Hal Colebatch (author)

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Hal Gibson Pateshall Colebatch
Born (1945-10-07) 7 October 1945 (age 74)
Perth, Western Australia
Died(2019-09-10)September 10, 2019
Perth, Western Australia
OccupationAuthor, poet, lecturer, journalist, editor, and lawyer
GenreScience fiction and history

Hal Gibson Pateshall Colebatch (7 October 1945 – 10 September 2019) was a West Australian author, poet, lecturer, journalist, editor, and lawyer.

Personal history[edit]

He was the son of the late Australian politician Sir Hal Colebatch and Marion, Lady Colebatch, a former Australian Army nursing sister who was the daughter of long-time Fremantle mayor and parliamentarian Sir Frank Gibson. He is the author of Sir Hal Colebatch's biography, Steadfast Knight (foreword by Professor Geoffrey Blainey), published by the Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

He received a BA Honours and MA in History/Politics and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Western Australia as well as degrees in jurisprudence and law.

Colebatch also stood in the 1977 and 1993 state elections for the seat of Perth as the Liberal (i.e. conservative) candidate, and although he was not elected to the Legislative Assembly on either occasion, on the second attempt he came within 0.12% of winning the seat from the Australian Labor Party, which had held it since 1968.[1]

He is not to be confused with Dr Hal K. Colebatch who was born in 1944, has taught political science at several universities, and is also the author of a number of books. Hal G. P. Colebatch originally wrote under the by-line "Hal Colebatch" but changed this to "Hal G. P. Colebatch" to minimise confusion.


As well as Steadfast Knight, his work includes eight volumes of poetry (starting with Spectators on the Shore in 1975), a series of science-fiction stories published in the US in the series The Man-Kzin Wars, created by Larry Niven, in which he has created several original characters including Dimity Carmody, Nils Rykerman and Vaemar-Riit. He has now had 18 stories published or accepted in the series, totalling about 600,000 words. He has also had books published of political, social, legal and economic commentary. He was described in Penguin's "A New Literary History of Australia" published in 1988, as having has "a quiet but steady career" in Australian poetry at that time. He writes regularly for a number of publications including Quadrant and his 1999 book Blair's Britain was chosen in The Spectator (London) as a Book of the Year.[2] He also writes for The American Spectator Online,[3] op-ed articles for The Australian and occasional pieces for other publications including The Australian Financial Review, IPA Review The Salisbury Review and The New Criterion. He also writes regular book-reviews and other features for The West Australian and The Record in Perth. His Return of the Heroes is a study of heroic fantasy including The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter, and he has contributed several articles to the J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopaedia; Scholarship and Critical Assessment. He is currently writing biographies of Sir Victor Garland and the late Sir Stanley Argyle.

Colebatch has also edited many books including Lucky Ross, written by John Ross, an Australian Naval Officer who was transferred out of HMAS Sydney 19 days before it was sunk with all hands in November 1941. He has written commissioned histories of the Parents' and Friends Association in Western Australia and The Victoria League in Western Australia. He has had two novels published by Acashic – Counterstrike set in and off Western Australia in the near future, and Time Machine Troopers, a sequel to H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, set in 802719 and featuring Wells himself, Winston Churchill, H. G. Wells and Lord Robert Baden-Powell as characters. Counterstrike has been described in The American Spectator Online and the Perth "Record" as a "thriller of ideas, one of the first books to grapple with the problems of false and manufactured counter-knowledge." (9 July 2011) Time Machine Troopers has been described as "better than Wells" and "a subversion of Wells".[by whom?] In 2011 Picaro Press published his small "chapbook" of poetry, The Age of Revolution, No. 113 in its Wagtail Poets series.

When working as a reporter on The West Australian, Colebatch made several trips to the Kimberley to report on the construction and filling of the Ord River Dam and associated animal rescues with naturalist Harry Butler, a long-time friend. He was also involved in exploring several kilometres of extensions to Easter Cave in the south-west of Western Australia.

His hobbies include sailing, war-gaming and underwater photography, especially at the reefs around Rottnest Island. He spent much of 1973, 1983–84 and 1997-98 in Britain, the Middle East and Europe. He has also worked for the Australian Institute for Public Policy, the "dry" think-tank established by John Hyde, former MHR for Moore, and engineering tycoon Harold Clough, Debrett's publications (as managing editor) and on the staff of two federal ministers - the Hon. Sir Victor Garland and the Hon. Senator Chris Ellison. He has also run his own law practice, after completing articles with Stone James in Perth.

Colebatch has tutored in creative writing at Curtin University, political science at the University of Western Australia, torts and contract law at Curtin University, and lectured in international law at Edith Cowan University and Notre Dame University. He was offered an adjunct professorship[where?] but was unable to take it up.

Many of his poems concern Perth and its suburbs, the Swan River and Rottnest Island, as well as travels in Britain, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. His poetry, which has won various prizes, is in both free-verse and highly structured forms including sonnets and sestinas.

Colebatch was described by Peter Alexander, Professor of English at the University of New South Wales, in his biography of Les Murray, as being among Australia's best writers.[citation needed] Man-Kzin Wars XII, containing three more stories by Colebatch (two written in collaboration with M. J. Harrington) was published in February 2009.

His seventh book of poetry, The Light River, with a foreword by Les Murray, was published by Connor Court Publishing in 2007. In the foreword Murray stated that Colebatch's work had been unjustly suppressed by the Australian literary establishment because of his refusal to join poetic cliques. This book contains, among other works, the long narrative poem The San Demetrio, telling of the salvaging of a burning petrol-tanker at sea in World War II, and a poem It, on the return of terrorism. The long poem Red-Head with Phosphorus is a romantic love story. His poems are included in about 25 anthologies. Colebatch is also co-author of a book on traffic law in Western Australia, published in 2007 with Barrister Patrick Mugliston and former police sergeant Stewart Ainsworth. The Light River was awarded the West Australian Premier's literary prize for poetry in 2008. He wrote the official biography of Bert Kelly, MHR, "The Modest Member". His book Blair's Britain: British Culture Wars and New Labour was chosen as a Book of the Year by the London Spectator.

His published prose books include Caverns of Magic (Cybereditions, 2006), a survey of caves in myth, legend and story, and of the development of speleology. As a reporter on The West Australian, Colebatch was involved in the discovery of several kilometres of extensions to Easter Cave in the south-west of Western Australia. The book has a foreword by naturalist and conservationist Harry Butler. Many scenes in Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War, and subsequent volumes, are set in caves and caverns, reflecting his knowledge of the subject. Colebatch has also had a volume of short stories accepted for publication by Acashic, and has written a short film, Fiddler's Green.

His book Australia's Secret War won the 2014 Prime Minister's Literary Award for history attracting significant controversy due to accusations of political bias.[4] Among the judges for the award were Gerard Henderson, and Peter Coleman. The book details strikes and purported sabotage by left-wing unions during World War II although many cited examples were either highly inaccurate or relied on unsubstantiated statements by individual servicemen.[5]

Titles written by Colebatch (partial list)[edit]

  • Claude de Bernales: The Magnificent Miner: A Biography, Carlisle, W.A. : Hesperian Press, 1996. ISBN 0-85905-200-1
  • Steadfast Knight: A Life of Sir Hal Colebatch with a foreword by Geoffrey Blainey. Fremantle, W.A. : Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2004. ISBN 1-920731-39-3 (biography of his father)[6]
  • Return of the Heroes : The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Social Conflict, Cybereditions Corporation, 2003. ISBN 978-1-877275-57-9
  • The Light River, Connor Court, 2007. ISBN 0-9802936-4-2
  • "The Colonel's Tiger" in Man-Kzin Wars VII, Baen, 1995. ISBN 0-671-87670-8
  • Man-Kzin Wars No. X: The Wunder War, Baen, 2003. ISBN 0-7434-9894-1
  • Good work and friendship : the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship in Western Australia 1909-2009,Victoria League, 2010.
  • Counterstrike, Acashic, 2011.
  • Time Machine Troopers, Acashic, 2011.
  • The Modest MemberConnor Court Publishing, 2012
  • Australia’s Secret War: How Unionists Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II, Quadrant Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-980677-87-4
  • Fragile Flame : The Uniqueness and Vulnerability of Scientific and Technological Civilization, Acashic, 2013


  1. ^ Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics, Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth: Parliamentary History Project and Western Australian Electoral Commission. ISBN 0-7309-8409-5.
  2. ^ Colebatch, Hal G.P. (21 September 2009). "Thought police muscle up in Britain". The Australian. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Contributors - Hal Colebatch". The American Spectator. Archived from the original on 23 December 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  4. ^ https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/prime-ministers-literary-awards-panel-accused-of-political-bias-20141209-123mgc.html
  5. ^ http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/who-are-the-liars-response-to-colebatch/
  6. ^ Poprzeczny, Joe (7 December 2004). "Joe Poprzeczny: State Scene - Hal Colebatch's influence lives on". WA Business News. Retrieved 30 January 2010.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Tony Thomas, "Hal Colebatch", Quadrant, October 2013, pp. 59–63.