Switched on to writing



About the book

          For many the turbulent history that shaped early Australia has been forgotten. The victorious wrote the history books, and the voices of the vanquished were silenced. The invasion and conquest of the land and the near genocide of the indigenous people were events that rarely receive mention.

          Ellie Matthews' academic research drew her to the culture and history of the first inhabitants of Southeast Queensland. One day she receives a poorly written letter that causes her to drive over rough roads to meet with an old aboriginal man who tells her the story of Nargun, a man of the forgotten Galanga people, one of the greatest aboriginal warriors of his day, a war chief caught up in the collision between two cultures and two worlds. In Garunna's tale, Nargun once more leads his people into battle while, at the same time, revealing the path of forbidden love that rewrites Ellie’s own history.  

          Garunna begins his tale by dropping his listener into the day-to-day intricacies of life as it was lived before the coming of the white man. He tells how Mary Jacobsen's white world is driven by fear, greed and irrational hatred. When Mary helps the badly beaten Nargun, and then falls in love with him, her father’s hatred knows no bounds. Living a tribal life spurs on the young lovers’ intimacy and allows Mary’s understanding of aboriginal life to grow. There can be no meeting ground between the racist Mick Jacobsen and his daughter who is now educated in the truth about aboriginal life and its values.

          Nargun’s wife-stealing expedition to a neighbouring tribe reveals yet another facet of this complex, and little understood, culture. It becomes clear, as the story progresses, that there can be only a tragic outcome. The voices of the vanquished were indeed silenced… but not for all time. Garunna makes sure of that.

“An imaginative reconstruction of a sordid period in our nation's history. We are swept along with Nargun on his quest for the freedom to live as his people had always done. The narrative surges like a king tide and leaves us stranded on the beach of life, somewhat lessened by the tragedy that has unfolded.”

“A fantastic, fictitious account of the life and times of a mythical leader in indigenous Australia. Nargun epitomises all the manly virtues. An excellent story for all those men and women who love an old-fashioned romantic adventure.”