Heart of the Grass Tree
Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 9:00AM
Dads on the Air in 2019, Gender & Masculinities, Grandparents, Indigenous Men & Fathers, Raising Kids, Relationships, Young Men

With special guest:

Today we travel back to the time before 1836 and to Australia’s second biggest island, Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia.

This is a big story over different generations of islanders. The modern day story deals with the effect on a family of a grandmother’s death. When Nell died her family returned to Kangaroo Island to mourn and farewell her. Nell’s granddaughter Pearl pulled together the scraps Nell left behind, her stories, poems and paintings and unearthed the early history of the European sealers and their first contact with the Ngarrindjeri people.

Interwoven with the modern day story is the life on the island before 1836 with some brutal characters set against the next generation. The main character asks himself what it is to be a man after being confronted with some terrible exploits of the early sealers.

The early days of settlement on Kangaroo Island were living on the frontier. The sealers were rough to themselves and also to their companions. But in Heart of the Grass Tree Molly Murn has explored the site for cross-cultural exchange and in the process brought a nuanced perspective to the history of the white invaders and the Indigenous population.

Molly consulted with Ngarrindjeri elders at Camp Coorong Cultural Centre to listen to their perspectives on this history and learnt of their overwhelming concern about the gaps left when sealers stole women from their families before South Australia’s official settlement in 1836.

This is a searing and hope-filled story about country and its living history. It is a treat to speak with Molly who has written so poetically and sympathetically about the history of one part of Australia’s huge territory.

Molly Murn

Molly Murn is a South Australian author and poet. She holds a Bachelor of Dance, a Masters of Creative Arts, and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Flinders University. Molly also works as a bookseller at Matilda Bookshop in the Adelaide Hills. Heart of the Grass Tree, is her first novel. Molly’s poetry has been published in various anthologies including Overland, Transnational Literature and Friendly Street. She lives in the Adelaide Hills and loves to tango, read, walk, listen to records, and spend time in wild places.

Song selection by our guest: Down By the Water by PJ Harvey

Article originally appeared on Dads on the Air (http://www.dadsontheair.com.au/).
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