Australian stories through children's eyes

29 October 2013

Australians All
Honorary Associate Nadia Wheatley will join host of ABC's Australian Story, Caroline Jones, to discuss her landmark account of children throughout Australia's history, Australians All: A History of Growing Up from the Ice Age to the Apology.

What would a child from the Ice Age have to say about living in Australia? And how can the stories of children growing up through the ages provide a window into our national history?

Award-winning author Nadia Wheatley will consider these questions at a special 'In Conversation' event with Caroline Jones, host of ABC's Australian Story, at the University of Sydney this Wednesday.

Wheatley, an Honorary Associate of the Faculty of Education and Social Work, will discuss her sweeping new history book, Australians All: A History of Growing Up from the Ice Age to the Apology. This landmark account of children at different stages of Australia's story weaves together 80 mini biographies into a chronological tale, spanning from 50,000 years ago right up to the present.

Though often marginalised as history's silent witnesses, children have made a significant contribution to the nation's story, and their accounts open up realms of understanding for young readers, said Wheatley.

"By and large, human beings, whether young or old, relate to two things: they relate to stories and they relate to other human beings," she said.

"Young people can easily connect with the history of our society in the past if they have windows into that society through people their own age, who were growing up at that time across our continent."

After nine years of research, Wheatley crafted the biographies using memoirs as well as oral and local histories, choosing subjects that exemplified certain historical moments. Among the famous young Australians included in the book are Ethel Turner, Donald Bradman, Mary MacKillop, and Eddie Mabo.

"Of course, when they were children they weren't famous; they were just kids growing up. Young readers might not recognise their names, so for them Henry Lawson might be a boy who got bullied at school because he was deaf and he spoke oddly," she said.

Nadia Wheatley has penned dozens of books in her literary career over more than four decades. She was recently nominated by the International Board on Books for Young People, Australia for the prestigious 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing – the highest international recognition given to a living author whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

Nadia Wheatley's 'In Conversation' event will be hosted by Professor Robyn Ewing, and is presented by the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.


What: Nadia Wheatley and Caroline Jones AO, in conversation, presented by the Faculty of Education and Social Work

When: 5.30–7pm, Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where: Lecture Theatre 351, Education Building, Manning Road, University of Sydney

Cost: Free

Registration: Bookings essential. Contact Helen Loughlin on 9351 2791 or

Contact: Emily Jones

Phone: 02 9114 1961; 0481 012 600

Email: 26391c590d603f0b572f1f0619012e052e4065213d3e694a12