There are two parts to this beautifully presented book. The first part introduces Indigenous cultures, and the second part explores Indigenous Australia by State and Territory. Reading through this book made me aware of just how ignorant I am of so much Indigenous Australian culture and history. Partly this is because Indigenous history was not taught when I was at school in the 1960s (not in regional Tasmania, anyway) and partly it’s because my learning has focussed on European history.
This book provides a wonderful starting point for those of us who want to know more about the history and culture of Indigenous Australians. Part one of the book covers Indigenous languages and customs, art and dance, storytelling history and native title, as well as cultural awareness and etiquette for visitors. Perhaps most importantly, Professor Langton explains what ‘country’ means to Indigenous people. And, as I am reminded that I am reading about one of the oldest continuous cultures on earth, I can appreciate how important that connection to country is.
The second part of the book provides a comprehensive listing of Indigenous Australian experiences, including galleries, festivals, tours and performances as well as communities that are open to visitors. Importantly, this listing also includes information such as the distance to the nearest town, and (where applicable) restrictions on visiting.
Both Australians and visitors to Australia will find this book useful. For older Australians like me who grew up knowing little about the history of Australia before European settlement, this is an invaluable starting point. I’ve added several places to my ‘must visit’ list.