Our Mob, God’s Story won the 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year award. Three print runs of the book have sold out, with copies going to many countries. The book will shortly go into its fourth printing.


Judges’ comments:  Sixty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the city and the bush tell the story of the wonderful things God has done for their people. They paint in a dazzling variety of styles and write with uncommon wisdom and generosity. These artists share their vision of Jesus in order to bring us together as brothers and sisters. This inspiring book demonstrates what the recent census recorded: that Christian faith is more evident and alive in indigenous communities than in the dominant settler society. It is time for quiet appreciation and deep listening. Beautiful, confident and irresistible.

To view the award presentation, go to https://youtu.be/Z6QjzSR5lV8

Judges’ comments and award presentation on youtube courtesy of sparklit.org


Maralinga’s Long Shadow: Yvonne’s Story won the 2017 NSW Premier’s History Award – Young People’s History Prize. In 2016, it was short-listed for the Australian Christian Book of the Year.

Judges’ comments for the Australian Christian Book of the Year short-list:  This lavishly illustrated biography records the lasting costs of nuclear tests in Central Australia to an Aboriginal community. Displaced from their country, Yvonne Edwards and her people were moved from the soft sands of the desert to the hard stones of a strange land. Her firstborn was taken away and her life was dogged by tragedy. Christobel Mattingley tells the story of her friend Yvonne and how her warm Christian faith delivered her from bitterness and enabled her to inspire her community to maintain both their connection to the land through painting and to pursue justice and compensation for the effects of radioactive contamination of their country. A gem.

omgs-coverThe long-awaited Our Mob, God’s Story is scheduled for publication in March 2017. It can be pre-ordered at this link: https://www.bibleshop.org.au/ourmob.html

Our Mob, God’s Story is an art book with a difference, with more than 115 works in an exciting variety of styles and stories by over 65 established and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. They share their faith in paintings inspired by Bible verses and stories, from Creation to the Crucifixion. With a foreword by distinguished Aboriginal artist and educator Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Our Mob, God’s Story is an important contribution to Australian art.

This publication has been funded by a generous donor and all proceeds will go towards publication of Scripture in mother tongues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. Celebrating the bicentenary of Bible Society in Australia, it is a powerful and beautiful witness to God’s love for the traditional custodians of this ancient continent which we now call Australia, and to the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.


Christobel speaking at the launch. Photo credit: Ben Searcy www.bensearcy.com.au

Christobel speaking at the launch. Photo credit: Ben Searcy http://www.bensearcy.com.au

Thank you, Tandanya, for hosting this very special event,  and Dr Roger Thomas for being the MC.  Thank you, Dr Alitya Rigney, for your warm and wise words launching Maralinga’s Long Shadow.  Thank you to the family of Yvonne Edwards for coming from Yalata, Amata and Tjuntjunjatjara to be here as we honour your mother and sister.  Thank you, Pam Diment, for your insights into Yvonne’s art, and Phoebe Azer in mounting the exhibition.  And thank you, Katrina Power, for your very moving Welcome to Country.

I also acknowledge that we are meeting on the land of the Kaurna People, the land on which I was born almost 85 years ago on the Tjilbruke Dreaming Trail.  But in those days there were no Aboriginal people on their lands around Adelaide.  They were kept on reserves, and it was not until I was 8 years old that I first saw Aboriginal people, at La Perouse in Sydney, and nobody could tell me why they looked so sad.  But their wonderful rock carvings in the sandstone cliffs of the Hawkesbury River and their mellifluous place names touched my spirit and began my lifelong respect for and commitment to the First Peoples of this great continent.

In 1984 when I was chosen by the Jubilee 150 Aboriginal Executive Committee to help them tell the Aboriginal side of the story of 150 years of European occupation of their country, a very important Royal Commission had just been set up to investigate the British nuclear tests at Maralinga.   Through Dr David Hope I obtained access to the findings and wrote a chapter in Survival in Our Own Land about the effects of those tests on the Anangu people, on whose lands the tests were conducted.  I always thought it deserved a book of its own, and in 2001 in Alice Springs at the Yeperenye Festival celebrating Aboriginal survival, publisher Erica Wagner, who had already published some of my books, offered to publish the Maralinga story.  There was no response to two approaches I made to the Yalata Council.  But later I was introduced to the next Community chairperson Mima Smart, by teachers, Geoff and Jan Willsmore, who remembered my visits to Yalata for Children’s Book Weeks in the 1980s.

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Maralinga's Long ShadowMaralinga’s Long Shadow: Yvonne’s Story has been shortlisted in the 2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award, from a field of 57 entries.  Christobel’s book The Miracle Tree (Hodder & Stoughton, 1985) was Highly Commended in the 1986 Christian Book of the Year Awards and received the Children’s Christian Book of the Year Award. It too is a story about the effects of nuclear weapons, in Nagasaki, Japan where the second atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.

See Maralinga’s Long Shadow: Yvonne’s Story.

CRM D LittThank you, Chancellor and Council, for this great honour which the University has conferred upon me.  I am deeply grateful to the University for what it has brought to my life.

I also wish to acknowledge that we are meeting on the lands of  the Moo-he-ne-nah  (Mouheneenner) People and pay my respects.

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UTas Distinguished Alumni Award

UTas Distinguished Alumni Award

I entered the university in March 1948 aged 16 years and 4 months on the Sir Richard Dry Exhibition and within a week the University had set me on one of my main courses for life.  On the Ides of March at the Glebe Theatre Players I met the student who was to become my husband, ex-serviceman David Mattingley.  We have now received our letter from the Queen and between us our association with UTAS spans 135 years!  We know that at least one of you here tonight has an equally long association.  Peter Saunders danced at our wedding!

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