An "Upside-Down land": contested rock formations in the New England landscape (Australia)

Katherine Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on three significant rock formations in the New England tableland landscape of New South Wales, Australia. In Australia’s contested postcolonial landscape rock contains the conflicting forces of an Aboriginal sacred located in the land and essentialist non-Indigenous settler narratives of belonging. Bluff Rock is the alleged site of an Aboriginal massacre in the nineteenth century. hunderbolt’s Rock is a boulder that celebrates a romanticised version of Australia’s settler beginnings. The Australian Standing Stones are a monument to the Celtic foundations of the region. In this paper I argue that these three rock forms display non-Aboriginal, Anglo-Celtic claims of autochthonous identity that marginalise Aboriginal sovereignty in the landscape. Positioning this discussion in Australia’s current political climate of anti-immigration legislation and panic surrounding the arrival of illegal “boat people”, I argue that white Australian’s claims of autochthony exclude the possibility of alternative forms of belonging in the country. I propose an ethic of “surface thinking” to open up the landscape for inter-cultural dialogue and hospitality to new Australians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-183
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Section B. Natural, Exact, and Applied Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventPermanent European Conference for the Study of Rural Landscapes (24th : 2010) - Rīga and Liepāja, Latvia
Duration: 23 Aug 201027 Aug 2010


  • rock
  • Australia
  • Aboriginal
  • autochthony


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