The Upside-Down History of Down Under, by Alison Lloyd and Terry Denton: #BookReview.

304 Pages

Children’s Books (8-12)

This book came to me as a ‘jokey’ present from my daughter, who lives in Australia. Whilst it’s clearly a book written for children, I suspect a lot of adults will find it informative, illuminating, and entertaining, as I did.

I’d love to see it used by both UK and Australian schools as part of their history curriculum. It states the facts straightforwardly but with a touch of wry humour and some amusing illustrations.

History, as we all know, is written by the victors. Australia has had a bad press in many ways, and the country is much misunderstood, even by those who live there. The heritage of the Aboriginal people in particular has been either eradicated or distorted by viewing it through the narrow vision of the western world.

The book describes what has happened in the fascinating island continent from it’s early days as a part of Pangaea (250 million years ago), through Gondwanaland (125 million years ago), and the Cretaceous Period (145.5  to 65.5 million years ago), and through the various calamities that created the ‘modern’ world.

It’s likely the first humans arrived in Australia some 65,000 years ago, but many people still seem to be fixed on the idea that it only became a populated land with the arrival of Europeans. The Dutch first landed on those shores in 1606. Famously, Captain Cook landed in 1770, and the rapacious English (I say English as opposed to British, as it was a largely English invasion) decided it was theirs to take, which they did with the first convict ship in 1788.

The book details the attitudes, conditions, injustices and sheer lawlessness and greed that characterised the early days of settlement. In common with the UK attitude to other lands they colonised, the native peoples were considered lesser human beings, and many were killed, enslaved, and treated terribly. The authors report on these injustices in a matter-of-fact manner that will allow children to understand the true nature of conquest and the greed that underlines it, without rancour.

It’s a fascinating read, and one I recommend to all with any interest in the land down under.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]

4 thoughts on “The Upside-Down History of Down Under, by Alison Lloyd and Terry Denton: #BookReview.

    1. As colonists, the English have been pretty much like other empire builders, Lynette: grab what you can without any concern for the people already living there! Of course, North America was initially colonised largely by religious groups determined to keep to their specific view of the world. The convicts and many other nationalities only came later, but the native population suffered in much the same way as those in Australia. It seems that the combination of wealthy leaders and greedy commerce inevitably win over humanity and tolerance whenever one land invades another, eh?

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      1. Oh yes. The US had many more “religious” immigrants. Some in Canada, too, but the composition in US was different. And, of course, Canada came about as a nation in a very unconnected way. I work in a community that is about 95% indigenous, and I’ve seen first hand the damage that colonialism did. Yes – greed and commerce, so true.

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        1. True. The US and Canada are very different in that respect. My daughter works in Aus with indiginous children, so she, too, sees the damage caused by centuries of poor treatment by the newcomers there.

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