Publication Details

Gill, N. J. (2005). Transcending nostalgia: pastoralist memory and staking a claim in the land. In D. B. Rose & R. G. Davies (Eds.), Dislocating the frontier: Essaying the mystique of the outback (pp. 67-84). Australia: Australian National University E Press.


The strength of Australian outback mythology in providing a blueprint for what Australian society, landscapes and history ought to be, lies at least partly in its ‘lack of specificity in time and space’, coupled with retrospect. Deborah Bird Rose has argued that such free-floating retrospect diverts attention from ‘here and now of our lives’, and militates against dealing with the consequences of Australia’s colonial past and present. The inland and north of Australia, the so-called ‘frontier’, in a spatial sense, are, and have been, places where optimistic non-indigenous assessments of land have been subject to regular appraisal and debate. They are also areas where the treatment and status of indigenous people have remained significant social and political issues, and where national and regional conflicts over indigenous land ownership and title have been most focussed, particularly in relation to extensive pastoralism. Despite this, outback, or frontier, mythology remains important in providing symbols and normative ideals that shape perceptions and landscapes of the inland and north. The avenues by which this occurs are manifold and are diffused across Australian political and cultural life.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian National University E Press