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Richard White: Touring the Past

From the Dog on the Tuckerbox to the pub at Glenrowan, historic tourism is a great Australian tradition. But popular tourism’s fascination for the lurid, the macabre and the sensational has often undermined more respectable perspectives on Australia’s past.

Richard White explores the beginnings of ‘historic’ tourism in Australia from the late nineteenth century and and why we are so attracted to our more notorious historic figures –  convicts, bushrangers and rebellious diggers.

While governments were prepared to celebrate explorers, pioneers and political figures, the past that tourists persisted in seeking out was a more disreputable one –  they were less interested in being inspired than in being entertained – and in catering for more vulgar tastes, tourist operators and ordinary tourists themselves wrote their own versions of Australia’s past.

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