Marie Munkara is of Rembarranga descent and was born on the banks of the Mainoru River in central Arnhem Land. She went to Nguiu on the Tiwi Islands when she was about eighteen months old, was sent down south when she was three years old and went back to the Tiwi Islands when she was twenty eight. She currently (2009) lives in Darwin and is an avid breeder of green frogs and swamp frogs.
'Heartbreaking, darkly funny and deeply moving, Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea is a fearless account of being a young woman caught between two worlds.
'An old baptismal card falling out of a book changed the course of 28-year-old Marie Munkara's life forever. Until that moment she had no idea of her true origins in Arnhem Land.
'Delivered on the banks of the Mainoru River by her two grandmothers, Marie was fortunate not to have been thrown to the crocodiles, a fate reserved for babies born in her family with light skin. Knowing the child would be taken by the authorities, this matter-of-fact practice was considered much kinder for the babies and their families as it would save all from the heartbreak of separation and an unknown future for the child.
'But her grandmother Nellie had other ideas because she knew this one was 'special'. And so after the unexpected but welcome reprieve, Marie and her mother ended up on the Tiwi Islands before Marie was then taken and placed with a white family to be raised in Adelaide.
'After her chance finding of the baptismal card Marie went looking for her own family, leaving her strict Catholic establishment family aghast. Why dig up the past? But Marie knew without a doubt that she had to follow her heart or forever live to regret it.
'With devastating honesty, humour and courage, the award-winning author of Every Secret Thing shares her extraordinary journey of discovery to find her origins. ' (Publication summary)