Eulogy for Hal Colebatch

 In General

Photo: Four Poets – Hal Colebatch, Rod Moran, Andrew Lansdown & (seated) Les Murray (2002)

Andrew’s friend, esteemed Australian poet, novelist and essayist, Hal G.P. Colebatch, died on 9th September 2019, and his widow, Alexandra, asked Andrew to conduct the memorial service and to present the eulogy. The text of Andrew’s tribute (plus a postscript) is now posted on this website.

Tribute for Hal Colebatch

Memorial Service, 23 September 2019

Alexandra [Hal’s wife] has asked me to bring a tribute on behalf of herself and her family. There are two facets of Hal’s life that Alexandra wanted me to focus on—and I am delighted to be able to do this, for I share her conviction that these are, ultimately, the most important—namely, Hal’s faith and his family.

Before elaborating on these matters, however, permit me to make a few brief comments about Hal’s character and his achievements.

Hal was a fundamentally decent and kind man. He was loyal to his friends and generous to those who approached him for help. He was a man of extraordinary intellect and literary ability—and he did not squander these gifts. Indeed, as his astonishing literary output demonstrates, he was the most diligent and vigilant of men. He loved justice and truth and he courageously strove to protect and advance them, knowing that injustice and lies are the enemies of human flourishing.

Hal earned degrees in history and law and gained a PhD in political science. He worked as a journalist, a lawyer, a political advisor, and an editor. And of course, through it all, he wrote, and wrote and wrote.

He wrote poetry, articles, reviews, radio plays, novellas, novels, biographies, and books on the culture wars.

And despite the massive prejudice against him by the left-controlled literary world, he was awarded the 2008 Western Australian Premier’s Literary Award for poetry for his book, The Light River, and the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for history for his best-selling book, Australia’s Secret War.

In October last year, Hal emailed me a copy of his latest, unpublished poetry collection, titled Under a Dragon Moon. In the dedication, he states, “It being time to fly one’s flag, I dedicate this volume to the greater glory of God, and once again to my beloved family, Alexandra, Katie, Alexander and James …”

And this brings me to the two things that Alexandra wanted me to emphasise in this tribute—Hal’s faith and his family. …


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