Wakuwal (Dream) follows five generations of descendants of an Irish woman sent to Van Diemen’s land in 1848. It is a journey through the deep unconscious of a divided society, contrasting settlers lives with the events that unfolded for Australia’s first peoples and of the inter-connections and blockages between new and old Australian cultures. Is anything recoverable from the original and ongoing carnage? In a wild imagining of how things were, and how they got to be, now, Yolŋu creation stories of North East Arnhem land and Aboriginal stories from Victoria, New South Wales, the Pilbara, Kimberley and Cape York Peninsula are interspersed with modern narratives of Homer, Christ, Yeats and Joyce. Wakuwal is a book of hope: how faith and resilience kept ancient knowledge alive, how optimism endures in the face of ignorance and destruction, and how today’s descendants of both the newcomers and the first peoples are beginning a conversation, many generations overdue.
Reader Comments About Wakuwal
“Dhuwala djorra’ guŋga'yunmirri yolnguwu ga balandwu.” (This book will help you all Yolŋu and Non-Aboriginal people). Batumbil Burarrwaŋa
'Peter Botsman has long been one of this country's best and most adventurous social thinkers. This might be his biggest - and best - adventure yet.' Don Watson, author of Caledonia Australia, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, Death Sentence, Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, American Journeys, Bendable Learnings, Watson's Worst Words, A Single Tree
"Do not come to this book with preconceptions based on Botsman’s previous work, his fierce analytics and academic credentials - you will be left confused or disappointed. Do not come to this book unless from a place of deep hearing, deep seeing, and deep understanding. For most of us that is neither a familiar place nor a comfortable one. And with thoroughly non-linear, and thoroughly appropriate, logic: reading this book will take you there." Nicole Moore
“Peter Botsman is an intrepid explorer of the Australian cultural landscape. In Wakuwal, he beautifully depicts a dream journey to his ancestors, adopting an Aboriginal approach to understanding the world. As a valued ambassador and friend to the Yolngu people of north-east Australia, Botsman ably bridges the divide between white and Aboriginal civilization. His book should become a classic not unlike Carlos Castaneda’s Yaqui Way of Knowledge. It deserves wide readership in Australia and abroad.” Ambassador Derek Shearer, Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy, Director, McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, Occidental College, Los Angeles
"This is a book unlike any I have read – an audacious dream weaving of Indigenous and settler identity, a narrative that fuses Yolgnu and Irish story-telling. Five spirit beings reflect different streams in Peter Botsman’s journey, a language both personal and deeply linked to traditions he values. There is a sadness too, a sense of landscapes and peoples lost to unthinking development, tenuous links through tenacious individuals who keep identity and place alive." Professor Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne
"Wakawul is a mighty collaborative effort of fantastical imagination and spirituality and shows the way that modern Australia can, through understanding and respect, at last establish a relationship with Australia's First Peoples that will benefit the whole Nation. The perspective of the Celtic faeries converts the wall between the Spirit world and our past, present and future to a thin veil that reveals the true evil of our times: the failure "to grant haven to those in need". Bill Moyle, AM.
"Peter Botsman has used his imagination to draw together two worlds and through that prism shows that the paradigm of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people must change." Kevin Fong, Director, Kimberley Institute
"This book is testament to the time, commitment and utmost respect that Peter has for Indigenous people. Allowing Peter to walk along side and experience a never ending journey that few are so privileged to be afforded, members of the Yolŋu community have made it possible for him to share this story with us." Daniel Briggs, Ll.b.
“Peter Botsman journey with Indigenous and Non–Indigenous Australians is a must read. Peter has been involved with me over the journey with Aboriginal involvement with mining in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Similar to his book he has placed Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal peoples involvement with mining in the Pilbara into some sort of historical context highlighting the tensions that can and do exacerbate issues such as mental health problems in Aboriginal people and their communities. Peter’s big picture demands that we all work together to fix these things his book is part of this process. Peter has played a part in genuinely improving the lives of the Aboriginal people, and as he says, when optimism endures in the face of ignorance and destruction, there is still hope. Peter’s passion and work with the Yolngu people over the journey is similar to his work in the Pilbara honouring traditional law and enhancing Aboriginal people’s health and wellbeing. Peter has also produced a number of books or major reports for many years now. A number of these works have had some influence on Australian governments I certainly learnt a great deal from Peter, working with Non Aboriginal culture to ensure greater meaning and greater understanding and healthier outcomes on both sides of the fence.” Barry Taylor, Njamal lore-man, elder, worker between two worlds.
"Start with the ancestors and old people, the river red gums . To grow you're understanding of the people and their trauma , you need to come and feel their presence among the beautiful waters of the Dungala and it's wetlands. This book awakens our understanding of the magnitude of our actions in our invasion and colonization of their countries including our loss as a nation . This book challenges our capacity to acknowledge our behaviors and to return to the people the prosperity and quality of life that as First Nations peoples they have a right to." Paul Briggs, OAM
Wakuwal is an inter-cultural story - it tries to weave together non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal stories and experiences in a unique narrative.
* It is a story of the experiences of the family of an Irish woman Honor Hughes who was transported to Van Diemens Land in 1848 with her youngest daughter leaving four children behind. Her crime was to try to feed her family. Honor the victim of the Irish genocide found herself living side by side Truganini, one of the survivors of the Tasmanian Aboriginal genocide, on Bruny Island.
* Wakuwal tells history in a new way. 200 years of events is complicated. But when you can think of your own family members it becomes more understandable. This is something that Aboriginal people have always done. They relate to time through the experiences of their grandfathers and grandmothers and their grandfathers and grandmothers.
* The story works across mediums: skin, bark, oral culture, dance, ceremony to the written form of a book in order to bring things that are important to non-Aboriginal people. To help people understand things that are important.
* The dream dimensions of the book are inspired by Carl Jung and the narrator is a form of collective unconscious, a fairy, a dog, a crocodile, a cloud, an octopus, a whale dreams in part link to Yolŋu creation stories
* The story also contrasts the experiences of Aboriginal people the author has known first hand from the Yorta Yorta people of Shepparton, to the Ngarda Ngarli Yarndu and Martu communities of the Pilbara and the Western Desert, to the Yawuru and Goolabaru people of Broome and the Kimberley and the Gugu Yalanji and Gugu Yimmidhir people of Cape York Peninsula as well as the Yolŋu people of Arnhem land and the Yuin people of the South Coast of NSW.
* The book is inspired by, and dedicated to, two extraordinary Aboriginal Yolŋu woman leaders Ms. S. D. Gurruwiwi (who passed away in 2016) and Mrs. P. Batumbil Burarrwanga who is the bungäwa (leader) of the Mata Mata and Gi'kal homelands areas of Arnhem Land. Batumbil is a Gumatj elder.
* Any authors profits from the book will be devoted to the economic, social and cultural development of the Mata Mata and Gi'kal homelands in north East Arnhem land.. people can contribute to the ongoing campaign to support Batumbil and her family by buying a copy of the book and making a donation on the pozible website,, https://pozible.com/project/mata-mata
About Valentine Press
Valentine Press, which began with the object of publishing a single title, Witch Girl and The Push, has found that it has a mandate and purpose well beyond its original purpose. Australia has a highly competitive publishing industry. The big publishers and even medium sized publishers usually back known authors, public personalities or well known imported titles because they need to sell a very large number of books relative to Australia’s small population to cover their overheads. This often means that dozens of high quality books never get the backing they deserve and many don’t even make it to print. It can be very demoralising for great, worthy and new writers alike. After Witch Girl, Valentine Press has stepped into the Australian publishing void and offers an alternative for high quality writing. VP is small, lean and supportive of Australian authors and writers of all kinds. VP works like a real publisher, unlike a number of organisations who only assist authors in self-publishing.
For more information and media contact: April Pressler, Senior Associate, Communications and Media, V (m)0412 271 744 (e) firstname.lastname@example.org www.valentinepress.com.au
Wakuwal Launch, All Souls Day, 2017, 107 Redfern St, Redfern, NSW with Joe Brown Mc Leod and Goomootch Dancers. Batumbil Burarrwanga, Doris Burarrwanga, Daisy Burarrwanga, Terrence Gurruwiwi, Mitchell Rang Garawirritja, Shakiera Munuggurr. Kihtonia Gurruwiwi