Tragic tale of first Aboriginal monks

I browsed the Yabun Festival stalls and found a fantastic book for $10, The Grand Experiment by Anouk Ride. It’s a true story of an Aussie journalist who saw an etching of two Aboriginal boys in monk outfits years ago in the New Norcia monastery, Western Australia. So she digs into the history and wrote this book.

The Aboriginal monks. Engraving: Pablo Alaborn, circa 1851, Benedictine Community of New Norcia Archive.

They were sent to Europe (by sailing ship) to learn Latin and Italian and English in Italian monasteries, and met the Pope. They travelled to England and France and South Africa.

One of them was very bright and learnt quickly but the other was homesick and hated it. The boys used to call letters “talking papers”, boats were “moving houses” and at first they thought boats were large animals.

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