The Port Macquarie Historical Society in association with Bob Davis and John Heath will launch its latest publication Healing the Spirit - A Birrpai Perspective on the Port Macquarie Penal Colony and its Aftermath this week.
The book will be launched on Thursday, December 9 at 10.30am at Mansfield Estate, Grants Beach.
Healing the Spirit explores the history of the Birrpai through the eyes of Birrpai knowledge holders, Bob Davis and John Heath. Drawing on historical records and resources, the book's narrative commences with an examination of pre-contact Birrpai society before investigating the recorded first encounters of the Northern Birrpai and Europeans, the impact of the Port Macquarie penal colony and free settlement, and the subsequent waves of legislation, policies and practices that have impacted the Birrpai, right through until the present day.
Bob Davis and John Heath, both Birrpai men with familial roots in Rollands Plains, grew up in different parts of NSW before meeting in the 1980s. Both men are passionate about history and the pursuit of social and restorative justice.
The book is the first for Bob, whilst John has written a number of academic papers and books, including Birrpai - beyond the lens of Thomas Dick published in 2018.
In his Foreword to Healing the Spirit, Clive Smith, Port Macquarie Historical Society President noted that "Our Historical Society is a direct beneficiary of the imposition of the British Crown in seizing land, dispossessing original owners and granting title to British settlers. It is therefore fitting that two centuries after that dispossession was effected here, we acknowledge the impact on the Birrpai Nation, and recognise their original sovereignty. This book can only improve cultural understanding for us all, and impel us to move forward together."
The publication is supported by the 2020 Port Macquarie - Hastings Council's Community Grants Program. The book launch is the final activity of 2021 to mark Port Macquarie's bicentenary as a British penal colony.
Healing the Spirit - A Birrpai Perspective on the Port Macquarie Penal Colony and its Aftermath will be available for purchase from the Port Macquarie Museum at a cost of $25.
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