Witch Girl and the Push Reader Comments

Here’s what others have had to say about Witch Girl and The Push. Add your comments using the form below.

Alicia Asheesh
This is a great book. Social history as you’ve never read it is right. Now I feel I have quite a good understanding about the period of the heyday of the Push and how it was part of the social influences forming Australia, then and now. But what I loved about this book is that it isn’t dry facts or second hand interviews but is told by a real person that you can identify with and who lets you in to her own life and social circle.  I laughed all the way through with Lyn Gain –  it was a lovely way of absorbing some pretty sophisticated philosophy and social theory clearly related to everyday life. I found myself caught up in Lyn ‘s own fascination with theory and practice, how ideas can inform what you think and do, and provide a touchstone for evaluating your own actions. This could have been ponderous and boring but it wasn’t – it was light and fascinating – all because of Lyn’s intimate and excellent writing and willingness to share her experiences, warts and all, as well as her own penetrating analysis of what it all means. Bravo!

Lisa Rogers
An absorbing and personal account of a vital era in shaping Australia’s social conscience from someone who was there.

Andrew West
There were lots of interesting people in The Push. But only one Witch Girl. Lyn Gain was, and is, unique. I am sure it comes as no surprise to many of the players that Ms Gain’s tell-all book tells ALL!

L Vasa
I was there..loved Lyndin’s book..a must read to get a feel of the real times in Oz (a time pundits decry as being dead… LMAO)

Ruth Forsythe
I’m dying to read Witch Girl when it comes out. It’s the hidden history of Australia for me. I’m in my late 40’s. People like Eva Cox influenced my training and world view on social issues.

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8 thoughts on “Witch Girl and the Push Reader Comments

  1. I found Lyn Gain’s book interesting. I was President of NCOSS part of the time when she was Director. She gives a good account of those days in the second section. Lyn was a very good Director, mostly because she wasn’t in the usual social welfare mould. She never came across as a whinger or a do-gooder. Most of all she avoided bullshit when dealing with the pollies which most of them appreciated.

    The first section on the Push was mostly new to me. They certainly had lots of sex but it does read somewhat mechanical. The book blurb promises plenty of sex but no sex scenes. Perhaps some of the latter would have helped convey the passion of the movement. I don’t think I would have joined, even though Lyn proposes at one point that I would have made a good member because of my comments on sex reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. In its own way the Church has turned sex into a mechanical duty, rather than a pleasurable activity.

    As to the third section on Kalang, being a resident of Bundanoon, another activist local community, I can resonate with what Lyn writes about community politics.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this book as it provides a coherent social history of the Push and underpins it with the theoretical aspect (Libertarianism etc) – clearly an extremely important part of what the Push was about. I grew up hearing about the Push & met many “members” of it when I was young – this book clarifies the many characters for me & offers an amusing, comprehensive narrative. I particularly love Lyn’s conversational style which makes the book easy reading. I’ve lent or given this book to many of my contemporaries who now understand what the “Push” was all about. Highly recommend it.

  3. Lyn belongs to that Pantheon of women who, as Jim Baker liked to put it, were their own women. Women from a different generation, like June Wilson, Marion Manton and the legendary Lillian Roxon and Dottie Addison* were all their own women.
    Lyn has written that most satisfactory of autobiographies which when you finish reading it you still want to know more about the writer.
    I would have liked to read more about her pre-Push days – her childhood in the bosom of a loving family and a father she clearly adored. She allows us only so many glances into this part of her life, and apart from passing mention to Fort Street Girls’ High School we learn too little about her, until she springs, like Botticelli’s Venus, fully formed from the Electricity Department and totters off to meet the Push in the Royal George. I think the social history of Lyn’s early life, if written with the same ruthless honesty as she adopted with her later incarnation would be fascinating.
    I don’t place as much store on the social or philosophical importance of the Push as Lyn does. It was only one of numerous bohemian groups in Sydney in the 50s and 60s. Many Push people straddled several, as did Lyn.
    I don’t know half the people she describes in the earlier chapters but she brings them so much to life with her well written portraits of them that I feel I do know them now – warts and all. However, I most enjoyed the sections dealing with her time in NCOSS and later life in Kalang – all vividly described and well written.
    I hope she writes another book about her early life and the time spent “waiting to find bohemia”
    *I never met Dottie Addison but she is lovingly described in Graeme Harrison’s “Night Train to Grenada”. Darcy also had numerous anecdotes about her.

  4. I was there too. A year behind Lyn Gain at Fort Street Girls’ High School, I was probably invisible to her as I think I was to most of the Push women. The men treated me a little differently though, included the one I later married. After so much nonsense written about the Push by people who weren’t there, and who lived the Push vicariously through others’ lives, Lyn’s book provides as accurate account as could possibly be written. A companion to Lyn’s book is “Appo: Recollections of a member of the Sydney Push” by Dick Appleton. Sadly, although Appo gets a mention in Lyn’s book, she doesn’t appear in his. That says much about the way that Push women were treated. Now that I’ve pulled “Witch Girl and the Push” off the shelf, I can’t wait to read it again. Thank you, Lyn.

  5. Yes Geoff, fascinating in its own way. I am of Lyn’s generation and had I lived in Sydney rather than Melbourne, would probably have gravitated to the Push. My path has crossed some of the people over the years and this insider story was very amusing. Maybe it’s an older male thing, but I couldn’t put it down either, and she is a very good writer.

  6. There is a real hook in this book. I couldn’t put it down. These days I find a lot of what I read less than compulsive. I don’t know why Witch Girl and the Push was so engaging, maybe something to do with the structure. I liked everything about this book.

  7. I agree with you Alicia; it was a great read and so accessible. I had never heard of the Sydney Push before; I’m nearly three decades younger than the author and was brought up in Victoria, so it was a real insight into a special world. I was also interested in reading Richard Brennan’s review, to see what someone else who was there thought about it. I also agreed with a number of his comments but I take issue with Brennan’s remark that Witch Girl & the Push was a little repetitive. I found that it was very fast paced. I can’t check my copy because I’ve lent it to my mother, but I remember admiring the way Lyn Gain now and then referred to events or ideas that she had introduced earlier, so that I got the feeling that I was part of the shared history, and could recognise the references and the jokes, and feel part of the Push family. A very enjoyable book.

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