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July 15, 2024

Byron Writers Festival 2024: Bruce Pascoe Q&A

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Bruce Pascoe and Lyn Harwood

Byron Writers Festival guests Bruce Pascoe and Lyn Harwood’s book Black Duck: A Year at Yumburra is a personal and beautiful reflection on life, Country and the consequences of Dark Emu through six seasons on their farm. Here Bruce Pascoe answers some questions about the experience.

Your latest work feels like a long and lovely acknowledgment of your community and country. What has it been like to share those moments with the world? 

Well it was a rare honour and privilege to talk about this country and the people who live here. Most of all it gave us a chance to honour and thank the country we love.

It’s also a gentle, but urgent call to arms. What is a step we can all take towards empowering the Aboriginal food movement?

Buy from Aboriginal people wherever possible not from the entrepreneurs who are dominating the market. 99% of all money made out of Aboriginal foods goes to non-Aboriginal people. We need jobs in the industry and the money to help our communities toward financial independence.

A lot was changed by 2019/2020’s bushfires. Has writing about those experiences changed you, too?

Writing about the fires didn’t change me but it did bring it all back. Very unpleasant. The fires did change me. Our communities are still deeply affected and the trauma is ongoing.

Sometimes, you write, “you need to repeat something a hundred times before a bell rings in the colony.” Is a bell ringing?

No, the bell has not rung. Australia refused the invitation to talk but it’s not the end of the matter. After the referendum a constant stream of Aboriginal people came to the farm “just to have a cup of tea and a yarn” but all said that Aboriginal people just need to work harder to educate the nation. They all said 39% of Australians are our friends and we need to accept their help.

You write that Byron Writers Festival is a favourite. What are you looking forward to at the festival this time?

The people at Byron have been incredibly open minded and supportive of Aboriginal writers. I’m looking forward to meeting them again and seeing Bangalow.


• Bruce Pascoe and Lyn Harwood will be at Byron Writers Festival to talk about Black Duck: A Year at Yumburra. Bruce Pascoe will also take part in the panel ‘Cultural Touchstones’ and in a conversation with Grace Lucas Pennington about his new novel Imperial Harvest.

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