Christopher Hitchins once called him ‘the greatest living Australian’ and just before he was to cross-examine Princess Diana the London Times complained he was ‘anti-establishment, republican and Australian’, in ascending order of horror. Now in this fresh potpourri of his prose, wit and oratory, QC and leading international human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, displays his trademark mix of intelligence, humour and humanity. His latest book, Dreaming Too Loud, is a fascinating and illuminating insight into the history, politics and people that shape our complicated race – from colonisation, Aboriginal affairs and our education system, to global issues of torture, terrorism and the Catholic church. Plus a new and authoritative insight into Julian Assange.

Here we share with you the prelude to Geoffrey's latest book - how many questions can you answer? 

Prelude: Quizine

Once upon a time, I devised a program for the national broadcaster called Hypotheticals. As soon as it began to rate in the top ten, ABC executives in their wisdom decided that it was ‘a bit dated’, and asked me instead to host a quiz show. I declined the opportunity to master this groundbreaking format, but a few years ago I was asked by the Australia Council to devise a new kind of entertainment for leaders of Sydney’s artistic and business communities, who would sit in teams on tables at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, contribute to a good cause, and try to win a crate of Penfolds Grange. The competition comprised questions to which I thought well-rounded Australians should know the answers, plus references to the gallery art and particularly to the cuisine that was being experienced on the night. Here are the questions. Answers can be found by reading the book or (to save time) by turning to page 419. The exercise was called ‘Quizine’, in honour of the flavours and bouquets of Bill Granger’s banquet, which cannot, alas, be reproduced in print.


  1. Who named Australia? Bonus point if you can name his cat.
  2. From which island did Captain Cook descry the break in the Great Barrier Reef through which he sailed the Endeavour back to Britain?
  3. Where is white Australia’s founding father, Vice Admiral Arthur Phillip, buried?
  4. The only armed revolt by Aborigines against white settler power was led by a police tracker known as Pigeon. Where did he and his army make their last stand?
  5. When did Australia become independent?
  6. What was the name of the schoolteacher at Glenrowan who fooled the Kelly Gang and prevented a terrorist atrocity?
  7. In 1916 the family name of the Australian head of state was changed to ‘Windsor’ in order to avoid association with Germany. What was their original name?
  8. John Howard’s Gallipoli hero was Simpson, the man with the donkey. Where did Simpson hail from?
  9. Eleanor Roosevelt handed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the President of the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, proclaiming it ‘the Magna Carta of mankind’. The president’s name?
  10. Which prominent New South Wales politician terminated a debate in the Upper House by crossing the floor and urinating in his opponent’s ear?


  1. What shared characteristic makes the kangaroo and emu appropriate symbols for the emblem of a progressive nation?
  2. Which marsupial has the largest brain and the most deadly bottom?
  3. What animal other than the big red kangaroo can kill you with its back legs?
  4. What African animal brought down a New South Wales Labor government when its speaker, Ray Maher, dropped his trousers and imitated its facial features to his secretary, Miss Shepherd?
  5. How did Blinky Bill’s father meet his fate?
  6. The emu and the cassowary are flightless birds belonging to what species?
  7. Baby koalas are fed on their mother’s what?
  8. What flower adorned Sir Robert Menzies’ chest?
  9. Where was the picnic at Hanging Rock?
  10. The Beaumont children went missing from what beach?


  1. For what purported financial institution did Christopher Skase work before moving on to Qintex? Bonus point for journalists: how much older was Pixie?
  2. Where did BHP begin operations? For a bonus point, when did they begin?
  3. The Aboriginal word for message stick was chosen by the late Gordon Barton as his corporate vehicle – what was it?
  4. In what city was the first stock exchange, and when was it established?
  5. Of which Sydney business identity did Neville Wran say ‘I wouldn’t hang a dog on his evidence’? Bonus point, which well-connected woman did that person get away with murdering?
  6. What nationality was Tirath Khemlani?
  7. In 1986 then Treasurer Paul Keating remarked to John Laws that Australia was in danger of becoming a ‘Banana Republic’ because of the size of our debt to GDP. Where was the original Banana Republic?
  8. In the 1950s, an Australian working in Melbourne invented a piece of equipment now used in every aircraft. What is it? For a bonus two points, what was his name?
  9. The High Court case of Finn v Commissioner of Taxation is beloved of all Australian professionals because it allows them to deduct the cost of overseas travel to attend ‘conferences’ in London, Paris, Acapulco etc. Finn was a member of which profession?
  10. Sir Richard Branson was prosecuted in England in 1977 for publishing an indecent record cover. What was its title?


  1. The painting The Golden Fleece hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales. What was its original title?  
    a) Men at Work
    b) Shearing at Newstead
    c) Click Go the Shears
    d) Heidelberg Exhibition No. 23
  2. On the Wallaby Track was painted in the 1890s and hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales. What is the artist’s name?
  3. ‘Buy a Kodak and win the Archibald’ was the protest against the painting that won the 1943 prize and became the subject of a celebrated court case.
    a) Who painted it?
    b) Of whom is it painted?
    c) Which young KC made his name by representing the plaintiff?
  4. What was Dame Nellie Melba’s real name? Was she born: 
    a) Isobel Marion Mackellar?
    b) Grace Ethel Dorrington?
    c) Helen Porter Mitchell?
    d) Maria Anna Schicklgruber?
  5. Which creative Australian describes his mental state thus: ‘I walk around with a bunch of violets in my hand and a sledgehammer and grain of sand in my head. I am happy’?
    a) Robert Hughes
    b) Michael Hutchence
    c) Albert Namatjira
    d) Brett Whiteley
    e) Percy Grainger
  6. In Turandot, Calaf must answer this riddle: ‘What flickers red and warm like a flame and is not a fire?’ What is his answer?
  7. In 1956, Sydney Symphony Orchestra conductor Sir Eugene Goossens was arrested at Sydney Airport on his return from London with over a thousand pornographic pictures hidden inside his score of Salome. Some of them featured a wellknown Kings Cross identity dabbling in what she termed ‘Sex Magic’. What was her name? A bonus point if you can name the magical act.
  8. In The Pirates of Penzance, the modern major-general is momentarily stumped over a rhyme for the word ‘strategy’.
    a) What does he come up with?
    b) For a bonus point, can you do better?
  9. When Eddie McGuire said he would like to ‘bone’ Jessica Rowe, did he mean he would like to:
    a) fillet her?
    b) fire her?
    c) fornicate with her?
    d) all of the above?
  10. Set out the second verse of our national anthem (bonus points for every two lines that are correct).


  1. What sporting hero is unwittingly celebrated by the ABC’s PO Box 9994 (‘triple nine four in your capital city’).
  2. Who played the last rubber to clinch Australia’s victory in the 1953 Davis Cup?
  3. Where was golf invented?
  4. Who said words to the effect of ‘Waiting for the Cronulla Sharks to win the premiership was like leaving the porch light on for Harold Holt’?
    a) Alan Jones
    b) Jack Gibson
    c) Rex Mossop
  5. In the notorious 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Berlin, Australia won only one medal. Jack Metcalfe took bronze in what event?
  6. What was originally the name of the team that became the Sydney Swans?
  7. In the ‘Fine Cotton Affair’, what was the name of the substitute horse?
  8. Who was the first Australian to run the four-minute mile?
  9. Compose a seemingly authentic Shane Warne text message.
  10. Which prime minister’s wife represented Australia in the third Empire Games in 1938?


  1. Who were the co-stars of the 1959 film of the novel On the Beach by Nevil Shute?
  2. Australian-born writer and Booker Prize winner Peter Finlay is better known as DBC Pierre. What does DBC stand for?
  3. Patrick White won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973, but refused to travel to Stockholm to accept the award from the king of Sweden. Who did he send to accept it on his behalf?
    a) Manoly Lascaris
    b) Sidney Nolan
    c) Robert Helpmann
    d) The young David Marr
  4. The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney was written by the pseudonymous male Henry Handel Richardson. What was the author’s real name?
  5. ‘Such is life’ are allegedly Ned Kelly’s last words but they were also the title of an early Australian novel by Joseph Furphy. What pseudonym did he use?
  6. In 1969 the New South Wales government banned the rock musical Hair but relented when which important person danced on stage at its London production?
  7. What is the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything – according to Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?
  8. Which published Australian poet attempted to assassinate a leader of the ALP under the delusion that he had to kill an important world figure, and who did he try to kill?
  9. Who was it that said of Charlie Chaplin, ‘He’s not dead, he’s just touring Australia’?
    a) Barry Humphries
    b) Spike Milligan
    c) Peter Ustinov
  10. Which touring and towering literary figure described the kookaburra’s laugh as ‘like a maniac consumed with humorous scorn over a cheap and degraded pun’?
    a) D H Lawrence
    b) Mark Twain
    c) Bill Bryson
    d) Kathy Lette
  11. Classic Australian humour: why is a can of Fosters like sex on the beach?

This is an edited extract from Dreaming Too Loud by Geoffrey Robertson, Copyright © Geoffrey Robertson 2013 Reprinted by Permission of Random House Australia. All Rights Reserved. RRP $34.95 by Vintage Australia.

Dreaming too Loud by Geoffrey Robertson is available from www.randomhouse.com.au, and at the Apple iBook store.


Geoffrey Robertson QC is a leading human rights lawyer and a UN war-crimes judge. He has been counsel in many notable Old Bailey trials, has defended hundreds of men facing death sentences in the Caribbean, and has won landmark rulings on civil liberty from the highest courts in Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth. He was involved in cases against General Pinochet and Hastings Banda, and in the training of judges who tried Saddam Hussein. His book Crimes against Humanity has been an inspiration for the global justice movement, and he is the author of an acclaimed memoir, The Justice Game, and the textbook Media Law. He is married to Kathy Lette. Mr Robertson is Head of Doughty Street Chambers, a Master of the Middle Temple, a Recorder and visiting professor at Queen Mary College, University of London.