Bjelke Blues is now officially launched and out in the world! One minute I was making cheese platters, the next we had a full house of excited punters and it was time to start introducing my contributors to read from their pieces.
We had wonderful stories, starting with proud Murri woman, Angelina Hurley who told us about what it was like growing up black in Brisbane during those years, escaping the police, her cousin up a tree in the wasteland that is now South Bank Parklands.
Nicky Peelgrane read from her hilarious piece ‘Sleeping with Joh’ about growing up in a National party household
Renowned UQ agitator, Dan O’Neill, spoke about the Springbok tour and UQ’s part in encouraging activism. And read a bit from Joh’s own autobiography – Don’t You Worry About That!
Artist Jeanelle Hurst spoke about a police mate who saved her from being arrested only to be hounded from the force and persecuted for years.
Warren Ward made us laugh and then shake our heads with his story about being a ‘casual inserter’.
Paul Richards filled us in on the true horror of the legal situation for Aboriginal and Islander people during those dreadful years.
Anne Jones talked about the rise of punk as a reaction to Joh’s repressive tactics.
Then the wonderful Nick Earls read us his story about his encounter with Russ Hinze at the races.
Esteemed historian Raymond Evans officially launched the collection with a great speech, bringing the importance of history like this into the here and now.
‘As young people in that era we marched in the buoyant hope of creating a better world. Young people today are marching again into the face of heavy-handed policing and hostile public opinion, in the desperate hope of saving it,’ he said.
‘We were completely right back then. We were 100% on the right side of history —and we still are right when we stand up and say: “NO TO ADANI! NO, NO TO ADANI!”—as the high school students today chant —just as we once so gamely chanted: “NO, NO TO JOH”’
An electric buzz ran through the room as people shared their march, raid and bust stories. We laughed and shook our heads in dismay. Then I gathered all the contributing writers who were able to make it to the launch onto the stage for a photo. So many of us, we could hardly all fit into the shot!
Before I knew it, the lights were all back on and it was pack up time. Books were sold, old friends were reunited and a good night was had by all. The publisher at AndAlso Books , Matthew Wengert, and I were exhausted but very happy and would like to thank all the contributors and everyone who came along to help us launch Bjelke Blues.
Listen in to the podcast with radio host, screenwriter and academic Angelina Hurley, One of the founders of the Aboriginal and Islander Legal service Paul Richards, and me. It’s a lively conversation!
Join the conversation by coming along to one of our UPCOMING EVENTS
and Books@Stones presents– Bjelke Blues Discussion Panel on Wednesday October 16 at Lady Marmalade in Stones Corner. More details as they come to hand. I can tell you that ex Go-Between John Willsteed will be joining us for that one!
Bjelke Blues has come at just the right time as we again gear up to fight for what we believe in, with many old activists preparing to join the school kids at their march for the environment on Friday the 20th of September in Brisbane.
It’s time – and just quietly – a lot of fun 🙂
Independent bookstores so far stocking Bjelke Blues
Avid Reader, West End
Books @ Stones, Stones Corner
Mary Ryan’s, New Farm
Folio Books, Brisbane CBD
Riverbend Books, Bulimba
State Library of Queensland —Library Shop
Brisbane Writers Festival (5–8 September 2019)
Queensland Museum —Museum Shop
Readings, Hawthorn (Melbourne)
Mary Ryan’s (Milton)
Museum of Brisbane Shop
Better Read Than Dead Newtown (Sydney)
If your local store hasn’t got a copy send them to AndAlso Books!
Thanks so much for your support of this important collection of stories from the not so distant past.
Lots of love