Articles on Australian history

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Detail from William Barak, Figures in possum skin cloaks, 1898, pencil, wash, charcoal solution, gouache and earth pigments on paper, 57.0 x 88.8 cm (image and sheet) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1962

NGV’s Colony is a bold attempt to confront Australia’s colonial past, but divisions remain

Colony at the NGV pairs colonial art with Indigenous responses, in an effort to create dialogue about Australia's history.
Detail from a reconstruction of a Tasmanian picture board by Simon Barnard (2015). Kristyn Harman and Nicholas Brodie

How picture boards were used as propaganda in the Vandemonian War

In the early days of colonial Tasmania, the British used threatening picture boards to communicate with Aboriginal people, giving them a choice between conciliation and death.
In July 2017, new research was published that pushed the opening chapters of Australian history back to 65,000 years ago. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation

Essays On Air: When did Australia’s human history begin?

When did Australia’s human history begin? The Conversation, CC BY16.6 MB (download)
Today's episode of Essays On Air, the audio version of our Friday essay series, seeks to move beyond the view of ancient Australia as a timeless and traditional foundation story.
This 1980s ad for Lindeman’s Ben Ean Moselle mirrored the shift in Australian wine culture from egalitarian to aspirational. Lindeman’s (Holdings) Ltd, Z418 Box 335 27.103, Noel Butlin Archives Centre

The rise and fall of Ben Ean Moselle and what it says about Australian society

Lindeman's Ben Ean Moselle was the ultimate wine for everyone in the 1970s. But as Australia grew wealthier, its fortunes faded in competition with other, 'finer' wines.
Same-sex marriage becoming legal was rated by as the most significant event in their history by the largest proportion of respondents. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australians rate the most significant events in their lifetimes – and show the ‘fair go’ is still most valued

A new survey asking Australians to rank the most significant events in their lifetimes show that same-sex marriage, September 11 and the apology to the Stolen Generations matter most.
The painting Group of Natives of Tasmania, 1859, by Robert Dowling. Wikimedia

Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide

That colonial wars were fought in Tasmania is irrefutable. More controversially, surviving evidence suggests the British enacted genocidal policies against the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
Rabaul is famous for its twin volcanoes, which erupted simultaneously in 1994. Unknown photographer Image supplied by David Bridie and Gideon Kakabin

The A Bit na Ta exhibition reminds us of our forgotten links to Papua New Guinea

An exhibition at the Melbourne Museum tells the history of colonialism in East New Britain, PNG, from the perspective of the local people. This is history from the ground up, told through film, art and music.
Titian’s 1583 painting Venus of Urbino: historically, pleasure was not the only, or even the main, expectation from sex for women. Wikimedia Commons

From reproducers to ‘flutters’ to ‘sluts’: tracing attitudes to women’s pleasure in Australia

Australian women were once largely seen as reproducers, rather than lovers: sexual pleasure was suspect. Attitudes have changed, yet our culture is still troubled by female desire.
Heaven only knows what sort of excursion Wooredy and Truganini thought they had embarked upon on when G.A. Robinson took them to Recherche Bay in 1830 to make an overland trek to the Tasmanian west coast. Cassandra Pybus

Friday essay: journey through the apocalypse

Wooredy and his second wife Truganini set off into the Tasmanian wilderness with settler George Robinson in 1830, on a "conciliatory" mission to find other original Tasmanians. Their stories bear witness to a psychological and cultural transition without parallel in modern colonialism.
George Hamilton, Meeting natives on the Campaspi plains, Victoria, June 1836. National Library of Australia

Noble horses and ‘black monsters’: the politics of colonial compassion

George Hamilton published An Appeal for the Horse in 1866, a defence of animal welfare well ahead of its time. However, his compassion for Aboriginal people was conspicuously lacking.
Paul Uhlmann, Batavia 4th June 1629 (night of my sickness), 2017, oil on canvas (detail, one of three panels). Courtesy of the artist

Picturing the unimaginable: a new look at the wreck of the Batavia

The shipwreck of the Batavia and subsequent murders of 115 men, women and children have inspired many retellings. A new exhibition combines art and science to find new angles on an old tale.

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