Turning the map upside down

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  • Published 20050906
  • ISBN: 9780733316715
  • Extent: 232 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

IF WE TURN the map upside down and start Australian history where its documentation properly begins – in the north – the kaleidoscope of Australian history falls into a completely different pattern. Prior contact with Muslim Asians on the north coasts and the cultural bridge of the Torres Strait into coastal New Guinea, make nonsense of the idea of an isolated continent. Indeed, until World War II, whites were heavily outnumbered in the north by close-knit Asian and indigenous communities. Instead of a White Australian past in the north we see a history of “mixed relations”.[i]

Nowhere in northern Australia does Anglo-Celtic history yet amount to 200 years. European encroachment was gradual and unsteady, and sometimes in retreat. It only reached the northern mainland roughly 100 years after southern settlement. More importantly, it did not take place on a historical tabula rasa. Apart from the longstanding indigenous presence, there were inchoate colonial claims over the continent whose map was literally dotted with Dutch names: Eendraghtsland, Leeuwinland, Peter Nuyts Land, De Witts Land, Van Diemen’s Land and Nieuw Holland.

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About the author

Regina Ganter

Regina Ganter has just published Mixed Relations (University of Western Australia Press), a study of Asian/Aboriginal contacts in northern Australia.For her earlier work, The...

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