Sydney, NSW Australia

Discovering Country

In the 1980s, Ross Thorne and I wrote the following in our Chapter “Environmental Psychology in Australia,” for the  “Handbook of Environmental Psychology” published by John Wiley Interscience.

Rock art at Jabiru, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory.

“In 1788, when the first white settlers were raising the British flag on Australian shores and congratulating themselves on surviving the hazardous trip to the new land, the aboriginal inhabitants were in a position to celebrate something like 45,000 years of successful occupation. The Aborigines, it appears, had evolved a very workable environmental psychology.

The new settlers, blinkered by the zeitgeist of Britain, set about trying to transform both the land and its residents, into something more acceptably ‘civilised’. It has taken a large part of the past 200 years for the immigrant population of Australia to come to terms with its physical environment. And it is only now that a significant number of white Australians are becoming aware that the Aborigines their forebears tried so hard to ‘civilise’, had a complex culture that incorporated a detailed understanding of the physical environment.”


Now, decades later, things have changed and are changing. Slowly.