The Process of Creating Tiwi Girl Hunters!

The Process of Creating Tiwi Girl Hunters!

In November this year we held a Create Initiative workshop with senior students from Tiwi College. The students came to Sydney to write, illustrate and publish a book in just one week at the Hachette Australia office with the help of ILF Ambassadors Shelley Ware and David Lawrence.

Latisha (left) and Sandra (right) with the front cover of Tiwi Girl Hunters

When the girls from Tiwi College arrived in Sydney, their first stop was to Sydney Taronga Zoo! The short bus ride from the ferry to the zoo was uneventful until the driver suddenly applied the brakes and Coral took off into the air like Supergirl! 

Once inside, everyone had a ball! The highlight was the seal show, and the lowlight was the much-hyped (by teacher Ashlee) Fishing Cat, which looked exactly like a … cat! 

Tiwi College Students at Sydney Taronga Zoo

The next day, despite having to jump on a bus and use Opal cards for the first time, these budding authors arrived at the Hachette office, where they spent the next 3 days in intensive workshops and brainstorming ideas for their book. They latched onto a hunting theme and decided there would be two central characters – including one who laughed like the seal they’d seen perform the day before.

Shelley Ware and David Lawrence putting the book ideas together

After fleshing out the characters they worked out a start, middle and end for their story. They then split the story up into 9 chapters and began writing, either on their own or in pairs - splitting the book between them while some of the girls began illustrations – “For a group that said they couldn’t draw they did an amazing job!” said David.

Working on chapter 6 of the story

By the end of day one, everyone was exhausted. There was still a lot of work to do, but one of the students, Kayla stepped up and gave the group a shot of confidence when she read out a chapter she’d written. “It was awesome! Everyone was excited all over again.

On the way back to the hotel we dropped into Madame Tussauds for some laughter and fun -  Tisha gave teacher Joy the fright of her life with a rubber snake from the gift shop!

The next day was crucial and after Hachette’s Editor Chrys gave the girls some tips they launched into more writing, editing and drawing. They also voted on the title of their book,  the winner being … Tiwi Girl Hunters. 

Workshop Day 3 at Hachette

Overnight Chrys stitched together all the chapters for the girls to read through and make their final editing decisions, voted on the book cover - all before lunch on the Wednesday! 

Pulling it all together before heading to print, the group then workshopped the critical first sentence - they were told it had to be engaging enough to hook the readers at first glance, as well as the blurb for the back of the book and where to place their beautiful drawings. The last task was to make sure the glossary at the back of the book included all the relevant (correctly spelled) Tiwi words and definitions. 

Bella writing out a glossary of words in Tiwi language

In amongst this mayhem, the NITV crew arrived to interview the girls for a spot on the nightly news. The pressure was really on because the book needed to be sent to the printer early in the afternoon to make sure copies would be ready for launch on Friday morning. Ay Caramba! 

Watch the NITV news segment here.

Tiwi Regional Coordinator, Bella, being interviewed by NITV

As the book was being printed on Thursday, the girls ventured out to the GWS Giants training facility. Mal Lynch (Manager of Indigenous Inclusion, and Diversity) took the girls through an amazing session that included health advice, life tips, goal setting and some really fun footy drills. 

The participants with Mal Lynch at the Giants headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park

The only injury sustained was to ILF Ambassador David’s ego when he fell flat on his face while attempting to re-live former glories! 

Sandra did manage to display some real skills though, and won a signed footy jumper for winning the best goal kicker competition.

The participants with Mal Lynch at the Giants headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park

On Friday morning it was time for the book launch at a beautiful venue at Lendlease in Barangaroo. The girls’ beaming smiles as they opened the box containing their brand-new creation was priceless. What they had achieved in less than a week was just starting to dawn on them. 

Launch of Tiwi Girl Hunters at Lendlease

The launch was a moving experience for everyone in the room. Bella, who had been on the Create program three times as a student before joining the ILF as a Regional Coordinator in her home Community on Tiwi Islands, kicked off the launch with a great speech. ILF Ambassadors Shelley Ware and David Lawrence praised the girls who were on their second Create trip (Hilda, Tina, Winnie and Sandra) and the four newbies (Coral, Alice, Kayla and Tisha) for their hard work and brilliant storytelling.

Launch of Tiwi Girl Hunters at Lendlease

Tiwi teacher Ashlee spoke about her students’ character and ILF Programs Manager Tictac Moore read the first chapter of Tiwi Girl Hunters. The audience hung on every word before breaking into a huge round of applause. 

As they say on Tiwi: Bother wan!

Launch of Tiwi Girl Hunters at Lendlease

The only sad part of Create Week is saying goodbye to these amazing young authors before they fly back to Tiwi. Hopefully, all eight will return next year to take further gigantic strides forward with their literacy skills!

We’d like to thank our ILF Create 2023 Proud Partner Australia Post and Publishing Partner Hachette Australia.

ILF Ambassadors Shelley Ware and David Lawrence

Written by ILF Ambassador David Lawrence 

  • Posted 14 December, 2023

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