Seeing Australian History from the North Down

Key Information


28th October 2020






Insight and Discussion

‘I became an Australian historian in Townsville as a result of teaching Australian history for the first time….beginning research in the north and about the north….and above all by living and working in Townsville for more than thirty years. My contribution to Australian intellectual life has been intimately connected with those years that Margaret and I spent in Townsville’.

Henry Reynolds was born and educated in Tasmania and wrote an MA thesis about colonial politics before living and teaching in London for two years. His time in London came to an unexpected end when he received an invitation to take up a lectureship at the Townsville University College, which later became James Cook University.
Henry’s wife, Margaret, was elected to the City Council and then for sixteen years was the ALP's North Queensland Senator. "Margaret was the activist and quickly became involved in Aboriginal issues ... she worked on the campaign for the 1967 referendum and we were meeting lots of people, among them Eddie Mabo, Bobby Sykes and Burnum Burnum. "We were immersed in the race question."

Henry became one of the pioneers of the history of White/Aboriginal relations and has published twenty books many of which were best sellers and were awarded literary prizes. He is best known for his pioneering work on the history of settler-indigenous relations which became widely known with the publication of The Other Side of the Frontier in 1981. It was this publication that attracted the attention of many.

During this time the friendship with Murray Islander Eddie Mabo was growing. Eddie was a groundsman at the university and the two often talked.

The rest is now history!