Ideas for a brighter future for all

In the latest instalment of Griffith University's A better future for all series, in partnership with HOTA, Home of the Arts, Kerry O'Brien talks to authors David Malouf, Melissa Lucashenko and Trent Dalton.

For this conversation in Griffith University’s A better future for all interview series, Kerry O’Brien welcomed a panel of contemporary literary figures to the HOTA stage. 

Acclaimed novelists David MaloufMelissa Lucashenko and Trent Dalton sat with Kerry to discuss their work within the context of Australia’s evolving storytelling culture. 

Each writer has captured specifically Australian times and places in their fiction and non-fiction, which made this instalment of Griffith University’s collaboration with HOTA a standout in an already acclaimed series of conversations. 

These novelists are also feature in Books That Made Us, a new ABC TV series about great books that have shaped Australia’s identity, airing in late November 2021.

Uncle John Graham

Good evening everyone. It’s a real pleasure to be here. Before I do the Welcome to Country, I’d like to honor elder Uncle Graham Dillon, who passed away on the weekend. He was a very respected elder of the Koombumerri people. And one that had a lot of time at Griffith University and across the whole of the southeast Queensland spectrum, especially on the Gold Coast here. So, thanks for allowing me to do that. I am still deeply affected by it, but I thank you for allowing me to say it tonight. Thank you. 

Good day friends. My name is John Graham and I am a proud Koombumerri man, a saltwater man, from the Gold Coast region. Our people are part of the wider Yugambeh language group whose land stretch from the Logan River in the north to Tweed in the south, to the other side of the Great Dividing Range out passed Beaudesert to a place called Teviot Brook bordered by the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Koombumerri lands stretch from the Gumarra Gumarra to the Tweed in the south, to the foothills of the mountains. As it all welcomes, it’s important that I pay my respects and acknowledge Elders past present and emerging. Because it was old people that fought the good fight in dark and desperate times, in order for people of my generation to work with other Australians towards a reconciled nation for us to leave a legacy for our young people. For they are the bearers of the flame, the keepers of the knowledge and keep our culture strong into the future. I pay my respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across this land. I also pay my respects the spirit of this land and her people, which includes all of you here tonight. My authority to speak comes through Warru, my ancestor. She grew up on the banks of the Nerang River, place of the shovelnose ray. In her later life, she lived with her daughter Jenny, and husband Andrew, on a small island called Gardiner Island, just from the old sundial shopping center on Brighton parade. So, Andrew and Jenny were river masters, Aruba pilots of the Nerang when it was a big powerful river, before all the development here. Our people were sustained by the abundance of seafood from both the river and the ocean. Our footprint remains strong in this place, as sovereignty was never seeded. We are still the traditional custodians of this place and will be so into the future. I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming you here today. Enjoy tonight’s proceedings. There are some beautiful people on the on the panel here. One thing I would just like to say and I was thinking of an old saying that my father used to say to me is treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. So, I think that’s a resonation with the topic that the speakers will be talking about and what you’re all here for tonight. So, thank you again. Welcome to this place, respect this place, respect the fauna and flora, respect yourselves and respect each other, and your boo and your boo. Till we meet again. Thank you

 

Professor Carolyn Evans, Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University

Thank you, Uncle John. Can I join with you on behalf of Griffith University in acknowledging the passing of such a respected and loved elder of this country. He was an elder in residence at Griffith University, co-chair of our council of elders, and welcomed me both ceremonially and very personally to this land that he loved that he cared for, that he knew so deeply, and he will be greatly missed by many friends at Griffith.

So good evening, everyone. My name is Carolyn Evans. I’m the Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University and Griffith University is delighted along with HOTA the home of the arts, here on the beautiful gold coast to cohost this event, Creating a Better Future for All: a series of conversations with Kerry O’Brien. In addition to acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land, could I also acknowledge our Chancellor Mr. Henry Smerdon AM DUniv, councilors of the City of Gold Coast, particularly councilor William Owen Jones and councilor Glen Tozer, Chair of the Board of Directors of HOTA Emeritus Professor Ned Pankhurst. Of course, as always, Kerry O’Brien and our wonderful speakers to whom I’ll get in a moment, and other members and friends of Griffith and our partners. Stories are one of humanity’s oldest, most powerful tools. From ancient stories and fables to modern best sellers and literary classics alike. Our Stories bind us across cultures and communities. They develop shared understanding and experience. Australia’s own storytelling history, a history that stretches back more than 60,000 years, reflects and shapes our rich ever evolving society in a way few other mediums can match. Extraordinary stories and the extraordinary writers who have shaped modern Australia’s cultural tapestry as a central focus of a new three-part documentary series ‘Books That Made Us’ which premiered on ABC TV just last night. We are just delighted to welcome three of the documentaries’ subjects, all widely celebrated and much-loved authors, as our guest for tonight’s event to discuss Australian storytelling from past, present and future. An internationally acclaimed novelist and one of Australia’s most celebrated writers, David Malouf has been capturing audiences for more than 45 years. David’s is a skilled and prolific author of both fiction and nonfiction as well as poetry, short stories and even a play. His body of works include such critically loaded titles as ‘Johnno’, ‘Fly Away Peter’, ‘The Great World’, ‘Remembering Babylon’, ‘Conversations at Curlow Creek’, and his autobiographical classic ‘12. Edmonson Street.’ Over his decorated career has won awards including the Commonwealth writers prize twice, the International Dublin literary award, the Age Book of the Year Award, the Pascal prize for critical writing and the Steele Rudd award for short stories at the Queensland Premier literary awards. It’s an honour to welcome him as one of tonight’s three guests. We are equally proud and privileged tonight to also be hosting the wonderful Melissa Lukashenko this evening. Born in Brisbane Melissa’s heritage, Bundjalung and European. Now an accomplished author an essayist, she first pierced popular consciousness with her debut novel ‘Steam Pigs’ in 1997. That book earned Melissa multiple accolades including the Dobbie Literary Award for Australian women’s fiction and shortlisting for the New South Wales premiers Award and the Commonwealth writers prize. Melissa has continued to attract great critical and popular attention with her intelligent, insightful writing through six further novels including the 2019 Miles Franklin award winning ‘Too Much Lip.’ She’s also the author of several acclaimed essays taking home the 2013 Walkley award for her long feature writing with a phenomenal peace ‘Sinking Below Sight’ about structural inequality and survival in Logan’s so called Black Belt region. We’re really proud that she’s a Griffith alum, and I in fact owe her a personal debt of thanks because when I was in my job interview for Vice Chancellor, I opened my presentation with a powerful quote from one of her Griffith review articles, and I got the job. So cheers Melissa. Last but not least, our final guest Trent Dalton got his start as a scribe at one of the Courier Mail’s breakout journalists and feature writers. A two-time Walkley award winner, Trent published his first novel the semi-autobiographical ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ in 2018. The book won multiple Australian book industry awards as well as awards at the Indie Book Awards, New South Wales premieres literary awards and the Mud literary prize. It’s since been adapted for stage and a feature film is in development. Any one of us who are at the opening night of ‘Boy Swallows Universe‘ at QPAC will have experienced how righteously the crowd received at work of great artistic merit, but that shone a light on them and their city. He has since published ‘All our Shimmering Skies’ and just in time for Christmas stockings, ‘The Inventive Love Stories.’ All three of these writers have contributed so much Australia’s storytelling culture with their unique perspectives on life in our complex, compelling, ever evolving country. We’re just so grateful to all be able to be here together, and for them to give their time to join us for this event. Towards the end of a long, hard year, I can’t think of a better way to finish this year’s HOTA series than with such a brilliant panel. As this is the last of this year’s conversations can I also just take one moment on behalf of Griffiths to thank HOTA for their wonderful partnership and their persistence in working with us to keep this series alive and thriving, online, offline, half online, half online. It’s been a really difficult two years to launch but it’s been great working with you. And I couldn’t particularly acknowledge Ned Pankhurst, who is here for the last time in his role as chair of HOTA, but who I hope will remain a friend of this series. Finally, I’d like to thank Kerry O’Brien who’s professionalism, hard work and just genuine interest in both people and ideas. It’s his vision that has made this series such a success. And so without any further ado, over to you Kerry

Kerry O’Brien

I would also like to acknowledge at the outset that we’re on Yugambeh country tonight and pay my respects to elder’s past and present. Apart from the gifted storytelling, these three great writers have at least one other thing in common. They all grew up in Queensland, Brisbane, in fact, across a span of 45 years. This conversation tonight can roam wherever our guests want to take it. But partly because I was also a Brisbane boy born 11 years after David, 22 years after Melissa, before you, sorry Melissa, 22 years before Melissa, and 34 years before trend. But mostly because of the importance and influence of place in their stories. I want to start by tapping their childhood memories and reflect on how those memories influenced their writing. So, David, you were five, I think when Germany invaded Poland, so you would have had memories, right through that entire war period, I would think. Certainly more by the end than the beginning. But nonetheless, it would have had a big impact on your life. What sort of memories did you have of those war years growing up in Brisbane?

David Malouf

Well, Brisbane, in those days was a town of about 300,000 people. A large country town, really. And suddenly, almost overnight, there were 200,000 Americans there. And some of those Americans were black. And the first thing that happened was that the city was segregated. Black Americans were not allowed to cross the river and go into the city. So the city became kind of a black city on one side, which was on the south side, which is where we lived. And the White City on the other side. I mean, that was a huge change. But for me, the thing that was most extraordinary was that this was when Australia was a very, very old-fashioned place. Australia really hadn’t broken into the 20th century. We knew there was a 20th century because we saw up there on the screen all the time. It was American. And, you know, we kept waiting for the day…

Kerry O’Brien

Sorry, when you’re talking about the screen, you’re talking about Movies. Television didn’t exist.

David Malouf

No, no, no movies, and then suddenly, the Americans turned up here. And all that world on the screen was the world we were now living in. And I think that that changed, that certainly changed Australia, but it changed my view. And that was amazing. I mean, Americans told us extraordinary things. They told us, for example, that you could eat steak at some other time of the day than for breakfast. And they also brought with them things like avocados and all sorts of chocolates and stuff. But the other thing about all of that was that Brisbane was a town that was in the front line. And we everybody had a dugout or an Air Raid place in the backyard.

Kerry O’Brien

It was still in our backyard when I was about seven or eight. So, in the 50’s.

David Malouf

That became part of our play place. You know, when we played cowboys and Indians it was in and out of those, those dug trenches. My father was the senior ARP Warden for South Brisbane. So, my sister and I kind of saw the drills that happened every Wednesday night and played our part whenever they had a kind of an emergency pretend day. We were victims and we were carted off in stretches to the hospital.

Kerry O’Brien

In fact, in the ABCs Boyer lectures in 1998, you describe the adult world around you in your teen years as forever crouched in an attitude of aggrieved and aggressive self-defense, closed in on itself. A stagnant backwater, and sullenly proud of the fact. There was an anxiety at the centre of people’s lives. Now did that date back, and we have to remember to it wasn’t just the war, there was the depression before the war, and before the depression there was the Spanish flu pandemic that took 60 million lives around the world, and before that it was the first World War. My parents and your parents would have lived through that era. Yeah, does that when you talk about the anxiety and that sort of turned in on yourself, what did you put that down to?

David Malouf

Isolation. And I believe that we were cut off really, from the world we really belong to, which was the Western world with London as a metropolis. And what we had feared most, and that is the that people from inside the geographical world we were living in, would be the people who would want to invade us. That remained, it didn’t really die. And then of course, after that, after the war, immediately after war, the huge source of anxiety was the atom bomb. The nuclear world was something that people were really, really scared of, and that was only replaced by the Cold War. So, it really, you know, the 20th century is a period of continuous anxiety.

Kerry O’Brien

That explains why Menzies was so successful in a way that it was like calm waters, the Menzies years. Keating, rather unkindly referred to them as the Menzies. torpor. But there was a sense of kind of steadiness that I suspect a lot of people like.

Melissa Lucashenko

If you weren’t living on a mission at Cherbourg maybe, you know, this is a very selective kind of torpor they are talking about. Aboriginal people have been segregated and remain segregated in lots of ways you know, from the word go until now. My friend Artie Dawn Daylight was standing in Boundary Street in West End two years ago, Kerry, outside the Greek restaurant on the corner when a young waitress came out and told her basically that she needed to fuck off outside that corner, because she was making the restaurant look untidy on a public footpath. And that’s not unusual. So, you know, this idea of torpor is, needs to be interrogated, I think. My mother was hiding my eldest brother from authorities moving desperately from house to house as a young Aboriginal single parent in 52, 53, 54. And living under a house in Holland Park. And, you know, it might have been torpor, if you’re in the white middle class or in the middle class, full stop. But for a lot of people, it wasn’t.

Kerry O’Brien

In fact, you said earlier that indigenous people in Brisbane were also living segregated lives through that same period at the end and afterwards.

Melissa Lucashenko

Absolutely. And you know, just because it’s not legal to deny people access to restaurants or bars or particular housing, you know, I’ve got a maid who has an Aboriginal mother and an African father, he’s dark skin, and he will always send his white wife in to a real estate agent. It’s common, it’s very common, you know. My cousin is dark skinned and when she has to move house middle of next year, she will have to put up with a real estate agent saying which part of India are you from to find out whether she’s Aboriginal or Indian so that they can refuse her housing. It’s segregation and has not gone away.

Kerry O’Brien

Coming back to your memories of those times, David, you’re even blunter in ‘Johnno’ your first book, when the narrator Dante observes that Brisbane is a quote, “…a place where poetry could never occur.” Dante again, “Brisbane is the most ordinary place in the world. A place that is so slatternly, so sprawling unlovely and Australia is hardly worth thinking about.” Is it fair to assume that Dante was speaking for you?

David Malouf

Oh, look, I was playing a fairly elaborate game in ‘Johnno.’ And it was to claim that I had been dealt a pretty bad card. That Dostoyevsky got St. Petersburg, Bosak got Paris. What I got was Brisbane. And that as a writer I’d been stymied from the start, because you know. And then, you know, to go on, and create that place not as a place in geography, but in the imagination, you know, and that was really to say that Dostoevsky in St. Petersburg was an imagined place as much as a real place. So was Bosak’s Paris. And that what a writer is able to do is to discover what is unique about the thing and make it make it real. So, you know, there’s an elaborate game going on there. Part of it’s an argument between Johnno and Dante who were really both sides of myself. And part of it is this thing of saying it can’t be done. And then somehow getting it done.

Kerry O’Brien

I was struck by the fact that you read your first Shakespeare when you were eight. Around 12, you’re reading Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, I think amongst others. Very sort of European oriented reading. And apart from the fact that we had 60,000 years of, or 80,000, or even 100,000 years of rich history of storytelling in Australia, your sense of the of the post-colonial writing history of this place was not great. Through those early times. I mean, what did you regard as the depth of Australian literature by the time you started writing?

David Malouf

Look, that’s complicated, because every night I listened to a serial on the radio which was called the search for the golden boomerang. This was about an Aboriginal boy called Tuckonie. So, that was Australian. And then when I did the scholarship, the book that was set for the scholarship was ‘We of the Never Never.’ It was absolutely the most boring and irrelevant book I had ever been made to read. You know, a kid growing up in Brisbane, and watching movies, and having been involved in the war and all the rest of it. That other world of Australia out there in the outback meant absolutely nothing to me. And it’s true. My reading was almost entirely English and European. And that remains so I would have seven till my mid 20s.

Kerry O’Brien

Right. Melissa, what was the family culture you were born into? In 1967? And what are your abiding memories of the Brisbane that you grew up in?

Melissa Lucashenko

A very patriarchal family dominated by a very damaged Russian father. He was born the year that his parents arrived on the boat from Russia via Shanghai. And my mother basically hid her aboriginality. She grew up with her Aboriginal family north of Brisbane, very poor, very, extremely poor. And after marrying my father, as an already single parent, made the kind of agonizing decision I think that in order to keep her kids safe, and to keep the family together that she would pass as white or pass as white enough. But she always instilled Aboriginal values in us kids. So, when I came back to Aboriginal culture in my teens, consciously it was very familiar to me, even though it hadn’t been spoken to me. It was kind of at a crux where white Australian mainstream culture met Russian immigrant culture met a subterranean Aboriginal set of values and worldview. Yeah, I never knew if I was Arthur or Martha really.

Kerry O’Brien

And your memories of outside of the family, your memories of Brisbane in those in those early years. Until the day that your mother told you that you were in fact, Aboriginal.

Melissa Lucashenko

Until she put the photo of her grandmother on the dresser, and I said who’s that black woman? And she said, that’s my grandmother. My memories. I rode around the bush a lot on a horse, any horse I could find or steal or borrow or pretend was a horse. I used to ride a goat around at one stage. Some of the horses I rode weren’t much flasher than goats really.

Kerry O’Brien

And this was on the outskirts of Brisbane?

Melissa Lucashenko

On the scrubby outskirts around Rochdale and Mt Gravatt. I didn’t ever go into the CBD. See mum had grown up near Gympie, but in a very small place called Volvi, which you may know, and hiding from the town because town was where authority was. Town was where people could take your children off you. Town is where you needed money in order to operate. So, they were basically almost subsistence farmers in a way. And that continued on when I was growing up anyway. I don’t even remember going to the city before I was about 16 or 17 and I was old enough to catch a bus on my own, according to my mother’s view of the world.

Kerry O’Brien

So, your mother was inculcating indigenous values in those early years, because it was who she was. But you spent the first 14 years of your life thinking that you face the future of a white girl. Your friends all thought of you the same way I imagined. Can you remember why your mum chose first of all, not to tell you much earlier? And then suddenly to tell you in your mid-teens?

Melissa Lucashenko

She would have told me because she knew what white privilege meant. And what it meant was a better life and a safer life. And I can’t speak for how people saw me. I was asked a lot where I was from, as a kid. And as a teenager, when I spent a bit more time in the sun. So, it was quite Brown. I came back from Stradbroke Island one time and my father, who was a damaged man and a very working class Australian when he wasn’t speaking Russian to his Russian relatives. And he said, look at the little nigga girl back from Stradbroke Island. So, what people saw when they met me might have been quite different to what I thought I was.

Kerry O’Brien

But how did it change your world and your life to know that?

Melissa Lucashenko

Oh that’s why we’ve all got olive skin and my brothers have all got curly hair. But all I cared about at that age was karate. I had shifted from horses to karate. And yeah, I didn’t have a racialized appreciation of the world until a bit later on. And it was because I had an Aboriginal boyfriend at 15 and 16 and onwards. And he said, probably said something like you’re part Aboriginal. And this is at 14. And I said, I don’t think so. And he said, Yeah, go and talk to parents. And I did. And Mum, I said something. And then mum brought out this photo. And she didn’t actually say anything to me. She’d put the photo up. And I don’t know why she didn’t say it directly.

Kerry O’Brien

So did you come to see…

Melissa Lucashenko

I should add, sorry, that if I’d grown up with my oldest brother, it would have been obvious because he looks stereotypically Aboriginal. But my father, my damaged father’s extreme violence drove him away from the family about the time I was born, and so I never knew him growing up. He basically fled in fear of his life. And so, the family changed.

Kerry O’Brien

After you wrote ‘Too Much Lip’ you observed that when you’d got to about the 40,000 word mark you were surprised quote “…at how very close to family history I was trading.” Can you talk to that?

Melissa Lucashenko

A bit. I’m not at liberty to divulge anyone’s secrets. Yeah, fiction is a funny thing. I think if you do it right, and I don’t know if this is your experience, Trent. But if you do it right, you find yourself writing the truth. And you think it’s coming out of your great wellspring of genius and imagination, but you know, you’re just recycling something from your subconscious or your parents subconscious a lot of the time. From the zeitgeist maybe. Yeah, at 40,000 words, I had a conversation with a family member and I had to make a decision about whether I keep telling the story or not. And then again, another revelation did towards the end of the book about 75,000 words and it’s oh my god, it’s happened again. And then in a much smaller way someone who works in Aboriginal journalism said to me, I really like your book. This is a lesbian woman. I want to give it to my girlfriend to read, but I’m hesitating because she left her family home at 16 after stabbing her uncle with a pair of scissors, which is almost exactly what happens in the book.

Kerry O’Brien

So there was a lot of humour. Also incredible ruinous, anger, hurt, tragedy, dysfunction, violence, love, but permeating it all deep injustice. Deep injustice. And you told me a little bit about your mom’s history and your grandmother’s history. Just talk to that for one moment. Because at a certain point, those things would have all been unfolding for you too. Was it your grandmother who would have starved to death?

Melissa Lucashenko

No, that was my mother. Mum was born in 26. Lived as a small child in Tin Can Bay and Wolvi up near the Gympie area. Yeah, and probably the town viewed it as a kind of small version of a blackest camp, I imagine. They definitely would have been seen as coloured people or possibly as half castes. And there was a great grandmother, my grandmother, mum, my mum siblings. And there’s also an Indian family in the picture somewhere, but they weren’t living exactly there. On the outskirts of town and extremely poor. No one was eligible for any welfare payments, because, you know, they were for white people. And yeah, my mum said if they hadn’t had the oysters, the wild oysters that they harvested, she would have starved to death. And she meant that literally. The fishing fleet came into Tin Can Bay. And my great grandmother would go down to the fishing fleet a couple of times a week, and they would give her one fish. And that’s what kept my family alive through the Depression, and possibly before the depression too. Because I don’t think it was just the Depression. And you know, I went to the Gympie Historical Society or somewhere up there, and I was talking about this. And someone said, everyone was poor in the Depression. And I thought, and I wish I’d said it, but I didn’t say it at the time. I said, yes, most people were poor in the Depression, but the people who are supposedly our white relatives from up that way, were sailing first class to England while my mother was eating bush food so that she wouldn’t starve to death. But staircase wit.

Kerry O’Brien

Trent, you were born in 1979. You’ve written graphically about some of the parts of Brisbane you grew up in. Before we get to your memories of the Brisbane you knew as a child, can you describe the family culture that you were born into?

Trent Dalton

Well, the culture of drug dealers. Well, from my first memory.

Melissa Lucashenko

That’s very early to start dealing drugs.

Trent Dalton

Yeah, really savvy 5-year-old. Yeah, no, no, I mean, my like we’re talking about place, you know, I just have my most vivid, earliest memory and it’s the beginning of subconscious or sort of more consciousness for me is a suburb called Brassall in Ipswich. If anyone knows Brassall. A lowest ramshackle house and I look at a freckle that’s now fading on my thumb. As a boy, it’s 1984 It must be and I’m looking down at my thumb and then I turned to my left and there’s this man with like hair like yours Kerry. A shaggy sort of John Lennon. You know, your beautiful sort of buoyant head of, you know, blonde hair.

Kerry O’Brien

Let’s move on. It’s becoming embarrassing. Actually. I’m not quite sure why you think that colour.

Trent Dalton

He just looked like John Lennon in 1966, in Help era, and I turned to this guy, and I never forget that. Oh, it was like my first memory. And I say I love you, dad. And this, this really sweet man ruffled my hair, and he said, I love you too mate. But I’m not your dad. And that sort of blew my mind. I was like, how’s that work? Because I really care about you. And it turned out he was just a man that my mom loved dearly. But he happened to be a really dangerously successful heroin dealer. And then, you know, when you asked me about the type of world, the most groundbait breaking place as a boy that I probably ever saw was when my oldest brother Joel, I’m the youngest of four boys, Joel, Ben, Jesse Trent. And Joel we’re all just, you know, Queensland ruffin kids, barefoot and dirt all over our faces and feet. And Joel taps me on the shoulder and he says Trent come and have a look at this. We found something in this guy’s room was the man my mum loved and he’s basically a character in my book ‘Boy Swallow Universe’ and Joel finds basically a secret access in Lyle’s built-in wardrobe down to a dark room, which has one thing inside it built into the earth. There’s a brick wall, makeshift wall. And there’s one thing inside that room and it’s a rotary dial read telephone. And all us boys are just losing our minds. This thing like what the hell’s going on, and we would like to find out, you know, in only in our late teens that that was where they packed the drugs. And it was always it was sort of a safe room for this guy. If the cops came and stuff. What I’m trying to say about place there is that that dark room in the ground, opened up some very bright rooms in my mind, you know. And I started to realise there are things that the adults in my world weren’t telling me and there were things I needed to discover. And there were just other sort of worlds that I wasn’t aware of, and, you know, all these things you look back on you realize later in life. But I definitely had a sense of great mystery as a boy then. And of course, then, you know, you talk about culture. That guy got put away for 10 years, it all went south, and the Dalton boys got sent over to Brackenridge. That begins what I call my sort of red brick kind of housing commission kind of life up until I was 18, you know. And all those adjectives, all those things you said, you know, when Melissa was telling her incredible stories, that’s the beginning of drunk blokes. So much love, so much humour, so much violence, so many footballs as my best friends and staying out until as long as I can and wishing the sun doesn’t go down. So, I don’t have to go up beside a concrete ramp and deal with what you have to deal with. But also, just the beauty of that of. Being raised by my old man and sort of, you know, five blokes in a house painted pink because that was the cheap paint that they could get off his mates.

Kerry O’Brien

So, the five black are your dad and you and your three brothers?

Trent Dalton

Yeah. Totally being raised.

Kerry O’Brien

And mum was?

Trent Dalton

Briefly Boggo Road Women’s. Yeah. So, she was doing her time. And she was facing her demons, kicking a lot of stuff. And becoming the incredible woman that she is today, you know. So, you know, yeah, she was only there for two years. But then, even though I say that sort of publicly that, that certainly isn’t the thing that defines her. But it’s certainly defined our lives, you know. Certainly defined my sort of, you know, kind of seven till nine type age. So, it was quite a wild time.

Kerry O’Brien

So, Eli Bell in ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ was a very effective eavesdropper on adult conversation, which I assume means you were too? So, what were the adult conversations around you that impacted?

Trent Dalton

Oh, that’s great. Learning about love, learning about why my old man screwed it all up, you know. They were the ones I was always really learning. Why don’t you love that woman as much as I love her? How come you don’t miss her as much as I do? And how can I help you learn about how great she is? And in some dream world, it might all be cool again, you know. So, they’re probably the ones that I was probably hooking on to the most. And then all the other ones that I was really attuned to. And, you know, this, this is a common occurrence for a lot of Aussie kids, has anyone said anything to the people I love that is going to create violence. And you’re very highly tuned to that type of thing in Bracken Ridge, in the late 80s and early 90s.You were definitely attuned, there was a sort of a super sense that kids had and a lot of my mates and I definitely had where you were hyper vigilant, and you are hyper sensory aware of, you know, any possible thing that could create the madness. But also just eavesdropping about books and amazing writers and learning also that there’s a place called New York, and London, and that invisible wall that surrounds Bracken Ridge might not be as far as you go.

Kerry O’Brien

I’ll come back to that in a second. But I guess your mum and the man that you thought was your dad when you were four, were part of Brisbane’s first heroin generation, which was pretty heavy for you. But you also knew Brisbane as a child in a way I would think no other writer I can think of had. And that is that that criminal underworld, and some of the criminals that you knew. The Great Escapeologists.

Trent Dalton

I thought you were meaning all the really dark, really dangerous people and this guy was dangerous. But I mean, we knew some serious people.

Kerry O’Brien

I’m talking about all of them. That really dark underworld.

Trent Dalton

We knew people who have recently been on the cover of The Courier Mail.

Kerry O’Brien

My question is, was there anything seductive about that world as you move through your adolescence?

Trent Dalton

Oh you know, my great friends Slim Halliday. You know, when I was a boy he was just this guy who I considered looked like Buddy Holly and he did odd jobs around our house. And then when I became a journalist, I go down into the Courier Mail archives and realize my mate Slim Halliday has a file this big written about him and you know, he did time for 30 years for killing a guy that he potentially didn’t kill and got sort of fitted up for the job by the very people who would create what we know in Queensland as ‘the joke.’ And you know, the most incredible sort of corrupt period of Queensland history. Well Slim Halliday was the man who gave me and my mum particularly a lot of wisdom about life. And then you know, and then he dies and then I write a book about a boy wanting to bust into Boggo Road Women’s prison on Christmas Day to save his mom’s life. That’s all because I’ve just missed my mom at Brighton and Bracken Ridge and who better for Eli Bell to go to for advice than the great Slim Halliday. My old sort of babysitter type guy. But you know, around that Kerry, those guys had learned a lot of lessons. Again, I come back to this thing, you know, what’s the difference between him and the seduction of it? You know, I had this beautiful guy named Lyle, my old man just go “if you go down that road, I will kick your ass.” A man who has the humility to say don’t you dare follow in my footsteps and you better well not follow in Slim’s footsteps.

Kerry O’Brien

So, this is this is the point I’m coming to today. Dave started reading Shakespeare at eight and Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre at 12. You on the other hand, were reading Steinbeck and Hemingway from quite an early age. You say that was your father’s influence? You must have been receptive. You must have had a great sense of curiosity, or maybe even the need to escape but I wonder whether that might have been the part of your life that saved your childhood. The reading which came from your father.

Trent Dalton

Oh, mate why did the universe give me one ability? Absolutely. I cannot build anything with nails. I can barely drive a car. I can barely speak in public without friggin rambling on. But the universe gave me this gift Kerry. It gives me the shivers. I don’t know if you guys feel the same way but

Melissa Lucashenko

I was an Uber drive five years ago

Trent Dalton

Freakin’ Miles Franklin winning Uber driver.

Kerry O’Brien

That in itself I suspects says a lot about support for the Australian arts.

Trent Dalton

Yes, yes. Come on Australia. Yeah. Ah, Kerry, you’ve given me chills because it terrifies me. It terrifies me, and you know what happened with that book ‘Boy Swallows Universe’? My wife and I were in the kitchen, where we’re living now and the sort of suburbs in Brisbane.

Melissa Lucashenko

What was the name of that book again?

Trent Dalton

I promise I wasn’t doing that. I was just saying it. But, but. And she said, you know what terrifies me Trent? What if that guy, I can’t say his name, but Lyle, what if he didn’t go down, and what if you boys got to 18 and kind of, were really seduced by it and saw that this real quick money and some easy money to be had. And that terrified me. And it really did sort of show me that I was so fortunate to be able to just string a couple of sentences together to be able to process the stuff that you’re seeing in you know, amid the fibro walls of those houses. And it’s an incredible gift to be able to process that in such a powerful way. Because one other way of doing it is through Jim Beam. You know what I mean? And I have no doubt, like, it’s in my blood made that sort of DNA. We’d love booze in my family. That’s just like, I love the stuff. But we’re like, thankfully, what I love more is words, you know. And that’s in my blood as well. And you know, I have no doubt without that I’d be bloated, needing Red Rooster chips like every night.

Kerry O’Brien

Last question. Whatever else people might take from ‘Boy Swallows Universe’, there’s a big lashing of hope, hardship. Were you conscious from the outset of that sense of hope when you were writing the book that became so central to the book as you wrote it?

Trent Dalton

Here’s a cool thing. Here’s what I thought about Kerry. And here’s something I think about all the time before I write anything. Four Dalton boys. It’s midnight, and we’re running down that left concrete ramp that was on every house and conditioned home in Brackenridge. Anyone who’s lived in one of those homes know exactly where the concrete ramp is. And shits gotten pretty wild. And I’m crying because I’m the youngest boy and I was the freakin waterworks baby. And, everyone’s worried about Trent emotional sensitive Trent, I’m friggin weeping going what the fuck is going on in our lives? And we’re halfway down Macquarie street, and my beautiful older brothers making gags. And I’m suddenly laughing and I’m not crying anymore. And that is the power of freakin love and siblings and people who guide you through. And, you know, that’s hope. That is hope to me, you know. I never had to look any further, I didn’t have to look into sort of some Oprah Winfrey TV show or something. I just had to turn left and talk to my brother Joel, you know. And those incredible people who sort of will say, hey man, we’re getting out of here, you know, and that’s incredibly powerful.

Kerry O’Brien

So, I want to explore with all of you now the pull of history in shaping your work. David, how did you come to ride conversations at Curlow Creek? A book published in 1996 but set in the colony of New South Wales in the 1820s, built around a conversation through a single night between a convict turn Bush Ranger, and the trooper who was going to hang him in the morning. Both men were from Ireland. What puts you on that path? Why is that early part of Australia’s colonial history? Why Ireland, given your Lebanese, Portuguese, English origins. What was the pull?

David Malouf

It’s very hard at this point to remember. I think that book started being a book about a different kind of subject. And that subject cannot…. I mean, it set in 1827. And that’s the moment when Australia as it existed, then which was just Sydney really, was no longer going to be under the jurisdiction of the Army; that there was going to be a police force. And it was also a moment at which there was panic in the community because they thought there was going to be a rebellion for the Irish component of the place, and that they’re going to take over. And really, it really just started from all the questions that came up at that moment. And the book, as I see it, anyway, is about a lot of questions about the meaning of life, the meaning of criminality, the meaning of injustice, the meaning of people who devote themselves to justice, but it has to be in a criminal way. People who find they’ve committed sins and don’t know whether it’s going to be forgiven. The other thing I really wanted to do was create something that had all those questions and all sorts of people in predicaments, but there was no answer to any of the questions. And to see if you could actually bring off a book that was about questions which were not answerable. I also wanted to do something which, you know, is a question about reading. And that is that when we read a book, we realise that we’re in a tragic situation, because life altogether is tragic. And it always ends with death. But writing and literature and the arts is about hope, that there is a different ending. And I’ve always been committed to the idea that the greatest kind that you choose, in fact, comedy, because that is in fact, looks at life, and says, I will not be limited by the fact that everything leads to destruction and to death. I will create a world which has a happy ending. And what happens in this book, is that the reader is led to want the man who’s going to be hanged, to get off, and we do not know at the end of the book, when he got off or not.

Kerry O’Brien

But you’ve talked at the same time in your books wanting to give characters a second chance.

David Malouf

Yeah, yeah. And that’s the great thing about the world of the imagination. One of the things that I’ve become more and more aware of over the years, is that we are creatures who spend 1/3 of our entire life on this planet asleep. And in that world of sleep…

Kerry O’Brien

I’m working on changing that.

David Malouf

In that we dream and that world of dreams which has its own freedom from chronology and from cause and effect, that has its own shaping of stories and its own shaping of what life is all about. So, we get an education there. And I think that more and more I am attracted to the way writing can infect, recreate what we learn about being, in that time when we’re asleep, and when we have stories which are not conditioned by life. And that book tries to do offer that to you.

Kerry O’Brien

Well, one quote that stands out again, this is about place. Adair is the name of the officer, the trooper officer who’s come to hang the prisoner. And, and he says “You’re right. What a place this is” Adair thought. “God knows what things have happened here and gone unrecorded by men, or on the way towards us. Will we ever know the true history of it? The Secret History stored away in the dark folds of the landscape? In its scattered bones of a paradise found or lost.“ I’m challenging you on this, I suppose. Because it was 25 years ago that you would have written it. What was that about? What were you putting in Adair’s mouth?

David Malouf

Very hard to go back 30 years and know what was in your mind. I think, look, it’s something that I would just say about writing itself. And that is that writing for me is not about what I know. But what I don’t know. And what I will only discover through the writing itself. And often the writing kind of leads you to places that you didn’t know you could go to. But you need to go there. Because that’s where the answers to the questions. And I just trust that absolutely. And I think over long writing life, that is something that is more and more interested me, and which I trust more and more. And so, you know, writing is about discovery of what you don’t understand and what you don’t know. And if that’s exciting to you, then it will also be exciting to the reader.

Kerry O’Brien

But on that formula, which I’m just caught by. By that formula, you would never stop writing, because you would never stop. You would never reach a point where you know everything.

David Malouf

Yeah, that’s right. But I think, you know, I would say that I am not writing any more fiction. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still pursuing those questions. I still write poetry. But also, I think, you know, if you’re a writer, and if you take the business seriously, you know the point at which you have said what you have to say, and you don’t say anymore, because all you will be doing is muddying the waters of that body of work that you have. And that’s the most important achievement of writing for me, is a body of work, which makes sense in which all the different books speak to one another. And amplify one another so that when you add another book, and you go back and look at the previous book, you see that that book is being changed by what the new book is doing. I mean, that’s the fascination of being a writer to me. And I think it’s a very, very serious business. It’s a moral business. It’s something that’s been given to you, and you don’t play with it.

Kerry O’Brien

So, both of you feel it’s something that you’ve been given. Melissa, your new book due out next year, also goes back to Brisbane. Early decades of wide settlement. So, like, David, you were drawn to Australia’s early colonial history, but from a very different perspective. What can you tell us about it, and why you’ve written it?

Melissa Lucashenko

One way of telling you about it, is to respond to Trent’s statement about the 80s and 90s and the joke being the most corrupt era of Queensland politics. I think the early colonial era where the men in Parliament and the men running European Queensland were the same individuals who were out there slaughtering Aboriginal people on mass or organising for us to be slaughtered on mass as they stole land, as they engineered a genocide. That was, you know, remarkably more corrupt than what we see at the moment. Not many people are aware yet. And I don’t know if my book will help. I don’t know if anything will help, really, but you’ve got to operate in hope. As David was saying. The number of people killed on the Queensland frontier. Aboriginal people killed on the Queensland frontier was about 100,000 people, according to the archaeologist and historian Lindley Wallace. And that’s far more than Australians were killed in World War One. There’s one memorial that I’m aware of, and it’s tucked away behind the magistrate’s court in Roma Street in an obscure spot and has been vandalised as far as I know. So that’s one source of my interest. And other source of my interest is trying to understand the world that my great grandmother knew. But I’ve actually gone two decades back from that she was born about 1875. And I’m writing about 1855. And the really interesting thing about that era, I was talking to Raymond Evans, radical historian, who was professor at UQ for a long time. And I’d already decided to write the book I had started doing the research have always been fascinated by Tom Petrie, the character, the personage of Tom Petrie, who was the first European ever to live with, well known that’s not strictly true. He grew up with the Brisbane blacks. He spoke the language, understood the culture very fluently, and was initiated. So he crossed that racial and cultural and linguistic divide. And the reason he could do that was because he lived in an era before the segregation and the assimilation policies had come down so hard that the society was cleaved in two. This is a time I’m writing about of possibility. And that’s what I’m calling the book ‘Edenglassie’. It’s not about mugunshun, the Yagura place because I can’t know that place. You know, I’m too modern. I’m too far removed to know moganshan. That would be an overreach for me to try and write that. It’s not about Brisbane, because Brisbane came later. It’s about this time of flux. When the numbers of Aboriginal people, bit like you were saying, David, you grew up in an American Brisbane. Edenglassie 1855, 1854. Just before the hanging of Dundalli in Queens Street, the great resistance leader. The numbers of Aboriginal people and Europeans in Brisbane were roughly equal. Yeah, so it’s this kind of tipping point. That’s what interested me.

Kerry O’Brien

So, what kind of emotional rollercoaster was it for you? Or was it an emotional roller coaster? Has it been an emotional experience for you?

Melissa Lucashenko

2019 was. I spent 2019 reading a lot of historical texts, some primary texts, but mostly secondary texts. And it’s a book about entrepreneurship. It’s about a love story between a Yugumbeh boy from Nerang, Uncle John with the permission of Auntie Pat O’Connor, who travels up to Woolloongabba to go through his through ceremony that is appropriate for his time of life. He is about 17. And the white girls are starting to look at him in what’s now the Gold Coast and so his family’s terrified that if he gets involved in any way with a pastoralist’s daughter, there will be a catastrophe that will unfold. So, they take him up to Woolloongabba for his ceremony and gets stuck there and falls in love with Nita who’s the Aboriginal servant of the Petrie family. And of course I have forgotten what the question was now?

Kerry O’Brien

It was about whether it was a particular emotional roller coaster for you.

Melissa Lucashenko

Being Aboriginal is a rollercoaster. Being a black fella is a rollercoaster, you know. It doesn’t stop. So you park it and you keep going. And you put one foot in front of the other and you laugh and you drink and you hope that no one dies this week.

Kerry O’Brien

Do you think, and I’m departing from text here, but very quickly do you think we’re making real progress in terms of non-Indigenous people in this country actually starting slowly to begin to come to an understanding of the of the real story of colonial Australia and post-colonial Australia.

Melissa Lucashenko

Mabo made a difference. And my books are received differently in 2021, to how they were received in 1997, and 1998 and 1999. Structurally Mabo changed things because non-Aboriginal Australia was able to go, oh, okay, there’s a framework for us to understand what’s reality. And, you know, it’s chopped up all kinds of issues. Native Title is a very flawed system. But it’s safer now for white people to start to say, oh, yeah, there were Aboriginal people here. I mean, you’ll remember John Howard, ridiculously saying in 87 or 88, that there were no Aboriginal people here. Before. Cool. I can’t, I still can’t get my head around that. It’s now a bit safer, because non-Aboriginal peoples saying, Okay, there’s this Native Title structure, they might not think that consciously, but it’s filtered through. And so, it’s safer for people to say, oh, there’s an Aboriginal family in my street. It’s not safer for us, because our kids are still being taken away. But there’s an emerging Aboriginal middle class. So yeah, progress has been made. But it’s hard.

Kerry O’Brien

And over the next decade, we’re going to see, I think, a serious process of truth telling going on right around Australia.

Melissa Lucashenko

With truth listening would be good too.

Kerry O’Brien

Presumably, that will come and it is a part of the process?

Melissa Lucashenko

Yeah, that’s the process you’re talking about.

Kerry O’Brien

Yeah. So, we are going to run out of time in the not-too-distant future here tonight. But Trent, growing up in Brisbane, sorry. In terms of where the history is in your kitbag, what is the import of history for you, in your writing with your second book with the weight of such massive success from universe? Welcome though it was hanging around your neck. Why Darwin in 1942? Was it just a convenient backdrop to suit your story? Or was it significant for you?

Trent Dalton

Oh, firstly, running away from myself, and then finding myself in the forests outside Darwin. But just getting out of this, you know, and trying to sort of just write a tail. And you know, essentially, my daughter came home and went, Dad you wrote about two beautiful boys, but you’re a father of two girls. Why don’t why don’t you write a story about two beautiful girls? I was like, that’s, that’s a good idea. But I loved the frontier town of Darwin in that time, and it was Wild West, put on the northern tip of Australia. I just wanted to write a story that was vivid and really spoke of this country for the beauty that I had seen on a regular basis, just in my journalism. I found myself going back to Darwin many, many times. And each time I’d go there, I’d learn more about World War Two history and I was just like, really, into this whole sort of incredible story, you know. I was really inspired by some of that, you know, fall in Japanese fighter pilot drops in on Australian soil and an incredibly brave indigenous man named Matthias Ulungura. He becomes the first Australian to capture Japanese POW on Australian soil. That is an incredible story. And, you know, it’s like, Why didn’t Baz Luhrmann make that movie? I just want to wanted to write that. But that is a legacy of all those books back in Brackenridge. I wanted to write a book. To be honest, Kerry, I want to write a book not to get to Bruce Springsteen about it. But I wanted to write a book for some kid in Brackenridge that helps them. ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ was a book about them. And I wanted to write for them, as in this is the one that’s going to help you escape into Oz, you know. And I thought that was a really sort of powerful way of doing that through the eyes of this girl who finds herself you know, befriending this incredible Japanese soldier. And you know, it was all about finding love in the most unexpected places.

Melissa Lucashenko

It sounds like an Anita Hess book. She wrote about an Aboriginal kid on a mission that befriends a Japanese POW hiding and World War 2. I just realised that.

Trent Dalton

I’ll have to check it out.

Kerry O’Brien

Don’t check too closely.

Trent Dalton

But it sounds great. But yeah, I just think it’s absolutely that idea of using the past to, you know, to talk about even your own self then and your own present. And you know, that’s deeply all the journalism side of me coming out to, you know. That’s just me going searching for great yarns and going well, yeah, okay, we’re here, we’ve got this great gift we humans called storytelling, you know. We can use it to tell and remind everyone about all these incredible things that happened.

Kerry O’Brien

So, with the five minutes we’ve got left, I’m going to ask each of you to come back to where we started. How do you compare the Brisbane, the state, the country you live in today, with the place that you grew up in? Because the place you grew up in is now consigned to history? David?

David Malouf

I think the huge change that happened in Australia was that, except for the time in the mid 19th century, when there were the gold rushes, Australia had always been basically a very poor place. And then immediately after the war, we began a period of increasing affluence. And that is, what now leads us, I mean. The thing we care most about is this thing we call the economy. And that has replaced anything else that we might once have oriented our life towards. And I think there are huge dangers in that. And I think that is the source of real decadence. You know, it means that the population keeps growing. And we keep saying, it’s got to keep growing, because we’ve got an economy that has nothing. These people have to become consumers. And at the same time, we’ve created something which we claim to be very pleased about, which is our multiculturalism. And that is true. At the end, multiculturalism is different from multiethnic. Multiculturalism is really about the fact that people don’t assimilate as they once did. And that’s one of the things that happened, you know, I mean. My grandparents came to Australia, not speaking English. But they said to themselves, I am here now, I’m never going to go back to the place I’ve come from, my children will be brought up as people who belong here. And so not one of those kids were not English speakers right from the beginning. And because they were Catholics, or that actually, they were Melkite. But there was no Melkite Roman Catholic Church. So they became, they went to the local Catholic Church, and something happened to them, which happened, I’ve said to everybody, then, if you were Roman Catholic, and you came to Australia, you were Irish wherever you came from. That was true. That was true. And that’s part of why I was writing a book about Ireland. What we have now is, and we have to be very, very careful about, is a society which is just so divided. And I can’t believe that difficult and poor as that country I grew up in, what grew out of that was the kind of morality that comes with adversity. And that is that people looked after one another. And that was very important. And it has remained in spite of our affluence, but you know, you don’t hear people in Australia say, I don’t want to pay taxes, because people say, I know when I pay my taxes, it looks after people who are out of work or people who are old or whatever. If you say that in the United States, people say over my dead body. We’ve never said that. So, we have hung on to that. But the country is divisive in a way which I find very, very, very alarming.

Kerry O’Brien

Which makes you wonder what’s coming down the tunnel. Melissa? What’s the Brisbane, the Queensland, Australia of today compared to the one that you were born into?

Melissa Lucashenko

Yeah, I think I agree it was David. The economy. You know, there’s this, there’s this thing called the economy. I heard someone on the radio the other day saying, they were from some real estate mob. And they were saying, we need immigration to Australia, economic immigration to Australia to resume, because those people will pay taxes to the state governments. And that’s going to fund this, that and the other at the same time as acknowledging that housing was going to be needed by these incoming people. And so that would add to the housing crisis. We live in a country where it’s normal for some people not to have a house, I think it should be illegal for anyone not to have a house. Yeah, I think if you’re a poor person or an Aboriginal person, and you don’t house your children safely, maybe because you’re forced to live with domestic violence or forced to live in some shithole that’s not fit for human consumption, the state can come in and will come in and take your children off you. If you’re an Aboriginal mother, living with a violent partner because there’s nowhere else to go, they will come and take your children away from you and say you’re an unfit parent. But the governments of this country, under neoliberalism can engineer a society where people just do not have housing. And that’s seen as okay, that’s seen as normal. So yeah, I agree with you. It says economic bullshit. Let’s look at what’s happening on the ground. Who’s got a house whose kids are hungry, whose kids aren’t going to school because of racism, who can’t get on the NDIS when they live in Esk, and their feet don’t work. And they lie on the floor of the 20-foot square donga all night because no one is around, but they can’t get on the NDIS because they’re not disabled enough. You know, let’s start putting people first and start acting like everybody matters.

Kerry O’Brien

Well, funnily enough economy.

Melissa Lucashenko

Sorry, I didn’t answer your question.

Kerry O’Brien

But no, that’s okay. Funnily enough, economy is people. That’s what it boils down to. Very briefly, Trent because we’re out of time,

Trent Dalton

I’ll just say something like we were talking about before the lemon light, you know. I love that the lemon light of this area doesn’t change at 5pm. And I love that. I love that my daughters can sprint across the low tide of Moreton Bay, and it feels exactly the same as it did in 1986. And I hope in terms of place, we don’t fuck it up. We just keep the beauty and the wonder that we have here in this place. And, you know, I love the tall fences, jumping over a fence in the lemon light feels the same. And when you’re in that lemon light, that’s timeless, time stops. And I feel when I read ‘Johnno’ I felt exactly like I’m transported. He’s come forward to my world. And I’ve gone back to his. That’s the power of storytelling. And you know, 2032 to me, you know, Brisbane is going to host these games and they better bloody well be talking to these two before they do any sort of cultural or opening ceremony stuff. Because there’s so much that we can get right when we show this area to the world. And there’s so much we can get wrong. And you know, I just hope we can bring the past and the present right back and just show it and just show it in the most amazing lemon lime.

Kerry O’Brien

Trent Dalton, Melissa Lucashenko and David Malouf. Thank you very much, and thank you all.

Ned Pankhurst

I’m Ned Pankhurst and it’s my happy chore to bring the proceedings to a close tonight. So, this is the final in our series ‘A Better Future for All ‘and I’d like to begin by acknowledging the fantastic partnership with Griffith University. It’s been a wonderful experience for us. And I’d like to turn the thank yous around a little bit and start with Kerry. A big part of the reason that the series has been so marvellous to be part of has been watching you Kerry exercise your craft, your humanity and your gentle persistence in bringing us some wonderful experiences over the course of the series and tonight was no exception. So thank you very much for that.

Ned Pankhurst

To Melissa, Trent, and David. You’ve intrigued us. You’ve entertained us. You challenged us. You’ve inspired us, and most of all even tantalisingly, opened a little window into the creative process. That’s so fascinating to mortals. And we’ve really enjoyed that. But mostly and completely unsurprisingly, you’ve told us stories. So, we thank you for that

Ned Pankhurst

Wait, there’s more. The series isn’t over. So next year we’ll be picking up the process again in 2022. And the first event will be on Friday the 25th of February where we will be delighted to host Queensland Valley artistic director Lee Lewis and his wife Mary, lead Queensland ballet mistress, and they again will be entertaining us in the gentle care of Kerry On the way out, Trent, Melissa and David will be signing books. Please remember that it’s Christmas. Books are fantastic gifts and it’s really good to buy more than one. So, thank you again to our speakers. Thank you to Kerry. Thank you very much, everyone for coming. Good night.

The details

DATE & TIME

Wednesday 24 November 2021

6 – 7.15 pm AEST

EVENT RECORDINGS

The recordings may contain adult themes and are not recommended for people under 15 years of age.

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