Strangers on Country
Imagine you find a stranger on your favourite beach. They are pale, starving, desperate for shelter and speak a language you can’t understand. Despite your fears, you treat them with kindness. You feed them and comfort them. They become like family to you and learn how to live on country.
‘Strangers on Country’ describes the experiences of six Europeans who were taken in by Indigenous communities of eastern Australia between the 1820s and 1870s. The shipwreck survivors and runaway convicts stayed alive only through their hosts’ generosity.
Too often Australian history is told only from a European perspective. Imagining events from both Indigenous Australian and European perspectives, the authors have brought to life remarkable true stories that inspire connection and understanding.
Working on this book with my co-author, Dave Hartley, was an absolute privilege. Dave’s people are Barunggam, the traditional owners of the Darling Downs/Chinchilla region in Queensland. We worked on six true stories set in Queensland in the 19th Century with Dave writing from the point of view of the Indigenous characters while I wrote from the perspective of the shipwrecked Europeans. Dub Leffler’s beautiful illustrations brought the book to life. Working on the fact sections and helping to select images from the National Library’s collection was a fascinating experience.