A Wild History: Life and Death on the Victoria River Frontier
by Darrell Lewis
Monash University Publishing, $29.95 pb, 342 pp, 9781921867262
Darrell Lewis first encountered the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory in 1971 when he worked as a field assistant for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. ‘There was an aura about the country which fired my imagination,’ he writes. Since then, as an historian and archaeologist, he has become an authority on the Victoria River District, the land, its history, and its rock art. Now a research fellow at the National Museum of Australia’s Centre for Historical Research, he has worked on one of its interactive online projects, the ‘Victoria River Doomsday Book’, described as ‘a compendium of Victoria River District cattle station histories and biographies of station employees’. A Wild History is a product of that lifelong commitment, but it is no mere paean of praise: indeed, Lewis soberly declares his intention of replacing the ‘wild imaginings’ and tall stories that currently hold sway with a more soundly based ‘wild history’.