Recently as I traveled from Toowoomba to Brisbane, a trip I had undertaken many times, I was struck by how the countryside seemed to be glistening in the aftermath of good Autumn rains. The distant blue mountains of the D’Aguilar and Blackball Ranges seemed clearer and closer to me than ever before.
And I wondered, were they clearer and closer to me now, after reading Libby Connors new book ‘Warrior’? These mountain ranges had been the home of the great warrior and lawman Dundalli.
Libby’s book takes us into the heart and very essence of what it may have been like for Dundalli growing up in this wonderful country. We come to understand his laws and customs, which formed and shaped him, and made him the leader that he was to his people. I now look at these ranges as Dundalli may have viewed them with a newfound love and understanding.
For most Australians we know little or nothing of the real history of this country. We know more about Native Americans than we do about the First People. Many of us can name Native American chiefs such as Cochise, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Geronimo but how many of us know of powerful aboriginal leaders such as Dundalli, Yilbung, Multuggerah, Dakki Yakka, and Ubie Ubie?
What many of us are coming to understand is how inadequate and negligent our education was, and in particular our understanding of the history of this land.
The First Peoples were basically written out of history. Their struggle to maintain their country, their culture and laws were dismissed and belittled.
The 150 year war that was waged in this country is all but forgotten and instead of the word ‘stolen’ we prefer the word settled to describe how British sovereignty was obtained. The concept and lie of Terra Nullus, nobody’s land, infects the very soul of this country, it is found in its laws and constitution and more sadly the hearts and minds of its people. We are overdue in coming to understand our real history
Libby Connors’ book Warrior is a deeply considered and powerfully told history of the Brisbane area. A must read for any one who calls Brisbane home. For me, places such as the Post Office in Queens Street, come alive to me of the final and poignant speech Dundalli made to his people with a noose around his neck, for his people not to give up hope and to continue the struggle for justice.
As we reflect on how much effort we made to remember the Anzacs, where we were told we defined ourselves as a nation, I wonder if the real struggle for our identity has not been told.
And that the telling by Libby of Dundalli’s story is where we will find ourselves as a people. A story where we courageously face the truth of what really happened in this country.
Warrior, by Libby Collins, is published by Allen and Unwin and is available at Avid Reader in West End.