What would happen if we taught our children that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people planted crops, tilled them, irrigated them, stored and preserved surpluses, built houses and sewed their clothes? Would the sky fall in? And why would we teach them such things? Because that’s what the explorers saw.
Charles Sturt’s exploration party of 1844 was saved from death when it chanced upon four hundred Aboriginal people harvesting grain on the Warburton River (South Australia), in what was to become known as Sturt’s Stony Desert. Sturt and his men were revived with cool well-water, roast duck and the best cakes Sturt had ever tasted. Once recovered, the party was offered a new house in the orderly town that lined the bank of the river.