Posted in:

Van Diemen’s Land An Aboriginal History

This book will become a major source of information for students and lecturers at Universities.  It is an up-to-date history that has been carefully researched, using extensive archaeological and first hand evidence to ensure a precise work of study.  The authors are both lecturers in Australian history and Indigenous studies.

The chapters in this book outline the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people from 35,000 years ago. It also looks at the early geological changes to Tasmania that influenced the migration to the island.

Present-day Tasmanians are interested in their history.  Firstly, they have been surrounded by it constantly, both in convict architecture and secondly, in the awareness of the aboriginal plight with the much publicised death of Truganinni.  There were many papers written and theses put forward, looking into aspects of the history of the island and the people.  The authors have been able to use these past observations and theories to include, or discount, them.  Also used and read were the English settlers’ and explorers’ observations of the Aborigines whom they met.

The chapters in the book begin with “Origins ….in Fact and Fiction.”  It appears that there have been many attempts to identify from whom the Tasmanian Aboriginals were descended, and also, how and why they arrived.  “Archaeological evidence has confirmed the presence of Aboriginals in south-west Tasmania at least 35,000 years ago.” It seems that their ancestors came from the Murray River Basin.

The following chapters discuss “Life Ways and Material Culture, First Encounters and British Colonisation, The Sealing Fraternity and The Resurgence of Tasmanian Aboriginality.”

The authors have such an in-depth knowledge of their topic, that they have been able to convey facts and stories in a fascinating and eminently readable style.

AuthorMurray Johnson, Ian McFarlane
PublisherUNSW Press