Monday, November 13, 2006

Buckley’s Hope - 25th Anniversary Celebration

Craig Robertson, author of Buckley’s Hope , is an old friend so we were glad to accept his invitation to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the book. Amazingly, it’s still in print and will continue to be so, according to his publisher who spoke at the event.

The venue chosen for the event was Comrade Paddy’s Bar in the
Trades Hall building, the 147-year-old birthplace of leftist politics and trade unionism in Australia.

Mounting the stairs to the bar, I noted how worn the bluestone steps were and imagined how many feet must have climbed the same steps through the years – honest workers feet.

As soon as we entered the bar, I felt immediately at home. The walls were decorated with revolutionary posters and satiric paintings of current Federal Government members.

Buckley’s Hope is a novel about William Buckley ,
an escaped convict who, shortly after arriving in the new colony, fled into the bush and ended up living with the aboriginals for 32 years before returning to the white settlement. He was dubbed the “wild white man”. Craig was the first writer to tackle William Buckley’s story. He researched the novel for many years before sitting down to write it and it was originally published in 1980.

Having neglected to read the novel before, I picked up a copy yesterday and started reading it on the train this morning.

Getting back to the celebration, there was a good turnout, and I was pleased to discover many old friends whom I have not seen for years.

After preliminary drinks, the ceremonial part of the proceedings began with Craig (pictured above) speaking on the experience of writing the book and introducing the other participants, his publisher Henry Rosenbloom (who I remember from my University days), the poet Barry Hill who recited several of his Buckley poems inspired by Craig’s book, Gregory (I forget his surname), a singer –songwriter who performed 2 songs relating to Buckley and a highly entertaining performance by Jan Wositzky of his “The Go Between - The Story of William Buckley & the Settlement of Melbourne.”

It was an interesting way to spend a Sunday afternoon and, apart from that, it was good to re-meet old friends.

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