Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

The Valley and the Sea

Ena Czeladka Willemsen

An anthology of fact, fiction and memoir in prose and poetry told with humour and pathos

How could a box of buttons hold such
fascination throughout one’s childhood?
The skeleton may have been fleshless but
there was a soul in those bones!
Listen as the wind speaks, describing
its vagaries in moving verse.

This is a collection of weird and wonderful tales where, at times, animals and even a sassy cockroach have a voice. Quirky and heart-warming, they bring the serious and comic together.

True and fictional stories, poetry and personal reflections about life, love and the seasons are interspersed with poignant memories of the author’s early years, her family’s trials, the terrible loss of a beloved brother in the war, and her own struggle to maintain a home shadowed by chronic illness.


About the Author

Mamer Deng Jur

Ena Czeladka Willemsen (born Ena Ilich) is an author and historian. She was born in the Swan Valley, Western Australia, and grew up on a vineyard at Herne Hill. She has a passion for family heritage and a special interest in local history. She became concerned that vineyards in the Swan District were disappearing, and the old Croatian settlers were dying off. She felt it needed to be documented that they had been there, and were a huge force in the establishment and success of this grape-growing region.

In 1987, Ena collected photographs of, and from, older Croatians who had settled on the Swan, and coordinated a photographic exhibition sponsored by the Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission, and presented in conjunction with the State Planning Commission. This was displayed at Midland Gate, the Alexander Library in Perth, and in Kalgoorlie–Boulder. An expansion of the booklet written by Ena to complement the photos and oral histories was the 1988 book To Make a Better Life, which she co-authored. In 1989, under the direction of artist Jo Darbyshire, Ena was part of a group that painted the banner of the Rainbow Serpent, depicting the history of women in the Swan Shire, which hung above the swimming pool at the Midvale Aquatic Centre for several years. Artist Margaret Benoit also contributed to the display.

In 1991, Ena’s paper Yugoslavs in the Swan Valley and their involvement in Viticulture was included in the University of Western Australia publication, Aspects of Ethnicity in Western Australia (Studies in WA History xii).

In 1994, Ena was instrumental in bringing together a handful of senior citizens to establish the Swan Athletic Group of Seniors (SAGS), and saw this social group grow from nine to over fifty members by 2000, when she relinquished her position.

In 2005, she self-published St Michaels in the Valley, a history of the Catholic Church in Herne Hill. In 2018, as a historian, Ena was included in the inaugural list of Local Legends, sponsored by Midland Gate, who were honoured with a brick in the Cale Street Precinct Walk in Midland. She has received recognition for some of her poetry and short fiction through competitions and in-house awards, and often has snippets published in the “Letters” page of The West Australian newspaper.

Ena now lives a quiet life of retirement in Mandurah, Western Australia, but her thoughts often fly back to her beloved Swan Valley.



The Valley and the Sea by Ena Czeladka Willemsen
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ISBN: 978-1-925846-92-8
Format: Paperback C Format 229mm x 152mm
Extent: 296 pages
RRP: $25
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Poetry -- Memoir