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  • Published: 1 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9781741667660
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $19.99

Caledonia Australis

Scottish Highlanders on the Frontier of Australia




An extraordinary piece of history - the Scottish Highlanders on the frontier of Australia - with introduction from Inga Clendinnen.

An extraordinary piece of history - the Scottish Highlanders on the frontier of Australia - with introduction from Inga Clendinnen.

After their military defeat in 1745 the Scottish Highlanders suffered a worse humiliation. They were displaced from their ancestral lands and became curiosities: objects of romantic nostalgia, charity, scorn, anthropology - and emigration. This is a tale of their dispossession. It also tells the rout of another people, the Kurnai of Gippsland in south-eastern Australia. And prominent among those who did the routing were emigrant Highlanders like the explorer Angus McMillan.

Don Watson writes about the frontier on which those two cultures met. It is a story full of tragic ironies and myths which linger to this day. First published in 1984 and recognised as a significant revisionist work, Caledonia Australis is all the more intriguing and instructive now as debate continues to rage over Aboriginal native title, practical reconciliation and the way Australian history should be written, taught and understood.

  • Published: 1 April 2009
  • ISBN: 9781741667660
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Don Watson

Don Watson is the author of many books, including the bestselling Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Death Sentence, Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Caledonia Australis, American Journeys and The Bush. In addition to books and essays, he writes films and gives occasional talks on writing and language.

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Praise for Caledonia Australis

‘It is not just about settlement, but about the legends of settlement, not just about history but as much about historiography. He plays a complex dialectical game with the traditions of the past 100 years, moving with them here, pushing against them there, seeking and often reaching an exciting synthesis of the new historiography and the old which has intellectual resonance and moral complexity.’ - Henry Reynolds, Age Monthly Review

‘For [the Scottish settlers] the Presbyterian religion was a view of the world, rather than a series of practices. They came to own a great part of Australia. Watson’s book makes clear that to understand them (and Australian history) you have to go back to the world of John Knox and John Calvin. All history is ultimately theological.’ - Edmund Campion, The Bulletin

‘Watson has an imaginative span, a love of place and a sympathy for his subjects akin to the best in Manning Clark’s writing. This is a melancholy book, taking as its theme the public tragedy of the extermination of a people and the private tragedy of one man.’ - Michael McKernan

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