Sails of Doom

  • Geoffrey Blainey


For more than thirty thousand years the aboriginals had been nomads. They maintained the tradition of wandering long after most people of the world had settled down to the sedentary life of garden, farm, village or town. Why they did not adopt the custom of cultivating plants and keeping herds is a puzzle. New Guinea had gardens and pigs, and several islands in Torres Strait grew vegetables in neat gardens, but the new way of life did not apparently penetrate Australia. The small groups of nomads were thus intensely vulnerable when, unscathed by the neolithic revolution, they were confronted less than two centuries ago by Europe’s industrial revolution.


Sweet Potato Torres Strait Island Australian Coast Indonesian Archipelago Tamarind Tree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 231.
    Thailand plants: B. A. V. Peacock, ‘Early Cultural Development in South-East Asia’, A. & P.A., 1971, vol. 6, p. 115;Google Scholar
  2. P. I. Boriskovsky, ‘New Problems of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of the Indochinese Peninsula’, A. & P.A., 1971, vol. 6, p. 105.Google Scholar
  3. 232.
    Mexico and Andes: Betty J. Meggers, Prehistoric America (Chicago, 1973 edn.), pp. 29–33.Google Scholar
  4. 234.
    New Guinea pigs and gardens: A. P. Vayda, ‘Pigs’, in Encyclopaedia of Papua and New Guinea (Melbourne, 1972), vol. 2, p. 907;Google Scholar
  5. S. Hatanaka and L. W. Bragge, ‘Habit, Isolation and Subsistence Economy in the Central Range of New Guinea’, Oceania, 1973, vol. 44, p. 38–57;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. M. J. Meggitt, ‘The Sun and the Shakers’, Oceania, 1973, vol. 44, pp. 2–19;Google Scholar
  7. Ester Boserup, The Conditions of Agricultural Growth (London, 1965), p. 33.Google Scholar
  8. 243.
    Chinese map of 1426: J. V. G. Mills ed., The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores (Cambridge, 1970), p. 21.Google Scholar
  9. 244.
    Chinese voyages: J. V. G. Mills, The Overall Survey, pp. 9–22; C. G. F. Simkin, The Traditional Trade of Asia (London, 1968), pp. 142–3.Google Scholar
  10. 245.
    Timor sandal wood trade: I. C. Glover, in Mulvaney and Golson, p. 178; J. R. McCulloch, Dictionary of Commerce (London, 1854 edn.), p. 1134; Mills, p. 22.Google Scholar
  11. 245.
    Coming of Portuguese: C. R. Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East 1550–1770 (Hong Kong, 1968), pp. 180 ff; C. M. W. Hart and A. R. Pilling, The Tiwi of North Australia, pp. 97–8;Google Scholar
  12. C. R. Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics (Madison, Wisconsin, 1965), esp. pp. 56–9.Google Scholar
  13. 247.
    Trepang trade: G. Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance (Melbourne, 1966), pp. 82–88;Google Scholar
  14. J. D. Mulvaney, ‘BÊche-de-mer, Aborigines and Australian History’, R.S.V., 1966, vol. 79, pp. 449–57.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Blainey

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations