Birth and Death

  • Geoffrey Blainey


Australia is said to have supported as many as 300,000 aboriginals before the first white settlers arrived. The aboriginals were widely dispersed then—more dispersed than is the Australian population today. Nearly every plain, tableland and valley was inhabited for at least part of the year. Every desert yielded food. Every district, even in drought, yielded raw material for making equipment. Amongst the areas which were closely settled were the banks and billabongs of the Murray Valley and favoured bays and rivermouths along the tropical coast.


Torres Strait Island Aboriginal Woman Burial Ground White Settler South Australian Museum 
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. 92.
    A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, ‘Former Numbers and Distribution of the Australian Aborigines’, Commonwealth Official Year Book, 1930, no. 23, pp. 687–96. According to his estimate Vic, Tas, and S.A. together held less than 10 per cent of the total.Google Scholar
  2. 93.
    T. R. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (London, 1890) pp. 15–20.Google Scholar
  3. 94.
    D. Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798). An example of Malthus‘s copying is his third paragraph on p. 16, taken almost verbatim from Collins, p. 557.Google Scholar
  4. 96.
    Abortion in 350 societies: G. Devereux, cited by S. Polgar, ‘Population History and Population Policies from an Anthropological Perspective’, Current Anthropology, 1972, vol. 13, p. 206.Google Scholar
  5. 99.
    Graeme Pretty, ‘The Cultural Chronology of the Roonka Flat: a Preliminary Consideration’, ronoed, Conference of Austn. Inst. of Aboriginal Studies, May 1974.Google Scholar
  6. 102.
    James Woodburn, in R. B. Lee and I. De Vore, ed., Man the Hunter (Chicago, 1968), p. 91.Google Scholar
  7. 102.
    S. Polgar, Current Anthropology vol. 13, p. 205; Moni Nag, ‘Anthropology and Population’, Population Studies, 1973, vol. 27, p. 61 ff;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. C. O. Sauer, Land and Life (1965) p. 175. 103 Spread of epidemics amongst isolated aboriginals: Buckley, p. 68; E. C. Black in B. C. Cotton, p.102–3;Google Scholar
  9. J. Hawdon, Journal of a Journey in 1838 (Melbourne, 1952), p. 27.Google Scholar
  10. 105.
    Power of sorcery: D. F. Thomson, ‘The Native People’, in C. Pearl ed., Australia, (Sydney, 1965), pp. 36–8.Google Scholar
  11. 106.
    Buckley’s early life: M. J. Tipping, ‘Buckley’, in A.D.B., vol. 1, p. 174; C. M. Tudehope, ‘William Buckley’, Victorian Historical Magazine, 1962, vol. 32, pp. 216 ff.Google Scholar
  12. 111.
    New York professor: Moni Nag, in Population Studies, 1973, vol. 27, p. 61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 112.
    Evidence of heavy fighting in other parts of Australia is easily found. For instance see D. Thomson, in C. Pearl ed., Australia, pp. 37–8; M. J. Meggitt in Desert People, p. 42; A. W. Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East Australia (London, 1904), p. 348;Google Scholar
  14. W. E. Roth, Ethnological Studies Among the North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines (Brisbane, 1897), p. 139 ff.Google Scholar
  15. 112.
    Gannibalism: index to Curr, Australian Race, vol. 3, p. 702; Buckley, p. 50; R. M. and C. H. Berndt, The First Australians (Sydney, 1967 edn.), p. 134;Google Scholar
  16. T. G. H. Strehlow, Songs of Central Australia (Sydney, 1971), pp. xlii n., 611 n;Google Scholar
  17. Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen, The Arunta: a Study of a Stone Age People (London, 1927), vol. 2, p. 495; W. E. Roth, Ethnological Studies, p. 166.Google Scholar
  18. 112.
    Carl Lumholtz, Among Cannibals: an Account of Four Years’ Travels and of Camp Life with the Aborigines of Queensland (London, 1889), pp. 271–4.Google Scholar
  19. 115.
    Population pressure as alleged causes of war: G. Blainey, The Causes of War, (London, 1973), pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
  20. 116.
    Discussions of Birdsell’s views: Mulvaney, Prehistory, p. 50; A. P. Elkin, ‘Man and his Past in Aboriginal Australia’, A. & P.A., 1967, vol. 2, p. 42.Google Scholar
  21. 119.
    Iron age reaches Cape York: R. L. Jack, Report on Explorations in Cape York Peninsula, 1879–80 (Brisbane, 1881), p. 41Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Blainey

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations