Book Reviews

We Come With This Place by Debra Dank

We Come With This Place is deeply personal and a profound tribute to family and the Gudanji Country to which Debra Dank belongs, but it is much more than that. Here is Australia as it has been for countless generations, land and people in effortless balance, and Australia as it became, but also Australia as it could and should be.

This is a remarkable book as rich, varied and surprising as the vast landscape in which it is set. Although it does mention some of the dark history of our Country, it’s done in a way that is honest. Overall, it is a joyful story, with emphasis on the support, joy and strength that comes through connections.

I know that, just as I dance with my long past grannies, at some time in the future my grandchildren will dance with me.

Dank masterfully guides us through a non-linear way of storytelling which people will find refreshing and full of surprises. One moment we are experiencing life through Dank’s childhood eyes as she moves around different cattle stations with her family, then we are in the past exploring the struggles of her father and fellow countrymen, then changing perspectives to her own children as they embrace their heritage, and we are also gifted with the journey by the first women as they travelled the countryside from the sea and created the beautiful Gudanji Country.

It is through this amazing connection to the countryside that creates vivid tales and lyrical descriptions. Like how Dank’s grandfather taught Dank how to “take fish from cold water in arid places” using a secret holes in the desert. Or how she tried to attuned her husband’s eyes to see bush turkeys within the shadows of the outback. Ultimately, Dank presents us with great wisdom and a sense of belonging regardless of who is standing next to you.

…someone has walked this way before and as you walk yourself; into their footprints, their story becomes yours.

The only set back is that Dank doesn’t include a glossary of the Indigenous vocabulary that enhances this amazing memoir.

Regardless, this is highly recommended for everyone to read as a tribute to the love and resilience of the Gudanji people and to Dank herself. This book is nothing short of enlightening.

Reviewed by Diane Stewart
Library Assistant

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We Come With This Place by Debra Dank

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