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  • Published: UWA Publishing
  • Date: July 2022
  • ISBN: 978-1-76080-165-6
  • Formats: Print

The Alert Grey Twinkling Eyes of C. J. DeGaris

Entrepreneur, aviator, publisher, publicist, propagandist, playwright, songwriter, motorist, land developer, dreamer: for five brief years it seemed like there was nothing Clement John DeGaris couldn’t do. He’d talk you into investing your life savings with a promise of doubling them in a year and then, when he lost them, he’d talk you into giving him more. He was dashing, patriotic, handsome, fearless and funny: men and women adored him. He’d put a ‘second storey’ on Mildura with his marketing skills and tenacious work in the fruit, irrigation and land industries; he was going to build a new home afresh at Kendenup, Western Australia. Along the way, he wrote and sold books and plays, songs, suburbs and a host of other equally remarkable schemes. There seemed to be little that C. J. DeGaris couldn’t achieve: he was a new kind of Australian man, modern, quick-witted, unflappable. David Nichols tells the story of this extraordinary comet in the Australian sky of a century ago with a vigour, humour and empathy appropriate to DeGaris himself. The tragedy that the man brings upon himself and his family, and the cruelty of fate, make a universal story as well as an unexplored piece of Australian history that stretches from the birth of Mildura, through to the South Australian settlement of Pyap, to the exciting creation of a new kind of ‘colony’ at Kendenup, and Melbourne’s roaring twenties.

Tagged: Kendenup

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