Previously Published Book
Silences and Empty Spaces is the story of a maverick redhead who refuses to do the socially expected and chooses to run with the feeling that something special waits for those willing to chase will-'o-the-wisps. In 1957 Barbara Fitzgibbon flees from the New South Wales Department of Education to the Territory of Papua New Guinea. She trains Papuan and New Guinean teachers and has her first experience of birth, death and the currents flowing under the surface of colonialism.
Israel gives her a taste of kibbutz life, and her travels around the country in the VW van that she had driven from England introduce her to ancient history and also make her question more recent history.
A move into Northern Territory Aboriginal education takes her to a preschool in Papunya, a caravan school on a cattle station and the first twelve-month course for Aboriginal teaching assistants.
She drives a racing-green VW Beetle through South Africa and Rhodesia and across the Mozambique border and has to become a permanent resident of Rhodesia before she can teach African high school students on the outskirts of Bulawayo. A position as a liaison officer with the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, a return to university and another change of profession follow. Back in northern New South Wales she finds something she had never expected, and will-o?-the-wisps no longer tease.
This memoir is Barbara's exploration of silences and empty spaces in history, and in her relationship with her mother, as she searches for the self with which she can be comfortable. Above all, it is a celebration of the beauty and truths to be found in the landscapes and lives of cultures other than her own.