Articles on Australian history

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A large bowl or pan thought to have been made in Sydney by the potter Thomas Ball between 1801 and 1823. Courtesy of Casey & Lowe, photo by Russell Workman

How clay helped shape colonial Sydney

Though the Indigenous inhabitants were using white clay long before them, Sydney-made pottery helped colonists maintain different aspects of 'civilised' behaviour.
Grata Flos Greig, First Female Law Graduate, c1904, University of Melbourne. Flos was the first woman admitted to the Australian legal profession. University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/I/5131

Hidden women of history: Flos Greig, Australia’s first female lawyer and early innovator

When Flos Greig first entered law school, it was illegal for women to become lawyers. Undeterred, she lobbied for change and became the first woman admitted to the legal profession in Australia.
A scene at the Aquarius Festival, Nimbin, 1973. Flickr/Harry Watson Smith, CC BY-SA

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever. The Conversation, CC BY69.6 MB (download)
The stories shared with you today are drawn from consultations and interviews with more than 60 Nimbin residents, Aquarius Festival participants and Indigenous elders.
A Motu trading ship with its characteristic crab claw shaped sails. Taken in the period 1903-1904. Trustees of The British Museum

Archaeology is unravelling new stories about Indigenous seagoing trade on Australia’s doorstep

It has often been assumed that Australia was essentially isolated until 1788. But research into the seagoing trade on the south coast of Papua New Guinea suggests otherwise.
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?

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