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National Museum of Australia

Frontier Conflict: The Australian experience edited by Bain Attwood and S.G. Foster

April 2003, no. 250

How violent was the Australian frontier? At the moment, this is the biggest debate in Australian history. As most would know, the question has gained national attention largely through the efforts of Keith Windschuttle who, in four Quadrant articles in 2000 and 2001, argued, among other things, that historians had inflated the numbers of Aborigines killed on the Australian frontier and that the National Museum of Australia’s ‘Contested Frontiers’ exhibit contained factual errors. In December 2001 the National Museum organised a conference that brought together Windschuttle and many of the historians he had criticised. This book results from that conference and provides a useful introduction to the debate.

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Not altogether surprisingly, the centenary this year of the foundation and naming of Canberra as the national capital of Australia has passed without any conspicuous celebration of the event beyond the confines of the city itself. Conceived to embody and represent the aspirations of the new Australian nation, unfettered by the rivalries and jealousies of the states, Canberra has always been held in grudging regard by the very nation it was established to serve – the grudge perhaps greater than the regard.

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Desert Country by Nici Cumpston with Barry Patton & Yiwarra Kuju by National Museum of Australia

November 2010, no. 326

During the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) held this August in far north Queensland, the city was buzzing with the visit of many of the country’s leading contributors to contemporary indigenous arts and culture. I ran into some of the most significant visual, performing and literary indigenous artists and arts professionals, many with hereditary links to the region, such as internationally renowned artists Vernon Ah Kee, Ken Thaiday Sr, and Daniel Boyd, and leading arts advocates, mingling with emerging artistic practitioners.

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