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– Christine T, Department of Education
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A poignant tribute to the Aboriginal men and women who worked in the pearling industry as ‘free divers’ in the late nineteenth century in Western Australia. The fictionalised lyrical narrative is based on the celebrated song ‘Free Diving’ by singer–songwriter Lorrae Coffin. It sensitively reflects the emotional journey of a young man who leaves family and country to work on a lugger with Japanese and Malay divers by his side.
What happened during the war to transform a determined young man from country Victoria into a war hero – one who would go on to serve with distinction in the Korean War, and become a pioneering figure for Indigenous rights? This is the little-known story of Reg Saunders, the first Indigenous Australian to become an officer in the Army, retold in action-packed graphic format.
The novel’s portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, leader of the Westend Pricklebush people, and its battles with old Joseph Midnight’s renegade Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown