Anita Heiss presented the launch of her new book 'Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray' at Griffith City Library, at an evening event dedicated to the memory of Roger Penrith.
The evening featured talks and memorials from the family of Roger Penrith, as well as readings from the book and a healing song from Letitia Harris and son Yindyamarra.
Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray, or 'River of Dreams', is set in the 1850s, during and just after the great flood of Gundagai that killed a third of the town's population.
While the book is told from the perspective of the fictional Wagadhaany, the events are real and a significant portion focuses on Yarri and Jacky Jacky, two heroes who saved 53 lives over the course of three days.
Miss Heiss described the book as an effort to remember and discuss the legacy of heroes, as well as the history and culture of the first nations in Australia.
"The novel, to me, is a very small moment in time of NSW. I've talked a lot about the Wiradyuri and the different lives of indigenous people ... There was a surge last year in people who wanted to learn more about first nations. People are more conscious of their responsibility to learn."
The concept of understanding the legacy of heroes is also partly why Miss Heiss dedicated the evening to Roger and the Penrith family.
"The evening is talking about heroes and he was, of course, a hero to both his family and locals," she said.
Richard and Maydina Penrith both remembered Roger through a series of talks and memories, and his daughter Madison presented a welcome to Wiradyuri country.
Miss Heiss discussed that the book was open to interpretation, but her understanding of it centred on the relationships between the characters.
"For me, it's a story of resilience, love, hope and sovereignty. It's a story of Wiradyuri strength and pride."
The book is now widely available at all bookstores.
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