The Sandgroper is the older ego of Frank Povah who was born in an aunt’s house in Western Australia at the onset of World War Two, the latter event overshadowing the former. As a child he lived in lots of different places: from Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago to Wundowie in the days when it was still in the midst of a vast wandoo forest alive with chuditch – the Nyungar word for “quoll” – and gloved wallabies, and boasted a charcoal iron smelter operated largely by people from a large DP (Displaced Persons) camp; from a hovel in Hay Street and a house by Butler’s Swamp – now Lake Claremont – to State Housing in Fremantle. His nomadic ways continued after he completed a compositor’s apprenticeship and he has travelled widely throughout Australia and New Zealand, working at many and varied occupations; occupations as diverse as pump guard at a Tasmanian tin mine to general whatever in a New Zealand fish-and-chip shop.
The Sandgroper is also a musician, who can be found in the archive of the National Library of Australia. He is a folklorist, writer, and champion of lost and perhaps futile causes. For five years he lived on Butterfly Bottom, a small property with its own graveyard and a beautiful, Irish-mason built root cellar near Stamping Ground Kentucky, where he observed in bewilderment the US way of life as it was practised outside of his immediate environs.
He still edits and writes for Australian Geographic – but within these pages, his opinions are his own and not connected in any way with his work for AG or any other publications – and was commissioned by Ivy Press (UK) to provide the text for Beautiful Pigeons. He also produces magazines for the fancy pigeon community in Australia and the USA and has undertaken commissions both private and corporate for copy editing and/or book designing, typesetting, indexing and copy fitting.
In the 1980s, Frank self-published a booklet titled You Kids Count Your Shadows: Hairymen and other Aboriginal folklore in New South Wales. Aimed mainly at children, it contains anecdotes of traditional beliefs taken from transcripts of recordings of conversations with so called “urban Aboriginals” of several groups living in country NSW. This little book made the NSW Premier’s Recommended Reading list and has been used as evidence in at least two Land Rights hearings.
If you’ve managed to stick with me thus far, you can read more about these and other things in the following pages.