Mixed Relations: Asian-Aboriginal Contact in North Australia

Mixed Relations: Asian-Aboriginal Contact in North Australia

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"This is not just another book: it adds a new dimension to the study of Australian history."

- Prof. D. Denoon, Australian National University

Australian histories too often imply that the nation’s history began in Botany Bay in 1788. But Australia was not an isolated continent, and long before white settlement, Makassan trepangers had made contact with Aboriginal people along the Northern Coastline, weaving trading networks that extended from China to the Kimberley and Torres Strait. It was this Asian–Aboriginal link that gave rise to the northern pearling industry, a subsequent driver of regional economic development.

Mixed Relations explores successive waves of contact in northern Australia and the impact of circumstances—political, legal and economic—on members of the polyethnic communities. Based on extensive fieldwork, including hundreds of interviews, it provides a fresh insight into the national narrative and poses challenging questions about the Australian identity in the twenty-first century.