Australian Travellers in the South Seas

Australian Travellers in the South Seas

Authored by: Nicholas Halter orcid

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This book offers a wide-ranging survey of Australian engagement with the Pacific Islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through over 100 hitherto largely unexplored accounts of travel, the author explores how representations of the Pacific Islands in letters, diaries, reminiscences, books, newspapers and magazines contributed to popular ideas of the Pacific Islands in Australia. It offers a range of valuable insights into continuities and changes in Australian regional perspectives, showing that ordinary Australians were more closely connected to the Pacific Islands than has previously been acknowledged. Addressing the theme of travel as a historical, literary and imaginative process, this cultural history probes issues of nation and empire, race and science, commerce and tourism by focusing on significant episodes and encounters in history. This is a foundational text for future studies of Australia’s relations with the Pacific, and histories of travel generally.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Feb 2021
ANU Press
Pacific Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History


‘There has previously existed no comprehensive history of Australian travel writing on the Pacific Islands. His book admirably fills that gap … Australian Travellers in the South Seas, though rightly picking up authors on colonialist ideas now considered abhorrent, avoids the sanctimonious criticism that sometimes overwhelms commentary on travel-writing. Halter also happily avoids academic jargon. He discovers no unknown masterpieces of travel-writing but brings to light a varied assortment of interesting travellers and volumes and shows how often the islands featured in such periodicals as Walkabout and BP Magazine … Halter persuasively argues that the accounts illustrate how Australians were defining themselves from the late 1800s in part through their perceptions of the South Pacific. He concedes that further research is needed on islander reactions to the travellers. His book worthily joins a growing shelf of studies of Australian travelling-writing.’ 

— Robert Aldrich, History Australia (2021) 18(3), pp. 642–643

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