Historical Interpretation series

Leading historians and commentators explore the meaning behind different moments and concepts in Australian history. Many of these talks are from visiting fellows at the National Museum’s Research Centre.


Writing Captain Cook symposium

Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Jackie French, Susan Hall, Dr Maria Nugent and Martin Terry

Historical Interpretation series, 17 May 2009

Leading writers and historians discuss their recent books on Captain James Cook and explore Australia’s continuing fascination with the explorer.


cook, exploration, pacific


Rugged Beyond Imagination: Stories from an Australian mountain region

Matthew Higgins, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 15 April 2009

Curator Matthew Higgins talks about his book Rugged Beyond Imagination, which explores how people including stockmen, skiers, scientists and surveyors have shaped and been shaped by the Australian alpine environment.


environment, place


Food and space: the Australian nation in the British Empire

Dr Adele Wessell, Southern Cross University

Historical Interpretation series, 6 April 2009

Historian Adele Wessell uses cookbooks to draw conclusions about Australian political and social life at the turn of the century, examining British diet and food preferences that were maintained and transformed in colonial Australia.


collection, colonial, domestic, food


Irish in Australia

Dr Richard Reid, National Museum of Australia and Brendon Kelson

Historical Interpretation series, 15 March 2009

Researcher, author and Irishman Richard Reid and photographer Brendon Kelson examine the role of the Irish in Australia, to be featured in a forthcoming National Museum book, The Scattered Children of St Patrick.


collection, exhibition, migration, photography


History in the baking

Dr Adele Wessell, Southern Cross University

Historical Interpretation series, 30 November 2008

Historian Adele discusses cookbooks as historial resources, drawing on the National Museum’s collection in her time as a Visiting Fellow with the Museum’s Centre for Historical Research.


collection, domestic, food


Environmental history beyond the ivory tower

Dr Libby Robin, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 29 October 2008

Environmental historian Libby Robin talks about the uses of environmental history in museums in Australia and New Zealand as a bridge between the traditions of natural and social history.


environment, museums, science


The Port of Aran

Michael Gibbons

Historical Interpretation series, 8 October 2008

Irish archaeologist Michael Gibbons talks about the history and archaeology of Killeany Harbour, Inis Mor on Aran Island off the coast of Ireland, as part of a broader survey of Irish antiquities.


archaeology, migration


Ninety years ago on a French hillside: a story of Mont St Quentin

Dr Peter Stanley, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 31 August 2008

The story of one Australian platoon involved in the 1918 battle of Mont St Quentin, as told by historian Peter Stanley, who follows the 12 men throughout their lives.


biography, conflict


Into the west: Torres Strait Islander railway workers, migration and belonging

Dr Shino Konishi, Australian National University

Historical Interpretation series, 28 August 2008

Historian Shino Konishi explores the experiences in the 1960s of young Torres Strait Islander men who moved from the Torres Strait to the Australian mainland to work on railway construction.


indigenous, industry, migration, work


Moving stories: women’s lives, British women and the postwar Australian dream

Professor Alistair Thomson, Monash University

Historical Interpretation series, 9 July 2008

Oral historian Alistair Thomson explores the experience of migration to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, through the eyes and life stories of four British women, during his time as a Director’s Fellow at the National Museum of Australia.


biography, journeys, migration, women


Outback archive: unorthodox historical records

Dr Darrell Lewis, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 4 June 2008

Historian Darrell Lewis discusses his research on ‘the outback archive,’ unorthodox historical records from pre-European times to the present, concentrating on marked water tanks and trees along the Murranji Track in the Northern Territory.


agriculture, exploration, journeys, ways of knowing


A market for memories: understanding public history at the Mindil Beach site in Darwin

Dr Mickey Dewar

Historical Interpretation series, 27 May 2008

Historian Mickey Dewar talks about her research into Mindil Beach, Darwin and the ways in which a cultural site intersects with a complex community history and memory, as part of her time with the National Museum’s Centre for Historical Research.


indigenous, memory, museums


All along the line

William Fox

Historical Interpretation series, 25 May 2008

American writer and scholar William Fox discusses his research into how humans transform land into landscape, terrain into territory, and space into place, during his time as a Visiting Fellow at the National Museum’s Centre for Historical Research.


adventure, environment, exploration


The last man: the making of Andrew Fisher and the Australian Labor Party

Professor David Day

Historical Interpretation series, 25 October 2007

Historian and National Museum Director’s Fellow David Day argues that Australian prime minister Andrew Fisher should be remembered for social reforms and infrastructure projects, not just committing ‘the last man and last shilling’ to the First World War.


biography, politics


Nomadic cultures, journeys and coming home

Robyn Davidson and Dr Mike Smith, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 16 September 2007

Adventurer and author Robyn Davidson joins desert archaeologist Mike Smith for a discussion about her travels in Australia, India, China and Tibet, and 30 years since the publication of her Making Tracks book.


adventure, environment, exploration, journeys, memory


Into the desert

Dr Mike Smith, National Museum of Australia

Historical Interpretation series, 5 September 2007

Desert archaeologist Mike Smith on his expedition into the remote southern Simpson Desert in South Australia. Mike recalls the thrill of discovering ancient fossil remains, working with camels and a helicopter rescue for an injured expeditioner.


adventure, archaeology, exploration

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