Exploring the origins of Australian history

The Writers Festival celebrated voices of every kind in the Outback. PHOTO: Supplied

PEOPLE from around Australia travelled to Winton this month to take part in the Outback Writers Festival.

The festival takes off in Winton yearly and brings together and supports outback writers and poets through collaborations and writers’’ workshops.

The thought-provoking workshops were designed to support outback writers to explore outback Australian history and indigenous culture.

A keynote presentation about the origins of Australiana, was delivered by Dr Ray Kerkhove, where he explored how the joint heritage of white Australia owes a lot of its distinctive features to the indigenous.

Dr Kerkhove is a professional consultant historian attached to the Aboriginal environment research center in Queensland, and he explained that an example is the names of things, towns, where the old camps were, pathways and beyond that, there are so many other things.

“The outback literacy scene is underdeveloped, as the potential hasn’t really been investigated enough, and so we hope to encourage more people to explore the history of Australiana,” said Dr Kerkhove.

“What makes Australians, well Australians is actually indigenous.

“There is a logic in where aboriginal camps are and that was often mapped over by where towns are now located.”

Dr Kerkhove has done a lot of work on reconstructing frontier conflict sites, where they were, and what exactly the history was in those spots.

“We have decades and decades of research, but we are still far behind the rest of the world in terms of looking at Aboriginal Culture, for some reason Australia sees itself as different from the rest of the world,” said Mr Kerkhove.

“Every continent has a bloody history and the majority of early settlements started with conflict.

“Take Mexico they grew out of a conquest and North America, there they have tours where you can see the massacre and battle sites and people are interested in that.

“People say it’’s too sad about Indigenous culture, well the convict history is not happy, even the Anzac history, if you look at the themes, we are always drawn to these conflict times.

“Often the resistance of Indigenous people was bigger that a lot of people understand and others also had more warriors involved.

“The average person in New Zealand for example, they know the Haka, and a lot of Kiwi’s know some of the Maori language and it makes up their kindness.

“That used to be in Australia too, where you weren’’t a real bushy unless you had a few Aboriginal mates.

“The challenge is that we need to acknowledge the indigenous history more, and incorporate it back into our tourism industry, as it’s a completely interesting and fascinating part of Australia,” said Dr Kerkhove.