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Reply to Sosiawan
November 3, 2000
Subject: greeting from yogyakarta


>I need some photos of Aborigin Men in their traditional fashion and accesories, It would be great if you can do me a favour and send me some pictures.

Try pressing the thumbnails in the index at:

What do you need the photographs for?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Michelle Pfeifer
October 22, 2000
Subject: indigenous people

Hi Michelle

These are complex questions so my short answers should not be taken to mean that there are quick solutions.

Aborigines in Australia have a homeland - it is known as Australia. Each group identifies with some part of the country, unless they have been displaced to the point where cultural memory has been lost. Sadly this is true for many part aboriginal people.

Almost a third of Australia is under Aboriginal control - in other words non-aboriginal people require a permit to enter.

Aboriginal culture is alive and well in all its forms. Traditional culture could be said to be on the wane - but this is true for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people as the world is rapidly becoming like one vast homogenised MacDonalds.

However, your remark about lack of interest is perceptive. I've heard Aboriginal elders complain that few of the young people are interested in the disciplines associated with traditional culture and for this reason it is vanishing.

The 'Flight of Ducks' is a window into the end of the frontier period in Australia when there were still groups that had not had contact with white men.

Good luck with your paper - I'd be interested in what you write.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Jose
October 17, 2000
Subject: Australians

Hi Jose

>I would also like to have some info from you. Any ideas???

These are complex issues. Have you looked at the references in:

It's been a while but most of the links should still work. Let me know if you have more specific questions. Beware of the tendency to think of Australian Aborigines as one group.

Happy hunting.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Christopher Sørum
October 17, 2000
Subject: Project

Hi Christopher

Rights (see metadata) associated with the use of content from 'The Flight of Ducks' can be seen at:

You might also be interested in a paper concerning Aboriginal representation at:

Aborigines in Australia live in the modern world and have sometimes been at the forefront of the use of new technologies. Traditional culture is a valuable cultural reference point but can also be a prison. For this reason Aboriginal adjustment has not been without its social costs. See:

Good luck with your assignment - I'd be interested in what you have to say. I can publish your work on this site if you like.

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Colleen Clifford
October 16, 2000
Subject: helpnonemergency

Hi Colleen

>I would love a list of books and or web sites (that are factual) about history good bad and ugly, plus the promise of the future.

You may be interested in 'The Flight of Ducks' which has been on-line since 1995.

This is an Australian on-line documentary spanning more than 65 years. It began when my father (F.J.A. Pockley) travelled to Central Australia in January 1933 to take part in an expedition from from Hermannsburg Mission to Mount Liebig. He brought back cinefilm, photographs, journals and Aboriginal objects. This collection provides insights into the end of the frontier period, when there were still isolated groups of Aborigines yet to experience non-Aboriginal contact. His companions were also interesting men. They were: Hezekial, an Aboriginal guide; the remarkable T.G.H. Strehlow; artist, Arthur Murch and animal and skull collector, Stanley Larnach.

Before he died, my father returned in 1976 and I retraced the expedition in 1996 with my own children. These layers might provide in sights into the complexities of Aboriginal relations in Australia.

More specifically, the issues of censorship of historical material and the politics of control are explored in relation to this work in a paper that includes many references of possible interest to you at:

Note that 'The Flight of Ducks' is a very large participatory work (over 1000 screens). Please feel free to ask any questions.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Catherine Cox Walliss
October 2, 2000
Subject: photographs


>It is of a child standing looking at the camera and his/her mum is sitting behind facing away.

aboriginal  woman with child

Hmm …the image you refer to is a background detail from

aboriginal women with children

And the original is only about the size of a postage stamp. I'll go back to my first scan - better resolution than the one on-line and see what I can come up with. I'm assuming you want a postcard size print. Anything much larger would probably loose resolution (be fuzzy). Also, it will be on paper rather than on card.

I'll put it on-line when it's ready - for you to approve. Then post it to you by mail. We can talk about price when it's done (cost's only - i.e. postage). But it might take me a week to get to it.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Tony
October 11, 2000
Subject: Your poem?

Hi Tony

>Is it a poem? It must be art.

Thank you for your kind remarks - I would not aspire to art.
I'm afraid 'The Flight of Ducks' is a bit of an unweeded garden at the moment,
mainly because I have been in Canada discussing metadata issues (see source)
for the last 3 weeks - and these days I don't have a great deal of time to spare.

Some people call 'The Flight of Ducks' an online documentary.
Some people see it as digital preservation in action.
Either way, it is a deeply layered work that has been on-line since 1995.

You can find a kind of description at:

No wonder you are daunted at the prospect of finding your way around.
It is a huge site of more than 1000 screens (and growing daily).

>I too am concerned by the distortions of the past

yeah…often through reconstructing the past through the vicissitudes of memory in some cases, for political ends.
But, I guess that's what history is all about.
There are some complex issues here.
As far as The Flight of Ducks is concerned,
you might be interested in having a little look at 'Blinding the Duck'

Otherwise, nice to hear from you - tell me more about your Tasmanian project?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to John Boulton
October 11, 2000
Subject: Lewis Harold Bell Lasseter

Hi John

The copy of Lasseter's Diary is taken from a facsimile of the original.

The note associated with this diary:

is as follows:

Lewis Hurbert Lasseter, born in 1880, claimed in 1929 that 18 years earlier, he had discovered a vast gold bearing reef in Central Australia, at the western edge of the Macdonnell Ranges. He later changed his story, giving a date that would have made him 17 at the time. In 1930 he accompanied an expedition that turned back after finding nothing. Lasseter remained with one man, with whom he quarreled. Left alone, he watched his two camels bolt into the bush. He lived with Aborigines for the next four months but died of starvation. Rescuers found his body and buried it. His diary claimed that he had rediscovered his lost reef and pegged his claim.

There is a link from this note to my father's diary entry about a discussion concerning Lasseter when he arrived at Hermannsburg mission in January 1933.

No need to purchase anything. You have my permission to use any of this material. There is also a rights statement at:

I'd love to hear what you discover and would be happy to publish it on this site if you are interested.

It's a great story!


Simon Pockley

Reply to Pamela Miller
October 10, 2000
Subject: Photographs in the Flight of Ducks

Dear Pam

I scanned and enhanced all the photographs in the Flight of Ducks in 1995.
At that time, I used GIF compression because it gave better results than JPEG.
I rejected black and white because I wanted to keep the sepia-like quality of the photographs that had faded.
I'm not sure how you arrived at a JPEG image.

Of course, I now know a lot more about the issues,
but a record of the process I employed can be found through section 7 of the paper about the use of images:
'Blinding the Duck'

Most of these images are the size of postage stamps
And only a few have negatives.

See also:

5. Behind the Camera - the photo as self representation

Clearly, you have now made the image you refer to - your own.
Do you need anything more from me?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Haley Strong
October 6, 2000
Subject: Flight of Ducks

Thanks for your kind words Haley.

I'm in Canada at the moment talking metadata (see markup source).
As for reasons etc. see the various interviews at:

I can answer your questions more fully when I am back in Australia on the 10th of Oct.

Good luck with your presentation.

Simon Pockley

Reply to Geraldine Wilson
October 4, 2000
Subject: Ernestine Hill - My Love Must Wait

Hi Geraldine

Sorry about the delay in replying
I'm in Canada at the moment.

My father met Ernestine Hill in Alice Springs in 1933 but the reference in 'The Flight of Ducks' is fleeting.

which, I guess is why you contacted me.

Some years ago there was another researcher writing a book about her. You might be able to fins the email in the talk back sections by doing a find in page search.

Otherwise - I'll give you a hand when I get back on the 10th Oct.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Catherine Cox Walliss
October 2, 2000
Subject: photographs

Hi Catherine

I'm in Canada at the moment
but will be back on the 10th Oct
Which photograph are you interested in - i.e what is the screen number? There are over a 1000 screens so it is hard for me to tell which one you want.
Price would be minimal - just to cover costs that's all.

Talk more later.

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Coral Mitchell
September 21, 2000
Subject: wild ducks

Hi Coral

I don't know how long their eggs take to hatch - but they love snails and they will dig up everything looking for them before very long.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Rogi Riverstone
September 12, 2000
Subject: e-zine article

Hi Rogi

Sure, you can use anything you like - appreciate the fact that you asked. Rights statement is in embedded the metadata:

Thanks for your kind remarks concerning the 'Flight of Ducks' - it's lifted my day.

Curious feeling of detachment on reading your article - outside looking in. I'll be back to you later with some questions on webTV, if you have time. But won't waffle on…

(noticed a small typo detail) there's a stray pointy bracket floating around because of a double:


resulting in:

< Australian Storytelling: how was the earth created, according to Australians.


Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Morgan Marshall
September 7, 2000
Subject: Billy and Aunt

Hi Morgan

So far, all I can come up with is a wood engraving of King Billy from the Picturesque atlas of Australasia. Vol. II p. 497. c 1886.

King Billy was a Tasmanian Aborigine. I would assume that he was of scientific interest because the scientific community was interested in explaining aboriginal migration patterns and the origins of Tasmanians. They were so different from mainland Aborigines that some thought they had come from Africa.

King Billy from Picturesque Atlas of Australasia. Vol. II p. 497. c 1886

One of my father's companions on his 1933 journey into central Australia was a fascinating man called Stanley Larnach. His life's work was to write a 2 volume tome on aboriginal craniology. In other words he studied skulls. He wanted to find out if Australian Aborigines were the result of one migration or successive waves and developed a finely tuned set of measurement criteria from collecting skulls from all over the world.

He had no trouble collecting skulls in central Australia. See:


I believe he concluded that Australian Aborigines were the result of a single migration from the East (not the north) and that their closest relatives were, in fact, Melanesians.

Craniology is now a discipline that the scientific world has moved away from. It is also an emotive subject and the fate and politics of skeletal remains has become the subject of considerable anguish among indigenous communities all over the world.

Some of the prevailing attitudes to the aboriginal population in the late 19th century can also be extracted from the following poem published in The Bulletin, 26 January 1895. It's by one the famous Australian poets, Banjo Paterson, and is called 'Johnson's Antidote' - it mentions King Billy and even gives us some idea of how the scientists were generally regarded.

Down along the Snakebite River, where the overlanders camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp;
Where the station-cook in terror, nearly every time he bakes,
Mixes up among the doughboys half-a-dozen poison-snakes:
Where the wily free-selector walks in armour-plated pants,
And defies the stings of scorpions, and the bites of bull-dog ants:
Where the adder and the viper tear each other by the throat,
There it was that William Johnson sought his snake-bite antidote.

Johnson was a free-selector, and his brain went rather queer,
For the constant sight of serpents filled him with a deadly fear;
So he tramped his free-selection, morning, afternoon, and night,
Seeking for some great specific that would cure the serpent's bite.
Till King Billy, of the Mooki, chieftain of the flour-bag head,
Told him, `Spos'n snake bite pfeller, pfeller mostly drop down dead;
Spos'n snake bite old goanna, then you watch a while you see,
Old goanna cure himself with eating little pfeller tree.'
`That's the cure,' said William Johnson, `point me out this plant sublime,'
But King Billy, feeling lazy, said he'd go another time.
Thus it came to pass that Johnson, having got the tale by rote,
Followed every stray goanna, seeking for the antidote.

Loafing once beside the river, while he thought his heart would break,
There he saw a big goanna fighting with a tiger-snake,
In and out they rolled and wriggled, bit each other, heart and soul,
Till the valiant old goanna swallowed his opponent whole.
Breathless, Johnson sat and watched him, saw him struggle up the bank,
Saw him nibbling at the branches of some bushes, green and rank;
Saw him, happy and contented, lick his lips, as off he crept,
While the bulging in his stomach showed where his opponent slept.
Then a cheer of exultation burst aloud from Johnson's throat;
`Luck at last,' said he, `I've struck it! 'tis the famous antidote.'

`Here it is, the Grand Elixir, greatest blessing ever known,
Twenty thousand men in India die each year of snakes alone.
Think of all the foreign nations, negro, chow, and blackamoor,
Saved from sudden expiration, by my wondrous snakebite cure.
It will bring me fame and fortune! In the happy days to be,
Men of every clime and nation will be round to gaze on me --
Scientific men in thousands, men of mark and men of note,
Rushing down the Mooki River, after Johnson's antidote.
It will cure Delirium Tremens, when the patient's eyeballs stare
At imaginary spiders, snakes which really are not there.
When he thinks he sees them wriggle, when he thinks he sees them bloat,
It will cure him just to think of Johnson's Snakebite Antidote.'

Then he rushed to the museum, found a scientific man --
`Trot me out a deadly serpent, just the deadliest you can;
I intend to let him bite me, all the risk I will endure,
Just to prove the sterling value of my wondrous snakebite cure.
Even though an adder bit me, back to life again I'd float;
Snakes are out of date, I tell you, since I've found the antidote.'

Said the scientific person, `If you really want to die,
Go ahead -- but, if you're doubtful, let your sheep-dog have a try.
Get a pair of dogs and try it, let the snake give both a nip;
Give your dog the snakebite mixture, let the other fellow rip;
If he dies and yours survives him, then it proves the thing is good.
Will you fetch your dog and try it?' Johnson rather thought he would.
So he went and fetched his canine, hauled him forward by the throat.
`Stump, old man,' says he, `we'll show them we've the genwine antidote.'

Both the dogs were duly loaded with the poison-gland's contents;
Johnson gave his dog the mixture, then sat down to wait events.
`Mark,' he said, `in twenty minutes Stump'll be a-rushing round,
While the other wretched creature lies a corpse upon the ground.'
But, alas for William Johnson! ere they'd watched a half-hour's spell
Stumpy was as dead as mutton, t'other dog was live and well.
And the scientific person hurried off with utmost speed,
Tested Johnson's drug and found it was a deadly poison-weed;
Half a tumbler killed an emu, half a spoonful killed a goat,
All the snakes on earth were harmless to that awful antidote.

Down along the Mooki River, on the overlanders' camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp,
Wanders, daily, William Johnson, down among those poisonous hordes,
Shooting every stray goanna, calls them `black and yaller frauds'.
And King Billy, of the Mooki, cadging for the cast-off coat,
Somehow seems to dodge the subject of the snake-bite antidote.

I'll see what else I can dig up.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Morgan Marshall
September 7, 2000
Subject: Billy and Aunt

Hi Morgan

Are you are asking about King Billy? Can you provide a little more contextual information about what you are interested in finding out?


Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Maud Scheydeker
August 30, 2000
Subject: Research for a memoir

Hi Maud

>desperately looking for information! I am currently working on my Master of Arts the subject of which is:'The quest of identity of the Whites through the Aborigines in the Australian post colonial novel'.

I'll have to give this some thought but two books that immediately come to mind are:

1. Remembering Babylon by David Malouf (Vintage 1994)

2. 'The Songlines' by Bruce Chatwin (1988 Penguin)

You might also be interested in the list in footnote (5) at:

What do you mean by post-colonial novel?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Charles Merrill
August 20, 2000
Subject: Churinga conversation


>Do you know John Harkey other than the conversation 2000? He solicited funds from me to pay his family's expenses to take a trip to Australia.

This sounds ominous. My only contact with John Harkey has been by email. Except, that I sent him a photocopy of a book of collected essays about the politics of what he was doing, by surface mail. And, generally introduced him to a variety of people in central Australia that I thought might be of use in his quest.

His first email arrived on March 28th 2000-08-18 and you should be able to follow the thread to its recent conclusion from there:

At one point he requested that his message should not be displayed - I have respected this request. I can say that it does not concern funding or his family. Indeed I was not aware that he brought his family.

As I have contributed considerable time (and some postage) to his quest, I'd be interested to know more about the matter between you. I have to say that he has always been courteous to me and I would be surprised if there were any irregularities in what appeared to be a well intentioned mission.

Regards Simon Pockley continue conversation thread

Reply to Pippa Edwards
August 17, 2000
Subject: Lasseter's reef

Hi Pippa

Thank you for your courteous and considerate message. The copy of Lasseter's Diary is taken from a facsimile of the original. Yes - it is real - although there have been many questions asked about whether the reef of gold really exists.

The note associated with this diary:

is as follows:

Lewis Hurbert Lasseter, born in 1880, claimed in 1929 that 18 years earlier, he had discovered a vast gold bearing reef in Central Australia, at the western edge of the Macdonnell Ranges. He later changed his story, giving a date that would have made him 17 at the time. In 1930 he accompanied an expedition that turned back after finding nothing. Lasseter remained with one man, with whom he quarreled. Left alone, he watched his two camels bolt into the bush. He lived with Aborigines for the next four months but died of starvation. Rescuers found his body and buried it. His diary claimed that he had rediscovered his lost reef and pegged his claim.

There is a link from this note to my father's diary entry about a discussion concerning Lasseter when he arrived at Hermannsburg mission in January 1933.

You have my full permission to use any of this material for your assignment. If you need more, then there is also a rights statement at:

Good luck with your writing. I'd love to see what you write and would be happy to publish it on this site if you are interested.

It's a great story!

Regards Simon Pockley

Reply to Philomena Downey
August 16, 2000
Subject: sad games


>Imperialism and colonialism are inherent in ther formations
>through which you entice a 'knowing' and 'naming' of Indigenous communities

Yes - I think the opposite.

'The Flight of Ducks' is not about indigenous communities at all.
On one level it is about the journey of the son around the father.
On another, about journeys into an imagined landscape.
On another, about my own journey into a datascape.
On another, about other peoples journeys.

Just to make sure that there was no confusion,
I retraced my father's (imagined) journey in 1996,
found descendants of the people through whose country this expedition travelled
and gained their permission to tell this story.

I assume - by your tone, that you claim ownership of some other territory
through which you have imagined or conceived of some trespass.

What I find so interesting in all this is how many of these journeys are imaginary.
But that doesn't make them any less real - does it? (I guess you won't reply)

Regards Simon

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Philomena Downey
August 8, 2000
Subject: very clever! isn't about time you took this off the web?


I can assure you Philomena, that I have no craving for this kind of engagement. You can spit and fume as much as you like, but please understand that there is a responsive person at the other end.

I take you remarks very seriously and I'm genuinely interested to know what you have seen or heard that has caused such offence. You can accuse me of playing sad games but it's sadder still if I don't know what you are talking about. I promise you that I'm not stubborn, I don't think of you as a `bunny' and I don't feel like I'm being eaten from the inside.

We all have a story to tell and a a way of telling it.

>The standard reply of someone too stubborn to admit... and craving to engage in as many rationalisations of their position as possible. No thanks, pick another bunny to play your sad games with. At the end of the day it will eat you from the inside out is all I can say.


Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to John Harkey
August 7, 2000
Subject: Churinga


I'm very pleased that it worked out well. Now that you have been through this journey - have you any advice you could give me?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to John Harkey
August 7, 2000
Subject: Churinga


I've been wondering how you were going.
Glad it was a success.
How did you find Central Australia?
tell me more.

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Philomena Downey
August 7, 2000
Subject: very clever! isn't about time you took this off the web?


>very clever! isn't about time you took this off the web?
>or is this meant to be a monument to your insensitivity.

I'm sorry if I have offended you - could you explain how am I being insensitive? what would you suggest I do?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to
July 6, 2000
Subject: Collection of photographs

>I am inquiring who's collection your photographs belong to?
>or are they your photographs?
>Also do you have any documentation to go with them?

This is actually quite a complex question - I guess it's a metadata question. I've done my best to answer it in 'Blinding the Duck' - see:

I see you are from the South Australian Museum… Buried in the archives of the work are conversations with Philip Jones and Chris Anderson. I know Chris has left - is Philip still around?

If you are looking for a context for all this, then have a quick look at:

Always happy to answer anything - what's your interest?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Jim Harris
July 21, 2000
Subject: Credibility affected by Spelling etc.?

Thanks Jim

This is a haunting reminder of the persistence of error, and to my shame, my lack of attention to detail. I have now amended as per your suggestions.

>is there any progress yet?

I'm pleased to say that there has been considerable progress since this (draft) statement from the mists 1997. Cinemedia is now steaming along with a creative director and a small army of curators.

The old `Flight of Ducks' is a bit of an unweeded garden these days, mainly because I am so busy with the metadata (XML) for Screen Gallery titles, but I thank you for your interest and comment.

What led to you to this ancient document?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Katja Horstmann
June 20, 2000
Subject: Report about the Aboriginees in Australia


> I want to write a report about the Aboriginees in Australia, how they live, what is their culture, what are their traditions and how are they influenced in their life by the tourism and by the Olympic Games.

This is a large and complex topic - not easy for any one person to answer - particularly in the brief space of an email.

My own interest in Aborigines began when I began to ask about the traces left by Aborigines around the edge of Sydney harbour where I grew up in the 1950s. Most (if not all) of these traces have now been obliterated by urban development.

My interest was kindled by the stories my father told me about an expedition into central Australia in 1933. This is now the subject of an on-line documentary called `The Flight of Ducks'.

In 1996, I took my own children on an expedition to discover the remnants and descendants of the people he met and saw.

These days, there is a fair amount of unfinished business between people of Aboriginal descent and the increasingly urban population of Australia. There is also a tension between the longings of non-aboriginal people for what they perceive to be a traditional culture and the realisation that Aborigines now live in the 21st century. To some extent this has meant that Aborigines in Australia have become prisoners of `traditional' culture. The Olympic Games may act as a lens through which the rest of the world not only sees Aboriginal people in the context of an international event but is shown a common future where all cultural individuality is subsumed into the global uniformity of a brand driven mercantile culture.

Rummage around `The Flight of Ducks' and you may get a glimpse of what I am talking about.

Feel free to ask specific questions.

Good luck with your report - I'd be interested in what you have to say if you could cc me a copy.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Nick Buettner
June 15, 2000
Subject: Australia Quest

Hi Nick

>I am writing you today is because our team is currently trying to decide on the mystery and direction the team will go. We are right now looking at possibly trying to teach kids about the Aboriginal culture in Australia and you might be a good people talk to about that as well as helping us find a possible teammate for the Quest.

I'm not really sure what you want me to do?

`The Flight of Ducks' is an on-line documentary about issues arising from an expedition into central Australia in 1933.

As it is visited by about 26,000 people each month, I've found that one source of mystery and fascination is Lasseter's `lost' reef of gold.

You could build a Quest around this journal. It would, by necessity, involve investigations into Aboriginal culture and country.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Eugene Simon
June 14, 2000
Subject: Lionel Rose


Lionel Rose won the world title in 1968 when he beat Masahiko 'Fighting' Harada of Japan. In 1969 Lionel lost his world bantamweight title to Mexican, Ruben Olivares. He gave the world title belt he won in 1968 to the young boy, Tjandamurra O'Shane to help inspire his recovery from the burn injuries received in a brutal and unprovoked attack.

Lionel Rose

I'm told that the best source of information is the book, `Rose against the Odds' which I guess you might find on-line.

Hope this helps.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Evan Spencer
June 13, 2000
Subject: Lasseter


You may remember visiting `The Flight of Ducks' and asking me about Lasseter's dairy. I've now finished scanning it - if you are still interested:

Regards Simon continue thread

Reply to Gina Dwamena
June 9, 2000
Subject: pls help


>I have keloid on my left ear, I've tried every medicine i have heard of, but its still not working. I recently had an operation but its came back Please help me. I'm desperate.

I guess you've arrived at this site because of the reference to the keloid-like scars my father saw on Australian Aborigines in 1933.

I'll post your message if you like - because the site has about 26,000 visitors a month And someone might just have an answer.

I wish you well in your search for a cure.

Regards Simon continue thread

Reply to Frank Bailey
June 1, 2000
Subject: Walkabout


Yeah - I know what your saying - I did this in reverse.

Went bush from inner city Sydney in 1974
Drawn to a little valley high in the Warrumbungle Mountains
and lived there, off the land, shooting my food etc.
I was 25 and the years of solitude sent me a bit feral.
Years passed and I got tired of sleeping on the ground
and built myself a little tower

among the scribbly gums.

There is no road to this place but one day in October I heard a car.
People arrived with cameras and a tape recorder.
I fell in love with one of them
At first sight.

They left after a few days.
But she came back and we produced three children etc

Now we live in the city - in Melbourne - so they can go to school etc.
But the Warrumbungles is their real home and we get there when we need to.

Last year one of my daughters (aged 16) caught a bus a thousand miles
to the local town
arrived at 2:00 am and walked out the 20 k.

It's snowing there today.
The internet gives me eyes and ears.

I mentioned poor David Gulpilil because
was sent to jail recently for repeated drink driving offences
The exposure and notoriety of Walkabout ruined his life.

I sure like these fleeting contacts.
Look me up too if you ever come this way.
I have nephew on a ranch in Montana - is that near Grove City, PA?
What is PA?

Regards Simon Pockley

Reply to Sylvain F. Kessler
May 31, 2000
Subject: Bienvenue


Lorem Ipsum?

Regardez vous?


Simon Pockley

Reply to Daniel Stolper
May 31, 2000
Subject: Lasseter


>information on Lasseter or some translations of his diaries

Sorry for my silence but I've been away.

Yes, the Lasseter Diary is hard to read at times but have not got the time to type it up.

Have improved my scanning since the early screens and need to go back to them once I've finished the last 20 or so pages. Hope to do this over the next few weeks.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Frank Bailey
May 22, 2000
Subject: Walkabout


You transport me to my own childhood
whirling bull roarers around and waiting for the string to break
- the genuine article back then.

I fear that I broke a few.

These days we're not really allowed to own them because they are considered secret/sacred objects
- cultural appropriation etc etc.

Don't worry about the film - I work amongst 60,000 titles and a passionate staff.
Once we locate the right version - it'll be easy.

Thanks for your suggestions about the rough side.
I find a hardwood like ironbark works best because of the weight.
The central Australian ones were usually made of mulga or gidgii - very hard.

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to John Harkey
May 19, 2000
Subject: Churinga


The transparency of `The Flight of Ducks' is something I encourage
because it extends the past into the present (and visa versa).
People have often observed that this work acts like a kind of campfire
around which we can tell these stories.

You probably don't appreciate that there are actually few places in Australia today
where these stories can be told
and there are many people who follow these threads with interest
(that's how I came to see the churinga at e-bay).

Some of them, are people like yourself,
(who may never make direct contact with me)
who are seeking to understand the complexity of these issues.
Sometimes I've discovered later that they make their own contacts with participants - leaving us out.
These private whispers are fascinating because they are felt as silence.
They are the currents and undertows that give human dimensions to these stories.

Above all, I try to encourage a generosity of spirit by giving generously myself.
This leaves me vulnerable to attack and exploitation - or worse
- to misinterpretation.
But I've nothing to hide - my intentions are honorable.

I'll (of course) respect your wishes and keep your messages off-line until I have clearance from you.

As for more contacts:

I assume you have made contact with a key figure in all this - Aboriginal elder/leader, Gus Williams

Gus Williams
Hermannsburg, N.T. 0872
( I have his phone number somewhere)

Gus has a lot on his plate.
You must understand that these issues rate low on the list of top priorities.
When I was in Hermannsburg in 1996, it was not a happy place.
Higher on the list are issues such as high death rates, nutrition, drug and alcohol
abuse, petrol sniffing, child abuse, depression, welfare dependency etc etc.

The needs of outsiders seeking to feel good about themselves
because of misconceived notions about the purity and veracity of indigenous
cultures are accommodated - eventually. But they have to be patient.

Another important person is local historian, Dick Kimber
(he has a piece in `The Politics of the Secret').

Give Philip my regards when you talk.

Regards Simon Continue conversation thread

Reply to John Harkey
May 19, 2000
Subject: Churinga


Chris Anderson is now the General Manager of Public Affairs at Normandy Mining - a gold mining company. He is away at the moment, but you can probably contact him my email.

phone. 61 08 82077500

Feel free to use my name if you do. He knows all about `The Flight of Ducks' and has given me advice on several occasions.

Have you tried Phillip Jones at the Museum of South Australia?

My e-bay churinga arrived and looks genuine.


Simon Pockley

Regards Simon Continue conversation thread

Reply to Frank Bailey
May 19, 2000
Subject: Walkabout


What version of `Walkabout' are you talking about?

There are a number of films with the same title.

Director? Year?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Nally family
April 10, 2000
Subject: Albert Namatjira

Nally family

Albert Namatjira lived and worked out of Hermannsburg Mission. However, his life story is a sad one.

He was probably in his late 20s when my father visited Hermannsburg in 1933 and I have always wondered if he was influenced by Arthur Murch's paintings and drawings.

There are plenty of books around on him so I suggest you try the library.



Reply to John Harkey
April 19, 2000
Subject: tjurunga


There is a person that might be very useful to you in Alice Springs. His name is Dave Richards. He contacted me several years ago because he wanted to write an article on `The Flight of Ducks'. We spent quite a few hours on the phone and we've sort of got to know each other. Last year he conducted an interview with me for a radio program he runs. As far as I know, the article was never published. I have no idea if the radio program went to air.

However, my impression of Dave is that he is a good bloke with integrity. He would, of course, be very interested in your story as he works for the ABC (Govt. broadcaster). I'm sure would not impose on you if you wanted to keep it private. Seems that he is on leave until Monday but I've left a message for him to ring me so I'll ask if he'll have you to stay. At the very least he will have all the right contacts (aboriginal and non-aboriginal) and you will need them - believe me.

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Phillip Sadler
April 16, 2000
Subject: Lasseter's Diary

Dear Phillip

If you are talking about the one that is only half scanned - in The Flight of Ducks:

Yes - of course you can have a copy.
However, I'm very pressed for time these days
so it might be quicker just to print out what is on-line.
My priority would be to finish scanning it and marking it up in XML
- so that it is available to all.


Simon Pockley

Reply to Diane Emerson
April 8, 2000
Subject: flight


>I am looking flight details and prices for 2 adults travelling from Belfast to Perth

Hmm.. not sure how you have done this but the site you are asking questions of, `The Flight of Ducks' is an on-line documentary about a camel expedition into central Australia in 1933:

If you are interested in Aboriginal issues or the interior then it may be of interest. I see you are staying for a year. So if you happen to be in Melbourne give me a ring on (03) 9651 2184 - come to dinner - tell stories. Who knows? - we may become friends. Safe trip.

Regards Simon

Reply to Leah
April 6, 2000
Subject: cultural sensitive


I think most of this work was done in the US in relation to the Stanford Binet IQ tests And relates to questions with obvious cultural bias such as, `When you stack the dishwasher, how many…' . In other words it assumes you are familiar with dishwashers - that sort of thing.

You should also seek out the work of Hans Eysink (not sure how to spell his name) He did a lot of work on race and intelligence which (I think) was discredited. However, the controversy surrounding the work would provide you with material.

You will find an instance of such thinking in `The Flight of Ducks' in relation to An ironic statement about amusement from ice. See

I'd be interested to know what you find out. Good hunting.

Regards Simon

Reply to Mary Katic
April 5, 2000
Subject: aboriginal protection in South Australia


Sorry - can't help on this one - but a legal person could point you to it.

Regards Simon

Reply to John Harkey
Mar 30, 2000
Subject: tjurunga stone


You can buy me a beer one day (or night) when we sit down and tell stories and laugh about the underside. Ok?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to John Harkey
Mar 30, 2000
Subject: tjurunga stone


I am an advocate of transparency and pluralism in these matters - as long as no individual is hurt or distressed. So you can do what ever you like with my words and the material I have accessible on-line. But thanks for asking.

I am not up to date with the politics of the South Australian Museum but there was some disagreement amongst staff concerning the handling of tjurunga. I had some very interesting discussions recently with Hart Cohen (Strehlow Research Foundation) concerning the auction of artefacts from the private Strehlow collection. Chris Anderson (a previous director) made an appearance on TV in a program called `Sacred Journey' (I can send you a copy on video if you like) in which he attempted to document the process of returning some photographs of tjurunga to a group of Aborigines in central Australia. Whether he was naïve or simply a dupe of the producer, we may never know, but the result was an atrocious piece of new age waffle and self promotion. This was unfortunate because Chris writes very eloquently and intelligently about the issues and has considerable experience and expertise in negotiations with Aboriginal groups. I have exchanged emails with him on several occasions concerning matters to do with my own collection.

Philip Jones completed a Ph.D. a few years ago on the subject of Tjurunga (I've yet to see it). He also used to work for the South Australian Museum and seems to present a more considered view - not sure if he is still there but I'll ask him.

You will need to verify the following for yourself, but the story I heard was that in 1985 the Commonwealth Police raided the house of one of Strehlow's sons and confiscated various aboriginal artefacts. These were then handed to the South Australian Museum and various tjurunga found their way to the Central Lands Council for repatriation. From that point on they vanished only to reappear some weeks later in New York where they were sold to a private collector. I am told, (and this is sensitive) that the man within the Central Lands Council who was responsible for agitating for the return of these artefacts was in fact the man selling them to dealers - hearsay only.

In 1995 I sent copies of all my photographs to a non aboriginal anthropologist in the Central Lands Council. He left and there appears to be no record of the photographs ever having arrived. I ended up going there myself. This trip is recorded in`The Flight of Ducks' at:

You will often hear the name `Strehlow'. So, it might be appropriate, at this point to mention that Strehlow, who grew up at Hermannsburg as an Arranda and made keeper of various secrets and objects (including tjurunga), did not believe that today's Arranda were entitled to them. He died in disgrace but his story is important because it continues to have an impact on the political agenda - mainly because of the vast repository of the tjurunga he collected held at the South Australian Museum.

As I said before, there is nothing simple about any of this, but I'm glad you are approaching it with an open heart and an agile mind. You might also be interested in an essay I wrote about some of these issues entitled `Blinding the Duck' :

Do you want me to photocopy the Monograph and dub the video - You could have them in a week?

Regards Simon continue conversation thread

Reply to Thierry
Mar 29, 2000
Subject: Lasseter's reef


It's not a book - it's an on-line documentary and so far (since 1995) - it's free.

What is it that you want to know?

Regards Simon Pockley

Reply to John Harkey
Mar 28, 2000
Subject: tjurunga stone


Thanks for your email - I'm glad you have been in touch with The South Australian Museum. Philip Jones is THE man to talk to. The most illuminating text you could read about the issues at stake is a collection of Monographs edited by Chris Anderson entitled `Politics of the Secret' Oceania Monograph 45 , University of Sydney 1995. In particular, the piece by Philip Jones `Objects of Mystery and Concealment - a history of tjurunga collecting'.

I quote:

`During the course of the last century no other object has excited so much conjecture, been more desired or commanded a higher price than the tjurunga of Central Australia. The controversy surrounding collections such as that of T.G.H. Strehlow during the 1980s and 1990s has helped to elevate these objects to allegorical status...'

With the custody of 6 wooden tjurunga, I too contacted all the organisations you refer to - initially, with the similar good intentions. What I discovered was a seething can of worms in which political and person agenda prevailed.

Your questions should include answers as to why:

1. Tjurunga fetch high prices in New York (in 1994 a single tjurunga fetched US$50,000.00).
2. In returning a tjurunga you may do more harm to individuals than good.
3. There is a fair chance that the tjurunga will be sold to American dealers within weeks of its return.

If you can't get hold of the monograph above I'm happy to send you relevant pieces from it.

>Where do you live?

I live in Melbourne at the moment - although my real home is a 1000 miles to the north in a Mountain Range called the Warrumbungles.


Simon Pockley continue conversation thread

Reply to Cassandra
Mar 28, 2000


Of course, `make up' is a term with cultural meaning. So, you will probably have to think more about face or body paint.

There is mention of some blood and emu fat in `The Flight of Ducks' and a lonk to a photograph at

Different tribes had different practices and traditions, for example some of the northern tribes in central Australia collected blood during the initiation ceremonies of both young men and women and this was smeared on the women's foreheads and breasts.

The deposits of red ochre which are found in various parts of central Australia are also associated with women's blood. Near Stuart's Hole on the Finke River there is a deposit which has been used for ceremonial purposes for a long time.

Objects were also often coated with mixtures of red ochre, fat and blood. I would suggest you look at Spencer and Gillen's work if you want pictures of designs etc.


Simon Pockley

Reply to John Harkey
Mar 28, 2000
Subject: tjurunga stone


Happy to send you any transcription - just let me know what screens interest you. As for tjurunga - there is a great deal to be said and learnt. You will not find much on tjurunga in `The Flight of Ducks' because the issues have become so politically charged However, I can point you to people who can help and who have a great deal of experience in the repatriation of artefacts.

By way of background to the site I quote from the following:

After my father's death in 1990 I extracted from his belongings a collection of artefacts, journals and several hundred photographs relating to a camel expedition into Central Australia in 1933. Some of the rarest artefacts (stone tjurunga) were missing. The journal was barely legible and many of the surviving negatives, stored in rusty cigarette tins for 57 years, had deteriorated.

The view that there is a responsibility to send this collection into the future, because it is of historical importance, is a cultural value not shared by everyone. Perhaps it is the journey of the son around the father. Perhaps it is simply that this collection is part of my own cultural memory, but I feel a duty to protect it. The collection has significance today because it opens a window into a time and place from where many recollections are now a source of national anguish and pain.

for more see:

I don't have much time today, but I'll be back to you by the end of the week.


Simon Pockley continue conversation thread

Reply to Pierdomenico Baccalario
Mar 16, 2000
Subject: hi friend


Sad because, as best I remember, Buckley was made the protector of Aborigines in Tasmania and they all died. See the film `The Last Tasmanian'.

Give me a few days - I'll see if I can find some books for you. `SongLines' is not a `true' book it is a `new age' projection onto a people subject to such projections since the beginnings of white settlement.

Stay with the humour

ciao Simon

Reply to Pierdomenico Baccalario
Mar 15, 2000
Subject: hi friend


William Buckley was an interesting character. His sad story is fairly well documented in a number of books. Sad for the Aborigines - that is)

You might also be interested in David Malouf's `Remembering Babylon' or T.G.H. Strehlow's story

Some fun would be a welcome change. Most of the focus these days is on misery and abuse.

Good luck with your story - I'd be interested - in reading it - if you have time.

Regards Simon Pockley

Reply to Patricia Palmer
Mar 8, 2000
Subject: Killing the Ducks


The ducks are still quacking.

Thanks for your time and suggestions - I feel a little embarrassed.
I have not visited this text for some time.
It is high time I updated it to reflect the developments in XML and current thinking.

Back in January 1997 I had a terrible time with this and other papers that had been written in HTML . I was asked to combine them into a single test document with page numbers etc. At the time, the only way I could find to do it was to use MS Office 97. The version I was using had bugs in it and very strange things happened. Sentences were left out and spelling was gratuitously changed. For example, `American Memory' was turned into `American Money'. I ended up making many alterations during my search for mistakes. When this was finished I tried to save it as HTML in order to reflect the changes in the on-line version. Office 97 re-wrote all the mark-up as badly nested elements (not supported by Netscape). I had to go back and do it all by hand again.

You probably have to deal with this sort of thing all the time.
It's certainly going to make work for editors.

I have responded to all your suggestions except for the first:

> The correct quote is: THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE

I was referring to the title of his most famous book (see below) `The Medium is the Massage'. Perhaps I should make a footnote to avoid confusion.

Kind regards Simon

Reply to Middlemist
Mar 7, 2000
Subject: aboriginal man with spear

The spears that I have seen are made from wood - usually Tecoma Australis or desert oak (Casuarina Decaisneana)

Traditionally, spears were of various kinds depending on the country the people lived in or traded with, and the use to which the spear was put.

There were heavy spears made from one piece or hardwood, those with stone flake heads, barbed prongs, and short light spears for catching fish. The stone flakes and hardwood points were attached with spinifex resin and bound with string. Sometimes they were ornamented with yellow or red ochre or both. In the handle there is usually a small depression for the point of the spear thrower. Often the shaft had to be straightened by heating it over a fire and bending it straight.

I hope this helps

Regards Simon Pockley

Reply to Ralf Folds
Feb 22, 2000
Subject: Katingura - Pintupi tribesman


I too had permission from descendants of some of the people depicted in `The Flight of Ducks' who were also interested in the photos. But that meant nothing to those snivelling non-aboriginal advisors who see themselves as the guardians of Aboriginal `culture'. One of these, who worked for the Central Lands Council even referred to himself as `the thought police'.

I Regards

have quite a number of Mountford's books (including the pulped one) so I'll check them out tonight when I go home tonight. I've seen it before - perhaps it was in `Brown Men and Red Sand'. Maybe it was in the portrait book.

Nurture your Pintupi relationships.


Reply to Ralf Folds
Feb 21, 2000
Subject: Katingura - Pintupi tribesman


Without seeing the photo (scanned as an attachment) I am unable to help you with its origin.

However, as you may be aware, Mountford got himself into deep trouble by publishing photographs of Pitjantjatjara people. His book `Nomads of the Australian Desert' was subsequently pulped.


For general discussion see:

In order to get clearance you will

a. have to contact the executors of his estate b. begin negotiations with the Pintupi community

As someone who has been through the second part of this process I am probably not the person from whom to seek advice. Before you do anything rash, like ring the Central Lands Council in Alice Springs talk to John Thompson at The National Library in Canberra.

Happy to talk about these issues anytime.


Simon Pockley