Community News

Rafferty comes home to Yamba

A children’s book based on the life of a boy in Yamba during the 1950s is one of five by award-winning author Dr Joan Woodberry that will be presented to the Yamba Library on Friday (August 24).

Dr Woodberry, a former Maclean school teacher, was born in the western NSW town of Narrabri and had a personal connection with Lower Clarence resident Joyce Clague who was one of two girls from the Aboriginal community who left home to pursue training – in Mrs Clague’s case as a nurse.

Mrs Clague and husband Colin have been passionate about getting copies of the five books and donating them to the Clarence Regional Library.

Dr Woodberry’s books were published between 1959 and 1968, with four of them based on a boy named ‘Rafferty’ and on life in Yamba in the 1950s.  The third book in the series, ‘Rafferty rides a winner’ was awarded joint best book of 1962 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

She published 10 children’s books, annotated five historic sketchbooks, wrote six children’s plays for ABC radio, and published five textbooks on English for Australian schools. She also presented many papers at conferences and helped other writers by editing their works. She was named a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her services to education and literature. She died in 2010.

Students from Palmers Island and Yamba public schools have been invited to attend to read passages of the stories at Fridays’ presentation.

An excerpt from her second book, Floodtide for Rafferty, recounts the dramas of the 1954 flood, when four boys join the crew of a boat that heads up river from Yamba, describing a Mrs Sillanpaa as: “an old peasant woman in a headscarf who was sitting on the roof, sawing away at a loaf of bread with a carving knife.”

The book donation from Mr and Mrs Clague will be at 2pm at Yamba Library on Friday.  For further information contact the Regional Librarian on 6641 0100.