For 40, 000 years the Central NSW area of Wellington was Aboriginal – Wiradjuri – land. Following the arrival of white men, it became a penal settlement, mission station, gold-mining town and farming centre with a history of white comfort and black marginalisation. In the late 20th century, it was also the subject of the first post-Mabo Native Title claim, bringing new hope – and new controversy – to the area and its people.
Wiradjuri land is also where author Patti Miller was born and, mid-life, it begins to exert a compelling emotional pull, demanding her return. Post-children, having lived a dream life in Paris, it is hard for her to understand, or ignore, and so she is drawn into the story at the heart of Australian identity – who are we in relation to our beloved but stolen country?
Wellington and the Wiradjuri people are the main characters – and in revealing their complex narratives, Patti uncovers her own. Are her connections to this place through her convict forefathers, or through another, secret history? She sets out on a journey of exploration and takes us with her. Black and white politics, the processes of colonisation, family mythologies, generational conflict and the power of place are evoked as Patti weaves a story that is very personal and, at the same time, a universal story of country and belonging.
The Mind of a Thief is about identity, history, place and belonging and, perhaps most of all, about how we create ourselves through our stories.