LINDY. WHAT’S LEFT TO SAY…
It is a bright and cold and beautiful June morning in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley when Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton comes to the phone and describes the view from her window.
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton in Darwin last week with Azaria’s death certificate.
“I look out to the mountain and the ribbons of mist in the morning. There are kangaroos, wombats, possums, fruit bats… I even saw a quoll once. They eat everything I plant. I have two days grace when I see the fruit ripening and if I don’t get in quick, they eat the lot,” she laughs.
We settle in for a good, long (very long, as it turns out) chat on the themes that interest Lindy most these days – forgiveness, healing, faith and justice.
We talk a lot about justice.
At the moment she is updating her book A Dingo’s Got My Baby with what she calls the “epilogue”.
The last version of the book left the reader with uncertainty. An open finding. Now Lindy feels she can at last write “The End” after the fourth inquest into her nine-week-old baby’s death.
Thirty-two years ago, Azaria was killed by a dingo. The end.
“My book’s called A Dingo’s Got My Baby because that’s a real story, it’s not just a comedy line. It’s my life. Part of who I am,” Lindy explains. “It’s my phrase. I said it. I’ll use it.”
“It’s done. This era’s over for me now, although I’m not naïve enough to think other people will let it go. I don’t suppose Australians will ever ask: Lindy who? My story is probably woven into the lore and fabric of Australia now, a bit like Ned Kelly.”
Just as opinions are still divided on Ned Kelly, she acknowledges that Australians either love her or hate her.
However, she relates with a laugh that her husband Rick has put a magnet on the fridge that reads: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”
Lindy mentions a forthcoming television interview to be given by her ex-husband Michael Chamberlain and hopes the era is finished for him too.
“We’ll find out, I suppose,” she sighs.
It’s rumoured that Michael will ask for a formal apology from the Northern Territory Government for the family’s suffering. When I suggest it, Lindy replies smartly that she “doesn’t want to go there”.
“Forcing people to apologise is no good. In another 30 years we’ll all be dead. Time to move on.”
“I could handle things he couldn’t and he could handle things I couldn’t,” she says of Michael. “And sometimes it gets to the point where a couple can’t relate and have to rely upon friends or the strangers who come out of the woodwork.”
She is steeling herself for some sort of “backlash” from Michael’s interview, but if it does come, she will be ready with an arsenal of techniques she has gathered over the past 32 years to bring her to where she is now.
To a place where she has some wisdom to impart.
So we start with forgiveness.
I’m under no illusion that I have been given the chance to talk to Lindy by her representatives because when the coroner’s verdict came out I made a public apology to her for a comedy routine I performed about her in the 80s.
But still, it was surprising when the call came: “Would you like to talk to Lindy?”
We’ve never met that I can recall, although Lindy thinks we were once sat at opposite ends of a table at a birthday party, the Logies, a Women’s Weekly event? Neither of us can remember where or when. But we do agree that for a big country, Australia’s a small place.
Too damn small at times. I’ve been around long enough now to know that you say something rude about someone, they will surely hear of it.
I tell her the reason that I said sorry was that, when I looked back, I felt I’d been part of an unedifying free-for-all and I really should have known better.
She’s not about to give me absolution and say: “Thank you, Wendy. Good girl. Here’s a pat on the head for you.”
“You joined the mob mentality and you knew better than to do that,” she says. “That’s your lesson and it has absolutely nothing to do with me.”
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