August 7th 2010
Julian Assange’s mother recalls Magnetic
Following a fascinating article in the New Yorker magazine, no less, that a former resident of Magnetic Island has grown up to become the now very-much-talked about founder of Wiki-leaks, Mr Julian Assange, Island gossip has run hot with little success with all and sundry trying to recall anything they could about the elusive ‘nonconformist’ Assanges. But today a living and loving trace of the Assange’s Magnetic history has emerged following a chance browse through the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre’s “Can you help us” visitor’s book by our peerless local historian, and the Centre’s President Ms Zanita Davies.
What caught Zanita’s eye was a charming entry by non other than Julian’s mother, who has moved to and from Magnetic Island several times since first coming to our shores in 1971.
The account adds only a glimpse into the childhood of Mr Assange, who some have described as the most dangerous man in America and others have lauded for his organisations’ use of the Internet to show the world secrets: including the grim, but highly revealing footage in which the US military shot and killed 18 people on the street in Iraq -some of whom turned out to be Reuters’ journalists - and Wiki-leaks’, hotly controversial, 90,000 page leak of military details of the day to day conflict in Afghanistan.
The Magnetic connection is however a blissful world away from the horrors or Iraq and Afghanistan and the brief account by Assange’s mother tells of the simple, “going native” lifestyle that still draws people to Magnetic and reveals her continuing love for the Island with a question mark hanging over a further visit.
We note however that Ms Assange’s snake identification skills may, however, lead locals into further debate as Magnetic is considered by most to be free of taipans. In an effort to protect the family's privacy we will, take the lead of the New Yorker and refer to Julian's mother as "Claire".
From September 28, 2009, Ms Assange writes:
My name is Assange. I have lived on the Island three times. 1971 as a single mum with a young baby. I rented an island cottage for $12 per week in Picnic Bay. It is still here. It had a green concrete floor and floor to ceiling wooden louvres and a central “cyclone” pole bolted into the floor. It survived Althea. I lived in a bikini, “going native” with my baby and other mums on the island. I used to catch a white cowie shell I found (sic) . Old Pat, an elderly gentleman who leased the Nobbys Headland for $500 for 10 years and lived in a broken down stone house would have us up for tea once a week. He was a chef before retiring and always wore a safari jacket. Great for filling up on the mainland of all manner of delicious goodies for us. Back again in 1976 with new husband. Lived in Horseshoe Bay on an old abandoned pineapple farm. Slashed way to front door with machete. Shot a taipan in the water tank and on son’s bed. Had to suspend fruit from ceiling to protect from possums.
Back again in 1982 with another little child. Lived in a flat on esplanade in Picnic Bay. Back again as a grandmother with long term boyfriend - still in love with island - only staying 2 weeks.
The article in the New Yorker, titled, No Secrets, by Raffi Khatchadourian, includes the following paragraph with Julian Assange referring to his times on Magnetic
Assange was born in 1971, in the city of Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, but it is probably more accurate to say that he was born into a blur of domestic locomotion. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother—I will call her Claire—married a theatre director, and the two collaborated on small productions. They moved often, living near Byron Bay, a beachfront community in New South Wales, and on Magnetic Island, a tiny pile of rock that Captain Cook believed had magnetic properties that distorted his compass readings. They were tough-minded nonconformists. (At seventeen, Claire had burned her schoolbooks and left home on a motorcycle.) Their house on Magnetic Island burned to the ground, and rifle cartridges that Claire had kept for shooting snakes exploded like fireworks. “Most of this period of my childhood was pretty Tom Sawyer,” Assange told me. “I had my own horse. I built my own raft. I went fishing. I was going down mine shafts and tunnels.”
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