'This is the story of a search for the lost white woman in the wilds of Gippsland, Victoria in 1846 - a quest in defence of virtue and "civilised" values. It is also a story of fear, history, myth and the power of the imagination.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
In 1962, Douglas Pike, the Professor of History at the Australian National University, published a book called Australia: The Quiet Continent. As the title indicates, Pike describes a land only awakened from its historical slumber by the arrival of Europeans at the end of the eighteenth century. Aboriginal participation in the nation’s story is quieted in Pike’s work. Aboriginal people are barely mentioned in 233 pages of text, other than being referred to as “native people [held] in stone-age bondage” (1) or as “primitive food-gatherers [who] were no match for the white invader” (36). Passages stating that “the Australian communities took shape as peaceful outposts of British civilization” (3), ignore or suppress any suggestion that the land was taken from Aboriginal people by force. This was entirely in keeping with the fashion of Australian historical narrative for the time.' (Introduction)
‘A fire hydrant on a street corner in Carlton, in inner-city Melbourne, carries an ephemeral stencilled graffito : ‘terror nullius.’ The graffito is a pun on the legal doctrine of terra nullius, Latin for ‘nobody’s land,’ which dictated that any territory found by a colonizing power could be occupied and claimed if it was deemed not to be inhabited by prior occupants. Typically it was deployed by the British, for example, in a number of rulings in the mid- to late – nineteenth century, (Reynolds, 'Frontier History' 4) to legitimize their colonial conquests around the so-called New World, in particular in Australia. Its hegemony as a legal fiction was ended by the Australian High Court’s historic Mabo ruling of 1992, which deemed that so-called native title, that is, Indigenous possession of Australia, had existed before and after British occupation and the declaration of sovereignty in 1788 (Butt, Eagleson, and Lane).’ (Introduction)