Blog of Stories, Podcasts, Images and News


Veronica was not yet three months old and I had not turned four when World War 2 was declared on September 1st, 1939. Then Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and took Singapore. It was now the Pacific War. Australia was well and truly involved. In all there were 111 bombing attacks to the north. Gruesome posters…

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On a sunny winter morning, during a brief spell in Melbourne’s lockdowns, there was the chance for an hours-long breakfast at Riverside Spoons-in Swan Hill. The ancient gums, the paddle boat and the mighty Murray River spoke of history. The conversation was of history far, far back. Gathered at the table were Vicki Clarke Mutthi…

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The 1928 Chev

Just before the second little girl was born Joe and Vera had saved enough money to buy a second-hand 1928 Chevrolet. This car, eleven years old when they bought it, was destined to find a place in the heart of family. Vera was in labour when Joe drove her to the city so fast that…

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Melbourne and the World

For 86 years Melbourne has been my familiar ‘home base’. When a Qantas flight plays ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ I think ‘Melbourne’. If you had asked me on New Year’s Day 2019, I might have said, ‘This place is predictable. I could parachute into the inner city, the north, the west, the east or…

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Joe Healy Meets Vera Martin

When Joe Healy met a beautiful red-headed girl at a dance in a parish hall in East Brunswick he knew he was not the only one who had noticed her. The lad from Whitfield was now a young man, a licensed plumber working for an established company on the best building site in Melbourne city,…

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Cambodia’s Better August News

Throughout August 2021 I have followed global statistics charting the spread of Covid 19. There is a saying among foreigners who have lived and worked for decades in Cambodia, and have and forged lasting friendships. We tell each other, ‘You can catch Cambodeitis,. It’s a lasting love of this country’. Many of my Cambodian friends…

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Archie Roach and Nellie Moore

In our country we carry a tragedy and a shame. The First Nations Peoples carry the burden in grief that cannot be quenched. We all call it the Stolen Generations story. Archie Roach knew it, he felt in his own being, felt from within. He searched for family, culture and belonging. In some parts of…

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I was a young adult when Charlotte, the youngest daughter of my great-grandmother Honora was elderly but full of life. She loved to tell stories. She knew that a young granddaughter would want to know what life was like when her grandmother was young. Charlotte was a lively conversationalist who loved life. I thought she…

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Rathdowne Workshop Interior

Love Story on Rathdowne Street

It is one of Melbourne’s crisp sunny winter days. There is a story that I need to re-trace; this is a story that Vera, my mother, told me. I have many details and an important clue. When she was a little girl my mother lived in the family’s King Street café, near the corner of…

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Hands Up For Justice

For Justice And Equity

Today is the day of the Zoom meeting of the Josephite Justice Network. We meet each month. Two years ago there was a face to face meeting twice in the year in Sydney. ‘All is changed, changed utterly’. Here we are now, watching each other’s faces on a screen with a patchwork of 21 small…

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Jaleb and baby

Goodness and Grit in Melbourne’s West

This is a part of Victoria that I know well and love. The postcodes here are not postcodes of wealth. It is better than that. They are postcodes of pride, standing-up for each other, doing it tough, fierce loyalty, enduring friendships, resilience, dignity. If you set out from the city by train you will sense…

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Courage, Conflict and Whistle Blowing

Witness K and Bernard Collaery are in trouble.  They are being prosecuted as whistleblowers but the support for their cause gathers strength. The Australian Government spied on the East Timorese Government during oil and gas negotiations in 2004; this was a breach of trust between Australia and East Timor. Witness K was one of the…

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smiling man wearing red scarf and black beanie

The Albino Buffalo

Picture me. I am a newly arrived volunteer in a camp of Cambodian refugees: awkward, gawky, bamboozled. I wobble on a bike through squelchy red laterite mud and cross a makeshift plank bridge narrowly avoiding slithering into the water. I hear full throated laughter and turn my head for a second to glimpse the man:…

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Abbotsford Street


I am writing this from Abbotsford. This is without doubt a place of beauty. It is also where I had my first close encounter with the exploitation and injustice which so many women suffered and still do. In these months I have cultivated my tiny garden, forged friendships with my neighbours, and harvested good memories…

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They Came on Boats

My ancestors all came to this country on boats. Remarkable! Before the colony of Port Philip was 25 years from first white settlement the forebears of my father and the forbears of my mother had arrived, one by one or a family together, to start a new life. Their sailing ships docked at Williamstown in…

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Indigenous Flag

Nana Kelly and Mungo Man

It was early in 1998, in the glare and heat of a summer afternoon that I was summoned into the living room of Nana Kelly’s small cottage in Balranald. Nana Kelly was a much respected elder of the Mutthi Mutthi people; I crossed the dusty road and entered the darkened interior of this small house…

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