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SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future


South Australia has been home to some hoaxes that have captured popular attention and mystified us.

The Ern Malley hoax centred on Max Harris, the editor of the Adelaide literary magazine, Angry Penguins. Two soldier-poets, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, concocted the tragic poet Ern Malley and submitted his poetry to Angry Penguins. Harris thought Malley's poems were genius and published a commemorative issue of the magazine for him. The hoax was exposed shortly afterwards and Harris was subsequently charged with publishing obscene material.

In late 1971 the story circulated that the Nullarbor Plain was home to a half-naked blonde girl who lived off the land, with kangaroos as her only companions. The story of the 'Nullarbor Nymph' even attracted the attention of the international media. Several months later it was revealed that the story was invented by a group of men in the pub just for a laugh and to draw media attention to the tiny Nullarbor town of Eucla.

A giant image of an Aboriginal man etched into the sand of a plateau near the far northern town of Marree was discovered in 1998. Wild speculation as to who was responsible for the nearly 4 kilometre long image know known as 'Marree Man' abounded, but the identity of the creator or creators is still unknown.

The making of a myth
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