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I’m just back from a two-week driving holiday to Uluṟu and Alice Springs – and while this trip was planned for 2020, only to be delayed by Covid, the timing provided a fascinating backdrop for Australia’s referendum campaign to amend the constitution to recognise indigenous communities with a “Voice” to parliament.
If you want a quick catch-up in the last weeks of the campaign before the vote on 14 October, the ABC has a ripper with “The Voice Referendum Explained”. Short and pithy episodes hosted by Carly Williams and Fran Kelly carefully pick through the Yes and No campaigns, drawing in interviews with locals and experts alike.
Thousands of kilometres on a road trip to the red centre offers plenty of time for audio books. Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu was first published a decade ago, with what I found to be a compelling argument to rethink the characterisation of pre-colonial “hunter-gatherer” Aboriginal Australians. Pascoe’s work has been much debated, but listening to his evidence, then learning more about people’s connection to the land during visits to remote communities, convinced me.
And suspend disbelief for fun – the TV series Firebite, available via SBS On Demand. The premise is knowingly wild, that colonial settlers to Australia smuggled vampires aboard their ships with a taste for Black blood in a bid to eradicate the indigenous population. A secret group of Aboriginal hunters have been fighting the creatures ever since. The series is set in Coober Pedy – about as strange a town as I’ve ever visited – and makes stunning use of the landscape potted with opal mines. No spoilers, but “eyes to the ground”. (Watch and you’ll get the reference.)