Launch of Tony Davis’s book ‘White Sails & Charcoal’

L-R: Wayne Tyler, Tony Davis, and David Clark. Photo: Annette Davis, Albany Library, 1 July 2023.

I am delighted to report that the long-awaited book by Tony Davis, White Sails & Charcoal: Stories of Coincidence, Bella Kelly and Carrolup has been published by Hesperian Press. I was thrilled to attend the book launch last Saturday in Tony’s home town of Albany. It was an important and moving occasion.

I was lucky enough to read an earlier version of Tony’s book a few years ago and I found it to be a cracking read. It covers so many fascinating aspects of the history of  Western Australia. Here is what is written on the back of Tony’s book:

‘The discovery of stone artefacts on a farm in the Great Southern of Western Australia sparked a small boy’s interest in the Aboriginal past. Eleven years later, that boy, now a young man, saw an Aboriginal lady selling vibrant landscape paintings in the small town of Cranbrook, Western Australia. A year later he purchased his first Noongar painting from her.

The artists was Bella Kelly. The buyer was Tony Davis.

Some 18 years later, after having collected more of Bella’s paintings from other sources, by sheer coincidence, Tony and Bella met again. A strong family friendship developed.

White Sails and Charcoal begins with a peaceful, yet tragic, meeting of the Noongar people and first European explorers and settlers, on the south coast of Western Australia.

Influences of early family dynasties, the conundrum of the Carrolup Settlement, wartime secrets, coincidences between Noongar storytelling and historic happenings, and a myriad of other unexpected events emerge from the purchase of one little painting.’

As an aside, I should point out that the person on the left of the above photograph, Wayne Tyler, is the grandson of one of the Tyler brothers who farmed at Carrolup between 1924-1939, at a time when it was not used as a native settlement.

The first book that Tony presented at the launch, as you can see in the film below, was to Wendy, his adopted part-Aboriginal sister. I was deeply moved by this presentation.

I can highly recommend Tony’s book. I will be posting various snippets from the book in future blog posts.

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