Indigenous/Australian was the first Ideas and Society event held at the Bendigo Writers Festival. Professor Raimond Gaita, author Alex Miller and come together for a conversation about Mr Miller's remarkable award‐winning novels set in what he calls the Stone Country. The discussion explores the impact of white settlement on Indigenous Australians.

Watch the discussion

Indigenous Culture

What the speakers said

Professor Gaita and Mr Miller both grew up in central Victoria. The pair discuss Mr Miller's book Journey to the Stone Country, Landscape of Farewell, and Coal Creek. Professor Gaita believes the beauty of Mr Miller's writing is that you can read it at one level and enjoy it, but it has so many different layers of meaning that you can either press into it or 'trust that as you live your life, the words will resonate and your understanding of their subject will deepen'.

Home's The Iliad is mentioned and Mr Miller remarks that the Holocaust asked the question, is it possible for humanity to make moral progress? Because 3000 years after The Iliad, he said we have made no progress at all. He explains how he came to Australia as a boy of 16 and worked on cattle stations, where he came in contact with Aboriginal people still on their tribal land. Professor Gaita says the Holocaust caused people to think about the plight of indigenous Australians and somehow, each story deepened the other.

The speakers explore the journey of indigenous Australians and how they were treated by white settlers. They discuss how that transposes to society today.

More about our speakers

Alex Miller

Alex Miller, winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature in 2012, is also winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Ancestor Game (which also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize) and Journey to the Stone Country. His latest novel, Coal Creek, completes his Indigenous trilogy, which began with Landscape of Farewell. He is the recipient of the Manning Clark Medal for outstanding contribution to Australian cultural life.

Raimond Gaita

Raimond Gaita's books include the now classic Romulus, My Father, which was made into a feature film, A Common Humanity: Thinking about Love and Truth and Justice, and Breach of Trust: Truth, Morality and Politics. As a public intellectual, he has contributed extensively to discussions about reconciliation, crimes against humanity, education and universities.


This event took place at on Saturday August 9 at Bendigo's Capital Theatre during Bendigo Writers Festival.