They Crossed a Continent

They Crossed a Continent

Margaret Somerville, Shady Tree

This book is Margaret Somerville’s impressive story.

Originally written as a letter to her parents as she helped escort 95 Indigenous children to safety across the centre of Australia during Japanese attack, it was later typed and recorded as part of Methodist history and released as a book.

This hardcover re-issue incorporates essays and stunning photographs to further bring Margaret’s story to life.

The supportive material by historians Peter and Sheila Forrest go far toward filling out the circumstances surrounding her journey. They provide a factual path through an uncomfortable period of Australian history and shed light on what the Methodist Church was thinking at the time.

This is both a highly readable book and a beautiful one which many Uniting Church members — and Australian citizens — will devour with great interest.

Best read in conjunction with the documentary Croker Island Exodus, which also follows Somerville’s letters and shows footage from the launch of this book, where she was reunited with some of the now well-grown “children” who valued her devoted care.
This book can be ordered through Somerville Community Services at

Lyndal Irons


2 thoughts on “They Crossed a Continent”

  1. Pingback: In memoriam – Margaret Somerville | Canberra Region Presbytery

  2. (Sister) Olive Sanders, née Peake, who also made this trek, was a dear friend and mother figure to me when we moved our young family from rural western Victoria to Hornsby North NSW in 1984.
    I loved her deeply, even helped her with showering after she broke her leg in an accident. She was a great help to me in keeping my Faith strong.
    She passed away after a short illness, while we were in SA on a holiday, so I never got to say goodbye, or even go to her funeral.

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