By Maria Nugent

Botany Bay is popular because the website of Captain Cook's first touchdown at the east coast of recent Holland in 1770, notorious because the position selected by way of the British as a dumping floor for convicts, and celebrated because the birthplace of Australia. Drawing on tales, gadgets, pictures, stories, and the panorama itself, this paintings provides Botany Bay in all of its complicated value whereas investigating the jobs that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal histories play in growing and maintaining neighborhood and nationwide groups.

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Additional resources for Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet

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But by far the most curious aspect concerning the whitewashing of the Sydney landscape is that it was Botany Bay—soon to become inscribed as yet 56 BOTANY BAY another birthplace of the nation in the lead-up to Federation— which became the receiving dock for the Aborigines expunged. While Trescoe Rowe struggled with the historical amnesia to which his friends had fallen prey, local Aboriginal people living in the settlement at Botany Bay have wrestled with another aspect of this same phenomenon.

It was completely closed in 1888, although, due to overcrowding and attendant fears about the health risks that crowded cemeteries in cities posed, restrictions had been placed on the number of burials there in 1867. While the cemetery was closed in 1888, it was another twelve years before the interred were transferred. In the interim, the cemetery simply fell into disrepair while the city continued to expand around it. By 1900, the land still occupied by the discarded Devonshire Street cemetery was wanted for the extension of the railway line.

But to characterise this local Aboriginal history-making as astutely national, and as particularly political, in its focus is probably to overstate the case. In many instances, the claim became especially pronounced when local Aboriginal people’s right to remain resident at Botany Bay was threatened, and thus was central to their efforts to hold on to the little piece of land they occupied. Moreover, it circulated more widely when local Aboriginal people told it as they sold the souvenirs they made to non-Aboriginal tourists (as I discuss in Chapter 3) and so its function in that context was partly economic.

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