Articles on Australian history

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Gone are the days when we were told to suck out a snake’s venom. So what’s the current treatment and how have treatments changed over time? State Library of NSW/Hood

Hissstory: how the science of snake bite treatments has changed

Snake bite treatments have changed remarkably over the past 200 years. But most, if not all, made sense in their historical context.
Was World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello right to say that Australia’s foreign aid spending was at its highest under Menzies, at 0.5% of gross national income? AAP Image/Royal Australian Air Force, CPL Jessica de Rouw

FactCheck: What are the facts on Australia’s foreign aid spending?

We check the facts on how Australia's foreign aid spend has changed over time.
Rose and Groote Eylandters Nertichunga, Machana and Nabia, Groote Eylandt, 1941. Courtesy of SLNSW, Frederick Rose papers, Box 5

The red professor and the white anting that continues to this day

The book Red Professor: the Cold War Life of Fred Rose tells of a progressive anthropologist who was stymied by non-Indigenous people in powerful positions. Sadly, it's a narrative that still resonates today.
Clare Wright: one of many women historians carving a role as a public intellectual. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

How women historians smashed the glass ceiling

Compared to the male-dominated STEM disciplines and social sciences like philosophy and political science, Australian history has been remarkably feminised. Indeed there may be more women historians here than in the UK or US.
Does this rock painting, featuring a long, white gun, depict first contact? Is it a work of history? Author provided

Friday essay: on listening to new national storytellers

Australian history is already a hotly contested discipline but is it time to broaden our definitions of the canon? Might an indigenous rock painting or a novel or a poem constitute a work of history?
Vincent Lingiari looks on as Prime Minister Gough Whitlam swigs champagne after the symbolic handback of the Gurindji people’s land. Rob Wesley-Smith

An historic handful of dirt: Whitlam and the legacy of the Wave Hill Walk-Off

A new book reveals the drama and comedy of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's famous "hand back" of Gurindji land in 1975, following the Wave Hill Walk-Off 50 years ago – and the bittersweet aftermath.
Gurindji ranger Ursula Chubb pays her respects to ancestors killed in the early 1900s at Blackfella Creek, where children were tied with wire and dragged by horses, and adults were shot as they fled. They were buried under rocks where they fell. Brenda L Croft, from Yijarni

Friday essay: the untold story behind the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-Off

The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory made history 50 years ago by standing up for their rights to land and better pay. But a new book reveals the deeper story behind the Wave Hill Walk-Off.
What are the criteria for a Prime Minister intervening in these awards? Literary reasons? Personal reasons? ‘History war’ reasons? Michael Tapp

Why the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards need an urgent overhaul

They should be our pre-eminent national writing prizes. Instead, these awards bob on the vast sea of daily politics, occasionally getting dumped by a breaker.
No progress will be made on asylum policy until the major parties move to a positive bipartisanship. shutterstock

On asylum seekers, our history keeps repeating itself

Australia's history of dealing with asylum seekers has been a long and chequered one, paving the way for the hardline bipartisanship we see today.
The regulation of drinking has helped create precisely the violent, misogynistic and law-breaking culture that it was intended to control. John Brack/Wikimedia Commons

Curfews and lockouts: battles over drinking time have a long history in NSW

Since the earliest days of British colonisation, authorities have sought to limit the problems associated with alcohol by licensing its sale and limiting the times and places where it is drunk.
Printer George Howe shows the first edition of the Sydney Gazette to Governor Philip Gidley King, in a feature window at the Mitchell Library. Reproduced with permission of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Digital Order Number: a6509002

The science issues this election are as old as the Australian media

What science issues did Australia's first newspaper - edited by a convict - discuss in its letter pages? The same ones we talk about today: the environment, education and health.
A picture of strength: lifelong activist Bonita Mabo OA in front of her portrait as a young woman, which features in her granddaughter Boneta-Marie Mabo’s first solo exhibition. Josef Ruckli, courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

Boneta-Marie Mabo's art responds to a colonial past in which Aboriginal women were fetishised as "black velvet". But it also celebrates strong women, including her activist grandmother Bonita Mabo.
Australia’s Aboriginal welfare problem of the 60s enabled widespread theft from Indigenous artists – including designs for the one dollar note. Reserve Bank of Australia.

‘Dollar Dave’ and the Reserve Bank: a tale of art, theft and human rights

Australia's original $1 note featured artwork taken without permission from Aboriginal artist, David Malangi. He was later given $1000, a medallion and a fishing kit, but archival evidence sheds new light on the affair.
Australia’s beauty is haunted by the unmarked sites of massacres and battles. Ben Quilty, Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012. Image courtesy of AGNSW, © Ben Quilty.

Breaking the silence: Australia must acknowledge a violent past

Australia has a lesson to learn from Germany when it comes to reconciling with a shameful past. Artists are taking the lead in 'When silence falls', a formidable exhibition.

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