Aaron Smith’s new memoir holds up a unique mirror to Australia. What he sees is at once amazing, disturbing and revealing. The Rockexplores the failings of our nation’s character, its unresolved past and its uncertain future from the vantage point of its most northerly outpost, Thursday Island.
Smith was the last editor, fearless journalist and the paperboy of Australia’s most northerly newspaper, The Torres News, a small independent regional tabloid that, until it folded in late 2019, was the voice of a predominantly Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal readership for 63 years across some of the most remote and little understood communities in Australia.
The Rock is a story of self-discovery where Smith grapples to understand a national identity marred by its racist underbelly, where he is transplanted from his white-boy privileged suburban life to being a racial and cultural minority, and an outsider. Peppered with his experiences, Smith gradually and sensitively becomes embedded in island life while vividly capturing the endless and often farcical parade of personalities and politicians including Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.
Smith pulls no punches while he reflects on the history of Terra Australis incognita, dissecting what is truly Australia, and its gaping cultural and moral divide.