Sophisticated traditional Tasmanian Indigenous culture

Book reviews: Hidden in Plain View, Dark Emu, Vandemonian War


ON SITE: University of Melbourne researchers prepare to take a soil sediment core under rainforest at Dairmaid Plain, Surrey Hills. Picture: Supplied

The study involved drilling deep into the ground at Surrey Hills to see how the landscape had changed over time.


After dating and analysing the core, the researchers found grass, eucalyptus and charcoal were abundant in older soils but disappeared after the arrival of Europeans and were replaced by rainforest.

This new evidence corroborates much of what Bruce Pascoe has discovered in his researches, published in his book Dark Emu.


“In light of this new evidence we should re-evaluate the legacy of early white surveyors like Henry Hellyer whose glowing reports of the Surrey and Hampshire Hill being like an English park were later condemned as inaccurate and romantic,” he said.

“Some historians believe this criticism was partly responsible for Hellyer suiciding in 1832, but according to the new research Hellyer was spot on and accurately described what he found.”