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Launch dates for the book are as follows:
Adelaide: A Conversation: Prof. Peter Sutton and John Strehlow, Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide, Thursday 8 March, 5.30 for 6 pm;
Melbourne: Launch and Talk by John Strehlow, "Religion, Science and the Question of Bias - Frieda Strehlow and mortality among aboriginal children at the end of the 19th century in
relation to 'The Tale of Frieda Keysser' ", at Newman College, University of Melbourne, on Monday 19 March at 5 pm;
Canberra: Launch by Dr Mike Smith at the National Museum of Australia on Thursday 22 March at 3.00 pm.
Ever since T.G.H. Strehlow’s Journey to Horseshoe Bend appeared in
1969, an aura of mystery laced with controversy has surrounded his
father Carl Strehlow’s sudden and agonising death at this remote
staging post on the Finke River, hundreds of miles from the nearest
doctor. Yet about Carl’s wife Frieda - at his side as he died - who
spent 27 years in the desert with him and for long periods of time was
the only white woman on a settlement of several hundred aboriginal
people, the book is almost completely silent. Who was Frieda, and what
was her contribution to the lonely mission station of Hermannsburg, at
the time the last settlement after leaving Alice Springs before
reaching the coast of Western Australia some fifteen hundred miles away?
Orphaned, disinherited and homeless by the age of 14, Frieda’s life was
one of immense personal hardship, yet despite these unpromising
beginnings she overcame her situation to live a life of Christian
service rarely equalled in Australia. Working in almost total
obscurity, Frieda is credited with lowering the high rate of infant
mortality which afflicted the Western Aranda people yet sadly, she has
been left out of the history books and her achievements either
trivialized or passed over in silence.
For those who wish to learn more about her astonishing story, this book
provides the answers, exhaustively documenting her unusual background,
her troubled adolescence and her family’s decline from social
pre-eminence into oblivion. Avoiding the unnecessary academic and
technical jargon which mars so many books in this field, in places it
resembles a novel, for Frieda’s life was nothing if not exciting, even
(at times) high drama. Yet for those looking for insights into
present-day problems, it has much to offer, explaining why so many
admirable endeavours are failing and why, even with the best will in
the world, so many of the goals being pursued at great expense today
are, and - for the time being at any rate – will remain, unattainable.
For collectors, the book is handsomely furnished with period
photographs deriving from private sources, most never seen outside the
family before. Contemporary colour photographs by top professional
photographers are also included, reminding the reader that the western
Macdonnells where Frieda lived and worked in such isolation are today a
tourist mecca for those who love their high rocky gorges with secluded
waterholes and palms, the distant vistas of fantastically-shaped
ranges, and blue horizons stretching into the red sandhill desert
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