Monash University Press hits record with tale of the Gurindji struggle

A handful of sandSpeaking at the Melbourne book launch of its recent publication, A Handful of Sand: The Gurindji Struggle, After the Walk-off by Charlie Ward, Monash University Publishing Director, Nathan Hollier, said that Monash University Publishing seeks to tell important Australian stories and no story in this country is more important than this one. He also noted how pleasing it was to see the great interest in the book, having sold more copies at that early stage of its life than any other book the press had published.

A Handful of Sand takes its title from the iconic image of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam AC symbolically pouring sand from his hand into that of Vincent Lingiari AM, leader of the Gurindji people. In the late 1960s, the Gurindji people had walked off the Northern Territory pastoral station where they had worked under slave-like conditions, seeking to take their future into their own hands and gain recognition of their land rights. This powerful image adorns the book’s cover.

Ward retraces the story of the walk-off but goes beyond it to recount the Gurindji people’s subsequent struggle for economic and political independence on their own lands. While the dreams of Lingiari and his contemporaries to support themselves through a viable cattle business were not realised, a new generation is continuing to pursue independence and control of their own destiny.

A Handful of Sand was launched by Alan Hardy, son of the author Frank Hardy, at Kalkaringi in the Northern Territory on 20 August as part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the initial walk-off. Frank Hardy played an integral role in gathering support for the Gurindji people, especially in the southern cities of the nation.

Read Nicolas Rothwell’s review of A Handful of Sand for The Australian.

Read author Charlie Ward’s essay for Griffith Review; Red Truths and White Lies.

Monash alumni receive a 30% discount on all titles purchased through Monash University Publishing online using the voucher code S-Alumni_30%.