Ochre and Rust

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Author:                       Phillip Jones

First published:         2007                                                   This edition:  2018

Format:                       Soft cover     440 pages

Winner of the 2008 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction

Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers

In the Flinders Ranges, a Kuyani man presents a cake of ochre to a European doctor, in earnest proof that the threatened ochre mine is ‘as important as the bible is to Christians’.  As netted bags are exchanged for cloth south of Port Darwin, a surveyor’s linguistic hobby draws him close to become the unwitting victim of a blood debt.

Ochre and Rust takes Aboriginal artefacts from their museum shelves, and traces their biographies, revealing charged and nuanced moments of encounter in Australia’s frontier history.

As the exchange of ethnographic objects drew Europeans in to an appreciation of Aboriginal culture, new commodities brought Aboriginal people across frontiers into settlements and towns.  But while spears and shields accrued value as they passed from Aboriginal hands, European commodities, desired at the moment of contact, soon powdered or turned to rust.

Museum objects have never completely shed their role as historical witnesses.  Phillip Jones positions them at the centre of these gripping, poignant tales of encounter.  His Ochre and Rust transports the reader into the heart of Australia’s frontier zone.

Winner of the 2008 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction

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SKU 9781743055267
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