Born Again Blakfella- Jack Charles

I have been listening to the interesting biographical audible copy of Jack Charles. This book is narrated by Jack Charles as well. He has such a pleasant, deep reading voice and I enjoyed hearing his story. I didn’t know a lot about him until I saw the tv program of Anh Doh interviewing him and painting his portrait. The interview was interesting so when I saw Audible had the book I downloaded it.

Jack was born indigenous to a mother who had 11 children. All 11 of her children were ‘stolen’ from her when the Australian government thought they would do better being assimilated into the white world. He found his mother again in his later life but he was the only child she had that she ever saw again. He was an infant when taken so had no memory of her.

He grew up in an institution where he was sexually abused and beaten for years. When he did become a part of a foster family later in his childhood he was kicked out of their home when he announced he was gay.

The next few decades saw him arrested for drug and alcohol abuse and getting caught stealing from the rich home in eastern Melbourne. He was arrested and jailed 22 times in his life.

He had some good fortune between jail time as he was interested in acting and participated in some stage shows and later a film documentary of his life.

He went on to make several films during his later years.

Throughout the book it is obvious that although he went through a great deal of trauma in his life he remained a gentle person. He didn’t fight others or speak of his life with much anger. He was interested in learning and read when he could. He laughed at his experiences as a cat burglar, getting caught one night by someone who had seen him in a play and instead of calling the police in the middle of the night, made him a cup of tea. He agreed to not come back to that house again. He also made friends with some of the animals in the homes he robbed. There are many parts of his story where the reader can share a laugh with him and also feel the pain of never having had a family of his own. It is a very tragic tale but he continued on, moving from one adventure to another. I don’t know how he didn’t become twisted and bitter.

He travelled the world with the filmed documentary and began speaking to large groups. He is not in his late 70s and continuing his good humour.

The stories of the stolen generation of indigenous Australians are hard to read about. It was a policy that was doomed to failure from the very beginning and didn’t end until the 1960s. Man’s inhumanity to man. I enjoyed hearing his tale and found him to be an inspiring man despite his criminal past. He continues working with various media when he can. The audible book is a good experience as it is read by him and the reader becomes involved in his sorrow and his laughter. He is an example of someone who really has tried to make the best of things and I think those of us who have had easier lives can learn a lot from his attitude and stories.

12 thoughts on “Born Again Blakfella- Jack Charles

  1. Interesting post. A terrible policy on the part of your neighbours. Mind you, Tazzies is part of Oz, isn’t it? amazing that he survived and , in a sense, thrived.


  2. the stupidity of those in power as well: no end to that, it seems…. a lot of character in that face; he looks like a person who knows things…


    1. You’re not wrong there. His face does show a great deal of character. Hope you’re safe from the fires there….and the awful smoke. My sister was in Oregon last week and sent me photos of the sky. Quite alarming.


      1. the smoke is the worst. dry smoke is bad, but combined with a bit of rain, it’s a whole lot worse: stuck in the house feeling woozy for the last several days…

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