Bill says that one of his 'fans' told him that he'd be quite handsome if it wasn't for the nose. (A nose by any other name would smell as sweet!) Author photo by Rebecca Thornton.

Writer Watch

William McInnes


The Books

 A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby (2006)

William’s father Col believed strongly that every man should have a hobby. When Bill was a youngster, Col’s hobby was to renovate the family home at Redcliffe. It was not unusual for William to go home only to find that windows and doors had mysteriously disappeared and reappeared somewhere else. Life went on in Redcliffe to a background of hammering, whistling and the occasional worrying thud.

William’s tale of his childhood in the 1960s and 1970s does for Redcliffe what Hugh Lunn’s Over the Top with Jim did for Annerley Junction. In those days the whole family would rush into the lounge room to watch a new commercial on TV. There was fishing with other boys in the bay, his father danced with his mum in the kitchen, and occasionally Col talked to the furniture. Bill addresses cane toads, politics, love, hope, fear, laughter, life and death. This is a well told, down-to earth story that is a delight to read, and the people of Australia embraced it enthusiastically.

A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby won the ‘Australian newcomer of the Year 2006’ at the Australian Book Industry Awards.

Cricket Kings (2007)

The success of A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby encouraged him even more – so William wrote another book. Cricket Kings tells the story of a team of middle-aged blokes who come together to play cricket every weekend. Chris Andersen loves cricket. He may not be a legend like Waugh or Bradman but in the Yarraville West Fourths, Chris Andersen is king. He is the captain, the coach, the manager and, thankfully, a player. Players are getting hard to find.

At the Cec Bull Memorial Oval on a blisteringly hot Saturday these men will play a game, and as the wickets fall and the balls are bowled, everyone will learn more about themselves and each other than they knew at the start of the day.

That’d be Right: A fairly true history of modern Australia (2008)

This book is a story of Australia; sport, family and democracy with a sausage, fried onions and tomato sauce. With a great deal of humour and insight, William casts his eye over landmark moments in Australian sport and politics and other stirring events.

From the excitement in the cricket stands to the tension of election night; from the thrill of racing down the jetty as a child to the pleasure of watching his kids run around at Little Athletics, William McInnes looks back over the past thirty years in Australia to capture the grand, the absurd and the moving moments of our lives.

The Making of Modern Australia (2010)

A rather more true history of modern Australia than That’d be Right, this is a companion volume to the four-part documentary series narrated by William McInnes and produced by Essential Media and Entertainment. It brings together stories from everyday Australians to convey a personal view of our country since World War II, along with William’s own anecdotes and observations.

A national picture of Australia is formed through the four main themes of romance, religion, family and home, which provide a snapshot of our country’s celebrations, sorrows and spirit over the past seventy years. From service personnel returning home, to the multicultural melting pot of post-war migration, to falling in and out of love, the changes in beliefs and expectations reveal a unique view of our country.

Worse Things Happen at Sea (2011)

This book was written by William McInnes and his wife, award-winning filmmaker, photographer and animator, Sarah Watt.

Illustrated throughout with Sarah Watt’s photographs of family life and beautiful, everyday objects, this book celebrates the wonderful, messy, haphazard things in life: bringing home babies from hospital, being a friend, a parent, son or daughter, and living for twenty years in the family home, raising children, chasing angry rabbits around the backyard and dealing with renovations that never seem to end.

It’s also about understanding that sometimes you have to say goodbye. A month after this book was released, Sarah lost her battle with cancer and died at home in November 2011 surrounded by her family. Those who knew Sarah loved her to bits. Others who admired her work, or sat glued to the interviews with Sarah and William which aired on the ABC’s Australian Story, found Sarah to be a self-effacing but very talented, gracious and courageous woman. She is sadly missed.

The Laughing Clowns (2012)

Peter Kennedy is successful at what he does. He's a very large man who has been remarkably happy with his life, yet something is not quite right. He’s not sure what he should be doing any more. When the Titan Development Company contracts him to go to Queensland to assess a prime piece of real estate he jumps at the chance.

The trip will take him back to the home where he grew up; to his parents who are members of the Show Society and his twin sister Pearl, a bingo caller and foster mother, and to his brother Gary, a TV weatherman. Sometimes when you go back to where you came from, you find out how much you actually have and how much you could lose.

All Peter has to do is to make up his mind and listen to the advice given by The King of Hot Dogs. But will he? Sometimes you can discover what is important in life simply by going back home.

These are the books of William McInnes - they’re all good.

P.S. Many of you who have been watching the reruns of SeaChange (oh all right – encore presentations!) in which William McInnes stars and which are currently showing on Channel 7-Two, may not realise that the SeaChange website is still available to view in the archives of the ABC (the original home of the series).

When the series finished people felt so deprived and whinged so much, the ABC decided to archive it, but without the interactive elements. It’s still a great site. You can listen to the theme music, wander around Pearl Bay, and check out the episodes, the characters, and the people who played them. Love the fish! Go to


Website Watch

William McInnes

For more about William, his work, family and his talented, brave and gracious wife, Sarah Watt, who sadly died at their home in November 2011, go to the ABC-TV Australian Story website at

Other links on that page will take you to Program Extras which include:

Interview with William McInnes – William shares some of his thoughts.Interview with actor John Wood – where John, William’s friend and perpetual Logies nominee, spills the beans about some of the things he loves and loathes about Bill.Interview with wife and film maker Sarah Watt – Sarah first met William some eight years before this interview. They argued about beer. That’d be right!Interview with Vaughan McInnes – William’s brother remembers growing up with Bill during the period covered by Bill’s first book A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby. William was the youngest in a family of five children and Vaughan the eldest. He trots out a few embarrassing stories about his little brother.­The Real McInnes – people were so entertained by interviews with William they asked for more – and Australian Story obliged.