Reports From a Wild Country by Deborah Bird Rose


Reports from a Wild CountryTitle: Reports From a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation
Author: Deborah Bird Rose
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Anthropology, Australian authors, Indigenous Australians, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: University of New South Wales Press Ltd.
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: The history of colonisation is a history of cattle and horses as well as people.

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‘Captain Cook was the real wild one. He failed to recognise Law, destroyed people and country, lived by damage and promoted cruelty.’

Reports from a Wild Country explores some of Australia’s major ethical challenges. Written in the midst of rapid social and environmental change and in a time of uncertainty and division, it offers powerful stories and arguments for ethical choice and commitment. The focus is on reconciliation between Indigenous and ‘Settler’ peoples, and with nature.


I loved, loved, loved this book! It is a great insight into not only the past of Indigenous Australians, but also the process of colonisation and how we can begin to right these wrongs. Rose doesn’t take a negative tone when writing this reflection, whilst making sure that it serves a great reminder that Australia has a long way to go before we can begin to heal some pretty horrible wounds.

The structure of this book is fantastic – it starts with the past ethical considerations and practices of colonisation in Australia, specifically how this impacted on the Indigenous peoples of the Daly River. Then, it moves into the present practices of not only colonisation, but also those of decolonisation. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect, and the smattering of quotes and anecdotes really helps to bring this alight. Finally, Rose looks at the ways in which we can all begin to move forwards. After all, it’s about the ways in which we can all move forwards as a nation and recognise the past.

I loved the way in which this text was set out, and the way that a sensitive topic was approached. It takes something that is quite intense, and makes it approachable and understandable. After all, I’m a white Australian, and I want to understand the emotions and needs of our First Nation people. Although this is still an academic text, it is written in a far more approachable manner than many other texts, especially anthropological ones. Often they are a little too dense and heavy.

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