For those of us who live in Australia’s major cities, particularly the largest cities in the country’s south and east, it’s easy to forget that we are living on land that has been inhabited for more than 40,000 years. We think of Australia as a ‘new’ country devoid of mature culture and history, when in fact Australian Aboriginal culture is widely considered to be the oldest continuing culture in the world.
Unfortunately, Australian Aboriginal culture and history is largely passed over by the majority of Australia’s non-Indigenous population. Even the history of white settlement in Australia is known only in its broad outlines, and has traditionally been taught from the perspective of the English settlers.
In 2009, SBS television made a seven-part series that told the story of white settlement and its ramifications from the perspective of the Aboriginal people. This fascinating series is called First Australians, and should be required viewing for all Australians, as well as travellers who want to learn more about Australia’s history. The series begins with the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney in 1788 and ends with the landmark Koiki Mabo legal challenge in 1993.
You can view the entire series online. Seven hours may seem like a big time commitment, but it is absolutely worth it.
For a taste, here are the first ten minutes of the series: