Historian Regina Ganter explains how much of the history told about other parts of Australia does not apply in the same way to the north, where the earliest external links were with lands close by.
20 December 2005
Regina Ganter interviewed by Andrew Jakubowicz for MMA
1 min 30 s
When we look at north Australia we find very different histories, very different patterns of history from the southern half. We look at Australia, for example, and think it was an isolated continent until the British came. And when we look at the north, these ideas make no sense whatsoever. They make no sense in the Northern Territory, in Western Australia, both of which had strong connections to Makassar, and they make no sense in the north of Queensland, where Torres Strait was as much a bridge into New Guinea as a barrier. So all across the northern coasts we see very strong connections to an outside world before the arrival of the British…
When we look at the northern history and we actually take it seriously and on its own terms, it challenges almost everything that we take for granted in Australian history - about when it started; in 1788 there was no white history anywhere in the north, the white settlement came with a very long time lag. The Bicentennial in north Australia is still a long way off. It was not an isolated continent, it was not a white Australia, almost everything that we take for granted – it was not a settler society, it was an exploitation colony. Almost everything we take for granted is actually not so in the north.