THE INVASION OF Australia just didn’t make any sense. A huge, dry, bulbous tile, sitting at the end of a chain of shards that dribbled out from Asia. Unlike the smaller islands in the chain, it had no exotic spices to entice and numb the European palate. It played no role in the highways of trade and culture sketched across the oceans between Africa and Siberia. The most advantageous position of this great sullen landmass – its top-left shoulder, which looked west to the Indian Ocean – was ignored. The colonisers instead chose the opposite corner: a stubbled coast that looked east and south to the almost empty vastness of the Pacific and
The strangers who came here embodied the restless madness that had infected the other side of the globe. They, who had leaked rivers of blood and tears fighting over the most crowded corners of the second-smallest continent, had discovered that the world was bigger than they thought, but not limitless. They fanned out across the world’s oceans in the greatest real estate race in history, unable to countenance greedy neighbours snapping up islands, deltas, rivers and straits first. The people who already lived in these pieces of new-release real estate didn’t count. They weren’t part of the great race. Their land was fair game.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here