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Archive for July, 2016

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.

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