SONG OF THE CROCODILE
"Darnmoor, The Gateway to Happiness. You feel some sense of achievement; that you have reached a destination in the very least. Yet, as the sign states, Darnmoor is merely the measure, a mark, a point on the road you begin to move closer to where you really want to be. Darnmoor itself is nothing."
Darnmoor is the home of the Billymil family, three generations who have lived in this 'gateway town'. Race relations between Indigenous and settler families are fraught, though the rigid status quo is upheld through threats and soft power rather than the overt violence of yesteryear.
As progress marches forwards, Darnmoor and its surrounds undergo rapid social and environmental changes, but as some things change, some stay exactly the same. The Billymil family are watched (and sometimes visited) by ancestral spirits and spirits of the recently deceased, who look out for their descendants and attempt to help them on the right path.
When the town's secrets start to be uncovered the town will be rocked by a violent act that forever shatters a century of silence. Full of music, Yuwaalaraay language and exquisite description, Song of the Crocodile is a lament to choice and change, and the unyielding land that sustains us all, if only we could listen to it.
Twelve diverse writers reveal another Australia hidden behind, beneath and beside the country we think we know.
A suburban psychic’s ominous warning. A conversation in Yuwaalaraay. A glimpse of a shameful, hidden history. A love that moves a mountain. In this unwavering follow-up to After Australia, twelve more boundary-pushing Indigenous writers and writers of colour show us all that is and could exist in our versions of Australia.
Featuring Shankari Chandran, Osman Faruqi, Declan Fry, Amani Haydar, Shirley Le, L-FRESH the LION, Mohammed Massoud Morsi, Omar Musa, Sisonke Msimang, Sara Saleh, Nardi Simpson and Anne Marie Te Whiu.
Another Austrlaia is opublished by Affirm Pres and Sweatshop
Nardi is head down pens up well into the drafting of her second book - working title of 'belburd.' The story is inspired by the child of Cammeriagal woman BARANGAROO and Wangal man BENNELONG, two seminal figures in the history of what is now known as Australia and incredibly important people in the history of the early months of the colony.
Nardi has spent many hours walking the memory of these old people trying to create thoughts and words that do justice to the spirit and memory of their special little girl. Their daughter Dilboong (the Eora word for Manorina Melanophrys- a Bell Minor or Bellbird) sadly passed away from tuberculosis mere months after her birth and weeks after the death of her own mother, the formidable Baranagaroo. In dreaming this child Nardi wants her words to explore both the gifts and the price of familial inheritance, obligation and freedom and potential.
Nardi's research has included exploring many pockets of Sydney that retain her parents name and spirit: Barangaroo Reserve, Bennelong Park, Little Collins Beach and the shores of Cammeriagal, Bennelong Point, Manly Foreshore, Old Government House, Putney, and St Patrick's Catholic Church in the Rocks. Needless to say the story is unfolding at its own pace, in its own way. Belburd is taking her time to hatch and fledge yet nourishing its (sometimes forlorn) writer with thoughts of family, country and connection all the while.
Below are some pictures that have inspired the creative process so far.
The image above is a mural of Baranagaroo and Benelong on Crystal Street in Petersham. One of its creators is Nardi's countryman, Gamilaraay and Walgett artist Frank Dhinawan Wright - a good sign, she reckons! The pictures below are of the bronze busts of Barangaroo and Bennelong created by sculptor Roger Apte; the onlymarker of Dilboong's* existence in modern day Sydney, a pillar baring her name at the site of her burial in the grounds of old Government House- the current Museum of Sydney site; and a plaque marking Bennelong's burial site.
SYDNEY WRITERS' FESTIVAL
26/05/23 Gadigal Country
Storytelling Gala: Letters to the Future
with Geraldine Brooks, Tabitha Carvan, Clementine Ford, Peter Frankopan, Anthony Joseph, Shehan Karunatilaka, Lawrence Mooney, Jenny Odell, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, and Jason Reynolds
8 -9:15 pm AEST
Sydney Town Hall
Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay storyteller and performer living in Sydney. Training as a musician, Nardi began her artistic journey as a songwriter and performer with vocal duo Stiff Gins. This has seen her travel both nationally and internationally for over twenty-three years releasing four albums, two singles, an EP and countless compliations during that time.
Nardi's writing journey started with Writing NSW's Indigenous Writers’ Mentorship Program in 2014. In 2018 she received the State Library of QLD’s Blak&Write! Indigenous Fellowship and began refining what was to become her debut novel 'Song of the Crocodile'. In 2020 Nardi wrote and premiered her debut play ‘'Black Drop Effect,’ at that years Sydney Festival. In October of the same year, 'Song of the Crocodile' was released with Hatchette Australia. Most recently, Nardi composed, conducted and performed in the 2022 Sydney Festival and Sydney Opera House presentations of '-barra,' a sonic and visual journey through her Yuwaalaraay homelands.
While currently working on her second novel, Nardi continues to perform with Stiff Gins, works with student ensembles and directs cross-cultural choir Barayagal at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She is also currently undertaking a PhD with the ANU School of Music. Whatever the creative project infront of her, Nardi remains committed and active in the making and sharing of culture, music and story in both her Sydney and Yuwaalaraay communities.
IN THE PRESS
Rich, complex characters who’ll stay in your thoughts long after you’ve closed the book, a gripping story that moves effortlessly through time and space, and a voice suffused with music and warmth. SONG OF THE CROCODILE is a moving, wise, deeply rewarding novel from an astonishing writer.
Simpson doesn’t shy away from the complexity and nuance of the characters, who are at once survivors, victims and perpetrators of trauma grounded in dispossession and injustice. However, nor does she deny these characters joy and meaning in their lives – bringing their stories to the page with great tenderness and lyricism. This book is necessary reading for all Australians.
It’s hard not to drown Song of the Crocodile in awed praise but this book deserves every skerrick of hype. That it is Simpson’s debut feels like a magnificent question: what else might she bring us? For now, just surrender to her storytelling, rich with Yuwaalaraay language and song.
AUTHOR OF AN INSOLATED INCIDENT
STELLA PRIZE JUDGES' REPORT
Here you can explore recent podcasts, guest articles, interviews and revies and online content to do with Song of the Crocodile.