June 27

Girt. Volume 1, From megafauna to Macquarie : the unauthorised history of Australia discussion questions

Girt by David Hunt is available as one of the Gold Coast Libraries’ book club kits.

**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**

Synopisis:  This unauthorised history of Australia is alternatively interesting and informative, and then irreverant and hilariously funny!  Girt is the hilarious story of Australia’s past – an account of the strange and weird moments which have combined to make Australian the place it is today. In the authors words, “Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia” (it is culled from the national anthem – our home is girt by sea).

Girt introduces many forgotten heroes and takes an insightful and fresh look at many characters from history whom we thought we knew – and then surprises us! It recounts the adventures and misfortunes of many individuals who have made Australia the place it is today, from pioneers to convicts. Girt tells the strange and unusual stories of the nations beginnings, from the pre-colonial times of megafauna – when  giant animals and birds roamed the shores, such as a ten-foot-tall kangaroo with a face like a gorilla and an ostrich-sized duck. It examines the Europeans who made early claims to discovering Australia (or just bumped into it accidentally), following through to Captain Cooks voyages and claims to the land.

Girt was the winner of the 2014 Indie Award for non-fiction. Hunt is writing a sequel, True Girt, which will continue the history into more modern years.

Discussion questions:

  1. Did you enjoy this book more for it’s humour or for the practical information it contains?
  2. Did the humour make learning historical facts easier for you, or would a more conventional and authoritative history of Australia carry more weight? Did the thoroughly researched and  fascinating information contained in the book get derailed by the persistent joke cracking?
  3. Did you feel that Hunt was fair to the Indigenous Australians, or a bit one-sided in his view of the European take-over of Australian lands? Or do you view the Aboriginals as having lived more harmoniously with nature than modern man did, in view of Hunt’s comments on now extict wildlife? Do you agree with Hunts comment ‘Innocent school children now needed to be taught to feel ashamed for being Australian and to say sorry for things they hadn’t done’ – or is that taking it a bit too far!
  4. Do you think that Girt would make a good introduction to history for Australian children? If so, what ages would it be best for?
  5. Girt takes an irreverent and sometimes shocking look at Australian history – even the footnotes are hilarious. Does it remain a believable account despite the humour?
  6. Girt showed Australia’s pioneers to be petty and flawed at times. Did you find this a narrow focus on Australian history, or do you think that little has changed in human nature over the years!

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