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Grace Karskens - Eldershaw Memorial Lecture

Published: Tuesday, 14 May 2024

In 2017 Grace Karskens stumbled across an extraordinary manuscript: a handwritten list, created in 1829, of 178 Aboriginal place names for Dyarubbin and Ganangdayi, the Hawkesbury and Macdonald Rivers in New South Wales. She had been researching this area for over ten years and never dreamed such a document existed.  This list became the heart of a collaborative project, The Real Secret River: Dyarubbin with Darug researchers, educators and artists, as well as linguists, geologists and archaeologists. Together they successfully relocated over 90 of these names and produced a digital Story Map, as well as a series of public-facing essays and stories,  two major exhibitions and dual naming projects. In this year’s Eldershaw Memorial Lecture Professor Karskens will explore the importance and politics of place names in Australia, as well as the implications and possibilities of this collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach for Aboriginal cultural renewal, for public landscapes and for wider public awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture and history.

Grace Karskens is Emeritus Professor of history at the University of New South Wales Sydney and a leading historian of Australian colonial and cross-cultural history. Her books include The Colony: A history of early Sydney (2009) and People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia(2020), which won the 2021 Prime Minister’s award for Australian History.

To view Grace's slide presentation while listening to her talk, click here.

To view the project website, click here.  

To view the Digital StoryMap, click here. 

To listen to Theresa Sainty's talk about Palawa Kani, click here