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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 Museum’s Research Centre.

Writing Captain Cook symposium

Leading writers and historians discuss their recent books on Captain James Cook and explore Australia’s continuing fascination with the explorer.
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Presenters: Geoffrey Blainey, Jackie French, Susan Hall, Maria Nugent and Martin Terry

Rugged Beyond Imagination: Stories from an Australian mountain region

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.
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Presenters: Matthew Higgins

Food and space: the Australian nation in the British Empire

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.
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Presenters: Adele Wessell

Irish in Australia

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.
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Presenters: Dr Richard Reid, National Museum of Australia and Brendon Kelson

History in the baking

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

Environmental history beyond the ivory tower

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.
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Presenters: Libby Robin

The Port of Aran

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.
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Presenters: Michael Gibbons

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

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.
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Presenters: Peter Stanley

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

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.
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Presenters: Shino Konishi

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

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.
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Presenters: Alistair Thomson

Outback archive: unorthodox historical records

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.
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Presenters: Darrell Lewis

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

Historian Mickey Dewar talks about her research into Mindil Beach, Darwin and the ways in which this cultural site intersects with complex community history and memory.
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Presenters: Mickey Dewar

All along the line

American writer and scholar William Fox discusses his research into how humans transform land into landscape, terrain into territory, and space into place.
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Presenters: William Fox

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

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.
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Presenters: David Day

Nomadic cultures, journeys and coming home

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.
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Presenters: Robyn Davidson and Mike Smith

Into the 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.
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Presenters: Mike Smith
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