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Tales of Kabbarli

Home > Sydney > Cultural Events | Theatre
by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
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Beneath the veil - the fascinating life of Daisy Bates
Imagine a solitary woman living in a tent in the Australian desert, dressed in formal Edwardian attire - always with a long skirt, hat, gloves and veil. That was Daisy Bates, the central character in Geoffrey Sykes' Tales of Kabbarli, which has its Sydney premiere at Raffertys Theatre, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, on Thursday 21st August 2014.

Tales of Kabbarli commences on 21st August

Bates' choice of attire belies her rather colourful life. She was married to the legendary Breaker Morant, however, the marriage was short-lived as she apparently threw him out because he did not pay for the wedding and he stole some livestock. The fact that she never divorced him did not stop her from marrying twice more.

Tales of Kabbarli
Daisy Bates - an iconic photo from 1921

This fascinating play tells Bates' story. She was an Irish immigrant and legendary cultural commentator, who spent 40 years observing, documenting and interpreting traditional customs while living among the Indigenous community at Ooldea, South Australia, from 1919.

Bates was known among the native people as 'Kabbarli', a 'kin term' found in some Aboriginal Australian languages, meaning 'grandmother' or 'granddaughter'.

Tales of Kabbarli is set at Pyap, on the banks of the Murray River. Bates is 71, and poor. She has left the desert. She lives alone, seeking out tribal visitors. It is 3.00am, and she cannot sleep. She explores her writings, her past, her stories of the tribes and her political vision for an Aboriginal homeland, as well as her love of the land.

As playwright Geoffrey Sykes says, "Ooldea was an ancient meeting place for Aboriginal tribes and also the junction for the transcontinental railway truly a place for a clash of civilisations that would prove devastating for so many Aboriginals. The play is a journey through language, image, place and ancient history with a lyrical, whimsical Irish sense contrasting with a fervent sense of injustice."

Flyer 2
Robina Beard plays 'Kabbarli'

Kabbarli is played by Robina Beard (a familiar face, formerly 'Madge' from the Palmolive advertisements).

Tales of Kabbarli is playing from 21st - 23rd August 2014, at 7.30pm each day, plus a matinee at 2.15pm on Saturday 23rd August.

Ticket prices range between $24 and $35. For bookings, contact the box office on (02) 8839 3399 or book online at

Tales of Kabbarli runs for approximately 75 minutes.

For more information about parking at Riverside, travelling by public transport to Riverside, or special access, click here.
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Why? A fascinating insight into this iconic woman's life.
When: 7.30pm on 21st - 23rd August, plus a matinee at 2.15pm on 23rd August
Phone: Riverside Box Office: (02) 8839 3399
Where: Raffertys Theatre, Riverside Theatres, Intersection of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Cost: Tickets cost between $24 and $35
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