Australian History

On 17 January 1991, Alan Atkinson wrote to fellow historian Manning Clark to express his appreciation after reading The Puzzles of Childhood (1989) and The Quest for Grace (1990), Clark’s two volumes of autobiography. While Clark had only four months to live, Atkinson would soon begin work on The Europeans in Australia, a three-v ...

David Day on 'Menzies at War'

David Day
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Prime ministers seem to value longevity, whether it is Bob Hawke relishing the fact that he served longer than John Curtin and Ben Chifley combined, or John Howard relishing that he served longer than Hawke. But no prime minister is likely to serve as long as Robert Menzies’ sixteen years as prime minister from 1949 to 1966. His record is even more impressive when ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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 ...

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Akke +artlon reviews 'Perth'

Anne Partlon
Sunday, 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 ...

Anne Partlon reviews 'The Marriage Knot'

Anne Partlon
Friday, 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, ...

Melissa Bellanta reviews 'The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka'

Melissa Bellanta
Friday, 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 ...

Dreaming Too Loud

Frank Bongiorno
Thursday, 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.

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

Wilfrid Prest
Thursday, 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 ...