Paddy's Road: Life stories of Patrick Dodson

paddy's road cover

Kevin James Keeffe

Jan, 2003
Auto / Biography
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$29.95 RRP incl. GST


While Patrick Dodson's bearded image is well known, the remarkable history of this outstanding Aboriginal leader has never before been told. In Paddy's Road, Kevin Keeffe brings us stories of Dodson's life woven from interviews, government archives and family stories. This source material and Keeffe's social and political analysis uniquely describes the life and the political, cultural and spiritual beliefs of Australia's first Aboriginal Catholic priest, land rights activist, Royal Commissioner and founder of Australia's reconciliation movement.

Paddy's Road shares the story of Patrick Dodson's life and extraordinary family history. From the moment of colonisation in the Kimberleys to the era of native title, from pearling to pastoralism, through missions and institutions, this Aboriginal family has survived an uncaring and intrusive state system.

Dodson's grandparents were denied their inheritance, his mother forcibly relocated, his father imprisoned and his siblings detained. His family was forced to flee from the laws and systems set up to control their lives, to the Northern Territory, only to meet tragedy and loss. Along the road, Patrick and his family have maintained relationships with non-Aboriginal Australians of goodwill and compassion who have shared their journey, affirming what they had in common, rather than what set them apart.

This background shaped an outstanding life and a commitment to reconciliation. Paddy's Road is the history of one family, the biography of one man and a powerful story of an Australian life.

Reviews and endorsements

For many Australians, Patrick Dodson is the guy with the land rights hat and the flowing beard. With Paddy’s Road: Life stories of Patrick Dodson, Kevin Keeffe ensures that Dodson will also be remembered for being the first Aboriginal Priest and for his contributions to the reconciliation movement…While we learn a lot about the road Patrick Dodson has travelled, the book provides few significant insights into the man himself.

-- Australian Book Review, February 2004

The title Paddy’s Road is a clever and accurate description of the rich historical journey that underpins this biography of the Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson. Rather than just recounting Dodson’s life, this is a poignant, and often troubling, story about Broome and the Kimberley, from the first sighting by William Dampier to the modern day. Indeed, apart from scattered vignettes of events in Dodson’s life, the chronological details of his life do not start until page 148. Prior to that, anthropologist and friend Kevin Keeffe explores the dark and brutal history of black-white relations in far-north Western Australia. Then it is on to Dodson’s life – as a footballer, the first Aboriginal priest, and our most powerful Aboriginal leader (until he found he could not work for the Howard Government). This is a careful, well-researched biography of a remarkable Australian.

-- Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald, September 2003

Last reviewed: 3 Jul 2020