We Come With This Place by Debra Dank

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Author: Debra Dank

Category: Biography & true stories, Society & social sciences

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Echo

ISBN: 9781760687397

RRP: $29.99

Privileged indeed are the children and grandchildren of Debra Dank, a Gudanji woman and a prominent Australian educator. In this memoir, which illuminates the life of the Gudanji people of north-west Queensland, she details how she has been taught about Country, and passing that knowledge on to younger generations.

Her descriptions of early life, one of three children of a Gudanji mother and a Wakaja father, living and working on cattle stations in Queensland, included memories of the books her mother kept in their swag. Dank’s father ‘didn’t read books on paper,’ according to his daughter. He heard words in the voices in the wind. His story-knowledge lived inside of him, coming from the old people, through him and on to his children.

Dank’s book is full of wondrous wisdom, such as Dank’s then five-year-old son who needed to take off his shoes when on Country because he claimed his feet knew that place and needed to breathe; to the elderly woman who guided Dank’s family group to a particular stand of cycads, exhorting them all to plant the nuts, as she had done with her grandmother, and her mother and her grandmother had done with their grandmothers.

This book is one that all Australians would benefit from reading, giving an insight into Dank’s unassailable and rich sense of place.

Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville

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