When the Australian Aborigines first saw the white newcomers to their lands just over two hundred years ago, many of them believed that these pale strangers were in fact ghosts, the spirits of the dead returning to their native country and to their relations. Later a more secular view prevailed, that the whites were only men, and frequently murderous and rapacious ones at that.1 In Louis Nowra's play Inside the Island, premiered at Nimrod in August 1980, images of whiteness, and of the haunting of white Australia by its past, are given vivid metaphorical treatment. The play is in many ways itself a ghost story, illustrating the irruption of the past into the present. It is set on a remote wheat property in western New South Wales in the summer of 1912. In the second act a picnic/cricket-match is held amongst raw recruit soldiers sent to this isolated spot on peacetime manoeuvres. The cricket ground itself had previously been an Aboriginal campsite, and was granted as a 'gift' to the government by the dead father of the 1 property's matriarch, Mrs Lillian Dawson:
Kelly, Veronica, 'Lest We Forget': Louis Nowra's Inside the Island, Kunapipi, 18(2), 1996.