Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Need financial help to publish a book based on this blog

 I am getting on in years and would like to write and publish a book based on this blog and other discoveries I have made and insights I have had that do not appear here. But I am a pensioner and do not have the money to do so. If anyone reading this post is able to assist me with this project, please get in touch with me via my email address.


Tonight is the 121st anniversary of the Mawbey murders at Breelong

 It was about now, around 11 o'clock on a cold winter's night on 20th of July 1900, the brutal revenge murders of four members of the Mawbey family and their schoolteacher were almost a fait accompli. 

The killings had started about an hour ago when Jimmy knocked on the front door of the Mawbey's new farmhouse and his accomplice, Jacki Underwood, entered it through the back door. 

The school teacher, Ellen Kerz, opened the front door and when she saw it was Jimmy, she levelled some insults at him. Mrs Mawbey who was with her, was hit on the head with a tomahawk or a wooden club. 

Meanwhile, at the back of the house, 14 year old Percy Mawbey had challenged the hard to see in the dark intruder with a rifle that had no ammunition. For his trouble, he had had his head bashed in and his head almost severed from his body by a tomahawk. As Mrs Mawbey was reeling backwards from the blow to her head, she fell on her dead almost decapitated son. 

Blood was flowing. Streaming in red rivulets across the brown wooden floor and spattering the wooden walls. Screams of terrified victims of the carnage were renting the air. But the farm was isolated and no one willing and able to come to help them could hear. And if there had been, they may have felt too much fear. 

The two Mawbey girls, Grace and Hilda, had taken off with the schoolteacher to get help from their father who was packing wheat in the old inn where they used to live some distance away. But Jimmy saw them, said to have been alerted to them running away and trying to escape, by his wife. He took after them and smashed their skulls in with a club. 

Mr Mawbey found them on his way to the farmhouse after one of the other children had managed to get to him and tell him the terrible news. He told his father they were killing Percy. 

I am the third generation of the Mawbey family still carrying this intergenerational trauma. Felt but unrecognised and untreated by the motherless boys who survived, who were there on the night, and the eldest who was in Sydney who was to become my grandfather. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

It is now around 10 years since I started this blog about Jimmy Governor and I want to review it now. When it is a couple of days before Australia Day on 26 January 2020 or what Aboriginal people now call 'Survival Day' or 'Invasion Day'.
With the benefit of passing time, I now see him as quite an extraordinary individual who could run rings around anyone of his era, male or female, black or white.
He was smart, he was resilient, he was his own man, he knew the difference between right and wrong, he was steady, he cared for and provided for his white wife and Aboriginal kinsmen, and, yes, he had courage.

I do accept what he said that he was 'run into' the murders of four members of the Mawbey family and their schoolteacher by his wife and kinsmen.
I do not think he would have committed the murders of his own accord.
He was acting on their behalf, not his own.
They were clamouring for justice against injustices they thought had suffered at the hands of the Mawbey family.
They were challenging him to stand up and be a man and not to cow-tow to the white man's superior status.
He would have known that as soon as he did so he was a dead man, but nonetheless he did it.


Saturday, June 1, 2019


I am about to revisit this blog after a four year absence. There will be some updates based on rethinks and some additional research. Watch this space ...

Sunday, May 29, 2016


I have had several paranormal experiences related to this blog, including a couple of angry visitations from Jimmy to my home. 

I have not 'seen' him but rather sensed his angry presence. My dog has sensed him too, reacting either by barking or putting his tail down and running away, when Jimmy was there.

This happened not long after I started the blog, so about 5 years ago now. I also had a visitation from a tribal elder who I actually saw, who was saying effectively why are you dredging all this up?  Why not just let sleeping dogs lie?

I was also waylaid by a huge black crow one day at Hornsby which aggressively blocked my path, forcing me to walk out onto the road to get past it. The Wiradjiri people, of which Jimmy was one, believe that spirits of their male ancestors inhabit crows.

On another occasion, unrelated to the blog, I was walking through bushland near the Lane Cove River and came across an overhanging rock shelf with a pool of water below it. I sensed the presence of spirits, Aboriginal, and spontaneously started doing an Aboriginal dance, knocking my knees together.  I sensed them shifting about, like they were curious about me and pleased I had greeted them in that way, in their language, so to speak. Nearby I noticed a tree with the bark removed from one side, like it had been used for a canoe a very long time ago. A couple of months later, I went back to that spot, but the Aboriginal spirits had gone.



I watched it again last night on Australia's national indigenous television station, NITV, and was shocked by what I saw and heard this time. I was seeing and hearing it in a completely new light, decidedly negative this time. Its overriding dishonesty and its purpose as a piece of political propaganda were now patently clear to me.

Is the film, and the book it is based upon of the same name by author Thomas Keneally, fact or fiction, truth or lies? 

The opening credits claim the film is fiction based on real events. But what is presented as fiction is in fact a distortion of what really happened, a twisting of the truth, not figments of imagination.

Writers of fiction usually publish a disclaimer in the fronts of their books saying that any resemblance to real people or events is unintentional.  But this is not the case here.

The untruths begin at the start of the film.  Jimmie is being brought up by a man of the cloth in a mission setting when he in fact he was raised by his parents. His father was a full blood Aboriginal man and his mother the daughter of a full blood Aboriginal woman and a white Irish father. 

The film depicts Jimmie as a young man being initiated by scarifying his chest, but in all my research about him, I have never found any evidence of this. His father had initiation scars, but not him. The film also has Jimmie saying he doesn't know who his father is, as if he is illegitimate, and that he is a half caste which he is not.

Then he starts doing fencing work for a Mr Lewis near Merriwa who figures in the real story, but with a different name.  After the real Jimmy Governor (not the fictional Jimmie Blacksmith) murders four members of the Mawbey family, he then goes and kills this guy's pregnant wife and toddler son.

But back to the, er, fiction created by the film's producer and director. Jimmie joins the police force, then meets Ethel, aka Gilda Marshall, a young woman with loose morals, at a property where he is shearing sheep with iconic Aussie actor, Bryan Brown. Never mind the fact that the real Jimmy and Ethel were in fact next door neighbours living on the outskirts of the town of Gulgong. Ethel gets knocked up by her handsome boy next door, and after a shotgun wedding, their son is born in in that same town.

In the true story, Ethel and the boy are with her parents in Dubbo when Jimmy starts working at the Mawbey farm at Breelong near Gilgandra.  Mr Mawbey, aka Mr Newby in the film, kindly offers to lend his horse to the real Jimmy to go and pick up Ethel and the child from Dubbo.  But in the, er, fictional film, Jimmie says he needs the horse to pick up Ethel from Gilgandra.  And she's pregnant. Hello?

But the fiction is, well, fiction in the film.  Ethel arrives pregnant and Mrs Mawbey, played by iconic Australian actress Ruth Cracknell, actually delivers the baby!  Can you believe it?  And everyone laughs at it, and at Jimmie, because the baby is white.  In the real story, Ethel gets upset because she sees through a window the Mawbey girls and the school teacher laughing at her baby because he's black! 

And it gets worse. In the film, Jimmie and Gilda get married in the Newby house, with the white girl marrying the black boy being given away by Mr Newby himself!!! And then the school teacher, Miss Graff, living in the Newby house offers Gilda and the child a job her home town of Gilargambone (actually Girilambone) if she is willing to leave Jimmie!  In the real story, Ethel complains to Jimmy about being mistreated by the school teacher and this results in the young woman being brutally killed by having her head bashed in by a club.

Earlier in the movie, Jimmie is depicted building a slab hut for he and the pregnant Ethel to live in.  In fact, they lived in a humpy, a bark lean to, near a creek. The Newby house is also presented as being far grander that it actually was.

The landscape as depicted in the film is also wrong.  It is all so picturesque, like stills of impressionist paintings, with hills dotted with trees like those made iconic by Australian painter Fred Williams. It is nothing like the flat country where these events actually took place. And the distinctive sound of whipbirds can be heard.  Never mind that these birds are only to be found in coastal areas. They are not the only ones who have lost their way in this film!

I turned the film off after Jimmie is beating his chest after the Newby (Mawbey) murders saying, I've declared war.  That's what I've done, I've declared war.

Yet the Newbys have been depicted as being very kind to he and Ethel. It's all just too contradictory for me, as well as downright dishonest and didactic.

The truly frightening thing is that many Australian school children were forced to read the book and possibly watch the film as part of their high school English curriculum. They would have no way of knowing that what they were being led to believe was the truth was in fact a pack of lies.

The wool was well and truly being pulled over their eyes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I caught the second half of the movie based on the life Jimmy Governor, "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith" on National Indigenous TV (NITV) last night.
When I first saw it after it first came out in 1978, I was shocked by the cruelty depicted in it.
I walked out when the fictional Jimmie's brother was brutally shot.
It had seemed to me at age 30 a dark and brooding angry film.

Last night I was impressed with all its positive features.
In particular the top class cinematography and music.
I also picked up on things I would not have noticed, or even known about, before.
Like the symbolism of rocks and tree branches and other motifs woven throughout the visual narrative.
There were lots of factual errors in the story, but the book written by Thomas Keneally, was always presented as a novel, as fiction, not fact.

The movie is free to watch on YouTube.
I'll get back to you with more commentary when I've had another look.

Meantime, I recommend the director Fred Schepisi consider relaunching the film on the Australian national cinema circuit.
The general viewing public is much more educated about Aboriginal culture now, and negative attitudes towards Aborigines have changed.
That's a huge step forward in less than 40 years since the film first appeared.
Schepisi deserves to recoup some of the $250,000 he invested in the film, all of which he lost.