UWS academic uncovers a terribly wild man

Date: 20/06/2002

The life and times of one of Australia's most controversial Aboriginal activists, Ernest Gribble, have been immortalised in print for the first time by UWS academic, Dr Christine Halse.

The result of more than 10 years hard work, 'A Terribly Wild Man,' is the first-ever biography of the public and private life of our nation's most famous Anglican missionary.

According to Dr Halse, the book provides a unique insight into the soul of a man who helped shape race relations in our country and the lives of thousands of Aboriginal Australians.

"Ernie Gribble was the force behind the development of some of the most prominent and politically significant Aboriginal communities in Northern Australia," she says.

"His single-minded championing of Aboriginal rights made him powerful enemies and his campaign for an investigation into one of the last great massacres of Aboriginals in the 1920s put Australia in the international spotlight. But despite this, his life story has remained largely untold until now."

For Dr Halse, the biography has been a labour of love.

"I have always been interested in relations between cultures and communities and decided to write this book because Gribble's story touches emotions and experiences we all share," she says.

"It's about human frailty and resilience, success and defeat, love and lust, and an ordinary Australian who did extraordinary things that changed Australia forever."

"I began researching Gribble's life in the mid-1980s and was confronted with chaos. The archives which held his life history were literally in disarray, so I packed my bags and set off for remote northern Queensland and Western Australia and talked to the elders who had lived on Gribble's missions 60 years earlier."

"I wanted this book to be much more than just a biographical account of Ernest Gribble's life, I wanted to give readers an opportunity to get inside the heads and motives of people who created the need for reconciliation and the issues that still haunt Australia today."

Dr Christine Halse will be signing copies of her new book 'A Terribly Wild Man' published by Allen & Unwin at Moirs Bookshop in Lane Cove on Saturday 22nd June at 11am.

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