Five Stars - This delightful book gives a wonderful insight into life on an aboriginal mission in the 1950s, 60s and 70s with its incredible hardships compensated by an amazing lifestyle and enduring friendships. Graham’s descriptions of his childhood and the Arnhemland landscape bring it all vividly to life. It is also an insight into aboriginal society before and after it was demonised by alcohol with all its inherent problems.
For those interested in our early explorers Graham also follows Ludwig Leichhardt’s journey via his journal through this part of Arnhemland and is able to identify most of the places that Leichhardt visited and to give them their modern names so that his journey can be easily followed on a map.
I thoroughly recommend this book to a wide variety of readers from those of us who have visited Arnhemland to those who perhaps dream of doing so. Jennie P
Landscape of Crocodile Dundee: myriad hues of billabongs, open grass plains, sunlit hills and purple storms, peopled by its many coloured children.
Arnhem's Kaleidoscope Children is a remembered story of a family's life in a distant world. The place, Oenpelli, in Australia's Northern Territory, is like remote Canada or Alaska, where few others go. It is near world famous Kakadu National Park, home of huge crocodiles, buffalo and myriad waterbirds.
What is it about the Northern Territory that fascinates? If I mention its name in conversation people turn to listen? Why, for 180 years, has it drawn people to come, stay longer and, often, never leave?
This book is a memoir of a family's life in a remote aboriginal community, a story of living amongst places, creatures and characters of this this strange land. It tells of a transition from isolation to becoming part of the modern world, with changes brought by citizenship, uranium mining, land rights, alcohol, outstation development, and self-management over half a century. Living within this were my parents, whose lives and beliefs were shaped by and played a part in the change.
The role of my father in opening road transport including a crossing of the East Alligator River, developing outstations for aboriginal communities, learning to fly on missionary wages along with assisting the aboriginal peoples of this land to gain royalties from mining is a story deserving telling, along with the parts played by many of others who made their own contributions.
The story moves to the wider canvass of the whole NT across which I later worked. It is a world extending from distant deserts to coastal seas and is peopled by a vast array of hardy, outlandish characters. Along the way it tells of my surviving attack by a large crocodile in a remote swamp.
It is also the backdrop of my Crocodile Dreaming novels, in which real settings and stories of place become parts of a fictional world peopled with many characters built from those I knew. At its centre sit its aboriginal peoples, dreamtime legends and the huge predatory saltwater crocodile.