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  • Published 20150203
  • ISBN: 9781922182678
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

ON 9 APRIL 2013, a boat carrying sixty-seven asylum seekers from Sri Lanka made its way undetected through several levels of surveillance and border security to sail straight into the port of Geraldton. It was lunchtime, around 1 pm, and café-goers at the local Dome could hardly believe their eyes: the overburdened and ramshackle craft was nothing like the industrial vessels and cargo ships that criss-cross this busy regional harbour. [i] Customs officials and police were alerted and would lose little time in cordoning off the scene and impounding the boat. But, for a short while, the arrivals still remained on board and could be viewed and photographed for local media.

Caught in the brilliant afternoon sunshine, silhouetted against a giant ‘Welcome to Geraldton’ sign, the castaway boat has an almost festive look. A jaunty blue trim offsets the cracks and rust stains on its hull. There is a stir and energy to the figures moving on deck. Curious children peep through the railings. A woman unfurls a long, thick plait of hair. You can just read the name on the prow, Bremen, and a corporate logo. A makeshift banner atop the cabin declares the desired destination, NEW ZEALAND, and even bears an image of that country’s flag. The boat, it seems, was making for friendlier shores before engine trouble forced the passengers to try their luck here, after forty-four days at sea. A breeze lifts the makeshift flag. An emblem of hope and a statement of intent, it flutters, then flies, for now, in the uncertain shelter of this strange harbour.

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About the author

Suvendrini Perera

Suvendrini Perera is a professor of cultural analysis and the acting director of the Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute at Curtin University.She attended the University of Sri...

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