Today in the Confessional, Sandy chats with Educator and Author, Debra Dank. Debra is a proud Gudanji/Wakaja woman who has worked in teaching and learning for over 40 years. Debra was the first Project Manager for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation when it was Constituted in 2011 and completed her PhD in Narrative Theory and Semiotics in 2021.
She has just released her book, We Come with This Place. The collection of recounts which form We Come with This Place, tells something of who the Gudanji are as a community and as a family. The experiences reflect the events and the living of Deb’s family from the very beginning through to colonial times of living in remote Queensland/ Northern Territory, events in the 60’s and 70’s to the present. Importantly, it gives Gudanji context to the horrors of living on cattle stations and remote places, along with the utter joy of family and the nature of trying to maintain those ties and links to, and living with, Country.
We Come with This Place is a remarkable book, as rich, varied, and surprising as the vast
landscape in which it is set. Debra has created an extraordinary mosaic of vivid episodes
that move about in time and place to tell an unforgettable story of Country and people. She
writes beautifully about connection to Country and the ongoing relationships with all kin as
practised by Gudanji people.
Debra calibrates human emotions with honesty and insight, with plenty of dry, down-to-
earth humour. You can feel and smell and see the puffs of dust under moving feet, the ever-present burning heat, the bright exuberance of a night-time campfire, the emerald flash of a flock of budgerigars, the journeying wind, the harshness of station life, the welcome scent of fresh water.
We Come with This Place is deeply personal, a profound tribute to family and the Gudanji
Country to which Debra Dank belongs, but it is much more than that. Here is Australia as it
has been for countless generations, land and people in long-practised balance, and Australia as it became, but also Australia as it could and should be. The shared history of this continent is much contested, and this book provides an alternative Australian story.
Please welcome Debra to The Good Girl Confessional.
We Come with This Place is published by Allen and Unwin and is now available in all good
bookstores, or here:
Wb40 and The Good Girl Confessional Acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we record this podcast on, the Wurrundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation and pay out respect to their elders, past, present and emerging.