Annotation from the NCACL Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Resource.
Leaving home to attend boarding school can be daunting for any young person. Dale, a boy from a remote Indigenous community, finds the transition particularly difficult. He is not Indigenous but has been regarded as a brother by his friend Tomias and Tomias’s family.
Dale is shocked to find that the school does not agree with this and won’t even put the boys into the same House. Dale is a boy who expresses his emotions openly and perhaps too readily and finds himself in trouble on the first day. His feelings of displacement from his home and country are exacerbated when Tomias becomes very involved in music lessons and develops an interest in a girl.
Close to the school is a patch of remnant forest which becomes very important to Dale, particularly when he finds two elderly Indigenous people living there, people who have the old knowledge. Dale gives them food and helps protect them from being moved on by council workers and police although the old man is able to protect himself by conjuring up snakes which terrify some of the police. The old man also is the keeper of the knowledge about the area where the forest is to be found, knowledge that becomes important in Dale’s saving of his friend Billy from a cave deep in the ground. This adventure highlights the bravery of both Dale and Tomias, who comes to help, despite his fears.
Leonie Norrington is not Indigenous herself but grew up in a remote Indigenous community, rather like Dale in the Barrumbi books.
Posted by: NCACL | Published: 25 Oct 2022