Close message Scootle has stopped supporting resources that use the Adobe Flash plug-in from 18 Dec 2020. Learning paths that include these resources will have alerts to notify teachers and students that one or more of the resources will be unavailable. Click here for more info.

Audio John Collins recalls illustrations by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), 2007

TLF ID R8853

This is an edited sound recording of John Collins, former managing director of the Brisbane-based book publisher Jacaranda Press, recalling the way the Indigenous poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (then Kath Walker) produced illustrations for her 1980 book 'Father sky and mother earth'. He describes how a casual remark led to her being provided with felt-tip pens, which she took back to her home on North Stradbroke Island, returning with the drawings in less than three weeks. The recording was made in October 2007 and lasts for 1 min 19 s.

Educational details

Educational value
  • In this recording, Collins describes how Jacaranda Press, the publisher used by Noonuccal, Kath Walker (1920-93), came to know she was also an accomplished artist. Prior to the sequence of events he outlines, Jacaranda Press did not realise she was capable of competently illustrating her own children's book. Published with many of her drawings, this book helped to popularise books with Indigenous themes at a time when they were not widely read.
  • The recording reveals how Noonuccal did not require expensive art materials to produce her illustrations. Collins tells how she did the drawings for 'Father sky and mother earth' with only a set of felt-tip pens. The drawings called upon traditional Indigenous styles of artwork such as dots and cross hatching.
  • The recording also indicates how quickly Noonuccal was able to work. It is not unusual for book illustrators to take many months to complete their work. Collins tells how Noonuccal completed the drawings for 'Father sky and mother earth' in well under a month. He mentions that they were produced at what Noonuccal called her 'sitting down place', Moongalba on North Stradbroke Island, where she was born.
  • Collins describes how the illustrations produced by Noonuccal 'fitted perfectly' for the book, which had an overall theme of environmental protection. 'Father sky and mother earth' told a story of the creation of the world and all its animals and plants, and then the destructive arrival of humans. It was published at a time when the Australian conservation movement was still in its infancy.
  • The German author and scholar Ulli Beier (1922-), who was a long-time friend of Noonuccal, recorded that she often did drawings to relax when she returned to North Stradbroke Island after stressful days related to her activities as a campaigner for Indigenous rights. Favourite subjects included marine life and other creatures she had observed in the Moreton Bay area in her early childhood.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: John Collins
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.