Excursions through emptiness: interwar travel writing on Northern Australia

McGregor, Russell (2017) Excursions through emptiness: interwar travel writing on Northern Australia. Journal of Australian Studies, 41 (4). pp. 421-434.

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During the interwar years, Australians grew increasingly anxious about their sparsely populated north. They had moral qualms about leaving land idle; they felt uneasy about international criticism of their lacklustre efforts in the tropics; they feared a stronger, more resolute nation might rob them of their under-utilised heritage. While anxieties intensified, there was an efflorescence of travel writing on northern Australia as cars and aeroplanes made this part of the continent a little more accessible. Like other travel writers, those on northern Australia in the interwar years did not confine their narratives to what they did and what they saw. They commented on the burning questions of the day: on what the future of the north might hold and whether Australia's northern lands could sustain a prolific white population. This article explores a range of representations of northern Australia in the travel literature published between the two world wars, with particular attentiveness to the varied assessments of Australia's tropical environments and the racial misgivings that disconcerted attempts to envisage an all-white north.

Item ID: 51850
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1835-6419
Keywords: Northern Australia; northern development; travel literature; white Australia policy; environmental history
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 03:11
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history @ 80%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450107 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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