Articles on Australian history

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An undated portrait thought to depict Bennelong, signed “W.W.” now in the Dixson Galleries of the State Library of New South Wales. Wikimedia Commons

Sailors’ journals shed new light on Bennelong, a man misunderstood by history

History has typically depicted Bennelong as a tragic figure lost between two worlds - but sailors' journals suggest he still held authority after his return from the UK.
It may be that the fortnight or so surrounding Australia Day is evolving into an annual season in which some of the deepest paradoxes of Australian identity play out in public. AAP/Glenn Campbell

New research reveals our complex attitudes to Australia Day

As the debate around celebrating Australia Day on January 26 continues, new research shows Australians have mixed views of it as a national day.
Old mine sites suffer many fates, which range from simply being abandoned to being incorporated into towns or turned into an open-air museum in the case of Gwalia, Western Australia.

Afterlife of the mine: lessons in how towns remake challenging sites

The industrial patterns of mining shaped many Australian towns, which found varied uses for disused mine sites. The mining boom ensures the challenges these sites present will be with us a long time.
“New Hollanders” depicted in a 1698 edition of the explorer William Dampier’s journal. Courtesy of the Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library, University of Hawai'i-Mānoa

Found: the earliest European image of Aboriginal Australians

The image, depicting a group of Indigenous people resisting their enslavement, predates the next oldest image by 75 years.
S.T. Gill, Kangaroo Hunting, The Death, from his Australian Sketchbook (1865). Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia in the 1830s and 1840s. National Library of Australia

Friday essay: the art of the colonial kangaroo hunt

In the mid 19th century, kangaroo hunting was a sport. Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia and everyone from Charles Darwin to Anthony Trollope tried their hand at shooting roos.
Detail from Julie Shiels’ 1954 poster White on black: The annihilation of Aboriginal people and their culture cannot be separated from the destruction of nature. State Library of Victoria

Friday essay: the ‘great Australian silence’ 50 years on

It is 50 years since anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner gave the Boyer Lectures in which he coined the phrase 'the great Australian silence'. How far have we come since?
A new Parramatta is emerging out of the rubble of history. Artist's impression of the new North Parramatta development/URBANGROWTH NSW/AAP

Reimagining Parramatta: a place to discover Australia’s many stories

Sydney's Parramatta is developing fast, building over a rich archaeological history. Finding ways to retain it can help visitors and residents feel a sense of physical connection with those who came before.
Ivy Emms with the man she married, Jack Bent, on a music catalogue for the song Just a Ray of Sunlight. After performing patriotic songs as a child in popular pantomimes, Emms later worked as a choreographer at Melbourne’s Tivoli Theatre. NLA

From child stars to lost theatres: capturing our ephemeral history of live performance

More than 100,000 records of live performance are on a database of our theatre history. They tell of corroborees, the first play staged by white settlers, and long-gone gracious theatres.
Guy Pearce as the Chandleresque private investigator Jack Irish: in the early years of Australian crime fiction, convicts and bushrangers featured prominently. Lachlan Moore

Friday essay: from convicts to contemporary convictions – 200 years of Australian crime fiction

Australia's rich tradition of crime fiction is little known – early tales told of bushrangers and convicts, one hero was a mining engineer turned amateur detective – but it reveals a range of national myths and fantasies.
The pilot, Jessie Maude Miller (right), became the first woman to fly between Australia and England, before moving the US. Wikimedia

The Australian women expats who found liberation in the US

Thousands of Australian women took flight to the US in the early 20th century, escaping sexism at home for success overseas. They included architects, artists, dentists and an economist who advised JFK.

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