Australian Aboriginal history
Maralinga: How British nuclear tests changed history forever
In the 1950s the Australian government authorised British nuclear tests on Anangu country with fatal consequences.
It paid compensation for contaminated land, but never for the people affected.
Aboriginal Anzac Day war memorials
Australia has thousands of Anzac war memorials, dozens in the big cities. But there are not many war memorials commemorating Aboriginal Diggers.
Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra
Aboriginal people erected the Tent Embassy in 1972 in Canberra to protest against a court decision over mining operations on Aboriginal land.
Many struggles and battles later, the Embassy has become a heritage-listed landmark for Aboriginal protest.
Australia Day - Invasion Day
Most Australians celebrate Australia Day as the day Australia was founded.
In contrast, Aboriginal people mourn their history and call it ‘Invasion Day’.
Myall Creek Massacre (1838)
In 1838 white settlers murdered 28 Aboriginal men, women and children near Myall Creek Station. For the first time in history some killers were tried and hanged.
The massacre is a harrowing reminder of Australia’s colonial violence.
Anzac Day Coloured Digger march
In Australia the ‘ANZACs’ have hero status and Anzac Day is a day of many commemorations where Australia’s ex-servicemen and servicewomen march the streets.
But many don’t know about Australia’s Aboriginal war veterans and the Coloured Digger march which started in 2007.
When you look at the events which are significant to Aboriginal people you’ll notice that their recent history is one of a fight for rights, land and recognition. It is also a history of sadness, loss and denial.
Australian 1967 Referendum
The 1967 referendum made history: Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them.
Australian Aboriginal history timeline
Australian Aboriginal history is the only history that grows both ways—forward into the present and backwards into the past as new scientific methods indicate that archaeological sites are much older than originally thought.
“Australian history started with Captain Cook,” is what a lot of people, even today, tell me when asked what they learned at school. Secondary history books, published this year, sometimes brush over Indigenous history in twelve pages only.
Until we get it right with the teaching of Aboriginal history, then I don't think that we can pretend to be Australians together.—Dr Jackie Huggins, Indigenous educator, author and activist 
When I studied history at the ANU in the 1970s there was still a widely held view, and I think it was the conventional view, that there was no Aboriginal history.—Marcia Langton, Aboriginal author 
There is the truism, ‘Australia’s history is never read, the black man keeps it in his head.’ White Australians ensured it remained there.—John Pilger, journalist and author 
How old is Aboriginal culture?
Aboriginal history is the only history that grows both ways - forward into the present and backwards into the past as new scientific methods indicate that archaeological sites are much older than originally thought.
The origin of the Aboriginal people of Australia is not entirely clear. Studies link Aboriginal people to the first African nomads or to Siberian ancestors .
One study determined that Aboriginal people descended from the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago, reaching Asia at least 24,000 years before other human migrants. Traversing into Australia “must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery,” said one researcher .
Another study found that a primitive group of humans descended from the Neanderthals and migrated from Siberia to tropical parts of Asia . They contributed DNA to Aboriginal people in Australia along with present-day New Guineans and an Aboriginal tribe of the Philippines. This mixing of genes was reported to have happened 44,000 years ago, before Australia separated from Papua New Guinea.
If it wasn’t for the footprints…
If it wasn't for the footprints, we would not know about 'before', And Australia's history we have today would not make sense anymore. If it wasn't for the footsteps, which created the path we share, Our survival in this landscape would lead us to nowhere. If it wasn't for the footpaths still here from that long ago, Our heritage in writing would only reflect our woes. If it wasn't for the footprints which were made into the sand, The ones left by ancestors, our Aboriginal clans; If it wasn't for their footsteps which carved the land and lore, Australians would not know about these footprints from 'before'.
Poem by Z Quakawoot . Read more Aboriginal poetry.
The last mission in New South Wales
In July 2010 Warangesda Mission and Station received heritage listing. The station, just outside Darlington Point in the Riverina District of New South Wales, is located about 630 kms south-west of Sydney.
Warangesda Mission is the only mission left in NSW that still has a suite of original buildings. The heritage area includes the mission block and cemetery .
Warangesda is the last known location of an initiation ceremony for the local Aboriginal population and the site of a strike in 1883. At its peak it was home to more than 200 Aboriginal people.
Tip The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) highlights almost 60 years of life on missions and reserves in their online exhibition Remembering the Mission Days. Digitised copies of two magazines published by the Aborigines Inland Missions of Australia reveal the hidden histories of the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people.
The Coniston Massacre
Australia’s history is littered with massacres white people did to Aboriginal people. The Coniston Massacre happened in 1928 at Baxters Well, about 200kms north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, after the murder of dingo scalper Frederick Brookes at Yurrkuru (Brooks Creek) .
Brookes was killed by an Aboriginal man named Bullfrog (traditional name Japanangka), who it is believed was angry that his wife was staying with Brookes.
Constable George Murray led reprisal parties against Aboriginal people over a wide area between August and October 1928. During attacks more than 30 Aboriginal people were killed, but unofficial estimates put the number at more than 60.
Many more Aboriginal people fled the area, never to return. Bullfrog hid in a cave and was never captured by Murray’s party .
80 years later a memorial commemorates the massacre, built by Aboriginal volunteers.
We're not bitter. We just want everybody to know and to acknowledge this black spot in Australian history. This is what they call hallowed ground, like Gallipoli is for white fellas.—Geoff Shaw, Kaytetye man, during the opening of the memorial 
Was Australia invaded or colonised?
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have different views whether Australia was ‘invaded’ or ‘colonised’.
While most Australians are proud of the history of the Anzacs, i.e. the invasion of Turkey at the behest of the British, they are very reluctant to acknowledge the British invasion of Australia .
In 2011 Sydney City officially declared the settlement of Australia an invasion. The word was to be included in the Aboriginal statement for the council’s 10 year corporate plan.
But a poll of more than 2,000 readers of the Daily Telegraph found that less than 15% agreed with the council’s decision. More than 85% rejected it .
We must now assert in the strongest possible way the message that Australia was indeed invaded by a military force under the control of the British Admiralty.—Michael Ghillar Anderson, Aboriginal elder 
Australia was not settled by the common law but by the rules and disciplines of war.—Wadjularbinna Nullyarimma, Gungalidda Elder 
The settlement of the British was not peaceful, and is increasingly accepted as being a countrywide invasion.—Information leaflet, NSW Department of Indigenous Affairs 
We were invaded. It is the truth and shouldn't be watered down.—Paul Morris, head of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Sydney 
In respect to the Aboriginal community, ["invasion"] is something that is very important and needs to be used.—Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Sydney 
While we restore old monuments and construct new ones to commemorate military conflict overseas, there are still no official memorials to those who died on the frontier [of Australia's Aboriginal wars].—Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake 
Aboriginal history resources
Praised as “one of the key general texts about Aboriginal people” this history book takes on the Aboriginal perspective—a rare treat. The 4th edition of “Aboriginal Australians” includes events up to the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations.
If you want to read about Aboriginal history from the 1850s to the mid-1980s I can highly recommend Rosalind Kidd’s book “The Way We Civilise”.
To my mind it’s Australia’s missing history book on Indigenous history.
Aboriginal Victorians tells the story of the impact of European ideas, guns and a pastoral economy on kinship, trade and cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Victoria.
Explore the online collection of the State Library of NSW which has a separate section on Aboriginal history.
A very good resource is the Aboriginal-owned website The Koori History Project which has articles, cartoons and videos about significant historic events.
Last updated: 6 May 2013 | Out of respect for Aboriginal culture I use Indigenous sources as much as possible.
 'First Australians delves into ignored Aboriginal history', Courier Mail, 19/12/2008
 'Call to an Aboriginal summit in Canberra', press release by Michael Anderson, 12/12/2009
 'Activism birthplace to receive listing', Koori Mail 480 p.35
 'Genetic studies claim to reveal our origins', Koori Mail 511 p.5
 'If it wasn't for the footprints...', Koori Mail 516 p.23
 'Lord Mayor Clover Moore defends Sydney City officially declaring settlement of Australia an invasion', Daily Telegraph, 28/6/2011
 'Memorial unveiled', Koori Mail 433 p.34
 'Myth over what matters', SMH 2/4/2010
 'Taking our rightful place', statement by Wadjularbinna Nullyarimma, 8/1/2002
 'Introducing Indigenous Australia', NSW Department of Indigenous Affairs, c.2001
 'John Pilger on racism in Australia', The Stringer 4/5/2013