Pastor Doug: The Story of an Aboriginal Leader by Mavis Thorpe Clark

Melbourne: Lansdowne, 1965.
245 pages; hard-cover; 22cm; 12 pages of b/w plates.

In 1972, a leather-bound copy of the updated edition - Pastor Doug: The Story of Sir Douglas Nicholls, Aboriginal Leader - was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Sir Doug Nicholls in London as a gift from the Victorian Government.

More publishing information


Her first book for adults, Pastor Doug, the biography of Sir Douglas Nicholls was published in 1965 and re-issued in 1973 in a revised second edition.

In 1979 another biographical account of Doug Nicholls, written for younger readers, was published under the title The Boy from Cumeroogunga.

"Pastor Doug … was the most important and rewarding experience of my writing life. In its own inimitable way, it led me to an understanding of the Aboriginal people and the spiritual beliefs that have sustained them since the Dreamtime. It deepened my understanding of the unique traits of this land, its mystery, its destiny. It also gave me the privilege of a friendship with an Aborigine whose life story was indeed a success story. In Doug Nicholls' life, his Aboriginal heritage and his Christian beliefs worked harmoniously together in all aspects of his life. He was a man to be respected by the white community and the black.

The writing of Pastor Doug occupied two years, two years of constant labour; satisfying labour, long hours every day of the week. It was not a simple straightforward story of a man; it was the story of a people. It required a search for an understanding of that people, an understanding as far as possible of their past and their present and their future. There were also the complex areas of government legislation, the legal statutes of the time and the attitudes of white and black to be studied.

Douglas Ralph Nicholls was a man whose life was filled with a richness of living. He was an Aboriginal leader; a footballer - Association (Northcote), League (Fitzroy); a successful runner, winner of the Nyah Gift and the Warracknabeal Gift; Church of Christ Pastor; but above all, the unceasing advocate and leader of his people. He was the greatest leader the Aborigines have ever known; a leader who grew up on a government reserve for Aborigines on the New South Wales bank of the Murray River, across from Victoria's Barmah and the river red gum forests. Educated by government decree only to third grade, the level of the white eight year-old, he lived to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and to be Governor of South Australia."

- Trust the Dream (1999) pages 169-170.


"In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 3 June, 1972, Pastor Doug Nicholls was created a Knight Bachelor (Kt) - Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls, K.B., O.B.E. Sir Doug is the first Aborigine to be awarded this honour. His citation reads: '...for services to the advancement of the Aboriginal people.'

This 66-year-old Aboriginal sportsman, churchman and fighter for his people's rights has given a lifetime of service to his fellow Aborigines. Not only to his own Yorta Yorta tribe of the Murray River, but to all the several hundred tribes still scattered throughout Australia."

- Pastor Doug: The Story of Sir Douglas Nicholls, Aboriginal Leader (1972) page 6 (Preface to the Second Edition).

See also Inspiration for Pastor Doug: The story of an Aboriginal Leader

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Cover: photograph of Pastor Doug Nichols.

Cover of 1965 edition of Pastor Doug: The Story of an Aboriginal Leader .

Title page with signatures by Pastor Doug Nichols and Mavis Thorpe Clark.

Autographed copy of Pastor Doug: The Story of an Aboriginal Leader.