Elena Govor, My Dark Brother, Sydney, 2000




About the author


Contents and excerpts


National Biography Award nomination

TV documentary


The Ngadjon people

Мой темнокожий брат


‘I have reared an Australian family’



...They spoke English but it did not make Leandro feel bitter — they were not turning themselves into the snobbish English from overseas. The language they spoke was Australian English, the culture they grew up into was Australian culture. It was Australianness rather than Englishness, which replaced Russianness and Aboriginality in his children. And that allowed Leandro to be proud. Australians were for him a new nation with distinctive features. He wrote: ‘In over 26 years in Australia I think I have learnt what Australians are. They are hardy, self-reliant, resourceful men, capable and gamblers with nature and chances and not easily daunted by ups and downs, even if they are extravagant and not very saving while times are bountiful.’ ‘Australians love fair play and so do I’. He also considered them to be patriotic and mentioned their respect for their natural resources: ‘no Australian, no matter what his status in society, ... will destroy water’. ‘Those days’, Flora adds, ‘people used to work and was always ready to help one another and that’s what my father liked about Australia.’ Not surprisingly, he felt proud that he and his family were a part of this new nation. ‘I have reared an Australian family’, he would say, ‘I lived 30 years happy under Australian rule and if the time comes I and my sons will defend this soil from invasion’.6

The Illin family: Kennedy (a friend), Ginger, Tommy, Leandro, Lullie, Richard, Flora, Harry  Courtesy of  Illin family