First published in 1979 and written by Mavis Thorpe Clarke, The Boy From Cumeroogunga: The Story of Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls was produced as a companion piece to an earlier, equally comprehensive biographical volume titled Pastor Doug – The biography of the first Aborigine to be created a knight (1965).
Written so that it might appeal to a younger readership than the more scholarly approach of the authors’ previous work on the subject, The Boy From Cumeroogunga details the rise of Doug Nicholls, from poverty and life on Cumeroogunga Mission, to his role as a professional football player, an initially reluctant political figure and his transformation over time into a statesman of fine regard, a pastor and ultimately the first Aboriginal Australian to be knighted and to take office as a state governor (1976).
The book departs from the authors’ original offering on the subject in that this is Clarke’s first hand account of Nicholls, owing to a friendship that had developed over many years and is also the end result of countless hours spent researching Aboriginal archives and in correspondence with various sources. The result is a well-directed blend of history, personal recollection and conversation.
An enjoyable issue, the reader somewhat surprisingly benefits from the fact that the author was a noted and prolific writer of children’s books. The Boy From Cumeroogunga flows in a way that few biographical efforts ever do, making it the ideal vehicle for introducing younger readers to one of the key figures in Aboriginal history and politics.
Pastor Doug – The biography of the first Aborigine to be created a knight (1965)
Sir Doug Nicholls (Wikipedia entry)
Note: Alternate spellings for Cumeroogunga are commonly - Cummeragunja, Cumeragunja, Cumeroogunja etc.