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What if no one had colonised Australia?

The purpose of this exercise is to construct a picture of what Australia might have been like if no foreign power had claimed the continent for its empire. In this scenario, local Aboriginal cultures are left to develop into the modern era.

This story offers an opportunity to consider how contemporary values of democracy and communication might respond to values in Aboriginal cultures. Inspiration for this narrative might be drawn from ideas about how Western lifestyles might accommodate themselves to indigenous spirituality.

To help gather ideas for this scenario, your comments are invited for the following options. The results will be gathered together afterwards. They will be Canberra’s turn at the soil of alternative history.

All three options are based on a scenario where the attempt by the English to establish a colony in New Holland are thwarted by the courts, who determine that the indigenous people do have prior ownership of the land. How would Australia fare in world history released from the colonial hold?

A. Indonesian option

Islam gradually spreads from south-east Asia to Australia. As in the Javanese model, Aboriginal beliefs persist in local customs and ceremony, they are subordinated under a monotheistic religious system. On the back of this monotheism, Australia falls under the control of a network of powerful families and elders take on a Sufi authority. There is strong resistance to European presence.

B. Utopian option

Aboriginal culture develops unfettered by nationalism it’s own or that of others. Instead, it gathers from the best of Western and Eastern knowledges what serves its own ends, which include the care for their land and upholding sacred stories. In the late twentieth-century, Australia becomes a haven for the symbolic uses of communication technology. It’s own Silicon Valley attempts to adapt multimedia to the dreaming experience.

C. Worldly option

As an unworldly people, Aboriginal communities become prey to cunning business empires. By playing off personal and tribal rivalries, drilling and mining operations proceed unfettered by government supervision. With no unified defence force, Australia becomes a haven for criminals and terrorists. Aboriginal people are quickly exploited without any possibility of redress.


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