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World Beat: On the Road


Whitefellas came slowly and recently to the Red Centre. And they came fearfully. One look at the place and you wonder why they came at all. But the land was there for the taking, so they took. Many explorers perished blazing the red sand trail to - where? - The Dead Heart. A whitefella named Gosse found and climbed Ayers Rock in 1873. Alice Springs had been established just three years before, in 1870. There was no railway to Alice until 1929, no paved road until World War II. The men drawn to this frontier were hard and reckless.

Predictably, violence accompanied the white invasion: Aboriginals stole cattle, white men killed Aboriginals. Missionaries brought strange gods - smallpox and rum came along for the ride.

These days, the Aboriginals just want to be left alone. Many now live on their own land, subject to tribal law, the simple code of an eye for an eye. They carry the wisdom of 40,000 years.


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