Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Simon and Schuster 3. Map of New South Wales [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. Statue of Yarri, Great Flood 1852 in Gundagai. Photo: Stephen Gapps. (Background removed from original) via Australian National Maritime Museum

Glanceabook acknowledges the Wiradyuri people on whose land this story is set.

Young Wiradyuri girl, Wagadhaany is employed by White settlers, the Bradleys at Gundagai on the banks of the Murrumbidya (Murrumbidgee) River in New South Wales. In 1852, a flood (real-life event) destroyed most of the town and many people died. In this story, the remaining Bradley family, David, James and James’s wife Louisa, move to Wagga Wagga after the flood, taking Wagadhaany unwillingly with them. She continues to yearn for a return to her family.

“The journey will begin soon, and then she will be home.”

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray” by Anita Heiss
  • Glanceabook: “The author has given us a unique perspective on the lives of both Indigenous Australians and White settlers in 19th Century Australia. The contrast between the thoughts and feelings of main characters (Wagadhaany and Louisa) seems to show the reader that Louisa is a much sadder person than Wagadhaany who has been displaced from her family. Cultural differences are portrayed with sensitivity and honesty. That the author, a Wiradyuri woman, skillfully integrates her impressive knowledge of the Indigenous language of her people is to be applauded.”
  • Guardian: “a mighty and generous heartsong”
  • The Australian: “I could quibble about some of the detail in the English dialogue, which sometimes strikes a jarring, twenty-first-century note. In other ways, the language is fascinating. Like other Indigenous novelists, Heiss makes frequent use of words in her ancestral tongue, in this case the Wiradjuri language, with a glossary to help unfamiliar readers.”


“Not a good place to live, Boss, too flat!”

The man scoffs as he points to the dry landscape. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. We need rain. It certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to flood to me.” “It hasn’t flooded for longest time,” says Yarri. “It will happen again. We know.”

“She is grateful to be alive, but she hates that being alive reminds her that she is still powerless in her own life.”

“Louisa had been so focused on claiming Wagadhaany as family for herself, she had not realised that she was not hers to claim.”

Author: Anita Heiss

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