Scottish Highlanders on the Frontier of Australia
With a new introduction from Inga Clendinnen.
Scottish Highlanders on the frontier of Australia.
After their military defeat in 1745 the Scottish Highlanders suffered a worse humiliation. They were displaced from their ancestral lands and became curiosities: objects of romantic nostalgia, charity, scorn, anthropology - and emigration. This is a tale of their dispossession.
It also tells the rout of another people, the Kurnai of Gippsland in south-eastern Australia. And prominent among those who did the routing were emigrant Highlanders like the explorer Angus McMillan. Don Watson writes about the frontier on which those two cultures met. It is a story full of tragic ironies and myths which linger to this day.
First published in 1984 and recognised as a significant revisionist work, CALEDONIA AUSTRALIS is all the more intriguing and instructive now as debate continues to rage over Aboriginal native title, practical reconciliation and the way Australian history should be written, taught and understood.
“‘It is not just about settlement, but about the legends of settlement, not just about history but as much about historiography. He plays a complex dialectical game with the traditions of the past 100 years, moving with them here, pushing against them there, seeking and often reaching an exciting synthesis of the new historiography and the old which has intellectual resonance and moral complexity.’ - Henry Reynolds, Age Monthly Review”
“‘Watson has an imaginative span, a love of place and a sympathy for his subjects akin to the best in Manning Clark’s writing. This is a melancholy book, taking as its theme the public tragedy of the extermination of a people and the private tragedy of one man.’ - Michael McKernan”
“‘For [the Scottish settlers] the Presbyterian religion was a view of the world, rather than a series of practices. They came to own a great part of Australia. Watson’s book makes clear that to understand them (and Australian history) you have to go back to the world of John Knox and John Calvin. All history is ultimately theological.’ - Edmund Campion, The Bulletin”