A little about me

My name is Russell Darnley.  I grew up in Sydney, at Coogee to be precise. The ocean was the edge of the world for me as a child.  Ships came and went, they were our link to what lay beyond.  Oceans are effectively borderless and touch every continent.  This was an early realisation.

I attended Coogee Public School, later Randwick Boys HS and completed my formal education at the University of Sydney.  I began teaching in 1971.  While at university I paid my way by working as a Television Camera Operator with the University of Sydney Television Service, and a Parks and Gardens worker for Randwick Council.

My time at University was one of social and political change.  Conscription and our seemingly pointless involvement in the Vietnam War were major issues. I was active in the struggle against war and conscription.

I taught until 1980, working in Belmore, Lithgow and Balmain high schools.  From 1980 till 1985 I worked in educational consultancy as the Project Officer for the  Disadvantaged Schools Program in the NSW Department of Education. In the early 1970s I also managed to teach briefly in the United Kingdom and take several trips in Europe and S.E.Asia.

Between 1984 and 1987 I completed a Certificate 4 Course in Bahasa Indonesia through Sydney Technical College and in 1984 co-founded Asian Field Study Centres Pty Ltd, an Australian company conducting field study programs for students visiting Indonesia. This project made it necessary to maintain a house in both Lilyfield, Sydney and Ubud,  Bali.

When Asian Field Study Centres won the tender to produce the book, Geografi Australia, for the Australia Indonesia Institute – Department of Foreign Affairs, I coordinated the team of writers, produced much of the graphical material and wrote parts of the book.

Geografi Australia, designed for use in Indonesian secondary schools, was successfully launched in 1999.  This was a challenging project diplomatically as it was successfully negotiated through a period that saw the fall of the Suharto Government, three changes of education minister in Indonesia, and a change of government in Australia. During this period I also worked as a consultant in areas related to Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.

My time in Indonesia gave me the opportunity to consolidate knowledge of the language and the country’s many regional cultures.  This also afforded me the opportunity to travel widely and work on several Indonesia related film and television productions, notably Fork in the Road and Burke’s Backyard.

In 2000 after a considerable period of reflection and study, along with further travel in Egypt, Turkey and Greece, I became an Orthodox Christian.  In the end what precipitated my decision was meeting the Monks from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, near Bombala.  My Orthodox name is Maximos.

After the Bali Bombings of 2002 I returned to Australia and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for my voluntary work following the bombings.

I was a writer and researcher on the Le@rning Federation’s (TLF) LOTE2 and Studies of Australia 2 & 3  projects.  Subsequently I scoped, researched and wrote interactions in Indonesian for the TLF’s MALL Project, conducted in association with Learnosity.

A particular interest of mine is the restitution of cultural property, taken under many guises and in many different times of change.  The world’s most celebrated cultural property dispute is the issue of the Parthenon Marbles (mistakenly called the Elgin Marbles).  This unique collection of carved marble sculptures is now accommodated in the British Museum.  In Athens a purpose built museum awaits their return.

In December and January 2009-10 I made my first return visit to Indonesia since the Bali Bombings of 2002. I returned again in 2010-11.

In 2010 I completed work on a 1:1 laptop action research project as part of the Digital Education Revolution initiated by the Australian Government. This project explored urban processes operating in the Sydney CBD, Darling and City West areas. I teach History and Geography where I helped draft the BYOD policy.

Approaching the end of my formal teaching career, and reflecting on what I’ve learned as a teacher, I produced this Time Warp Pecha Kucha that can be viewed on YouTube.  The Pecha Kucha was created for the 2011 Virtual Teach Meet, in Sydney.

Now retired and living in Sydney, Australia, I continue to explore the region and write.

My first book Seen and Unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific comprising 29 stories about Australia’s relationship with the region, was published in 2015

I’ve now completed another book of short stories Beyond Borders: A conversation across boundaries. This is a multimedia work with traditional text supported by photographs, photo galleries, video, and audio for each story. The work is also available as a pdf.

After the serious smoke haze confronting Singapore in 2015, I became a member PMHaze.  This has involved visiting Riau province at the invitation of Asian Pulp and Paper and a separate visit the community of Sungai Tohor on Pulau Tebing Tinggi as well as assisting with research and contributing to their newsletter.

This visit to Sumatra led me to write a novella with the working title , I’m from the forest. Shortly I’ll be sending it to publishers.

I also write the occasional book reviews in the fiction and non-fiction genres.

This Blog is now archived by Pandora.

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5 thoughts on “A little about me

  1. Dear Mr Darnley,
    The National Library aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian on-line publications by identifying and archiving online publications that meet our collecting scope and priorities. PANDORA, Australia’s web archive and access to archived titles can be found on the Library’s web site.
    If you could provide an e-mail address to discuss archiving your blog that would be greatly appreciated.

    Yours sincerely,
    Caitlin Prescott


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