Australian History

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 ...

Susan Lever reviews 'Telling Stories'

Susan Lever
Thursday, 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 ...

Frank Bongiorno reviews 'Dancing with Empty Pockets'

Frank Bongiorno
Thursday, 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 ...

Richard Broinowski reviews 'Charles Robert Scrivener'

Richard Broinowski
Thursday, 31 October 2013

In the 1890s the six Australian colonies were preoccupied not only with getting a fair deal over tariffs and customs – and maintaining the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race – but also with the location of the national capital. Denizens of Melbourne and Sydney felt that it should be one of them. The compromise was a capital in New South Wales, closer to Sydney ...

Robert Kenny reviews 'Living with Fire''

Robert Kenny
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fire, more than any other thing, challenges the divide between the cultural and the natural, between being human and the non-human world. We make a pact, if not with a devil, at least with terrible danger when we use fire; and it is a pact, despite how it might seem in our urban modernity, over which we have no choice. We need fire. It doesn’t need us. If it ...