Indigenous Author Doris Pilkington was born Nugi Garimara under a Wintamarra tree in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. At four years of age Doris, her mother Molly, and her baby sister were taken against their will to the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia. This is where many children of mixed race families were interred in the early 20th Century to be trained as domestic staff and which we now know as the Stolen Generation.
It wasn’t long before Molly escaped the Settlement with her baby, though Doris remained incarcerated until she was twelve years of age at which time she was transferred to a nearby mission. Conditions at the mission were worse though she was given the opportunity to train as a nursing assistant in Perth.
It took 21 years before Doris was reunited with her mother and some time after her Aunt Daisy shared the story of how her mother Molly had previously been a captive of the Settlement as a child and had escaped with her half sister, Daisy, and cousin Grace. These three little aboriginal girls trekked over 1600 klms following the rabit proof fence, a massive pest-exclusion fence which crossed WA from north to south, in order to return home.
Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence, released in 1996, is the true story of Doris’ mother and her Aunties. Three little girls pulled from their families, desperate to return to the only world they knew, walking across rugged outback terrain, often eating off the land and chased down by black trackers. The book includes copies of Government documentation and newspaper clippings from the 1930’s which confirm the story of these three brave children. It’s a confronting, shameful story and one which should be shared.
The film, Rabbit Proof Fence, directed by Hollywood-based Australian, Philip Noyce, was released in 2002 and is based on the book. Both the book and movie are worth while visiting – just ensure there is a box of Kleenex handy.
Interestingly, after having raised her family, Pilkington completed secondary education, going on to complete a Degree in Journalism. She was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for her services to the arts in the area of Indigenous literature, particularly through the genre of life-storytelling to raise awareness of Indigenous history, culture and social conditions.
Rabbits were an introduced species and were both devastating and destructive. The Australian Government decided to build a barrier fence from a point on the south coast through to a location on the north coast which became known as the No.1 Rabbit-Proof Fence. Completed in 1907, the Rabbit-Proof Fence was the longest unbroken line of fence in the world. Today, long sections of the original fence are still maintained as a barrier against wild animals, particularly the Emu.
Screenwriter Christine Olsen felt that the fence was very symbolic in that “the fence is always such an amazing symbol for the Europeans’ attempt to tame the land: to draw a line in it to keep out rabbits, the pests they had introduced. It is such a magnificent symbol for a lot of what’s happened to Australia.”
Rachael Maza , drama coach, said the three central young Aboriginal (untrained) actresses had an innate understanding of the story. “That’s one thing I don’t have to teach them. I don’t think there’s an Aboriginal in this country who doesn’t understand this story, if not them personally, their parents or their very immediate family. It’s something we all share.”
Tim (TJ) Slee is the Australian author of Taking Tom Murray Home, released in 2019, and the winner of the inaugural Banjo prize.
His latest novella has been released to support participating Australian Book Sellers. The author receives no royalties and requests that you support a local bookstore when they re-open for business. Go here for your free copy from Book Funnel:
The blub for The Strange History of Possum Island Free State states:
“Sometimes you pick a place, and sometimes the place picks you.
Red Rigney was given five years to live. He didn’t expect to spend it living on Possum Island. But Possum Island had plans for Red Rigney.”
I read this in a single sitting. Loved it – just so Aussie in both tone and topic. Student squats in inner Sydney, the avant-garde arts scene, an island in the middle of the harbour, native title disputes, remnants of a convict past, the red tape of bureaucracy………. All so very familiar………
Today, the 19th of February, is the 78th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.
This was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft , in two separate raids, attacked the town, the ships in Darwin Harbour, and the town’s two airfields. This was an attempt to prevent the allies using them as bases to contest military developments close to Asia.
The Japanese inflicted heavy losses upon Allied forces at little cost to themselves. The urban areas of Darwin also suffered some damage from the raids and there were a number of civilian casualties. More than half of Darwin’s civilian population left the area permanently, before or immediately after the attack.
Beautiful Mindil Beach was the site of mass graves, as it was following the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
A memorial ceremony has been held every year since early on in the 21st Century. At the Cenotaph in Darwin, at 9:58 am, a World War II Air Raid Siren will sound to mark the precise time of the first attack.
I’ve read three novels by Australian authors this year (Territory by Judy Nunn and The Last Mile Home by Di Morrissey), which have featured the Bombing of Darwin. It appears that the Government censored information about losses at the time so as not to frighten and panic Australian citizens.
Belinda Murrell’s The Forgotten Pearl is Historical YA Fiction which I highly recommend giving insights into this period, and includes the Fall of Singapore and the mini submarines in Sydney Harbour. If you’ve got a teenager battling with history classes at High School this sure as hell beats dates written in chalk on a blackboard.
*In October 2015, the Chinese-owned Landbridge Group won the bid for a leaseof Port Darwin. The Northern Territory Government granted the company a 99-year lease for A$506 million.
A couple of years ago I attended a talk given by Roly Sussex about the role of Libraries in future years given that the world is becoming so heavily digitalised.
Roland (Roly) Denis Sussex is Emeritus Professor of Applied Language Studies at the School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies of the University of Qld. He hosts a talkback radio program broadcast across the country and has a weekly column in newsprint. Comparative Linguistics may sound a little on the dry side but this fella is as fascinating, and as funny, as all getup.
I was reminded of this outing when I accompanied a friend to a FantasyWriting Workshop on the weekend at one of Brisbane’s outer suburban Libraries. A newer Library than my local it was connected to a swimming centre, just as Sussex indicated in his discussion of Libraries becoming the community hub of suburbs in the future.
And what a lovely, little, user friendly venue it was too!
My local Library hosts numerous Clubs – writing, jewellery making, chess, mahjong, robotics, crafts – and supports a diverse demographic. Next weekend they are even showing classic black and white movies on a regular basis which will be beaut with a coffee from their Cafe.
The Logan North Library at Underwood just changed the playing field. Fantastic and fully utilised on a Saturday afternoon which was good to see.
Why the Fantasy Writing Workshop? You’re right : it’s not my thing. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins is about my only foray into fantasy.
Many years of assisting people with their career choices means that I was fascinated to learn what motivated young author, Tara Ingham to get into fantasy writing. Old habits seem to die hard…….
Ingham started writing at 14 and is an inspirational speaker. We sat with three young high school lasses who were fully engaged with the proceedings.
The Redland Museum is my local history museum and is situated in the suburb of Cleveland, Brisbane. It specialises in preserving the Redland’s social history from 1842 to the present day.
Each year the Museum hosts the local community theatre group who perform an Australian-themed play over a period that includes January 26th – Australia Day. The event is a fundraiser for both the theatre group and the museum and is an example of community working together at its best with meals being prepared, cooked and served by both volunteer museum staff and the performers.
With the rain we were prevented from eating alfresco under the towering eucalypts, and instead dined amongst the Cobb and Co Carriages and fencing wire display. As always it was a hugely entertaining night.
The Museum takes pride in regularly changing its exhibits.
Room For Reading explores its large collection of children’s Annuals and favourite books such as Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ together with nostalgic Christmas cards and postcards sent from France by soldiers in the First World War.
Publishers of magazines and periodicals introduced ‘Annuals’ during the first decades of the 19th Century. By the late 1800s, the genre of children’s annuals developed rapidly. Publishers competed for their share of this emerging, and increasingly literate, reading audience. The ‘Boy’s Own Annual’ and the ‘Girl’s Own Annual’ engrossed young readers with adventure stories for boys and educational articles for girls. I always opted for the Boy’s Own myself.
Other books on display include Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and W.E. Johns pilot and adventurer ‘Biggles’ as well as children’s books by Australian authors such as ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, ‘The Magic Pudding’ and ‘Blinky Bill’. I will forever remain enamoured by the Gumnut babies….
It’s a small exhibition but it brought back many memories.
NOTE: I was talking to an English lass today who was unfamiliar with May Gibbs and her gumnut babies. So, for cultural exchange purposes a photo of gumnuts, which were the idea behind Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Beautiful, aren’t they?
The ArgonautsClub was an Australian children’s radio program, first broadcast in 1933 on ABC Radio Melbourne. It became one of the ABC’s most popular programs, running six days a week for 28 years until October 1969, when it was broadcast only on Sundays and was finally discontinued in 1972.
When I was very young, and before my fascination with Daniel Boone, Jungle Jim, and Jim Bowie on the tele I was an Argonaut. It’s what we did in the early sixties. My allegiance switched to the Mickey Mouse Club.
Last year one of the local community theatre groups held an evening of radio plays at the local museum. Originally written by Steele Rudd, the pseudonym of Arthur Hoey Davis (14 November 1868 – 11 October 1935) an Australian author, was best known for his novel On Our Selection.
Staged as a broadcast from a radio studio with one stand-up microphone, actors with scripts in hand and the indispensible sound effects, the four episodes followed the process of Dad’s deciding to shift from the horse and buggy into a new-fangled piece of machinery, with everyone offering help or an opinion.
It was a fun night with the presentation by The Forgetting of Wisdom, a collective of semi-retired professional actors who made it entertaining as well as educational. Afterall, Dad and Dave were well before my time!
There will be another Radioplay at the Gold Coast Little Theatre on February 26th.
Based on the story by Dashiell Hammett, and the 1936 movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, The Thin Man centres on Nick and Nora Charles, a rich and glamorous couple who solve homicides in between cocktails.
If you’re looking for something to do these are good fun.
Who even knew there was such a thing as the Brisbane Literary Trail? Have you heard of this? Twenty five years living in Queensland and it’s new to me. Another pat on the back for Tourism Qld.
I stumbled across this by accident on the weekend when I was participating in an organised Scavenger Hunt. An epic fail. What should have taken two hours to complete took five and a half hours, and that was leaving out the last two challenges. A typical Gemini thing. As Bob Dylan, another Gemini, once said, “I change during the course of a day. I wake and I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else.”
Rather than focussing on the task at hand – trivia, challenges, deciphering maps and codes, puzzles and the hunt – I was waylaid at the casino, at a Suitcase Rummage ( where I picked up a brand new Wizard of Oz jigsaw for $2), coffee in the Botanical Gardens, and an art and craft market. And lets be totally honest : a chocolate croissant – the eighth deadly sin.
So I’m sure you can appreciate my apprehension about next months adventure when I’m to be locked in an Escape Room.
Back to the Literary Trail that includes 32 plaques that were embedded in the pavement back in 1996 and start in Albert Street in the CBD. They are a little worse for wear but worth investigating. All include a quote by a Queensland writer with most Brisbane born and bred.
Brisbane is so sleepy, so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely! I have taken to wandering about after school looking for one simple object in it that might be romantic, or appalling even, but there is nothing. It is simply the most ordinary place in the world.
David Malouf, Johnno, St Lucia, UQP, 1975
The glow in the sky. Orange streetlights. Outlying suburbs. It was beautiful. The highway turned onto the six-lane arterial. We came in through Oxley and Annerley, flowing with the traffic. Then the city high rises were in view, alight, multicoloured. Brisbane. It was impossibly beautiful.
Andrew McGahan, 1988
‘At around two o’clock I walk up to Wee Willie Winkie’s on Waterworks Road […] and I buy a packet of Tim Tams. I stand outside the store eating them and watching the occasional cars speed past, heading out of town and down the hill into Ashgrove’
Nick Earls, Zig Zag Street.
There is development of a new public transport station underway in Albert Street so if you are interested I’de be following the Literary trail sooner rather than later. Public funding is going towards another Olympic bid, after all.
StringybarkPublishing is an Australian bespoke publishing house in operation since 2010. No, I am not sleeping with anyone within management, nor do I have any monetary affiliations within the organisation.
To be honest, it was only within the last twelve months and my retirement that I took any interest in short stories which is the area in which Stringybark Publishing specialises. Someone once said “A short story is the ideal place for a first meeting, a bit like making the first date for coffee rather than a meal.”
Stringybark Stories encourages Australian and international writers to create and share stories by running regular short story writing competitions throughout each year with a variety of themes. And no, this is not my area of expertise though my appreciation of tales with a decidedly Australian flavour has certainly been fuelled by my recent visits to country townships and a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history. See here for further details: https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html
Up until the end of February Stringybark Stories have on offer a choice of two Summer Reading Bushfire Packs containing six different anthologies of short stories written as part of past writing competitions. These cost $29.95 each and include postage within Australia.
I’m not a rampant consumer ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn) and I don’t participate in online shopping ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn). But, WOW!
* Bushfire Update: As a nation we do adversity really well. We rally, support and assist each other. We thrive in times of major dramas. It’s what we do best. We also proportion blame, bitch like six year old girls in the school yard, and carry on like chooks with our heads cut off. Move on kiddies. Pull up those Big Girl Panties and keep moving forward regardless of your politics. “ It will be okay in the end, otherwise it’s not the end.”
** New Participants in competitions most welcome.
And if you have an interest in writing competitions, WOW again. ￼
In recovery mode so just finished reading Di Morrissey’s Rain Music. Massive disappointment though I shouldn’t be surprised as I selected it purely for its pretty front cover. I’m generally not one to take any notice of book covers but the flowering Poincianas are very familiar and line the streets where I live.
Doesn’t matter. Fluff is acceptable after too much merriment, isn’t it?
My previous read was Peace by Australian author Garry Disher.
Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work—welfare checks and working bees—is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful. Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.
Crime books are not my forte and so I battled through the first few chapters with Constable Plod slowly negotiating his way around his rural precinct. Then it clicked. Plod is working at the pace of the heat and the dry which is so draining on the edge of the Flinders Rangers in South Australia. Beautiful, but the only things that move fast are the flies.
A great read and of course I had no chance in predicting who was the culprit.
I need a new Reading Challenge for the New Year. I’ve loved discovering more Australian authors, especially indie writers, but I need to up the anti.