Aussie Yarns - Dave Goddard

Stories about Australia

Month: July 2015

Williams Photo and Creativity

Thanks to the good people of Williams for the welcome and hospitality on our recent trip. AnIMG_6652small impressive feature demonstrated here, and in other towns, was the sense of creativity that existed

I have been invited to speak at the Cultivator Event ( held in Mildura in late October, which has the overall of theme of creativity. As its website says, Cultivator aims to address the challenges of regional living and looks to creativity in design, enterprise and community to find solutions. What I saw on our visits to six towns says that sort of energy is alive and well in our South-West. Perhaps there’s a space for a similar program to Cultivator in WA.


South West Promotional Tour

We had a magic time, going to Williams, Boyup Brook, Wagin, Katanning, Mt Barker and Kojonup to promote “The WILUNA Solution” and “Hiding Place”. We started in that area because Dave was deputy-principal and acting-Principal in Kojonup when Tuck Waldron was still sprinting around football fields or whacking sixes, and the late Sid Simeon ran the bottom pub. They are two people whose memories are etched in Dave’s brain as lovely people. We had a great time in Kojonup all those years ago and it seemed logical to start in that region. Thanks to the people who run Libraries and Community Resource Centres in those towns for the their support in terms of organisation and the local members of the public who came along for the presentations, to chat and to be so hospitable. It was also great to catch up with people from up to five decades, which is going back to high school days for Dave. One reconnection in particular was moving for a range of reasons and he appreciates the time taken by that person to enable it to occur. It was also great to see how determined people in these towns are to preserve the identities of the places and develop new and different ways of growing and developing each place. Just as an example, Williams has the Woolshed and its Community Resource Centre, both of which are not only tourist attractions and providew a service, but offer employment to local people. Most times we tend to berate politicians, but whoever thought up the CRCs deserves compliments. They, and the people who run and work in them, are great.

Making contact with the members of the public in those towns was also fascinating. We continue to be surprised at connections that so many people have to Wiluna. Dave was told by Margie, for example, of a woman of 94 in or neat Williams, whose father was part of the last cattle drive down the Canning Stock Route, a track which features so strongly on “The WILUNA Solution”. Anyway, thanks again to all those we met for the time and the energy you gave. We are thinking of another trek shortly to another region where we lived some years ago.

Here are some pIMAG0206hotos from this week.Wagin. Boyup

IMAG0201 - Copy


The Launch Words from Ian

Thanks Ian for these words. I am, as I said on the night, somewhat overwhelmed. But for those who didn’t make it, this is what Ian Wansbrough had to say on the night of the launch of The WILUNA Solution.

At the Launch of The WILUNA Solution by Dave Goddard, 2015.

We’re all part of a celebration here tonight. We come to launch a work of art, to celebrate the fact of its creation and to send it into the world with our best wishes, in the hope that it finds an appreciative audience. We come also to honour the person whose labour and imagination has brought this work into being: Dave Goddard.

The Wiluna Solution is Dave’s second published novel. It comes close on the heels of Hiding Place, a novel set in Alice Springs at a time of rising tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The main character in that first novel is a white man from the city who learns how to walk in a space between cultures and gender – a space that an Aboriginal woman from a remote community tells him is a “between world”. We learn that this is a place where things can look very different and be very challenging, where people need to listen and learn and make a lot of adjustments. But this is also a place that offers the hope of better lives and relationships for everyone concerned. I believe that a major motivation for Dave in writing Hiding Place was to give us all a glimpse of that ‘between world’. It’s a world that Dave knows well from his many years as an educator and consultant in remote communities around Australia.

The Wiluna Solution invites us into another space between worlds. Again, the setting is outback Australia at a time of rising tension between cultures, and the main character’s role is to bridge a cultural divide and bring about a form of reconciliation. Again the character has to learn quickly and make a lot of adjustments to perform that role. But the divide this time is not only between cultures and gender, it is also between past and present.

Detective Inspector Greg Johnson of the WA Police is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a woman in 2007 from the remote town of Wiluna. His enquiries lead him into a much more complex mystery: the death by poisoning of two stockmen on the Canning Stock Route near Wiluna in 1934, and the disappearance of a police officer and five Aboriginal elders. It was widely accepted at the time, and still accepted in historical accounts, that local Martu people poisoned the stockmen in an act of resistance, and that the Martu men were then killed by white men in an act of retaliation. Greg’s role is to arrive at an understanding of events without prejudice, and to set the record straight. To do this he needs first-hand, boots-on-the-ground knowledge of Wiluna in 1934. I’m not going to tell you the plot mechanics that make the investigation possible, but I will say that the re-imagining of Wiluna at the height of its prosperity is a major achievement. So, too, is the examination of policing methods and community attitudes from the time.

There is another major achievement in this novel that we can measure in the title itself. Early in the book “the Wiluna Solution” is an utterly racist expression. It is a coded reference to vigilante acts against Aboriginal people, a sniggering invitation to violence and murder. It belongs to an earlier time but is still being used in the novel’s present. By the end of the book ‘the Wiluna Solution’ can just as easily refer to the results that Greg and his allies achieve. We learn that a measure of truth and reconciliation is possible when principles of justice, equality and respect are applied to a difficult problem. The solution that Greg achieves in Wiluna is very different from the original ‘Wiluna Solution’.

Respect and reconciliation are major themes in both of Dave’s novels to date, and we can be sure they will feature again in future work. Dave has a lot to say that is worth hearing on these themes, but I don’t want to give the impression that his fiction is just a vehicle for worthy messages. It’s not like that at all. Dave has a rare ability to spin a good yarn. He creates characters that readers will care about, and he puts them in situations that are inherently interesting and dramatic. He knows instinctively how to organize structure and plot so that multiple story-lines, complications and themes can all unfold. Like other raconteurs, he has a store of anecdotes, and he is a close observer of the way people speak and relate to each other. More importantly, he can make the leap of imagination that gets a story up and running. Dave tells us in the preface to this book that he was fascinated by Wiluna from the first time that he visited. Here was an almost abandoned town on the edge of the Western Desert, with dirt streets and ramshackle buildings. But there were traces all around that spoke of a deeper, richer history. The Wiluna Solution is Dave’s imaginative reconstruction of that history. The story is fictional but it has strong parallels with real events in the region and in other frontier towns. And like all good fiction, it engages our imagination as readers, and promotes deeper understanding.

This week is NAIDOC week in Australia and the theme for 2015 is that we all stand on sacred ground. We are encouraged by the NAIDOC committee to respect and celebrate local and national sites of significance, to learn their traditional names, histories and stories. Wiluna is a traditional name and Dave’s novel is a lively engagement with a site and a history of national significance. It seems entirely appropriate that we are launching Dave’s book during NAIDOC week. Telling important stories is a sacred tradition in all cultures, and telling them well should always be celebrated.

Ian Wansbrough, screenwriter.

The WILUNA Solution Launch 2

The novel was launched last night and thanks to the many people who braved the chill night air to be there, and as I said, many more from the country and interstate who couldn’t be, but sent apologies. For those who missed the event, here is a summary of what I had to say.

I started with an acknowledgement of traditional owners and elders of the Noongar language group, and then thanked all those who were in attendance and those who couldn’t make it. I acknowledged and thanked Ian Wansbrough and Karen for their support as editors and proof-readers over both novels, and Karen, Paul and Suzanne and Drew and Caitlin and their many connections over the years who have all role-modeled creativity and “get up and go”. They all taught me that being creative can be learned, and that getting up and doing what you believe you can do well is preferable to sitting around waiting for someone to give you permission to do something. That’s how they’ve lived their lives and I bless them for it.

Then I mentioned Jarrod Egan and Fineline Print in terms of their support for the publishing of the new novel, not just the service but the quality and price. Ross MacLennan of Book Covers Australia was mentioned for his excellent work, and Todd Pender of WA Police for his support of the project and his advice on policing.

Then I spoke about the creation of The WILUNA Solution and how it differed from the previous novel. In writing Hiding Place, I knew the theme – about walking in a world between cultures as a way of preserving the values and integrity of each – and the story fell into place fairly easily. The theme for The WILUNA Solution wasn’t clear and the story came about very differently. All I knew was that I wanted to describe a town as it existed 80 years ago. The first spark for that came from being the Club Hotel in the year 2000 and seeing photos of the town in the 1930s. Then came the opportunity to work as a consultant in Wiluna in 2011, which took me constantly to an area of land opposite Wiluna Remote Community School over four years of visiting the town. As I walked it, concrete slabs that were foundations for houses, old clothes-line poles, shards of corrugated iron, a rusting truck differential, and several cobbled stone fences all spoke of a life I could only imagine. There was also the old hospital, now the Shire Offices, and the remains of a railway station to whet the imagination. So I imagined. I also discovered the town had a population of nearly 10 000 people by the start of World War Two. I learned that the Canning Stock Route ran north to Halls Creek with 51 wells, a great engineering feat and social disaster in terms of race relations. I was able to build relationships with the Martu people and hear stories of their treatment over time from whitefellas. And I could only marvel at the story of Warri and Yantungka and their family, who, as far as I know, were the last Aboriginal nomads to meet white people. The more I visited, the stronger was the spark, until it burned as a flame. But still, all I knew was that I wanted to write about the town in the 1930s, so I did, and the theme came clear as I finished the story.

The novel covers two eras (or more accurately, the years of 2007 and 1934). The main character is 57 seven-year-old Detective Inspector Greg Johnson, based in Kalgoorlie and getting ready to retire at the end of 2007. He is sent to Wiluna in late November to investigate the disappearance of a female schoolteacher and his experiences, both positive and negative, endanger the lives of his children and grandchildren as he struggles to discover the truth.

It was only as I finished the novel that my theme arose.  Never accept anything as a fact. Always turn it into a question and prove that it’s accurate. If you don’t, you risk dangling on the strings of other peoples’ conceptions, or misconceptions as the case may be.

Let me finish with two photos of Wiluna, one from the early 1930s and one from 2007. They are shots of the same street.

The difference is stark, yet it still excite2007 Wiluna Wotton Sts me. I hope the story does the same for you.1934 Wiluna Town 1

Launch and Sites to buy both novels

Hi and hope all is good for you.

There are now several places where you can purchase my latest novel, The WILUNA Solution. Hard copies are available from Dave and Karen, with postage included if you want it forwarded. If you want a Kindle version, go to Amazon. If you’d like a pdf version, Dave and Karen can provide it.

Stores that will have copies include:

  • Well Bookshop in Ardross St Applecross
  • Crow Books at 900 Albany Highway
  • Loose Produce in Hobbs Avenue Como
  • Millpoint Book Caffe in Millpoint Road South Perth
  • Diabolik in Scarborough Beach Road, Mt Hawthorn

Two other stores are reviewing and I will let you know if they are on board as soon as I can.

If you’d like to comment on the novel, or write a review, go to and you’ll find a place to write. Next week, we are touring the South-West (Kojonup, Boyup Brook, Williams, Wagin, Katanning and Mt Barker about the novel. Local CRCs or libraries can let you the venues and times, with morning or afternoon teas provided.

And the launch of The WILUNA Solution is on Thursday from 5.00 pm at the Como Bowling Club. Come along and join in if you have the time. Refreshments provided and copies of a novel are reduced for the night.