A manifesto is a public declaration that spells out a set of ideals and intentions. Have you ever thought of writing one?

Manifestos are often produced by groups, such as political parties, religious associations and art movements to make obvious their views and plans. But individuals can write them too.

A while ago I started to think about the value of writing a personal manifesto. I wanted to sit myself down and get some things clear and straight. I needed to regroup and reset.

At the time I felt that my life was messy, gridlocked and overwhelming. I thought it might help to pin down what I value and how I want to move forward. I figured if I ever felt lost again I could read my manifesto to get back on track.

It took a few days to draft and refine what I wanted to say to myself and finally my manifesto took the shape of this poem:


like haiku

live in a hut swept clean

in a garden with a fence 

on a hill with a view

like a hand written letter

unfold the past with care

wrap goodness in ribbons 

burn the rest

shake the ashes off your shoes

trust yourself

to remember

to decide

to bear up

to heal

to learn

like a lighthouse


sweep the darkness

beam through 

be true

like water

finding its course

be sure

and deep too

like dirt

holding seeds

of hope 

wait long for rain

be tender

gaze on each day 

with its newborn face

wonder at the Earth

who tends to you

look now in the eye

hear its pulse 

let it smell your fear

ruffle its mane

be leisurely

over cups of tea 

sit with silence

let mystery linger

count your breath 

and all your bones

balance all

that pulls

and pushes 

tango with possibility

dine with diversity

fly daydreams like kites 

grasp adventure

like the hand of a beloved

listen to the broken parts

they will tell you

what is needed

you will have the courage

to live forgiveness

to believe in pearls

to expect beauty 

in the wild

to give love away

to let it run 

through your fingers

like honey 

and not call it back

to be all

you were imagined

to be

©2019Belle Perry

Walk Together With Courage

27 May – 3 June 2019 is almost over but I wanted to mark National Reconciliation Week this year in a small way. I have been thinking a great deal about the theme:

Grounded in Truth, Walk Together With Courage

It is a powerful and positive message and motivated me to share one of the most remarkable stories of reconciliation that I know.

About six years ago I was in my car running errands and listening to Richard Fidler’s Conversations on ABC Radio. A man named John Danalis was explaining to Richard that when he was growing up there was a human skull sitting on the mantelpiece in his home. The skull was affectionately named ‘Mary’ and it was the skull of a deceased Aboriginal person.

I was completely intrigued (and horrified) by the beginning of John’s story but unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch the end of the interview. Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I decided to track down the book and read the rest of the story for myself.

I found Riding With the Black Cockatoo at the local library but I loved it so much I bought my own copy. It is a true story and was published in 2009 by Allen and Unwin. In the book John unfolds how he sought the truth of ‘Mary’s’ origins and through a series of events arranged for her (who turns out to be a him) to be repatriated to the Wamba Wamba nation whose country lies either side of the Murray River.

Wyrker Milloo Gary Murray of the Wamba Wamba nation notes in his Welcome to Country at the beginning of the book:

Kindness and truth will open doors and break down barriers.

In the case of ‘Mary’, kindness and truth ultimately took her home. John’s writing is candid and funny, yet poignant and gracious too. Fiona Doyle Oochunyung wrote in the Afterword:

This story is the first yarn I know of told by a whitefella who appears to have entered into our place. He has begun to connect, to quite simply, get it.

My favourite comment about John’s story is what Boori Monty Pryor wrote in the Foreword:

…majestic and poetic, Riding the Black Cockatoo is a nation’s journey through its growing pains of race and colour. We lie within the pages of black on white. We belong to this story and it belongs to us. Thank you, John, for having the courage to search and find ways that will make us all better.

To hear Richard Fidler’s interview with John Danalis click on the link below:


To find a copy of Riding the Black Cockatoo try one of the branches of the Blue Mountains City Library or one of our excellent bookshops:

  • The Turning Page, Springwood
  • Megalong Books, Leura
  • The Little Lost Bookshop, Katoomba