Stories of white pioneering families are commonplace. But how often are we presented with a Koorie family story that stretches back through the generations to contact? That Daughter of Two Worlds performs such a feat is remarkable enough, but author Dawn Lee goes even further. Within its pages lies a true Australian story of the vengeful spirit of Melbourne's founder, John Batman, and the ensuing tragedy, murder of his wife Eliza Batman and the disappearance of her second husband, William Willoughby, into south-western Victoria.
Tracking through the archives for over 15 years, Dawn uncovered many secrets and brought to life what really happened in the collision of cultures when one side of her family, the ngmadjidj or white ghosts, came into contact with the other side, the Gunditjmara or the original Indigenous inhabitants of south-western Victoria.
From the union of a man who had been John Batman's business manager, William Willoughby, with a tribal Gunditjmara woman remembered only as Susannah, this family history follows their children’s forced internment in Lake Condah Mission near Mt Eccles, through to their eventual relocation from country to city.
The book is further enlivened by photos from Dawn Lee’s collection, which provides one of the most comprehensive records of any Victorian Aboriginal family. Reprinted on high quality gloss paper in 2018, but currently out of print with plans to reprint again in July 2022.
RRP: $37.50 ISBN 0 9577131 2 6 Published 2001. Reprinted 2018. Soft cover, A4, 82pp and illustrated throughout
Praise for Daughter of Two Worlds
“Sometimes hauntingly vivid, [the book] provides a rare perspective on the triumphs and tragedies of a family torn between two different cultures. Of particular interest are the delightful photographs, many of which are from Lee's private collection.” – Pick of the Week review by Cameron Woodhead in The Age
About the author As a child, Dawn Lee was fascinated by the family legend that her great grandfather was a mysterious white English lord, who somehow met her great grandmother, Susannah, a full tribal Gunditjmara woman, living in the lava caves of Mt Eccles in the wilds of western Victoria. The truth – when Dawn went in search of it – proved even more improbable. With only a small research grant from ATSIC, Dawn trawled the Public Records Office, the Wesleyan Church and the Australian Archives.
em PRESS Publishing specialises in Australian landscapes and their historical and cultural contexts. em PRESS is particularly interested in fusing Indigenous, European settler and nature-based readings of the landscape to provide a truer view of our country.