Pat Grant’s “Blue” – A Reading Diary

by Jo Hoffs
cartoon boy shown doing several steps of surfing

Pat Grant’s Blue is a graphic novel about surfing, about community, about migration and conservatism. First and foremost, it is a story about xenophobia, and about a blue alien race migrating to the fictional town of Bolton. We meet Christian, a Bolton citizen who starts off his story by complaining that the blue aliens “pretty much own the whole town now” (Grant 25). Christian is angry and frustrated – he wants everything to remain the way he knew it from his childhood, a time he spent surfing and having fun with his friends.

Once Christian starts telling the story of how he went looking for a corpse along the train tracks, I was immediately reminded of the novel The Body by Steven King – a similarity which was intended, as Pat Grant explains in an essay at the end. A huge theme in The Body is friendship and finding a sense of belonging somewhere. The four boys in The Body come from difficult family situations where they are either abused or neglected. During their adventure together, they find a sense of community and make some – not always positive – memories. In Blue the feeling of community and friendship also plays a part. Here, it is expressed through one of Pat Grant’s passions: Surfing. Christian, the protagonist of the story, like Geordie from The Body, tells the audience about his youth: A time where he often missed school to go surfing with two of his friends, “the only ones with families lousy enough to let them get away with it” (Grant 38). Christian still longs for this time, because it was a time when there were no blue people in Bolton yet. “You play spot the Aussie around here these days”, he tells the reader. As an introduction to his character, this is perfect because it immediately shows some of his main characteristics: He is a racist middle-aged man missing the days when he was not confronted by the existence of other cultures yet. At the time when Christian and his friends are looking for the body, the blue people have just arrived in Bolton, making it a huge topic of discussion among them. The first time they meet a blue person themselves the friends are already prejudiced wanting the immigrants to go back to “Oogety-Boong Land” (Grant 55).

from: Grant, Pat. Blue. Top Shelf, 2013.

The allegory of immigrants as a blue alien species in this graphic novel is interesting but at the same time confused me a bit. In my opinion, the political implications weren’t always clear, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing but in a story so heavily focused around a political issue, it weakens the material. On the one hand, the inhabitants of Bolton are biased against the immigrants for xenophobic reasons, as it becomes apparent on page 28, when racist slogans like “we grew here, you flew here” are shown. On the other hand, the blue aliens according to Christian do not take good care of the city, as there is garbage everywhere and the plants are dead (page 25). Without reading the author’s essay at the end, I would not have been sure if this story is actually pro-immigration.

When it comes to the visuals of the story, I like the drawing style and the use of the light blue color in contrast to the black, grey, and sometimes brown colors used for the Bolton natives. Sometimes there are dozens of panels on one page, which gets overwhelming to me personally if there are many word balloons to read (e.g., Grant 58). Another nice touch to the story was the Australian slang words in the dialogue. However, this also complicates the reading experience for those who are not familiar with Australian slang. Footnotes would have been helpful here.

While I enjoyed the story and its different themes – community, racism, generational conflicts, bullying – it left me a bit confused as to what to take away from the story. It feels to me like the author attempted to take the story into multiple interesting directions but failed to properly work out any of them. There is no character development on Christian’s part, no other characters to give some kind of a satisfying conclusion and especially, there is not much of a take-away from the story. Nevertheless, I would recommend this graphic novel, as I think it’s possible to have many different views on it and speaking from experience, every re-read helps you discover new aspects.

Works Cited

Grant, Pat. Blue. Top Shelf, 2013.

Thoughts on the Wordless Graphic Novel The Arrival by Shaun Tan

by Johanna E. 

“My picture books are essentially an attempt to subversively reimagine everyday experience,” Shaun Tan says about his own work (Haber 23). His graphic novel The Arrival (2006) is a clear example for Tan’s usage of fantastic element to reimagine everyday occurences. In The Arrival, we a re dealing with the reimagined everyday experience of a refugee, starting a life in a new place far from home. In six chapters the graphic novel tells the story of a man who has to immigrate to a different country and leave his wife and daughter behind because of the dangers facing the family in their home country. Eventually, his family follows him after he has found a place to live and a place to work. His experiences are told without words so that the storytelling relies entirely on the illustrations. The subversion of the very common immigration themes of feeling displaced and overwhelmed in the new situation is especially present because realistic elements are juxtaposed with fantastical elements to depict the migrant experience.     

It becomes clear from the beginning that words are not necessary for Shaun Tan to convey the meaning of his story because the composition of panels, illustrations and icons makes it possible to be (almost) universally understood. This has the interesting effect that the story does not require anyone to either know English or any other language in particular. I liked this aspect of the story, especially because it reminded me of my own family member telling me about her migration story which was made a lot harder because of the language barrier and the loneliness that comes with that. The immigrant in the story also deals with language barriers as the new language system is completely foreign to him and it takes time until he is able to make sense of it. This is one of the reasons why the lack of words in the narrative works so well for an immigration story because understanding very often relies on knowing a certain language and the graphic novel removes this boundary for any of its potential readers. Additionally, using no words requires the reader to take a closer look at each and every panel and icon, which makes the reader engage with the illustrations more thoroughly.                

six panels showing the protagonist's hands as they carefully pack a family photograph

            The art style Shaun Tan uses is an interesting mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Generally, the panels and icons are drawn in a very realistic way, meaning the main characters, the refugee and his family, look similar to the way they might look in an old photograph. The entire book reads like an old document that is put together as a remembrance for the migrant´s experiences. Furthermore, Shaun Tan often “zooms” in and out of his panels or focuses on hand gestures which has a very humanizing effect amidst the many fantastical elements. In many instances, Tan shows the main character´s hand movements to symbolize his inner feelings and turmoil, like when his hand flexes in pain because he has to leave his family or when he holds on tight to his suitcase on the journey. Some pages zoom away from the small gestures to the characters as tiny specks in a city full of fantastical monsters which emphasizes the danger they are surrounded by in their home country.


In contrast to the rather realistic icons and panels we also have the fantastical elements the main character encounters as soon as he arrives in the new place. The more he explores the city, the more fantastical the elements like food, the buildings, the transportation, or the language system become. These fantastical elements are juxtaposed with the realistic art style Shaun Tan uses for the illustrations. The unidentifiable food, the strange animals or the unreadable language represent the newness of the place where the main characters immigrated to and how difficult it is to find your way around at first. Because these elements are not specific to any real culture, every reader is confronted with this strangeness in the same way. You do not really know what to make of the elements at first but they become more familiar with every chapter which connects the reader and the refugee as neither knows what the fantastical elements mean at first.                

four panels showing a newspaper boy with a newspaper in a strange language, a housewife with a strange pet, a strange vending wagon, and two people handling giant eggs

            One aspect concerning the realistic drawing of people reminded me of Scott McCloud´s discussion of comics and graphic novels as he states that “when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face, you see it as the face of another. But when you enter the world of the cartoon, you see yourself” (McCloud 36). For Tan´s work that would mean the realistic drawing of faces makes it more difficult to relate to the character´s experiences as you have a specific face you are confronted with. However, Shaun Tan seems to have a different view on relatability when it comes to drawing realistically which I thought was interesting to compare. He states that “The absence of any written description in The Arrival seemed to place the reader more firmly in the shoes of an anonymous protagonist.” (Arizpe et al. 161). Therefore, there seems to be a difference in approach as McCloud highlights the importance of abstraction for relatability whereas Shaun Tan does create a realistic-looking character but, because the story is told without words, there is more room for interpretation as different readers might make different connections between panels according to their own backgrounds. Furthermore, I think that a lot of the relatability of his work comes from the magical elements, which are jarring for all readers alike, and act as stand-ins for real life experiences of learning a new language, or not understanding the food, animals, or cities. I think that generally, McCloud and Tan have the same idea in mind though, because ultimately both play with the illusion of engaging the readers to feel represented and see themselves in the comic or graphic novel, just through different techniques.             

The importance of the lack of words, and the realism juxtaposed with the fantastical elements, is what the story lives off and what makes it compelling and new. There is a lot more you can say about The Arrival and the way meaning is constructed but for now, I think that the way the story is told is quite unique, especially in terms of the art style. This makes it possible for every kind of reader to connect with the story, especially people who have gone through similar experiences.


  • Arizpe, Evelyn, Teresa Colomer, and Carmen Martinez-Roldain. Visual Journey Through Wordless Narratives: An International Inquiry with Immigrant Children and The Arrival. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
  • Haber, Karen. Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Collection of the Most Inspiring         Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Gaming Illustrators in the world. Rockport Publishers, 2011.
  • McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. HarperPerennial, 1994.
  • Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Hodder Children´s Books, 2007.                  

Translating Laila Lalami

by Emire Gül Yildiz

As a group, we chose the translatory strategy of foreignization to translate the excerpts from The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami because we wanted to retain the source text’s information without changing the meaning (cf. Bassnett 2014, 47). For example, the novel has many Spanish and Arabic words. Therefore there was no intention to translate them into German, like the word Señor (Lalami 2014, 47).

Each of the group members took over a specific part of the text and first translated this excerpt individually, which is the part of our translation that I am going to focus on in this post:

During the translation process, I didn’t encounter significant difficulties. However, due to our decision to stay close to the original text, we had to find the balance between maintaining the original meaning and writing a grammatically correct German translation. Sometimes this was not as easy as it seemed.

Furthermore, another problem was the grammar, primarily because of the different sentence structures. When I began translating in the same sentence order as the English text, the result showed that the German text was full of grammatical errors and changed the meaning of the source text. Consequently, I had to find different approaches to modify the sentences until the syntax and meaning were both accurate, which took some time.

All in all, I can say that I had much fun translating my text excerpt. I learned a lot during the translation process, especially the importance of deciding which translation method to choose for the text. The procedure demands an understanding of the cultural references of the source text because we choose how to connect the author and the readers. By deciding on foreignization, we ensure the author can deliver her message without distorting the meaning.

Works Cited
Bassnett, Susan. Translation. London / New York: Routledge, 2014.
Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. New York: Vintage, 2014.

Translation: A Constant Act of Balancing Words

by Lea-Marie Schneider

Translation can be done in several ways with different emphases and different theories in mind. The focus we had was based on one of Walkowitz’s theories about the Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (Walkowitz 2015) which critically engages with the global dominance of English written novels. Born translated novels are written to be translated or even as if they are already translated. Those texts are treated either “as medium and origin rather than as afterthought” (Walkowitz 3-4) translations and mostly “pretend[…] to take place in a language other than the one in which they have been composed” (Walkowitz 4). The focus of the seminar was to engage with the Anglophone Arab Novel and how the authors managed to write their stories in English with contexts and plots that are tied to another culture. Those various forms of translation that happened in the process of writing of the authors are impacting the understanding of a potential readership who possibly do not have knowledge about the Arabic cultures, values, or habits.

The excerpt that was translated by us as a group was taken from the novel The Moor’s Account (2015) written by the author Laila Lalami. Our translation was mainly informed by Rebecca Walkowitz’s Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (2015). The novel is a historical fictional narrative and tells the story of Mustafa ibn Muhammad, a Moroccan slave who explores La Florida with a Castilian exploration crew and his owner. First, we agreed to stay as close to the original text as possible and tried to keep the meaning and the mood the source text conveys. This required us to consider the overall context of the novel and the context of the particular part that was to be translated. The fact that the novel’s genre is that of historical fiction was also a big part of the translation in terms of word choices. For example, the word “treasurer” (Lalami 47) can be translated into the word “Kämmerer” or “Schatzmeister”. The second possibility seemed more natural as a word choice because the novel is a historical fictional narrative and therefore ancient terminology fits more into the overall context. We also decided to keep the Spanish words and names as they are without translating them into German. For example, the Spanish word “Señor” (Lalami 47) was kept and was not translated into the German version Senior. This reminds the potential reader of other languages and places and possibly expands the view of the superiority of a language. As translators we always had to be aware of the grammar of both languages, the target and the source language. Changing the word order sometimes caused problems and changed the whole meaning. The sense was sometimes lost in translation but could be restored by the position of several words. Sometimes even the usage of metaphorical sentences is problematic and could cause misunderstandings. Therefore, we agreed upon a less metaphorical style and translated “he never said it to the treasurers face” (Lalami 47) into “in Abwesenheit des Schatzmeisters”.

The process of translation was a permanent balance of what makes the most sense and what keeps the implied mood of the novel. Even if in the position of the translator one tries to preserve as much meaning as possible with the willingness to keep the sentence structure, there are always compromises and decisions to be made. It is surprising how much one person can think about the choice of a word out of five options and how much time one paragraph can consume. Even though you are not the writer of the novel the decisions that you make can affect the novel and the meaning of the whole translation.

Works Cited

Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. Vintage; Reprint Edition, 2015.
Walkowitz, Rebecca. Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: A movie about female emancipation and feminism

by Adesua Atamah

At first glance the Australian movie Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller seems to be a stereotypical action movie; wild car chases, burning gasoline tanks, and deadly car crashes. But when you move your focus towards deeper meaning, the movie is clearly about women’s empowerment and feminism. Six women fighting for their freedom, against a cruel postapocalyptic regime. Six women are trying to escape their male predators in a world marked by a collapsed society, famine, droughts, male leadership, and natural catastrophes.

“Our babies will not be warlords.” “Who ruined the world? “We are not things.”

This is the powerful message left behind by five brave women who escaped dictator Joe. Imprisoned and used as “breeding machines”, their only purpose was to bear Joe more sons. Joe is the gruesome ruler, oppressing society by controlling the overall water supplies. Moreover, he especially oppresses women by taking away their freedom and sexually assaulting them. His character is a good example for many misogynistic men – men who are hostile towards women by believing they are more worthy and capable than women. Their message embodies what many women have felt for centuries. Even though the movie is set in the future the patriarchy still exists, moreover, it worsened. It is an act of rebellion when these five-woman escape with heroine Furiosa’s help. They actively emancipate themselves and risk their lives for independence. They rather die in a deadly car chase than submit to male torture and oppression.

Furiosa is the heroine of the story, and she embodies female empowerment and strength. She is the only female among the military ranks who serves in Joe as an imperator. When she was ordered to protect Joe’s wives, she forms a bond with the women and decides to escape with them, by hiding the women in the tank of her War rig, which she used to drive for Joe. She turned to a rebel overnight. She deceives Joe and catches him off guard. Her strength, commitment, and intelligence all contribute to their success in the end. She tricks Joe and escapes with his wives. Joe sees the women as his property and therefore gets angry when he noticed he was tricked. He responds with a violent hunt; however, he is defeated in the end. When the women return to Joe’s fortress they are cheered up and celebrated as heroes.

In the movie, men want to achieve singular glory. However, Furiosa and the other women work together as a team and their success is built by a collective power. In the end, they can improve the oppressive system of this post-apocalyptic society. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a movie about feminism and the rebellion against the patriarchy. Women fight as a team against men who try to bring back old gender roles, and male authority. Therefore, the movie also tries to warn us by implying that fight for gender equality is not over yet. Misogyny is not only a problem of the past, but also a problem of the present, and future. Misogyny can just be defeated if women work together and not against each other.

Crikey! Australian Voices in Borderlands The Pre-sequel

by Danny Tran

“Hello hello? Thought you were salvage, you are about to die!”

Following the action-packed opening mission and violently crash landing on the moon of Concordia, Borderlands The Pre-sequel, with its bizarre but strangely amusing name, opens up with a thick Australian accent, something that took most gamers by surprise.

Known for its quirky dialogue and loot-based gameplay, Borderlands has been deemed the precursor of the “looter shooter” genre, a genre that to this day is unbelievably successful. While the original games Borderlands 1, 2, 3 were all developed by American studio Gearbox Software, 2K Australia, a subsidiary studio under the branch of Gearbox studios, pitched the idea of a prequel game following the release of Borderlands 2.

This prequel would explore the backstory of some of the characters, while simultaneously setting up the future following Borderlands 2 abrupt, cliffhanger ending. In short, 2K Australia wanted to develop a special kind of game, one which took into account both the past and the future: a pre-sequel indeed. Gearbox Studios approved the pitch and 2K Australia began their journey on making their own game. While the pre-sequel built upon pre-existing mechanics, the Australian developer wanted to put their own mark on the Borderlands franchise, and a lasting one at that.

Mainstream media and videogames in general are largely dominated by American influence and Borderlands up to that point in time, was no exception to this. In response to this, 2K Australia saw a great opportunity to sprinkle some of their own culture into the game: since the game took place in a new destination, why not make the inhabitants of the moon Concordia Australian? While the series was always known for its humorous dialogue, the developers who now had their own Australian writing staff, made use of this unique opportunity to implement a plethora of references to Australian comedy and culture. Charming characters like “The Don”, an aptly named NPC whose name is a reference to the renowned batsmen Donald Bradman, serves as one of these examples.  Never seen without his bat, this NPC fittingly references the Australian’s favorite sport of cricket on numerous occasions, even tasking the players to retrieve his ball in homonymously named mission “The Don”. The developers at 2K Australia were seemingly quite invested in Australian literature too, as the bush ballad “Waltzing Matilda” found itself recreated in the mission “The Empty Billabong”. Written by Banjo Paterson in the late 1800s, the song is about a “swagman” who gets himself into trouble by killing the sheep of a nearby landowner. Unwilling to get caught by the pursuing authorities, he defiantly declares “You’ll never catch me alive!”, before ultimately drowning himself in a nearby billabong. In the Borderlands version, a NPC named Peepot tasks the player with finding their best friend, “The Jolly Swagman”, who has seemingly gone missing. Similar to his counterpart, “The Jolly Swagman” meets his untimely demise near a river — in this case one made of lava — while holding onto a tuckerbag. Upon opening his tuckerbag, it is revealed that it contained a baby Kraggon, — Borderlands equivalent of a sheep. While the overall setting and humor of the Borderlands universe are unique to say the least, the writers managed to stay somewhat true to the original, simultaneously adding their own twist to the story.

Other more peculiar examples include a foul-mouthed, talking shotgun which stands in direct reference to the “Bogan” stereotype. The Bogan stereotype, which is quite renown in Australia and New Zealand, describes an unfashionable and uncouth person, one that is usually of lower social status.  The dialogue of “Boganella”, certainly reflects the colorful vocabulary of someone who is supposed to represent this particular stereotype.

Taking everything into account, this brings us to the final point of this blogpost. The Borderlands community took a divided stance on both the unfamiliar accent and the quirky cultural references. While most of these examples went over the heads of the majority of people, Australian gamers were thrilled to finally see a game in which they could see themselves represented. English is getting more and more prevalent in every aspect of mainstream media, yet people tend to forget that other dialects and cultures exist beyond the culturally accepted American and British variation. While the pre-sequel was ultimately met with mixed reviews overall, 2K Australia sprinkled in linguistic and cultural diversity one a scale that many games to this day have not displayed. I for one enjoyed learning about Australian culture in this game, and I hope to see some more of it in the future.


Borderlands Fandom Wiki. Accessed 28th February 2022.

Sailing Whitsundays. “The history of waltzing Matilda”.  Accessed 28th February 2022.

Max Langride. “What’s A Bogan? Are You A Bogan? You Probably Are”. Accessed 28th February 2022.

Cargo (2017): A new take on traditional Zombie Movies

by Ben Königsfeld

Cargo is originally a horror short film released in 2013 by Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling. It is seven minutes long and deals with a father who was infected with a zombie virus after getting bitten by his wife. Knowing his forthcoming demise, the father puts his infant daughter in his backpack and lets a stick with a piece of flesh dangle in front him. Consequently, he follows that piece of flesh after turning into a zombie to make sure he finds survivors to ensure his daughter has a future. Four years after the short film was released, Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling had a chance to turn their passion project into a full length movie for Netflix with Martin Freeman playing the role of Andy, the father from the short film, and Susie Porter playing his wife Kay.

The movie has the same premise as the short film but begins before the events of it take place. Andy and Kay, alongside their infant daughter Rosie, live on a boat safely away from the zombie rotten land but Kay gets infected after going through an abandoned boat. Knowing they have 48 hours before she turns into a zombie, Andy and his wife go on land hoping to find supplies. After a car crash, Kay starts to transform faster and ends up biting Andy. This marks the start of Andy’s journey to find survivors and a safe home for his daughter Rosie.

Although the movie may seem like another zombie film, it has several aspects that differentiates itself from other movies of the zombie genre. Primarily, the word zombie is not mentioned in the movie. The directors themselves wanted to avoid the cliches that come with the sub genre and designed the idea of a ‘‘viral‘‘, to make their infected have their own stylistics. Unlike other zombie films, human relation plays a big a role in Cargo as the motives of most characters are driven by their loved ones. Throughout the film Andy meets a girl called Thoomi. Thoomi’s father is also infected, but she is trying to keep him alive by feeding him with wildlife and hiding him from survivors, in hopes of finding a shaman. Thoomi’s introduction opens the movie to the significant role of indigenous characters. In the end Rosie’s life is saved not only by Andy but also by Thoomi and other people of her community as a great deal of them are still alive and healthy. This also demonstrates that indigenous groups managed to survive through to their ability and history in hunting and living in the outback which has left them with better knowledge to live in a world where society is mostly gone. The directors closely worked with an indigenous script consultant called Jon Bell and also asked other natives for criticism on their script and permission to use their language. It also heavily focuses on family and the relationship of a father and his daughter similar to the South Korean zombie movie Train to Busan by Yeon Sang-Ho. Nevertheless, it is still different from Sang-Ho’s film as Romke and Howling decided to leave out classic horror features such as showing great amounts of gore or making use of jump scares to create tension. The real tension comes from the ticking clock of Andy‘s transformation and the seemingly endless landscapes of the Australian outback.

Cargo is a new take on the traditional zombie film, a genre which has recently become boring. Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling created a fantastic full length zombie movie laid on the foundation of a seven-minute short film and managed to find the perfect balance between horror and the relationship of a family during apocalyptic times. This movie, alongside the aforementioned Train to Busan, hopefully marks the start of a new and revolutionized era of the zombie sub genre.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf – A Book Review

by Nadja Marek

“You can’t transform a society for the better with violence, Ashala. Only with ideas.”

(Kwaymullina 190)

As a person who genuinely enjoys dystopian novels, I have encountered many novels that involve the same aspects of this genre. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf surprised me in several ways, and I really enjoyed its unique use of narrative devices and play of temporal and spatial factors. The novel is set 300 years in the future and nature is almost completely destroyed. The main protagonist, Ashala Wolf, is the leader of a tribe with children who have special powers. They live together in the so-called Firstwood, outside of the city. These kids are being chased by the government and Ashala ends up getting captured and locked up. She is tied to a machine, which then extracts her memories. 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is divided into different days of Ashala being locked up, as well as into core memories the machine extracts from her mind. The switch between these two allows the novel to build up tension and ultimately come to a plot twist that no one expects. 

Ambelin Kwaymullina uses the Aboriginal concept of time to represent indigenous perception and values within her novel. In contrast to the western standard of perceiving time in a linear model, Aboriginal people see time as something circular, something that is moving around an individual. The more important an event is, the closer it is to time. This is clearly shown in her narrative structure, as she reconstructs the events going on around Ashala Wolf and their importance to the storyline. The chapters jump in-between time, which gives the reader a nice foreshadowing of what is going to help her get out of the institution where Ashala has been kept. 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a Young Adult Dystopian fiction that gives a voice to Australian history and combines it with a beautiful story about bravery and rebellion. Anyone who enjoys a lighthearted post-apocalyptic dystopia should give this book a try, it is definitely worth it. The combination of mythology, as well as futuristic themes, makes this novel a unique experience. I am also excited to read more about Ashala and her fellow peers in the other books of the tribe series: The Disappearance of Ember Crow and The Foretelling of Georgie Spider. 


Kwaymullina, Ambelin. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. Candlewick Press, 2016.

H2O: Just Add Water and myth of mermaids in Australia

by Lisa-Marie Richter

Rewatching H20: Just Add Water a couple of weeks ago, I started to wonder whether it is in
some ways connected to the myth of mermaids living in Australia – considering that it is an Australian children’s show about mermaids!

Firstly, for those who have not seen the series, let me give you a brief summary. It is a series about school girls who turn to mermaids, immediately after having contact with water. Of course, nobody is supposed to know that they are mermaids, therefore life gets very difficult for them and is mainly about them trying to hide their real selves.

So let’s have a look at some Australian myths.

The Yawkyawk

Yawkyawk literally means :”young woman spirit being”. ( The Yawkyawk is a creature with origins in Australian mythology, legend and folklore. The legend of the Yawkyawk states that women can get pregnant, just by visiting a Yawkyawk water hole. It is said that they provide water for plants and sweet water for people to drink. When they are angered, they supposedly start disruptive storms and disrupt marriages. Their true form is believed to be a woman, whose hair is made of algae with a fishtail from her waist downward. Furthermore, they are to be more active at night. There are also some Aboriginal language groups that believe that albino children born to aboriginal parents are a result of mermaid blood in their ancestry. (

It should be added, however, that these accounts should be treated with caution as they were most likely not uploaded to the internet by Aboriginal people themselves, but seem to be part of a general cryptozoology community online – perhaps a modern version of colonial collectors of Aboriginal tales and thus somewhat problematic.

Mermaids in H2O

Not only do mermaids in H2O turn into humans and have normal human hair, they also do not help provide water for plants and humans. They have a fishtail once they make contact with water which is a parallel. The mermaids in H20, have their own water hole on Mako Island, which they call the Moon Pool but humans do not get pregnant in that water, they turn into mermaids in that place. The series also features different types of mermaids. The ones that are born as mermaids in the sea, and the main characters of the series, who fall into the moon pool. In conclusion, there are not very many parallels between the myth of the Yawkyawk and H20. The fact that in both, the mermaids have a fishtail and that their own water holes play a big role, even though it is a different one, is in my opinion not enough to call the series based on tales about mermaids told by Aboriginal people; they seem to be conforming to the Eurocentric view on mermaids we know so well from European fairy tales or American films like Disney’s Ariel!