It’s holiday time, so give a (Flinders) book

A book can be the best solution to finding that ‘just right’ Christmas present.

As South Australia celebrates the 125 years since women won the right to vote, a new Wakefield Press pictorial book, released in time for Christmas, showcases the lives of many extraordinary women.

Among the leading female ‘ceiling smashers’ in Trailblazers:100 Inspiring South Australian Women – which features South Australian women who became Australia’s first female Prime Minister, judge, chief diplomat and winemaker – are several Flinders University alumni, former staff, honorary doctorate recipients and supporters.  

They include Flinders graduates Dr Susan Beal (Education, Science and Medicine), children’s book writer Mem Fox, and the late Gillian Rolton for her contribution to sport. Other noted South Australians in their fields featured in the book Dame Roma Mitchell, Barbara Hardy, Monica Oliphant, Kate Ellis, Catherine Branson QC, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, Robyn Archer and Lowitja O’Donoghue also have Flinders links.

The book’s authors, journalists and researchers Roy Eccleston and Carolyn Collins, say SA has produced “an army of trailblazing, inspirational women. For too long though, we’ve heard little of their stories.

“Drawn from an array of fields – from vineyards to laboratories, from the judiciary and politics to schoolrooms, charities and the stage – the women in these pages have made a difference to their communities, their state, their nation, and, sometimes, the world.

“We have been amazed by the stories of these women, and think you will be too,” they say in the book’s introduction.

Here is a rundown of some other Christmas book ideas, featuring Flinders authors and supporters: 

Dr Rob Morrison with Humphrey B Bear and Patsy Biscoe during his years with colleague Dr Deane Hutton as a science educator on the Curiosity Show, which ran for 18 years during the 1970s and 1980s.

Flinders professorial fellow Dr Rob Morrison has recapped on his years making popular Adelaide children’s TV program Curiosity Show in a 2019 book Curious Recollections: Life in the Curiosity Show (Wakefield).

Made over almost two decades in the 1970s and 1980s, the program with co-host Dr Deane Hutton and others has just won a prestigious YouTube Silver Creator Award for its online educational STEM YouTube Channel, which has more than 100,000 followers. Curiosity Show Online has more than 1000 segments on STEM topics and new segments are added to the channel every week. 

This year other Flinders University academics have joined best-seller and highly recommended reading lists, including Dr (‘Spacejunk’) Alice Gorman’s enlightening science ‘fiction’ book Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future (NewSouth Publishing) which has won a series of awards, and is shortlisted in the non-fiction category of the 2020 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Science colleague Dr Gillian Dooley’s revisiting of the amazing history of Captain Matthew Flinders’ furry friend Trim.

As Australia celebrates 250 years since the voyages of another British seafarer, Captain James Cook, Flinders academics Dr Dooley and Dr Danielle Clode edited a volume of stories reflecting Indigenous ‘voices’ on colonisation entitled The First Wave.

And 100 years after the Smith brothers and crew’s epic first flight from England to Australia, prolific Flinders University historian Professor Peter Monteath edited an updated version of Sir Ross Smith’s own story, entitled Flight to Fame: Victory in the 1919 Great Air Race, England to Australia – and Flinders adjunct Dr Samantha Battams co-wrote a new book on local aviator Captain Henry John “Harry” Butler (1889-1924).

The Red Devil coincides with the centenary of the historic flight across Gulf St Vincent 100 years ago.

Space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman has had great success with her 2019 book, Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future (MIT Press).

Professor Monteath’s most recent wartime history book release, Battle on 42nd Street: War in Crete and the Anzacs’ bloody last stand, was launched at the Torrens Parade Ground on 27 November.

Professor Philip Payton released another history book, More Than The Last Shilling: Repatriation in Australia 1994-2018. Timed to coincide with Remembrance Day, the volume is published by the Australian Government Department of Veteran Affairs, with the ebook available from the University of Melbourne Press.

Meanwhile, Impossible Music (Allen & Unwin) was among a series of new novels by best-selling author Dr Sean Williams, who joined Flinders University this year. Fellow creative writing lecturer Dr Amy Matthews also has just published a ‘Frontiers of the Heart’ series of racy romance novels under her popular pseudonym Tess LeSue while another new release published ahead of Christmas is an historical novel based on a Flinders PhD project by Dr Gay Lynch.

She writes of an Irish settler family’s colonial experience in SA’s Mount Gambier and western districts of Victoria, entitled Unsettled ( The book Flinders creative writing academic Gay Lynch, was launched at Flinders University last week by alumna Hannah Kent.

Fittingly, the pair regularly catch up meet at their Adelaide book club, with other Flinders writers and researchers (see image below).

Keen readers and writers from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide at their recent Adelaide book club Christmas breakup (left to right) Kylie Cardell, Hannah Kent, Anna Solding, Danielle Clode, Heather Taylor Johnson, Gay Lynch, Margot McGovern, Lisa Bennett and Sara King.
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