“I thought that it was a nutty idea, but nutty enough to be intriguing,” says best-selling author.

Over the years it’s been a book, a radio series, a hit play for Belvoir and Neil Armfield, and now Tim Winton’s iconic Cloudstreet is set to become an opera to premiere next year at State Opera of South Australia.

Catching up with the West Australian writer over the phone from his home in Perth, Winton admits to having lost count of the attempts to adapt his 1991 novel of two working-class Australian families (the Lambs and the Pickles) who come to live together at One Cloud Street, in a suburb of Perth between the transformational years of 1943 to 1963. “It’s all a bit vaporous in my mind,” he confesses, before recounting some of the ideas for musicalising the book that have come across his desk in the past. “Over the years people have sent me songs and kinds of musical settings for this and that, but in terms of the whole piece as an operatic or musical theatre version, this is the first time.”

Cloudstreet workshop cast with Gale...