Local Teacher’s Narratives

By Boronica King

Brendan James Murray is a published author and full-time high school teacher who lives on the Mornington Peninsula with his wife Greta. His most recent book, Venom – The heroic search for Australia’s deadliest snake, is about the development of a cure for the deadly taipans’ bite, the life of Indigenous man George Rosendale and George’s experience with surviving a bite from Australia’s deadliest snake.

“I have always been interested in wildlife but when I was a teenager I heard a story about this young man named Kevin Budden who’d been bitten by a taipan while he was trying to catch one to help develop an anti-venom, and he died as a result of that. I always felt that was a really interesting story, thought I would want to write about it, and ended up doing so.”

Brendan travelled up to far north Queensland to a place called Hopevale, where taipans live and where George Rosendale still resides. Brendan got to sit down with George and interview him for his book; communication was a bit tricky because George is quite deaf.

“All the questions I asked him I typed on my laptop screen and he read them off the screen and then answered the questions, which I audio recorded.”

Brendan talked to multiple herpetologists about the taipan snake, its behaviour and its deadly venom. He also visited a vet’s home which houses taipans; Brendan got to see, up close, the dangerous creature he was writing this book about. For more information and insight into the hunt for an anti-venom, Brendan looked to old newspapers from around the 1940’s and 50’s.

Brendan Murray is a full-time high school English teacher which he believes affects his writing career positively; when he corrects his students’ writing he reflects on what he has to do for his own. As an English teacher he also has to read certain texts that he may not have thought of reading, exposing him to a different types of writing, of which he would not otherwise have known. Brendan loves his job and how it helps himself and his students through their writing. He explains how his job impacts his writing:

“Sometimes it’s hard to write because you are very, very, very busy as a teacher, but school holidays are a really good time for teachers to get into any hobbies they have, which for me is writing.”

Brendan continues to inspire his students by being a published author. He runs Writers’ Club at the school and teaches new and advanced writing techniques to the students who choose to attend. Outside of the club Brendan has seen the impact his writing career has made on some students. Some question him about being an author even though they were originally not that interested in books; they also get to see and understand that published authors can be normal everyday people and not big celebrities. Many of his students have been inspired to take up writing in different forms: journalism, poetry and writing novels, just to name a few.

In 2017, for the Ned Kelly Awards, Brendan James Murray was a joint winner for the “Best True Crime” award, for his first book, “The Drowned Man – A true story about life, death and murder on the HMAS Australia”. This book is about a mysterious rumour, life on the HMAS Australia, and a terrible crime that was kept a secret. Brendan had heard about a gay shipmate being brutally bashed and cast overboard because of his sexuality, from an ex-navy man who fought in the Second World War.

Brendan hopes to continue to spread his love of writing through his works and shed light on the narrative non-fiction genre.

First published in Peninsula Essence – July 2018