A Very Important Map of Australia: The Early Grain Belt


Bruce Pascoe, author of “Dark Emu” presents to farmers at Traralgon:

Then I started to find out a lot of information that didn’t fit into the contact wars because it came before the contact wars. It was about what the explorers of Australian soil, the European explorers, had noticed about what Aboriginal people were actually doing. One of the things I’ve found very early on in the research for Dark Emu was this is a map that with the RIRC, the Rural Investment and something or other committee put together based on Norman Tindale’s work. I was just saying to someone before, that when you think about Aboriginal archaeology and Aboriginal anthropology in Australia, 90% of it in the early days was done by people who came from somewhere else. (Lorandos), Italian. Tindale, American. Even today, when we went up to Mildura to harvest Pannicum decompositum and turn it into flour, the bloke who was helping us was Japanese. He didn’t even speak English. What are we doing in this country? When we’ve got all these boat people coming over here. That was a joke. You’re allowed to laugh about it because someone’s got to find it funny eventually.

These other people were starting to about learn Australian Aboriginal culture and we weren’t. The Australians were not. They made this map of Australia and … This is the current Australian wheat belt – here and here. This is where explorers, early settlers saw Aboriginal people harvesting grain, planting grain, irrigating grain, and turning it into flour.

This was a very important map for me. When I saw it in a magazine that I had Googled up and found by accident I was very taken by how much we had been misled in all of my schooling. I went to university. I studied history at university. Never heard this. I taught history in high schools and I taught my students rubbish, absolute rubbish about Australian history. It wasn’t until my auntie said, “You know nothing. You know nothing about your country or about your family, and you start with your country before you learn about your family.”


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