Authors tackle country's rich history

YOU won't find many children's books tackling Australia's rich history, but The Unlikely Story of Bennelong and Phillip is far from ordinary. 

Penned by Trentham author Michael Sedunary and illustrated by Bern Emmerichs, the book is somewhat revolutionary in its subject matter and artwork. 

It is one in a series of works about Australia's past - however, the themes still relevant today. 

The book, aimed at 10 to 12-year-olds, starts a dialogue about culture clashes, unlikely friendships and even offshore processing.

It begins in the 1770s, when Lord Sydney ordered a dozen ships to be stationed in Australia to house prisoners.

Fleet commander Arthur Phillip was under instructions from King George III to set up the British colony and establish relationships with the indigenous population.

It was then he met aboriginal leader Woollarawarre Bennelong - and an "unlikely friendship" grew.

"These stories need to be known, and need to be told in a way that's unforgettable," Michael said. 

"We've compressed a lot into this story - and even a paragraph might have come from a whole novel.

"There is a lot to learn and contemplate on the pages." 

The words are complemented with often humorous scenes depicting "naked Euro men dancing with heavily-clad British soldiers" and soldiers pulling down their pants so the aboriginal people could see if they were male or female.

Bern originally exhibited the unique pieces across Australia, before they were photographed for print.

"It's such an honour to see these works in print, and it came from the publisher liking my work, and Michael's words, so we were asked to collaborate," she said.

"I guess we both realised the importance of getting these stories out there because they're so often swept under the carpet."

The next book in the series will be about ex-governor William Bligh, who was once arrested by the red coats. 

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