Blood on the Wattle - Book Review

Bruce Elder's book recounts an important part of the early history of Australia and the evolving relationship between the early settlers and the indigenous population.

Blood on the Wattle:
Massacres and Maltreatment of Aboriginal people Since 1788

Blood on the Wattle
Blood on the Wattle by Bruce Elder
New Holland Australia
Available on most online bookshops
1 January 2003 - 309 pages - Booktopia - $25.50

3 Editions 1st published 1999

Bruce Elder's account of the atrocities committed as white settlers pushed into the rich grazing lands beyond the Blue Mountains is handled with a journalistic objectivity.

This style serves to increase the horror of the murderous activities of self appointed judges, juries and executioners who adopted a 'blanket' punishment for indigenous attacks on livestock.

In a particularly gruesome event at Myall Creek, Elder skilfully juxtaposes the harmonious relationships between the Aboriginal people and the farmhands, with a renegade gang of ex-convicts, determined to seek retribution on any Aboriginal people that happen to cross their path. What eventuates is one the most sorry historical events in Australian history.

What is unforgivable is that Elder's book rarely receives any attention in historical accounts of Australia's early beginnings. Elder's book represents a dark mirror on the Australian soul and its contents should form the background of any policies created to bridge the gap between whites and blacks.

This work has become widely used in teaching Aboriginal history at both secondary and tertiary levels.

Documenting some of the most significant, albeit painful, events in white Australia's past, this work was first published to coincide with the Bicentenary in 1988.

The revised and updated edition includes new information on three key events in Aboriginal-European relations which have come to light since publication of the first edition, and gives an overview of the "Stolen Generation" report.