highlands and the South Coastal areas over the years.

She self-published 3 books: A small handbook for community carers and nurses titled “Strong Hands, Gentle Heart”; a black crime story of a female serial killer, “Manor Dangerous” and “Wives’ Tales”. “Manor Dangerous” was also turned into a TV pilot series for the ABC.

In 2013 she revisited the use of pastel pencils with much enthusiasm after moving from the Southern Highlands where she had resided for 25 years, to retire to the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, immersing herself in the tranquility and beauty of the surrounding landscape. She religiously photographed the bushland, the local animals and the often stark emptiness of the Snowy wilderness. This was the inspiration for the first book “Alcheringa Snow”.

Since then nearly 20,000 photographs have accumulated, along with her pastel illus­trations, covering the areas of Moonbah, Ingebirah, the High Monaro, the South Coast, Jindabyne plus the rugged surrounding mountainous areas of Mt. Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Mount Kosciuszko.

The illustrations for Toni’s children’s books “Alcheringa Snow”, “Alcheringa Flow­ers”, ultimately “Alcheringa Sunshine” and the last in the series, “Alcheringa Rain”; depict the magical world of a real sanctuary known as “Alcheringa” (which is an in­digenous word for “Dreamland), a small property situated at 1300 metres in the rainshadow hills of the Snowy Mountains. The fauna, both indigenous and introduced, as well as the terrain and flora of the Snowy Monaro Shire feature in her books, along with the series’ heroine, Francine, the large 10 year old snow white Pyrenean Mountain dog that resides with Toni and her partner Clinton.

Toni’s broader artwork can be viewed on Facebook under Toni Cary – Artist.

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