Hollow Men’s Country: Review of Kim Scott, True Country
Thirty-seven years ago, when I worked for a few months as ration-storeman at Oombalgurri or Forrest River Mission, the Spanish Benedictine mission at Kalumburu seemed a faraway romantic place to me. The nomadic Aborigines whom I provisioned wandered between the two missions, which are about 170 kilometres apart as the crow flies, but separated by some of the most spectacularly wild country on earth. Often I had a religious medal from Kalumburu pressed on me by a nomad hoping to buy something with it. From one's fellow-whites one heard of the Benedictines' great success with tropical fruit-trees- similar attempts at Forrest River were defeated by white ants- and their solid buildings. There was also a wartime tragedy attached to the name of Kalumburu, where most or all of the whites were killed by a Japanese bomb which fell in a trench. But one did hear occasional criticisms. A friend of mine at Forrest River reported that the nuns at Kalumburu seemed even more depressed about the future than we were, and she felt that this was not right, in nuns.
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