Australian History

Susan Lever reviews 'Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy'

Susan Lever
22 July 2014

Forty years ago next Christmas, a cyclone devastated Australia’s northernmost city, Darwin. It is a disaster still clear in the living memory of most Australians over fifty, but it also belongs to the past, the time before we had become aware of climate change. At the time, it was the kind of natural disaster to be expected in summer in the Top End, even if its fe ... More

War in Van Diemen's Land

Henry Reynolds
28 April 2014

Tasmania is a small place with a rich historiography. Two themes in particular have intrigued historians and novelists since the nineteenth century and have appealed to film-makers and artists in more recent times. The fate of the Aborigines and the convict system which dominated society from 1803 to 1853 have both attracted notice as a result of their dark, dramati ... More

Alex O'Brien reviews 'A Country Too Far'

Alex O'Brien
28 February 2014

Australia is a country that will not be intimidated by its own decency. On 28 August 2001, as a detail of Special Air Services soldiers was dispatched to MV Tampa, Prime Minister John Howard spoke about the 438 people – mostly Afghan Hazaras – who languished aboard the freighter. ‘We are humane people,’ he told Mike Munro. ‘[B]ut on the other hand, ... More

Akke +artlon reviews 'Perth'

Anne Partlon
19 January 2014

Once regarded as a provincial backwater, Perth has been transformed by the latest mineral resources boom into the nation’s fastest-growing city. The world’s most isolated capital, it is also one of the most outward-looking: a land of ‘porous boundaries’ and endless possibilities, where time and distance are illusory, and the collective gaz ... More

Anne Partlon reviews 'The Marriage Knot'

Anne Partlon
17 January 2014

Between European settlement in 1829 and the 1900 federal referendum, the legislation regulating matrimony in the infant Swan River colony changed eight times. Now, in this intelligent dissection of marriage and divorce laws in colonial Western Australia, historian Penelope Hetherington examines the political, religious, and social forces that effected change, ... More

Melissa Bellanta reviews 'The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka'

Melissa Bellanta
17 January 2014

As the smoke cleared over the ruins of the Eureka Stockade on 5 December 1854, a male diarist observed that a woman was among those ‘mercilessly butchered’ by troopers and police. According to her descendants, Catherine Smith was another casualty, shot by soldiers and dead three weeks later. In the 1880s a female correspondent to the Ballarat Star a ... More

Dreaming Too Loud

Frank Bongiorno
16 January 2014

London-based silk Geoffrey Robertson QC is one of Australia’s most celebrated and eloquent commentators. In his new book, he addresses subjects such as injustice to Aborigines, Ned Kelly, and his Australian heroes.< More

Wilfred Prest on 'Queen's College the University of Melbourne'

Wilfrid Prest
28 November 2013

Notwithstanding occasional media focus on misbehaving students or senior members, the residential colleges and halls dotted around or about most Australian university campuses keep a low profile. Their influence has undoubtedly declined since the early twentieth century, when as many as one quarter of Melbourne’s enrolled undergraduate population, and a much ... More

Susan Lever reviews 'Telling Stories'

Susan Lever
31 October 2013

Telling Stories is a great brick of a book full of diverting bits and pieces about Australian culture over the past seventy-seven years. It is hugely entertaining – a sort of QIin book form, with seventy-nine authors offering their brief observations on aspects of Australian cultural life. No one will read it cover to ... More

Frank Bongiorno reviews 'Dancing with Empty Pockets'

Frank Bongiorno
31 October 2013

Tony Moore’s engaging account of Australian bohemians begins with Marcus Clarke and takes us through to Julian Assange. Along the way we encounter Australian bohemia in its diverse expressions, from the art of the Heidelberg School, writing of the Bulletin, high jinks of 1920s Sydney bohemia to the Sydney Push, Melbourne Drift, 1960s counterculture (i ... More

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