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Issue Details: First known date: 2014... 2014 Dark Emu : Black Seeds : Agriculture or Accident?
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.' (Source: publishers website)




Dark Emu Stephen Page , Bangarra Dance Theatre , 2018 single work drama Indigenous story

'Compelling contemporary dance, soul-stirring soundscapes and uniquely Australian stories – Bangarra is a company at the peak of its powers. In superb form after the sold-out season of Bennelong, we return in 2018 with a major new dance work, Dark Emu

'Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s award-winning book of the same name, Dark Emu explores the vital life force of flora and fauna in a series of dance stories directed by Stephen Page. With long-time Bangarra collaborators Steve Francis (music), Jacob Nash (sets) and Jennifer Irwin (costumes) bringing their impeccable aesthetic to the production, Dark Emu will satisfy your spirit and connect you to Country.' (Production summary)

Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Teachers' notes via publisher's website.


  • Dedication: to the Australians
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Dark Emu
    • Broome, Kimberley area, North Western Australia, Western Australia,: Magabala Books , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 7205122866941663523.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 176p.
      Description: illus., maps
      • Includes bibliography
      • Published March 2014
      ISBN: 9781922142436 (pbk), 9781922142450 (ebook: epub), 9781922142443 (ebook: pdf)
    • Broome, Kimberley area, North Western Australia, Western Australia,: Magabala Books , 2018 .
      image of person or book cover 893841898422528292.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Alternative title: Dark Emu : Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture
      Extent: 278p.
      •  Published: 1st June 2018

      ISBN: 9781921248016

Works about this Work

Dark Emu and the Blindness of Australian Agriculture Tony Hughes-d'Aeth , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: The Conversation , 15 June 2018;

'What if Australia were to stop farming? At approximately 3% of gross domestic product, the removal of agriculture from the economy would be a significant hit. It would affect our balance of payments — 60% of agricultural produce is exported and it contributes 13% of Australia’s export revenue.' (Introduction)

Meat-Eaters Eve Vincent , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , June 2018;

'In 2015, Richie Benaud hosted an ‘Australia Day’ barbeque, a pantheon of colonial historical figures on his invite list. Benaud gathered the English navigator, Captain James Cook, who remapped and renamed the east coast of this continent in 1770, and Burke and Wills, whose agonising deaths at Coopers Creek in 1861 were possibly in part the result of them coming to rely on the seeds of an aquatic fern, nardoo (Marsilea drummondii), for nutrition.' (Introduction)

I Pity the Poor Immigrant Melissa Lucashenko , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 17 no. 1 2017;

'Many years ago I read a now forgotten novel by a now forgotten author, which had a truly wonderful preface. It read, simply, this bloody book nearly killed me. I therefore dedicate it, dear Reader, to myself. There is a delicate irony at play, I think, in my long remembering this dedication while the book itself is erased completely from my memory. I’ll touch on the interplay of knowledge and memory in due course. What I want to start by saying, though, is that in my case, as in the case of that forgotten preface’s author, while writing can be a horrifically stressful business - and while writing this paper did indeed feel like it was going to kill me - the Author is emphatically Not Dead.' (Introduction)

Dark Emu the Book Inspires Dark Emu the Dance Show 2017 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 29 November no. 665 2017; (p. 5)

'Bangarra Theatre's Stephen Page was so inspired by Bruce Pascoe's non-fiction book Dark Emu hat he has created a dance show.'

Time for the Truth, Says Top Writer Rudi Maxwell , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 1 June no. 627 2016; (p. 8)
'Writer Bruce Pascoe believes Australia is well-overdue for a truthful conversation about history. ...'
Book Review: Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? by Bruce Pascoe Lisa Hill , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog 2009;

— Review of Dark Emu : Black Seeds : Agriculture or Accident? Bruce Pascoe , 2014 single work criticism
[Review Essay] Dark Emu, Black Seeds : Agriculture or Accident Michael Davis , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: Aboriginal History , December vol. 38 no. 2014; (p. 195-198)

— Review of Dark Emu : Black Seeds : Agriculture or Accident? Bruce Pascoe , 2014 single work criticism
Indigenous Writer Bruce Pascoe : 'We Need Novels That Are True to the Land' Monica Tan , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 18 February 2016;
'The writer of mixed Indigenous heritage says rather than books about white or black people, Australia needs great novelists writing truthfully about the land.'
NSW Premier's Literary Awards Shortlist Indigenous and Climate Change Stories Linda Morris , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: Brisbane Times , 14 April 2016;
'Tony Birch has been many times a bridesmaid, but there is one literary prize he wouldn't mind losing – the new standalone prize for indigenous writers announced as part of the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards' shortlist on Thursday. ...'
Indigenous Storytelling Has Always Been in Our Blood Susan Wyndham , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17 March 2016; (p. 2)
Pascoe’s History a ‘Vision of an Australia Yet to Be’ 2016 single work column
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times [Online] , 17 May 2016;

'Bunurong man, Aboriginal language guru and jack of all trades Bruce Pascoe has taken out one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards with his latest work, Dark Emu.'

'The Victorian writer won Book of the Year category and shared the inaugural Indigenous Prize at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards announced at the State Library of NSW in Sydney last night.'

'Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light shared the indigenous award and $30,000 with Pascoe.'

Recognising Sovereignty: Bruce Pascoe’s Latest Book A Dark Horse To Lead Battle Over Unfinished Business Amy McQuire , 2016 single work interview
— Appears in: New Matilda 2004-;
'Amy McQuire interviews acclaimed First Nations author Bruce Pascoe, and asks the question why Australia has so readily embraced his book – Dark Emu – and its truths. Does it now mean they must embr ace the issue of sovereignty and treaty?'
Last amended 14 Feb 2019 09:50:53