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November 29, 2017


Position Doubtful

by N@ncy

Tanami Desert Australian Sunset



  1. The book is named after a term Mahood came across
  2. …in her father’s account of his expedition
  3. across the Tanami Desert in 1962.
  4. He observed that the only landmark marked anywhere near his route
  5. was marked Position Doubtful.


Kim Mahood:


Kim, daughter of a Tanami rancher…

  1. grew up in the region of Tanami Desert
  2. …on a cattle station  in East Kimberley.
  3. She was raised in part by Aboriginal people.
  4. She has a distinctly different and deeper relationship
  5. with the community here…
  6. living and working in Mulan for three months out of the year.
  7. Mahood has been painting a set of very large canvases
  8. that are at first simple topographical maps of the land.
  9. The maps are both works of art, but also
  10. documents that can help influence politics and policies.

In this book Mahood takes us with her as she returned for

  1. 20 years to a remote pocket of inland Australia that extends
  2. across the Tanami Desert to the edge of East Kimberley.
  3. A one time pilgrimage to the country of her late childhood has
  4. morphed into yearly field trips with her artist friend Pam Lofts.
  5. We were like migratory birds, driven to return year after year.” (pg 290)


There were very arcane chapters in which Manhood explains

  1. how she uses archaeological grids as an intermediary between
  2. her map making project and observance of aboriginal paintings.
  3. She learns to read the desert landscape with skill.
  4. Mahood uses these skills to give her maps and paintings  the
  5. visual shimmer of the desert breathing the Aboriginal essence into her works.


On a personal note….Mahood touchingly reveals her grief for

  1. friend Pam Lofts as she dies from MND (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
  2. She describes the map of their friendship.
  3. Mahood’s also makes peace with dog ghosts
  4. Old Sam who made the first pilgrimage,
  5. Slippers for seven trips and now her pal Pirate.


The best chapters are the last 3:

  1. Requiem
  2. Unstable Horizons 
  3. Undertow
  4. …just because they are so personal. (pg 286 – 339)


Last thoughts:

  1. This was a very informative but more importantly moving book.
  2. Kim Mahood  can PAINT  and WRITE !
  3. It is a combination of Jung and Geography
  4. It confirms what I also feel
  5. ….place, memory and emotion are  inextricably linked.
  6. Bravo…Kim Mahood
  7. #MustRead  or #MustListen  audiobook.
  8. PS: For @Brona’s Books
  9. …I learned another word that pops into my head
  10. ….when I think of Australia: “the cockroach bush!”


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 30 2017

    This is on my TBR pile & I had hoped to jump into this month, but non-fiction just isn’t working for me ATM.
    The Indigenous sense of country, belonging & community is something we can all learn from. And is something all Australians actually have in common, if we’d only listen to each other properly.

    Love the images you found got your post-I’ve never heard of (or seen) a cockroach bush before either!
    Learn something new everyday 👩🏽‍🎓


  2. residentjudge
    Dec 15 2017

    Beautifully presented review, thank you


    • Dec 15 2017

      Thanks so much for your comment….I love gazing at the Tanami sunset….it looks like infinity!



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. November Round-Up: History, Memoir, Biography. – Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
  2. #AusReadingMonth Wrap Up | NancyElin

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