The "Great Australian Silence" regarding Aboriginal - white relations in Australian history described by W.E.H. Starmer in 1968 has been well and truly broken.1 Until the 1970's Aborigines had been regarded as something of a "melancholy anthtopological footnote"2 - a tragic but essentially insignificant part of Australian history. The establishment of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Affairs (1960) and the Social Science Research Council of the Aborigines in Australian Society Project (1963) were part of the beginning of the process of breaking "the silence". Although orientated towards anthtopological and linguistic research, the project was to make a contribution to the history of Aboriginal - European relations.
C.D. Rowley's The Destruction of Aboriginal Society published in 1970 was the first part of his trilogy Aboriginal Policy and Practice. In this influential volume Rowley attempted to give an overview of Aboriginal-white relations since 1788. Rowley and other historians such as Henry Reynolds concentrated on the frontier, racial attitudes and government policy.' Attwood has termed these earlier histories "oppositional" .4 They helped to challenge the notion that Australia had been peacefully settled, without any resistance from Aboriginal people. While they provided a useful launching pad for further research, they displayed some weaknesses in approach. The critique was basically Eurocentric, treating Aborigines as an undifferentiated mass5 and seeking to explain Aboriginal - European relations from the perspective of the new settlers.
Emanating from this first type of "contact history" a more detailed and sophisticated approach emerged. Raymond Evans strongly argued the centrality of violent conflict in the settlement of colonial Queensland in Exclusion, Exploitation and Extermination which was first published in 1975. He detailed racial stereotypes of "the Aborigine" present in colonial Queensland and their impact on early race relations and also dealt with black resistance in a thorough-going way for the first time, beginning to address the problems of gender and race.6 …………………………………….