Articles on Aboriginal history

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Humans would have first seen Kata Tjuta very shortly after arriving in Australia 50,000 years ago. Alan Cooper

When did Aboriginal people first arrive in Australia?

Aboriginal Australians have effectively been on their country for as long as modern human populations have been outside of Africa. We have a limit as to how long ago that was: around 50,000 years.
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 WEH 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.
Sunset looking across Port Warrender to the Mitchell Plateau on the Kimberley coast. It is in Wunambal Gaambera country. Mark Jones Films (with permission)

How to get to Australia … more than 50,000 years ago

The first people to make it to Australia could have navigated their way by sea crossing, reaching the north-west coastline of the island continent more than 50,000 years ago.
‘The Block’ in Redfern has been a site of struggle and activism for Indigenous inclusion in planning processes. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Indigenous communities are reworking urban planning, but planners need to accept their history

While planning policies and practices have contributed to marginalising Indigenous people, planners can now work with them to ensure they have their rightful say in shaping Australian communities.
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.
Mount Mazama, a volcano in Oregon. Indigenous stories preserve tales of its eruption more than 7,000 years ago. Shutterstock.com

Friday essay: monsters in my closet – how a geographer began mining myths

Old stories from around the world tell of drowned islands, volcanic eruptions and upheavals to the land around them. Increasingly we are realising these tales preserve actual memory, often from thousands of years ago.
Mungo Man finally returns to where he was found in the Mungo National Park. Office of Environment and Heritage/J Spencer

Mungo Man returns home: there is still much he can teach us about ancient Australia

The remains of the first known Australian, Mungo Man, begin their journey home today. Scientists hope they'll still get a chance to study the ancient remains, working with the Traditional Owners.
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.
The Dove ad published on Facebook, which the company took down after many complaints of racial insensitivity. NayTheMUA/Facebook

Dove, real beauty and the racist history of skin whitening

Beauty brand Dove caused controversy with an ad seemingly showing a black woman turning white after using its body lotion. While Dove removed the ad, it played into the racist history of skin whitening.
Aboriginal dancers from Pinjarra perform at the unveiling of the counter-memorial in Esplanade Park, Fremantle, April 9 1994. Courtesy Bruce Scates

Monumental errors: how Australia can fix its racist colonial statues

A Fremantle monument to three white explorers was revised in 1994 to acknowledge the violence committed against Indigenous owners. As Australia struggles to reconcile its racist past, perhaps this monument shows a way forward.
The Madjedbebe excavation in the Northern Territory. Dominic O Brien/Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation

Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years

A new study pushes back the first known evidence of human activity in Australia – to 65,000 years ago.

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