Amanda Nettelbeck reviews 'The Good Country: The Djadja Wurrung, the settlers and the protectors' by Bain Attwood

Amanda Nettelbeck reviews 'The Good Country: The Djadja Wurrung, the settlers and the protectors' by Bain Attwood

The Good Country: The Djadja Wurrung, the settlers and the protectors

by Bain Attwood

Monash University Publishing, $29.95 pb, 239 pp, 9781925523065

Amanda Nettelbeck

Amanda Nettelbeck

Amanda Nettelbeck is a Professor in the Department of History, University of Adelaide, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the

...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this commentary contains images or names of people who have since passed away.

The Good Country begins in February 1840 with a cross-cultural encounter in Djadja Wurrung country, now central Victoria. Two Protectors of Aborigines, recently appointed to the burgeoning pastoral district around Port Phillip, met with an Aboriginal group camped near Mount Mitchell. At this time, the Aboriginal protectorate had been operating for little more than a year as an experiment in ‘humane’ governance. Designed less as a foil to colonisation than as a means of mitigating its impacts, the protectorate had various parallels around the British Empire in offices of protection for slaves, indentured labourers, and others perceived in need of imperial concern. As part conciliator, part magistrate, and part missionary, the Protectors’ role was to uphold Aboriginal people’s rights of redress against injury or exploitation by settlers, and convert them into Christian farmers and labourers. Present at this day’s encounter were George Augustus Robinson, Van Diemen’s Land’s famed ‘conciliator’ and now Chief Protector for the Port Phillip District, and Edward Stone Parker, come amongst the Djadja Wurrung as their advocate. The head of the Aboriginal group was Nandelowwindic. He recognised the colonial officials and invited them to sit. Identifying features of the landscape for their benefit, Nandelowwindic told them that this was ‘my country, merrygic barbarie, good country’.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in December 2017, no. 397

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.