Honouring Australian Writers / Oodgeroo Noonuccal

A collection of resources on Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s life and writing.

In its annual Honouring Australian Writers series, Writing NSW pays tribute to writers who have made an important contribution to our literary culture.

In 2018 Writing NSW honoured Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920-1993), Australia’s first published Aboriginal poet. For more information about the event, visit Honouring: Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

Read on for more information about Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s life and writing.


The Australian Poetry Library has a comprehensive summary of her poems with links to the poems.


It also has a good overview of her life, publications and recommended further reading.


The Australian Women’s Register has an overview, list of published works, and archival resources.


Reading Australia has a comprehensive overview

As well as an essay by Ellen van Neervan

Overview with links to video and images


Wesley Enoch gave the Nick Enright Address at the 2018 National Play Festival. He refers to Aunty Kath Walker and ends with one of her poems.

Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgAsSQo5hxU


Australian Literary Studies (Oct/Nov 1994 Vol. 16, no.4) edited by Adam Shoemaker.  A collection of tributes from a range of people, including Mudrooroo, Roberta Sykes, Anne Brewster, and Nicolas Jose. It includes a piece by Little, Janine. ‘Oodgeroo: A Selective Checklist.’  https://www.australianliterarystudies.com.au/issues/volume-16-no-4

Australian Book Review (Nov. 1993 no.  156) Obituary for Oodgeroo Noonuccal bu Adam Shoemaker.

Meanjin 36(4)1977 : 428-41

Summary: Interview – life, poetry.

Place: Minjerriba / North Stradbroke Island (SE Qld SG56-15)

Dawn 13(6), 1964: 15

Published: New South Wales. Aborigines Welfare Board.

Series: Dawn : a magazine for the Aboriginal people of N.S.W (ISSN 0416-8003)

Summary: Wrote best selling book of poetry

Place: Minjerriba / North Stradbroke Island (SE Qld SG56-15)

Dawn 11(1), 1962: 15

Published: New South Wales. Aborigines Welfare Board.

Series: Dawn : a magazine for the Aboriginal people of N.S.W (ISSN 0416-8003)

Summary: Story called “The unhappy golliwog”

Place: Minjerriba / North Stradbroke Island (SE Qld SG56-15)

Dawn 11(3), 1962: 10

Published: New South Wales. Aborigines Welfare Board.

Series: Dawn : a magazine for the Aboriginal people of N.S.W (ISSN 0416-8003)

Summary: Wrote “the Armada”, a poem

Place: Minjerriba / North Stradbroke Island (SE Qld SG56-15)


Shadow Sister a film biography of Oodgeroo Noonuccal by Frank Neimans.


Don Featherstone’s short film on Indigenous Australian poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Australian Screen. 3.36 min

Includes Oodgeroo reading The Dispossed and talking about writing the poem.

Excerpt from This Is Your Life: Kath Walker (Lifetime Associates Pty Ltd, Australia 1980). Courtesy of Lifetime Associates Pty Ltd. NFSA title: 32280. For further information about this clip or for enquiries about commercial use, please refer to access@nfsa.gov.au.

Excerpt from This is Your Life: Kath Walker. Faith Bandler and Kath Walker talk about the 1967 Referendum. 1.16

From Time to Dream directed, 1074 by Bruce McGuinness. Reading Son of Mine.

47 sec

‘OODGEROO NOONUCCAL (Kath Walker)’, in Australians, Behind the News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002. http://www.abc.net.au/btn/australians/noonucca.htm.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal reads her poem Civilisation. Stock images accompany it. 1 min 35

Oodgeroo Noonuccal reads her poem We Are Going. 1 min 43

Wesley Enoch gives the Nick Enright Address at the Playwriting Conference 2018. It ends with his acknowledgement of Aunty Kath Walker and a reading of her poem. 35 min


There is also a transcript of the talk here


Noonuccal’s poetry has been set to music by numerous composers, including Christopher Gordon, Clare Maclean, Stephen Leek, Andrew Ford, Paul Stanhope, Mary Mageau, and Joseph Twist.

In 1989 at the Brisbane Concert Hall the composer Malcolm Williamson premiered his choral symphony ‘The Dawn is at Hand’. It is based on a selection of Oodgeroo’s poetry, chosen and selected by Oodgeroo. Williamson was inspired by her poetry and visited her at Moongalbah.


Oodgeroo: Bloodline to Country by Sam Watson.

From the Playlab website: Oodgeroo’s way was negotiation but her son, Denis Walker, was more radical. He co-founded the Australian Black Panthers, a group based on the violent American civil rights organization of the same name. Sam Watson, the author of this play, was his co-founder. This new work weaves Oodgeroo’s personal and cultural life with her time on the Tunisian tarmac to tell the previously untold story of the tensions that tore at the fabric of one of Australia’s most prominent families. http://www.playlab.org.au/publications/shop/oodgeroo-detail


ABC Radio National Verbatim program. Interview with Michelle Raynor. 25 min.

Discusses early life and family. Returning to Stradbroke Island to live and setting up Moongalba as an aboriginal education centre.



There is a plaque honouring Oodgeroo Noonuccal as part of the NSW Ministry for the Arts Writers Walk located at Circular Quay.

Prize in her honour 

In 2016 the Queensland Poetry Festival introduced an indigenous program which included the inaugural Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize.


Books about Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Oodgeroo: A Tribute by Kathie Cochrane

University of QLD Press, 1994

The book includes Judith Wright, ‘The Poetry: An Appreciation’ pp. 163–183.

Can be ordered directly POD

Candida Baker, ‘Kath Walker. -An Aboriginal writer: interview by Candida Baker-‘, in Yacker 2: Australian writers talk about their work, Pan, Sydney, 1987, pp. 280-301.

De Vries, Susanna, The Complete Book of Great Australian Women: Thirty-six women who changed the course of Australia, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2003.

Walker, Kath [Oodgeroo Noonuccal], ‘Recollections’, in Curthoys, A., Martin, A.W., Rowse, Tim (ed.), Australians from 1939, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Broadway, N.S.W., 1987.

Books by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Kath Walker in China 1988

John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd
Out of print

My People: A Kath Walker Collection

Jacaranda Press, 1970, rev. eds. 1981, 1990


The Dawn is at Hand

Kath Walker

Jacaranda Press, 1966

Out of print

We Are Going

Jacaranda Press, 1964

Out of Print

After a recommendation from Jacaranda’s poetry reader, Judith Wright, the collection was published in 1964 as We Are Going. The work was an immediate commercial success, selling more than ten thousand copies and making Walker the best-selling Australian poet since C. J. Dennis.

It was the first collection of poetry published by an Indigenous person published in Australian. Poems from the collection were reprinted in My People.

Children’s Books

Stradbroke Dreamtime

Kath Walker and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

Harper Collins Australia, 1972


Stradbroke Dreamtime is a collection of 27 short stories, ideal for reading in class, from acclaimed Aboriginal author Oodgeroo. The stories are traditional Aboriginal tales from Stradbroke Island, the Tambourine Mountains and from the Old and New dreamtime. A bright, beautiful and unique colour illustrated book, paired with Dreamtime tales just for younger readers.

Father Sky and Mother Earth

John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd, 2007


Spectrum Colours (with Reg Morrison)

Pascal Press

Out of Print

The Honouring Australian Writers series is made possible with support from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and the State Library of NSW.


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