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July 11, 2024

CityMag reviews Aboriginal cultural collection

Looking for your next great read? Let our Adelaide City Libraries team take you through recommendations from our Aboriginal Culture Collection as we celebrate NAIDOC Week this July.

  • This article was produced in collaboration with Adelaide City Libraries.
  • Graphic by Jayde Vandborg.

Created in consultation with members of the Kaurna community, this collection highlights Aboriginal authors, stories and issues. With diverse formats and genres and award-winning titles, there’s something for everyone.


This is part of a series of articles that takes a closer look within the shelves of the Adelaide City Libraries’. See more titles here.


We Are Australians
by Duncan Smith and Nicole Godwin with paintings by Jandamarra Cadd

Children’s Picture Book recommended by Prue

Written by Warudjuri Country born Duncan Smith and award-winning author Nicole Godwin, children’s picture book We are Australians delivers a powerful message with its poetic text and captivating illustrations – so captivating that Jandamarra Cadd, a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung man, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council Awards for New Illustrator in 2023.

Using a mixture of traditional Aboriginal art and photography, the stunning images underpin this deceptively simple story, that asks readers to reflect on what it means to be an Australian citizen.

Whether you were born here, travelled here, or have been here for tens of thousands of years, we all have responsibilities to our land, our community, and our country.

A worthy read and a feast for the eyes for all ages.


Ghost Bird
by Lisa Fuller

Young Adult Fiction recommended by Vicki

This complex teen fiction by Wuilli Wuilli woman Lisa Fuller is the story of twin sisters who while physically alike have totally different personalities. Stacey is the academic desperate to do well at school and escape their small town. Laney would rather skip school and do all the things a teenager shouldn’t.

When Laney sneaks out one night and doesn’t return, Stacey has terrifying dreams about what has happened to her. The dreams are confusing and Stacey doesn’t know what is real or imagined – but one thing is sure, Stacey is the only one who can save her.


Visit us at the City Library in July for Kaurna Voices Exhibition featuring a visual snapshot of the Kaurna Voices Cultural Mapping project.

The unbreakable bonds of family are a strong theme in this book. With lies and unspoken truths, dark secrets and dangers warned of by their Nan, this book explores spirituality, beliefs and racism suffered for centuries.


The Final Quarter
by Ian Darling

Documentary DVD recommended by Belinda

The Final Quarter weaves together archival footage and headlines that track the sundown of the career of AFL star Adam Goodes, who played a whopping 372 games, the most of any Indigenous player at the time he retired.

Adam was selected as Australian of the Year in 2014, a privilege that he interpreted as an obligation to seek support for Aboriginal rights and recognition.

This political stance combined with the pile-on he endured for calling out a racially abusive 13-year-old girl at an AFL game against Collingwood in 2013 took a heavy toll on his mental health.

Adam’s perceived over-sensitivity to sixteen weeks of unrelenting on-field booing is the underlying subtext of the coincident commentary, with conservative media blaming Adam for posing as a victim.

Adam, instead of bargaining with legions of predominantly white AFL fans by ignoring historical racism, challenged the status quo as a proud First Nations Australian by refusing to be over-conciliatory as is expected from minorities.

His war cry celebration after a goal against Carlton in May 2015 unleashed further disapproval from pundits, commentators and fans of every stripe.

Adam retired from AFL in September 2015 and did not attend the Grand Final Parade as is tradition.

The Final Quarter is a compulsory viewing for anyone who thinks Australia’s larrikin sporting culture should not be taken too seriously.


Drop into one of the Adelaide City Libraries:

City Library – 3rd Floor Rundle Place (enter off Francis Street)

Hutt Street Library – 235 Hutt Street

North Adelaide Library – 176 Tynte Street

Find out more on Instagram or visit the website.



The Boy from the Mish
by Gary Lonesborough

Young Adult Fiction recommended by Elaine

As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Jackson has more on his plate than most – between the racist cops in town, pressure from his friends about alcohol and a girlfriend he’s not even sure that he likes, Jackson hasn’t really had time to deal with the usual problems of being a teenager.

But it’s summer holidays, school’s out and Jackson’s aunty is visiting with his annoying little cousins.

This year however, she has also brought someone else, the boy from the mish – someone Jackson instantly feels a deep connection with – and suddenly things don’t seem so terrible.

But as their relationship changes, Jackson must face the expectations of those around him and those that he has for himself.

The Boy from the Mish is a fantastic read about being true to yourself and prioritising your own happiness.


After Story
by Larissa Behrendt   

Contemporary Fiction recommended by Ariana


Borrow this title and thousands of eBooks, audiobooks & eMagazines using the Libby app! Log in using your Adelaide City Libraries card and browse books for all ages that you can borrow and enjoy for 21 days.

Larissa Behrendt’s novel is set amid various historical locations in England, as Aboriginal mother and daughter, Della and Jasmine, are holidaying together.

While they undertake a literary book tour, the story explores their troubled relationship by alternating perspectives between the two characters; it is by digging through history, both published and personal, that they discover more about themselves and their tragedy-blighted past.

Larissa’s writing style is deft and light. She cleverly juxtaposes white Eurocentric history and classic authors, such as Austen and the Brontë sisters, with Aboriginal history and their own Cultural Stories – which I learned in this novel is the preferred term for what is typically known as Dreamtime or Dreaming Stories.

Despite containing themes of trauma, loss, shame and guilt, After Story brings healing and hope.

This is a powerful First Australian novel, and one I highly recommend.


You can access films and music online for free with your Adelaide City Libraries card. Stream and download music using Freegal, featuring iconic local Aboriginal band No Fixed Address, contemporary artists such as Electric Fields, King Stingray and Jessica Mauboy, or explore classic acts like the Warumpi Band and Yothu Yindi.

Discover a collection of classic films, documentaries, and indie films on Kanopy or Beamafilm, including Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow documenting the story of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter along with award-winning Australian titles like Ten Canoes, In My Blood It Runs, and The Song Keepers. Become a member to access our Virtual Library now.

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