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Diana Plater - Whale Rock

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At her Tamarama café Shannon struggles with the loss of her marriage. A close friendship develops between her and Colin, an Indigenous elder, and Rafael, a Nicaraguan immigrant. When a worker plunges to his death on the building site opposite, journalist Vesna covers the story. But as their secrets are exposed, all hell breaks loose and they discover they’re more connected than they ever imagined.

Journalist Diana Plater was working in Nicaragua covering the Sandinista revolution in the mid-1980s when she heard a rumour about a military hospital using unusual methods to treat soldiers for what was then known as war neurosis. The term PTSD hadn’t yet been universally adopted. This was to form the back story of her novel, Whale Rock.

Setting Whale Rock in Sydney’s Tamarama (with flashbacks to Nicaragua) allowed the background of an exquisite Indigenous engraving of a whale and her baby whale, which overlooks the ocean below. The whale rock becomes significant to all the characters.

This is a novel about the world today and the serious issues we are all pondering: immigration, Indigenous sovereignty, the state of the media, politics, the environment. But it’s also about love and friendship – and dancing.

Join Diana in conversation with Canberra favourite Jack Waterford.

Free event (registrations essential)


Diana Plater’s journalism has appeared widely in newspapers, magazines and online. She has covered Indigenous and race issues since the beginning of her career and was based in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s during the Sandinista/Contra war. She has written several non-fiction books, including Taking Control: How to aim for a successful pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal loss, and the Cootamundra Girls Home chapter in Many Voices, Reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation published by the National Library as well as a play, Havana, Harlem. Raging Partners, written with Ollie Smith, was short-listed for a 2001 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Whale Rock is her first novel.  

Jack Waterford AM Llb (ANU) is a former editor of the Canberra Times, after joining it as a copyboy in 1972. Over the years he has reported primarily on politics and public administration, the law and Aboriginal affairs, including watching 12 prime ministers at fairly close hand. He was the 1985 Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year in 1985, a Thomas Jefferson Fellow in the US in 1987, an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Queensland for more than a decade, and has been a long-term chairman of the Asian Pacific Journalism Centre. Now retired, his main interests are dictionaries, poetry and grandchildren.  

Earlier Event: September 14
Jess Hill - See What You Made Me Do
Later Event: September 29
Dennis Altman - Unrequited Love