Featured in

  • Published 20110301
  • ISBN: 9781921656996
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN THE COURSE of an average Australian lifetime, a white lifetime, face-to-face communication with Indigenous Australians might be fairly limited. In my own case, five fairly talkative decades have yielded only three brief conversations. The first was with a sister and brother, Esther and Terry, students at an outer-Melbourne high school where I taught in the 1980s. They must have thought my earlier attempts at engagement a bit tedious because they rolled their eyes when I approached them in the playground. I spoke about the need to eat something a little more nourishing than lollies for lunch. ‘Like what?’ said Terry. ‘Like a salad roll, maybe.’ ‘We did.’ ‘Oh. Well, that’s good.’ Esther offered me a jelly snake and off they hurried, wishing to be where I was not.

The second conversation took place in the early 1990s outside the supermarket in Smith Street, Fitzroy, when a man by the name of Mickey with a fabulous sense of entitlement demanded a hundred dollars for his autograph, which I hadn’t requested. I said no. Mickey said, ‘Better idea. Buy me a flagon. Can yuh?’ I bought him a flagon of Seppelts from the supermarket’s bottle shop and he sauntered away singing the chorus of ‘The Gambler’, his trademark tune.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

More from author

The fire this time

MemoirTHE BUSHFIRE DEBRIS descends from the night sky with a strangely graceful motion, as if swimming. Leaves and twigs settle softly on the grass,...

More from this edition

Your job is to amaze me

GR OnlineI'M ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to have been invited out of retirement to have the privilege of addressing you. I only draw attention to my 'retirement'...

The crumbling wall

EssayI GREW UP in an era when science had an aura of certainty and solidity: it was 'the true exemplar of authentic knowledge', as...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.