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It is with delight that we continue our interview with the talented Catherine Bauer, discussing more about her latest book, Australia Remembers; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly. Here, she reveals what she finds most inspiring about Len Waters and the impact of her research into his life. Thanks for reading Part 1, and now Part 2…
Congratulations on the release of Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly! Can you tell us a bit about this inspiring RAAF pilot?
Thanks Romi! I must say I am quietly very proud of this book. It involved a huge amount of research and cultural consultation. It was a real team effort. I think the result is a tribute to Len, to all First Nations defence personnel and those who continue to serve in the defence of Australia. Len was an extraordinary man who didn’t let social, political or cultural obstacles get in the way of his ambitions. His dream was to fly planes. He had a strong drive and he worked hard to realise his passion.
What do you admire most about Len Waters?
Many things, but I think his most standout qualities were his quiet confidence, the way he harnessed his natural abilities and didn’t let go of his dreams. When things get tough it can be so easy to just give up. His story is a reminder to keep pushing.
What was the most interesting piece of research discovered whilst planning Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly?
I really enjoyed my many conversations with Aunty Lenise – Len’s eldest daughter. I felt that through her I got to know the real Len, beyond what’s in official historical sites. She told me how as a child Len recruited his Mum and sisters to help make his small wooden aeroplanes. He had a little production line going! She said Len probably got his hard work ethic from his dad who caused a local stir when he went to pay for the family’s new home in St George with a sugar bag filled with cash!
Favourite part/s of Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly?
I like that we’ve been able to weave Len’s personal story in amongst a host of wider interesting First Nations cultural and spiritual information. I love the way the design breaks up information to also include bite-sized historical information, fun facts and suggested activities. There’s something to engage with and think about on each page.
Do you have a favourite Indigenous tradition / piece of culture?
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to several Welcome to Country ceremonies.A Welcome to Country is a ceremony performed by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Elders, or Traditional Owners who have been given permission, to welcome visitors onto their traditional land. The practise of welcoming visitors to Country has been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Traditionally, ATSI groups had clear boundaries separating their Country from that of other groups. Crossing into another group’s Country required a request for permission to enter. When permission was granted, the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual being during the journey. Today, these protocols have been adapted to fit with modern life. But, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place. A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event, and can take many forms, including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies, or a speech in traditional language or English.
What are your suggestions for engaging Indigenous or aircraft activities to do with children?
I relate to the totem tradition where young children are associated at birth with certain qualities. I’d suggest encouraging children to think about their own qualities and what their animal totem might be – it might be anything from a cat, to a cheetah, to an eagle or even a koala or an echidna. The book actually includes a simple guide to making your own bi-plane.
Next book in the Australia Remembers series…
The next book in the series is Australia Remembers 4: The Bombing of Darwin 1942. It is written by Dr Tom Lewis, a resident of the NT, ex-Navy and teacher who has published widely for adults in military matters, including several books for adults on the bombing of Darwin. It will be released in February next year to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Darwin.
Sounds absolutely fascinating! Thanks so much for the terrific interview, Catherine! 🙂
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