I am acutely aware while visiting other places that I am in the home of the ancestors whose stories since ancient times are preserved in the land, seas, skies and atmosphere.
These stories of country live inside us and are ‘the extraordinary literacy of place’, of ancient land titles, and are similar to understanding the old stories of places that the British landscape writer Robert Macfarlane might describe as being the ‘intricate stories to map the landscape’. Our ancient library covers the continent and is kept in deep memory and cultural practices by the traditional Aboriginal landowners. Some of these stories travel across the country with law boundaries that are far older than the Australian state or territory borders that cut across these old boundaries. This includes those story lines that extend from Victoria to northern Australia or, for instance, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Central Australia and beyond. Most of the old stories have deep cultural meaning and are sacred stories, but I would like to give you an outline of significant stories in just a few of the places I visited in 2018.
A few months ago, while on Qantas flights that took us to and fro along the north Queensland coast from Cairns to Townsville and back again, I tried to understand the ancestral geography of the coral reefs and islands we were flying across. I imagined the old people of long ago travelling in spiritual journeys across this watery world of serpentine formations; their journeys made possible simply by using a different logic of cognition and verification, one of lightness—of shedding the burden of reality, as Italo Calvino explained in his essay on ‘Lightness’.1 We still use this well-formed approach of moving into other spaces of thinking, or travelling the stories of country. The Yindinji people of the far north Queensland Cairns region know that the Great Barrier Reef was created by Bhiral, who had brought down his wrath over country by throwing lava and hot rocks down from the sky when two brothers had disobeyed his warning not to hunt a particular fish. The sea rose, and when the lava cooled it formed the Great Barrier Reef. This ancient story about rising sea levels and many other similar stories across the country have been backed by scientific evidence, and examined in Patrick Nunn’s new book, The Edge of Memory.
The Wulgurukaba people of the Towns-ville region call their country ‘Gurrumbilbarra’ Wulgurukaba, which means ‘canoe people’. The Carpet Snake is an important symbol for the Wulgurukaba people’s story, which tells of a creation snake that came down from the Herbert River then went out to sea and created the Hinchinbrook Channel and down to Palm and Magnetic islands. The Snake’s body broke up, leaving parts along the coast. His tail is at Halifax Bay, his body is at Palm Island, and his head rests at Arcadia, Magnetic Island.
In the Gulf of Carpentaria there is a big story for Mabuntha, the Morning Glory Cloud, a meteorological phenomenon seen in September and October over the Gulf. This enormous roll cloud is usually about one to two kilometres across and up to one thousand kilometres in length. The cloud, or even sometimes a series of roll clouds, will move very quickly at about 60 kilometres an hour across the Gulf from Kowanyama to Borroloola. It is known to create a magnetic energy that extends from the sky to the ground, and the cloud is preceded by a dark wind and a sharp drop in temperature when it arrives at dawn. Murrandoo Yanner, a highly regarded leader and knowledge man of the Gangalidda people, has deep understanding of these stories, both traditional and scientific, and he has explained that the Morning Glory Cloud was made by Walalu, the Rainbow Serpent, the general principle being that ‘We believe that it is thousands of years of spirits of all of our dead ancestors watching over us and travelling on that cloud to check out the Lower Gulf as they go across all of their country.’2 The cloud is of great cultural significance, and it is an energy source for his people involved in Aboriginal law and ceremony. It also signifies many things during the changing of seasons in the Gulf, such as the knowledge that there will be dew and it is time to start the cool, slow burning of country, because new shoots will get moisture.
The Lardil, Yangkaal and Kaiadilt people of the Wellesley Islands in the Gulf know that their islands were created by Garnguur, the seagull woman, who took her raft and dragged it back and forth across the neck of the peninsula that had originally jutted out from the mainland to let the water in to create their islands.
In my Waanyi homelands in the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria, there are many ancestral Law stories over country. Over our lands, we are either ‘calm waters’ or ‘running waters’ people. Boodjamulla, or the Rainbow Serpent, formed the Lawn Hill Gorge, and created its beautiful spring-fed water system, as well as all of the animals and bush food. This Mumba-leeya or Rainbow Serpent country is a very sacred place, and Waanyi people only use this area for ceremonial and celebratory purposes. We believe that if you tamper with the sacred Boulgi healing water or pollute it, or not care for it, Boodjamulla will leave and take the water with him.
When I visit my traditional homelands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, I feel a strong sense of belonging, and of feeling embraced by the power of country, our stories and our people. This place feels more real to me than elsewhere. The country feels ancient and spiritually charged, and when you look through the seeming endlessness and stillness of old savannah forests or grasslands stretching in every direction to the horizon and that remain either stilled and quiet or are blowing around by the winds, or when you suddenly see through the sere of dense, dry, withered weeds two metres high on the roadside, and look across a mud-caked, grey-coloured dam flanked by 50 brolgas, it feels like being in spirit country. You can almost feel the country’s breadth stretching away with eddies of dust that draw your spirit through the landscape and into this sacred country.
I want to take you on another journey of place, to talk about some of the great independent writers of place in the world, whose books have influenced my thinking about what I could do as an Aboriginal writer in my own country.
I thought that everyone should read authors such as Patrick Chamoiseau, the French Caribbean author of the brilliant novel Texaco, told in an oral French creole style and idiom about life in a doomed shantytown on the edge of Martinique’s capital Fort-de-France. His novel Solibo Magnifique is about the brutal police investigation of the sudden death of a local legendary storyteller who choked on a word midsentence while telling a story under the tamarind tree. The story begins with a standard police incident report told in a few pages of stiff, strangulated French by a Martinican police officer to suit the French authorities who expect him to write his reports in standard French. This is followed by the story of what really happened—the terrible, brutal interrogation of the witnesses by police, told in the language of the oral tradition of the people who had been listening to Solibo’s storytelling, and whose creole style of speaking is never taken seriously.
This was a book I wished I had written because I knew this story. The stories of police brutality and cover-ups have been told many times by Aboriginal people, including to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody from 1987 to 1991, and these stories have continued to be told in recent years about brutality and death in custody. For instance, what happened on Palm Island in 2004, or the elder who died in a sweltering four-hour journey from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in a police van without air conditioning in 2008, and the abuse of young people at the Dondale Youth Detention Centre in 2017. Chamoiseau’s new novel Slave Old Man is also a masterpiece of his trademark, richly imaginative writing about place.
A few years ago, I thought I was reading something totally strange and revolutionary while experiencing the world-making, inventiveness and imagination of the visionary Hungarian storytelling author László Krasznahorkai’s novel Satantango. He writes like no other, and Satantango tells the story in all of its multitude of intricate details about a collapsing village of a failed collective, where the few people remaining start centring their attention on a man who suddenly returns, and who some thought might be a prophet returning to save them, to show them the way to each of their futures. Krasznahorkai is a beautiful writer, as can be seen at a glance, for instance, as he writes in his story ‘Kamo-Hunter’ in Seiobo There Below, ‘the mountains quiver in the scouring heat, but this heat itself also moves, trembles, and vibrates in the land …’
I once admired many of the great South American writers, especially Carlos Fuentes’ Terra Nostra for the sheer magnificence of his layered storytelling imagination, and I have admired the Macondo of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Ideally, I want to be like Carlos Fuentes, who sat down to re-read Don Quixote every year.
I have treasured reading about the intransigent Icelandic sheep farmer Guðbjartur Jónsson, the stubborn main character of Halldór Laxness’s Independent People. The Icelandic author writes: ‘In the early times, say the Islandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bells and other objects used in the practice of sorcery.’ This book reminded me of the stoic resilience of Aboriginal people and leaders who get up every morning to go out and relentlessly deal with the intransigence of this country in order to stay independent. I treasure the Czech author Ota Pavel’s novel How I Came to Know Fish for his ability to write about attachment to home and country through a deep love of place. I was enthralled by Irish legends, and the works of James Joyce and Seamus Heaney.
I never met Seamus Heaney although I could have, if I had taken the advice of a Dublin taxi driver about where anyone could meet Heaney. ‘You’ll see him walking every morning at 6 am, down on such and such a beach. Anyone can catch Seamus Heaney there.’ I cannot remember what beach it was, but perhaps it was Sandymount Strand. In his poem ‘The Strand’ he writes: ‘The dotted line my father’s ashplant made / On Sandymount Strand / Is something else the tide won’t wash away.’
I was only in Dublin for a short visit and did not want to trouble the thoughts of the world’s great poet on his personal early morning walk, but everywhere I went in those days I tried to see swans and gather material for my Swan Book. I would have loved to have been able to talk to Seamus Heaney about swans. I had already been taken to the Liffey by another Dublin taxi driver under the direction of a presenter from RTE, the national radio broadcaster of Ireland, who said it was the best place in Dublin to see swans. And yes, it was. We saw several mute swans dipping their heads underneath the water to feed on weeds. Then, only hours later, a strange thing happened when I was leaving Dublin and I felt that Seamus Heaney had sent a message to me about where to find swans in Ireland, because when I sat down in the departure lounge at the Dublin Airport and looked up, right in front of me was a huge banner hanging on the wall with his poem ‘Postscript’:
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore …
When I was writing Carpentaria while living in Alice Springs, I mentored myself through constant readings of Seamus Heaney’s poems, as well as stories we have for country. This was when I was hanging on to the risks I felt I was taking over six years to write this novel. Heaney dignified Irish humanity and their troubles in his poetry, and his kind of calmness and clear level headedness was the literary lesson I needed to calm my mind, to create a greater sense of authenticity about our world in this work of fiction, and above all to try to evoke a solid Aboriginal way of thinking in writing our realities. I wanted the narrative voice to be one that we know, to speak to this country in its language, because our old people will tell you that country hears its people, it is listening all the time, and it will speak back to you.
When Australian publishers rejected the manuscript for its obvious differences to the accepted form as I suspected they would, by reacting negatively towards its Aboriginal style, tone and content, and authorship, anyone would have thought that expressing an Aboriginality of place in literature was not allowed in Australia. The fact that Carpentaria was published at all was because the independent publisher Ivor Indyk, of Giramondo Publishing, was prepared to think about the value of a work of literary fiction that wanted to portray all times as being important and being intertwined culturally to place, and which I thought was a fundamentally important principle for any kind of story about place in this country.
Many of the master storytellers of epics that I had once read from other parts of the world, and the type of literature that I keep reading, drew stories from an unbroken storytelling tradition and cultural attachment to their country. I wanted to find out what they were doing in literature. What I wanted to know was how their literature was informed by the powerful depth of cultural knowledge of traditional country as I saw it embedded in our country and told orally by the wisdom people of our traditional law, and in our ongoing realities I could see this knowledge in the orally gifted, high-voltage, strong political Aboriginal leaders across Australia, who have grown huge, like the ancestral heroes, and who had burst out of these storytelling traditions and had taken the power of these stories with them. The question was about how one could be continuously shaped by the stories that have sustained our culture for millennia, and I continue studying it.
Last year while in Adelaide I visited the South Australia Art Gallery several times to watch a large video installation of the Yolngu elder and lawman Djalu Gurruwiwi from north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Djalu Gurruwiwi is the great Yidaki (didgeridoo) master and the instrument’s spiritual keeper across his traditional country. He is a powerful teacher, and I was drawn back to watch him explaining the power of this ancient musical instrument that in his traditional country summons the ancestral stories of the spirits that had fashioned the earth, the sea and the sky and all the creatures and humans in a history spanning thousands of years.
Djalu Gurruwiwi’s story was about explaining the baywara, which is a Yolngu term for the power of lightning, and described as being ‘the atmospheric energy and wind enshrined in the Yidaki’. He spoke of the Yidaki being an ancient and sacred instrument that comes from the ground and represents sacred ground. He was speaking about his deep cultural law, and of becoming the Yidaki, speaking the country’s spirit that saw through you and into your memories. He explained that the Yidaki is ‘like thunder … same thing … sees into your memories …’ Then he explained that the Yidaki could heal you, because it knows how to sing the land, the sea, the sky, and that he could ‘blow the Yidaki right through you … it will be going everywhere … inside memory … it calms people down … gives people this understanding … makes people think …’
This was the deep wisdom and philosophical story talk of Law from Aboriginal culture, and I believe that Djalu Gurruwiwi was speaking about himself as being the Yidaki of country singing its stories. Our elders talk of our spirituality being inside country and of being inside ourselves, and it has been these voices, of our law storytellers, that have stayed in my mind while trying to develop a literature grown from our own ancient oral storytelling culture. It is about sovereignty of mind for place, of country, and of people who govern themselves. The late great Waanyi leader Jaigairee Larry Lanley from my traditional country explained in the late 1970s: ‘Today my people can see more than one way of living … Our lives are changing but this does not mean we should forget the things that took us thousands of years to work out … These things are what we need to keep the head and body together … And the land can make us whole again.’3
Our great oral storytelling and story-keeping masters are like Djalu Gurruwiwi, and I keep looking for this deep feeling for country and of who we are. This is what I searched for in the literature I researched from master storytellers like Fuentes, of how to write all times, the epics that bring us to our times and back to our origins, in the hope it would bring me closer to the depth of understanding, and the substance I felt I needed to write country more fully.
I wanted to see what literature was capable of being in this country, in creating new forms of writing, or of a literature growing out of the country itself, and of being capable of changing the way we think about literature in Australia. I wanted to work with the power of literature to see what it is capable of doing. This is the type of authenticity that I have been trying to achieve. Ways of taking Australian literature to new levels of risk-taking and into greater challenges, to find ways to sing this country more powerfully. In finding new ways to tell our stories I wanted to challenge mainstream expectations or assumptions of what Australian and Indigenous Australian literature was, by either Australian readers or readers throughout the world. It is a journey I began long ago, and it is a continuing journey of reading and listening to master story people of culture and tradition wherever I find them across the world and from my own culture, in a search for new ways of thinking and writing.
I suspect my motivation grew from and is sustained by our experiences of never-ending challenges to think outside the moment, to extend our expectations to further horizons, to be able to imagine and to create far more innovative or visionary ideas in the work we have been undertaking for decades to achieve greater recognition and resolution of Aboriginal rights, building economies, creating security, negotiating our future.
In the Aboriginal Constitutional Conventions I coordinated in the Northern Territory in 1993 and 1998, and through the writing of my earlier books, I learnt that our survival must be achieved through our own determination. It was clear that we had to develop our own vision of the future, and this was demonstrated through the large installations of stories told through art produced at the Kalkaringi Convention for instance, and where each Aboriginal language group sang and danced the stories of country, and conducted their convention in their own languages. We have always governed ourselves and a self-governing form of literature was also required.
I have always acknowledged that I was initially educated by my own people and I am very grateful to have been taken under their wing as a young woman. It was the older people from my own communities who had encouraged me to listen and learn from them. They helped me to understand the reasons for pursuing a mainstream education. Why? They said it was necessary to create power: to be useful, and to do useful work for our people, and that they trusted me. Through this initial encouragement and teaching, I would spend many years working in our organisations and communities where we were researching global ideas to inform the visionary world of the enormous political battles we were undertaking and that were not part of the general thinking in mainstream politics in Australia. Our task was to try to change powerful and entrenched negative public narratives into our own stories, told by us.
Then I started to write, and mostly each book I have written has been a long journey into trying to understand our place and times. This includes Grog War and Take Power, and more so my recent novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book, and now Tracker—the collective memoir of Tracker Tilmouth.
Tracker Tilmouth was an Eastern Arrernte visionary leader, resource developer and economist from Central Australia who died far too young, at the age of 62 in 2015. He was a great thinker of place, and one of the finest political strategists of our times. He could read people and country backwards. My travels with Tracker were long journeys to see and talk about country, and meet people who lived in the places where we were travelling.
I believe that he learnt how to read people and country as a small child, one who instinctively knew how precarious his life had become when at the age of four, he and his two younger brothers were removed by government authorities from their family in Central Australia and placed on Croker Island one thousand kilometres away, where they would live for the following ten years. It was a childhood lived with the all-too-real understanding and fear of how they could be removed and separated from each other at any time, for any reason, and placed into other officially arranged care just as easily as they had been removed from their family, and evident in what would have appeared as random decisions in deciding the plight of other children on Croker Island. This is what Tracker said about being a child on Croker Island Mission:
I thought of everything and told people what to do. And that was the way I grew up in the Mission, of understanding non-Indigenous people, and trying to work out what they were thinking long before they said it. I had the ability at school to do that. I could finish my school work as the teachers were writing it up on the board. I knew exactly what they were going to say next for some unknown reason …
Tracker and his brother William spoke fondly about Lois Bartram, their young cottage mother on Croker Island Mission, who was 26 when she went to Croker Island, a year before they arrived there. She was a trained nurse and familiar with the pioneering work of John Bowlby, a British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who had written about the devastating effects of maternal deprivation on children. She had 12 boys under her care in the cottage, and she would read stories to them.
One book that left a lasting impression on Tracker was Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, a novel about a black man’s country under white law in South Africa. She read similar books to Tracker and the other boys about the Civil Rights Movement in America, and she played Black American gospel and jazz music as they went to sleep at night. Edward W. Said speaks of reading, or deep reading as gaining perspective, and of transitioning ‘from one realm, one area of human experience to another’.4 While it was never right to forcibly remove Aboriginal children from their own families, I think what Lois Bartram achieved by reading books such as Cry, the Beloved Country was to give Tracker a much wider perspective at an early age, to understand more quickly how to create and use a counter-narrative against the official narrative of racial inequality.
Tracker made a point of continually learning about place and language from older people, and among his strongest gifts was his ability to read country and people. When Tracker left Croker he learnt from strong Aboriginal men and women of his father’s generation in Central Australia. As a young man he learnt from the important Law men of the Western Desert, and then in his traditional homeland of the eastern regions of Central Australia.
I wanted everyone to tell their part of the story, as Tracker had also wanted. This method recognises connections between people and the fact that Tracker lived his life as part of his community. He was more interested in walking the talk or the story, rather than writing, and I soon realised that his archives were in the minds of other people, in their memories. They were his filing cabinet. I felt that a collective memoir would be similar to the way I have seen decisions made in Aboriginal forums, where all of the complexities are explored to reach a consensus.
The writing journey has taken me around the world, but it always brings me back to where it all started, and that is my deep interest in our own storytelling world, of what it means to come from an oral storytelling culture, how we create stories and use them, the role of imagination in our culture and the importance our culture places in stories, and how we continue to develop our storytelling practices and memories.
I cannot remember anyone reading to me when I was a child, but I had a great librarian, my Waanyi grandmother, who did not know how to read or write but who helped me to be literate in other ways of thinking and imagining. Her stories, told orally, came from the sagas and sacred stories that have been kept alive by the retelling of these stories over time. I would go on long walks with her in our landscape of dry and windswept yellowing grasslands, and along dry sandy riverbeds with a few remaining water holes, through the winding sandy beds of red gullies, and over the hillside goat tracks in the dirt where people walked. One of my most prevailing memories of her was how she yearned to return to her traditional Waanyi homelands in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was the focus of her stories, and the binding love for her traditional country.
This wonderful storytelling grandmother was my earliest guide to the world of the imagination and the role of memory in stories, and in how to acknowledge other realities as our family. She saw the world anew and as marvellous on a constant basis, and this way of seeing place is a powerful ingredient of a good story, and in story keeping. We understand the oral stories of our world because ever since our childhood these stories were told to us by our family—the people we trust. Because these stories are so powerful and rich, we keep rekindling them in our mind, and do not forget them. These stories continually shape us, as they have done over a very long period of time, and give us enormous strength. They are the backbone of who we are, and help us to overpower other stories that make us feel powerless.
• • •
The Aboriginal perspective and world view that my grandmother had was huge and cosmopolitan in its outlook. It teaches the benefits of having eyes wide open and having an openness to the world, of being attuned to a spiritual understanding of the environment and having self-knowledge. I think she helped me to know how to build an internal world of visualisation and exploration, and the endurance for holding onto a vision, and perhaps this is the great gift of cultural teachers like my grandmother, and which I think helped me to create a novel such as The Swan Book.
I am deeply interested in the meaning of dispossession through its impact on us, and in what really happens to a people over time, in the historical fallout of lifelong and intergenerational psychological and economic issues that we have come to face as Aboriginal people. Do we get stronger or weaker when dealing with each and every challenge, time after time? Or become, as Gabriel García Márquez once said about the misfortunes of Colombia, ‘They have learnt to be happy without happiness.’5 At the time of writing The Swan Book, there seemed to be marked changes in our arid zone environment. Many people will tell you stories when you ask, and I heard stories about how swans were now seen more regularly in the drier northern inland areas of Australia. Swans were often seen in sheets of shallow and fast-drying waters lying over country after unseasonal heavy rains from the changing weather patterns, and the climate had flipped—wetter in the centre, dryer in the south.
The questions in my mind were, what happens when there is no story for swans in the places where they were now migrating? What happens when a swan enters the big stories of brolga country? What did it mean to have no cultural story that fixed you to a place either as a person, a swan or any other animal species? How do you take the ancient spiritual law stories that belonged to you when you move to another place? Then what happens if you mix the stories of the Dreaming? The easy answer is that you create new stories, new song, new Dreaming. Perhaps, and perhaps there are other consequences.
I knew this novel would challenge my ability to write about how I thought the Aboriginal world might eventually respond to new paths of harsh government policy that would follow the Intervention of 2007 in the Northern Territory. I wondered how much more Aboriginal culture could take. How far would we go to survive? Until the last person standing? And how would that person think? What kind of person would that be?
So I thought, why not consider swans in a world of the future changed by the impact of climate change, say one hundred years from now, and juxtapose their fate with a similar reality of millions of people in the world becoming homeless through climate-change wars, and our own people being locked up in army-controlled detention camps in a climate-changed world of Australia? I thought that millions of people across the world had to be asking themselves the same question, What is the future? So what could be more beautiful and wonderful than exploring how poets and thinkers of the world have thought about swans in their time, and times that may have been just as or more troublesome than ours? It was a deliberate choice of what I wanted to think and dream about, by exploring a world of swans in a book of challenges concerning global climate change and set against the stark realities about survival. This became the story of The Swan Book.
In this writing journey I have found that the world is interested in Aboriginal literature. I have learnt that readers from all parts of the world want to know how we became the oldest surviving culture in the world, and they want to know our stories and how we tell these stories. Professor Li Yao, the translator of my books in China, recently translated a letter sent to me from a senior retired Chinese literary critic, Geng Rui. I met Geng last year at a roundtable session about my novel Carpentaria with writers, poets and artists at the Wulanchabu Arts and Literature Association in the city of Ulanqab in Inner Mongolia. He wrote to explain further his reading of Carpentaria in relation to literature of place and ‘the phenomenon’ he saw ‘of literature returning to the original—the aesthetic grasp of the world … and (enabling) culture to return to its original value and appearance’. He explained that ‘the foundation stories of culture (seen) in today’s novels’, which he also saw in Carpentaria, ‘turned it into a great contemporary novel with innovative meaning … a unique and great literary work of magical and complicated history and chaotic reality, an unforgettable one’, he said, ‘that belongs to you and the world’. I appreciate hearing these thoughts about my work, which is of course about a place far away from China. Geng Rui has helped me to understand that place extends, a particular place is not separate and just of itself. We are part of the world—all related. And all parts of the world are related to us.
During the 2014 Wellesley Island Sea Claim hearing at Gununa (Mornington Island), Wunjularbinna, a Gangalidda elder, spoke about what place means to us. He said:
In our belief, we’re born with the human spirit inside of us that connects with the spirit in creation, so we’re connected all the time, and spirit you can’t see, and it is not written law, but we know that the law is there, and I want to also say while we’re on this subject, that spirit is—it could be in the Dreamtime; it is present today, and is a part of us for the future, from the cradle to the grave, so it doesn’t lose its value or the spirit doesn’t lose its power and connectedness with creation and people. Never. I mean, it is as strong today as it was in the Dreamtime.6
In a continuing exploration of understanding more about how we are related to country, and how we are strengthened through stories of all times, I have tried to locate what parts I felt were missing in the stories I wanted to write. As I continue to go deeper in the challenges I set myself with each book I write, I know I will go further into a journey of imagination in our own unique perspective, a perspective that belongs here. A legacy passed down to us through countless generations so that we can know who we are in this place. •
Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book. Her most recent book, Tracker, was awarded the 2018 Stella Prize. She holds the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.
- Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, trans. Patrick Creagh, Penguin, London, 2009.
- Harriet Tatham, ‘Morning glory brings gliders from far and wide to surf spectacular, rare cloud formation’, ABC North West Queensland, 4 October, 2017.
- Jaigairee Larry Lanley, quoted in Nicholas Evans et al., The Heart of Everything—the Art and Artists of Mornington & Bentinck Islands, McCulloch & McCulloch, Australian Art Books, Melbourne, 2008, p. 13.
- Edward W. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Columbia University Press, New York, 2004, p. 80.
- Gabriel García Márquez, I’m Not Here to Give You a Speech, trans. Edith Grossman, Viking, London, 2014, p. 128.
- Burketown (Mongabi) Visitors Centre.