The Aboriginal tracker is a stock character in certain Australian films, employed as set dressing, catalyst, curio. Although fictional trackers have been celebrated on celluloid, few real trackers have been given life within the national memory. Some people may recall Billy Dargin and his role in locating and shooting Ben Hall. Others might think of Dubbo’s Tracker Riley, or Dick-a-Dick, who found the missing Cooper and Duff children near Natimuk in 1864 when they had been given up for dead.... (read more)
Philip Larkin famously suggested that ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad’, but the alternative is usually worse. Twenty years before Larkin wrote ‘This Be the Verse’, his compatriot John Bowlby published Maternal Care and Mental Health (1951), which described profound mental health consequences when ...... (read more)
In Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria (2006), Girlie claims, ‘If you ever want to find out about anything in your vicinity, you have to talk to the mad people.’ There are a lot of mad people in Wright’s biography of Aboriginal activist, thinker, and provocateur ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth. He is probably the maddest of all, in the ...... (read more)
In the Australia of my childhood, the Gypsy skirt was fashionable, ABC Radio played Django Reinhardt, ‘The Gypsy Rover’ was in school songbooks, peripatetic players were called ‘Gypsy footballers’, the Gypsy Jokers were a feared bikie gang, and nefarious Gypsies were stock villains in children’s books. Gypsies – or Roma – occupied cultural terrain, but ...... (read more)
One of the many contradictions of Islamic State, as exposed in Robert Manne’s latest work, is that a mob seemingly dedicated to deeds rather than words is in fact logocratic. For all of their murderous antipathy towards the People of the Book, Islamic State has relied not on speeches or policy platforms, but on a succession of books.
While some trace the g ...
Gambling is part of Australia’s self-definition. The way we like to tell the story, lads at Gallipoli went over the top with a two-up kip in one hand and a rifle in the other, while exchanging tips for the Melbourne Cup ...... (read more)
There is a well-meaning musician who performs intermittently in Central Australia. When he plays his hit song, he tries to augment the lyrics by chanting the ...... (read more)
At the bottom of one of Kim Mahood's desert watercolours, she scrawled, 'In the gap between two ways of seeing, the risk is that you see nothing clearly.' A risk for ...... (read more)