Writer Bruce Pascoe in Horsham for Harmony Day, Landcare event
|Australian writer Bruce Pascoe spends his weeks on the road and his weekends on the cricket field.
Bruce is in demand at sell-out literary lunches, award ceremonies, in a research position with the University of Technology Sydney as a Professor of Indigenous Knowledge and as a guest speaker at cultural events.
After a trip to Newcastle this week, he will get home to Mallacoota in time for cricket semi-finals on Saturday before heading to Horsham for a Wimmera Landcare Harmony Day celebration in Horsham Town Hall. Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Wimmera CMA will host the free cultural event honouring the region’s connection to country and 30 years of Landcare on Tuesday March 21 at 6pm.
The event will also feature a performance and smoking ceremony by the Wotjobaluk Dancers, a multicultural supper prepared by OASIS Wimmera and much more.
Bruce is a Bunurong, Tasmanian and Yuin man born in Melbourne who grew up on a remote island in Bass Strait. Around his hectic travel schedule he spends every spare moment writing, pursuing his true love as a storyteller. He has written 33 books including his bestseller Dark Emu, Book of the Year in the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Prize, which is in its thirteenth reprint.
He’s also writing a children’s version of Dark Emu for 8-12 year olds and a Dark Emu script for a three-part TV series. He has a new adult novel coming out later in the year and several other works in progress.
As well as his writing, he is exploring native grasses as a new food industry with friend John Reid from Red Beard Bakery in Trentham, who will also speak at the Horsham event.
For the past several years Bruce has been growing different native grains, then harvesting and grinding using traditional methods to make flour to bake in bread.
“The aroma and flavour is fantastic, and although we have a bit of a way to go in winnowing the seed, every time we do it, we get better. I want to demonstrate the evidence of Aboriginal agriculture and how we might embrace these native plants which are so much better for our environment, and see how we can create a new food industry.”
When he’s travelling he longs for his home at Gipsy Point near Mallacoota, where he and wife Lyn run a bed and breakfast, but he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of important discussions about his culture.
“When I’m invited to speak I always accept. This is such an important point in Australia’s history,” he says.
“It seems like people are more interested in their own country and interested in looking after it. It makes me feel more confident about the future when Australians finally starting to listen to the earth. We need to treat the earth like Australia, not Kent in England. Aboriginal people feel like we can’t miss this opportunity to start this discussion with our country.”
Last Saturday (March 11) Bruce was in Merimbula for the About the Book festival on a University of Wollongong panel. They explored the many and varied ways Aboriginal people tell stories and produce narratives that speak to the diversity and dynamism of their history and culture in contemporary Australia. Questions from the audience included why Australians knew so little about Aboriginal history and culture.
“Some time in the past, government and education departments decided evidence of Aboriginal excellence weren’t what they wanted in the Australian narrative, they didn’t want to include it,” he says.
“The past three to four years we’ve seen an increasing interest in the ideas and people’s goodwill, but I’m only interested in real change. I still read in curriculums that Aboriginal people have been here for 40,000 years, that’s old science, it’s actually a minimum of 80,000 years. I don’t think we’re there yet by any means.”
At 70, Bruce works every day, except Saturdays when he plays cricket. He used to play AFL but retired at 55.
“I used to play AFL at Apollo Bay and I played a few games with Mallacoota when we first moved here, but when we lost our footy team I had to go into early retirement when I was 55,” he laughs.
But that’s a whole other story about Bruce Pascoe, which I will save for another day.
Bookings for the Celebrating 30 years of Landcare & National Harmony Day with Bruce Pascoe on March 21, 6-9pm, are essential.
You can book online at www.horshamtownhall.com.au/hthevent/celebrating-30-years-of-landcare-national-harmony-day-with-bruce-pascoe-3 or phone 03 5382 9555.