Tongerlongeter’s story

Revisiting the indomitable military leader
by
October 2021, no. 436
Buy this book

Tongerlongeter: First Nations leader and Tasmanian war hero by Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements

NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 279 pp

Tongerlongeter’s story

Revisiting the indomitable military leader
by
October 2021, no. 436

Tongerlongeter was surely one of Australia’s toughest military leaders. Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements expressly narrate his story to affirm the place of the Frontier Wars in the Anzac pantheon. Reflexive conservative responses to such arguments – that Anzac Day commemorates only those who served in the Australian military – are flawed and outdated. The Tasmanian frontier is one of Australia’s best-documented cases of violent operations against Aboriginal people. In 1828, Governor George Arthur, unable to gain control over the ‘lamentable and protracted warfare’, issued a Demarcation Proclamation later enforced by the formation of Black Lines, military cordons stretching several hundred kilometres across southern and central Tasmania to secure the grasslands demanded by white settlers. Despite the efforts of Australia’s culture war protagonists led by Keith Windschuttle and Quadrant magazine, Tasmania’s Black Lines remain infamous in Australian history, with revisionist work emphasising the military planning, enormous cost, and extensive civilian involvement owing to Arthur’s declaration of a levée en masse, a form of conscription, to support the military operations. Comprising more than 2,200 soldiers and settlers, these army cordons remained ‘the largest domestic military offensive ever mounted on Australian soil’. Despite the forces arrayed against him, Tongerlongeter and his compatriots passed through the Black Lines with comparative ease in 1830.

Libby Connors reviews 'Tongerlongeter: First Nations leader and Tasmanian war hero' by Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements

Tongerlongeter: First Nations leader and Tasmanian war hero

by Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements

NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 279 pp

Buy this book

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