The Blainey View
Professor Geoffrey Blainey presents his view of Australia, past and present. In this, his first television venture, he examined Australia's past, exploring not only major influences and events which have shaped our history, but also the smaller, less obvious changes that have transformed our daily lives.
Blainey also challenges our accepted views of many points in Australian history, from the gold rush to WWII, the Great Depression to the political events of 1975.
Invasion: Geoffrey Blainey challenges the conventional view of our role in the Pacific conflict of WWII, which saw Australia facing the threat of Japanese invasion. According to the history books, Japan started it and Australia and the allied nations were the victors. He believes we unwittingly challenged Japan to war and must ultimately accept some of the blame.
Whirlwind Of Change: Professor Blainey looks at how the image of the miner has changed from hero to villain in the Australian consciousness. In the days of the gold digger and small prospector, the miner was seen as a tamer of the wilderness. But now mining has become big business and our changing attitudes to the environment and foreign ownership of resources have prompted a much more critical view. Blainey takes a controversial stand, believing mining is as important as it ever was and that its devastation of the environment should be viewed with pride. He also questions the place of historical honour we have given to the rebels of the Eureka Stockade.
When Muscles Were King: One hundred years ago, Australians survived through sheer hard work - men and women spent their days in physical labour and had no need to worry about 'keeping fit'. Today, we spend much of our time 'working' at leisure. We have more leisure time than work time and for most of us, work does not involve physical effort. In our free time, we jog and ride bikes and sport has turned into work - professional sportsmen outdo almost any worker in sheer physical toil. Blainey suggests that we have earned our leisure - now we must learn how to enjoy it.
Isolation: Australia's remoteness from the outside world has had a profound effect on our history. Four hundred years ago, ships and men were carried to our shores by the westerly wind. By chance, after thousands of years of isolation, the history of the country began. For many years, sailing ships were the settlers' only links with home, but modern technology has created a shrinking world. Yet our sense of isolation remains, and Geoffrey Blainey asks why Australians still feel that they live on a remote island.
It Seems Like Yesterday: The last 50 years have seen a profound change in the lives of ordinary Australians. In this episode, Professor Blainey recalls a way of life that has gone - the world of his own childhood. The 1930s were the era of the steam train, the model T Ford and bustling country towns. In the space of a lifetime, all these have vanished. Blainey sets out to recapture this world and record the changes that have transformed our everyday lives. He recalls the days when a cyclist, not a cricketer, was our folk hero and the word 'teenager' did not exist.
Yellow Dragon: Fear of the 'yellow peril' has long haunted the Australian imagination. Geoffrey Blainey looks at how this fear has shaped our attitudes and policies toward China. One hundred years ago, there were more Chinese in Australia than any other race, except the British. They had come for gold and found prejudice, misunderstanding and intolerance. Blainey traces the influence of the Chinese in Australia and asks whether we have now turned a corner in our relations with China.
The Great Depression: The 1920s in Australia were a bright and prosperous time for many. Perhaps more than in any other country in the world, the future seemed assured. But on October 28, 1929, the New York stock exchange crashed and the whole world plunged into economic chaos. Geoffrey Blainey looks at how the people of Australia came through those hard times of the Great Depression, which spelt personal disaster for many, while others prospered and learned from the experience. According to Professor Blainey, solutions were possible then and still hold true today.
British Twilight: To many people, the sacking of the Whitlam government showed that Australia was still close to Britain. Professor Blainey has a different view. He believes that the dramatic events of November 11, 1975, proved that Australia and Britain had already drifted apart and that it was a sign of how weak our British links had become. He traces the major events which have marked our growing independence from the 'mother country' - such events as Gallipoli, the bodyline bowling controversy, the first Royal Tour and Britain's decision to join the European Common Market.
That Cocky Spirit: They came to Australia with a vision of independence and a desire for freedom. They were the cocky farmers and they became one of the great Australian legends. The cockies were the small farmers, battlers who scratched a living from soil that had never been tilled before. The Ned Kelly gang were the sons of cocky farmers - Ned's armour was made out of cocky's ploughs. The cocky's ingenuity and determination not to be beaten by a harsh and alien land gave Australia the ability to feed itself and, although the cocky farmer is now gone, Geoffrey Blainey believes the cocky spirit still survives in some surprising places.
Footprints: Australia's history stretches back many thousands of years. In this final program, Geoffrey Blainey travels to the wilderness of south-west Tasmania, where archaeologists have discovered evidence of a people of immense resource, living in the shadow of a glacier, at the peak of the ice age. When the seas cut off Tasmania, Aboriginal life entered a new phase, as they mastered the art of living in a harsh and unforgiving land. But this society stood little chance against the white Europeans with their guns and diseases. Appearing in the program are John Mulvaney, then Professor of Archaeology at the ANU, Canberra; Professor Max Camion of the University of Western Australia, and Wamjuk Marike, tribal elder of the Rarujingu tribe.
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