On the frontline

Exposing the drama and danger of a foreign correspondents life

He feels the heat of the fire from the suicide bomb attack. Its Baghdad 2004. An American Hummer has just been targeted. He sees the suicide bombers body still hanging from the car as helicopters fly in to take the injured American soldiers away. Peter Cave talks calmly into the camera, ignoring the exploding ammunition whizzing around his ears, so millions around the world can get a glimpse of the chaos unfolding around him.

Its a matter of being able to put your fear to one side and do your job as best you can, said Peter. You deal with the fear and the trauma after its happened.

This is a normal day in the life of Peter Cave, a five-time Walkley Award winning journalist who has travelled the world reporting on some of the most poignant and violent moments in 20th century history.

This Friday, March 2, Peter will be in Lismore to launch a new exhibition called Through Australian Eyes, which provides incredible insights into the lives of ABC foreign correspondents who have kept people up-to-date with global current affairs for more than 70 years.

Peter has been on the frontline for over 35 years, and has reported from more than 50 countries. He was there when the Berlin Wall came down and when the Chinese army stormed Tiananmen Square, killing several hundred students.

We saw disemboweled power workers and the bodies of soldiers hanging from their trucks, Peter said. We saw people being run down by tanks and shot. You just have to compartmentalise your mind and put the horror to one side, be logical and report only what you see and hear.

Peter, who is also giving two free public talks during his visit to Lismore, says while he has seen many atrocities, he has also witnessed some of humanitys greatest moments.

I feel lucky Ive been able to see so much of history... to be in South Africa as apartheid collapsed, in Europe as communism fell apart, in Indonesia as the Suharto era ended, Peter said. To be alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu... it was amazing to be in situations like that.

The exhibition Through Australian Eyes, which is on display at the Lismore City Library, brings to life the history of the ABCs foreign correspondents and foreign news bureaus from 1932 to the present day.

With photos, audio and video from the archives, recollections by former correspondents and camera crew, historic and modern news gathering equipment and memorabilia, Through Australian Eyes follows the experiences of the men and women who have put their lives on the line to report the news.

Lismore will be only the second regional centre in Australia to host this impressive exhibition, said Richmond-Tweed Regional Library director, Martin Field. The exhibition is very extensive and will occupy all three floors of the library. Weve shipped it up from Canberra, and wed like to acknowledge the Northern Rivers Friends of the ABC and the Lismore Workers Club for their support.

Peter Cave will launch Through Australian Eyes at the Lismore City Library this Friday, March 2, at 6pm.

The first of his free talks is on earlier that day at Southern Cross University from 12-1pm and the second is this Saturday, March 3, at the Lismore Workers Club at 11am. They will take the form of an open question and answer session, so people can probe Peter about his experiences. Both talks would be particularly valuable for media students who want to hear about the realities of being on assignment overseas, and he will show footage from his time in Baghdad in 2004.

Through Australian Eyes will be on show until April 14. For more information or to book for Peters free talks, phone Neville Jennings on 0405 244 903 or email njenning@scu.edu.au.

The library is also keen for school groups to visit the exhibition. For bookings phone 6621 2464.

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