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Dragonwriter
11-18-2014, 09:59 PM
Hi experts,

I've got a bunch of questions about Australia, for something I'm working on. Of particular interest are:

- modern Aborigines and Aboriginal culture
- Aboriginal magic, legends, art, and names
- The Outback (particularly traveling in it, and ghost towns)
- Perth

Part of my novel is set in a near-future version of Australia (it's being written for a game company) so I'll need to extrapolate, but I just want to make sure I don't get anything glaringly wrong.

What I'm really looking for is impressions, little tidbits of info that might make my book sound like I know what I'm talking about even though I've never been anywhere near Australia, and also ways to make sure my Aboriginal characters (they aren't main characters, but they figure prominently in part of the story) are "real" and not stereotypes. This is fantasy so it doesn't have to be perfect, but I'd like any Australian readers not to roll their eyes when they read it.

Anybody who can help me out? If I get any bites I'll put together a more specific list of questions.

Thanks!

RightHoJeeves
11-20-2014, 12:28 AM
I can. I was born in Perth and lived there for 20 years, so feel free to ask me anything.

I'm not Indigenous though, so I can't help you there. However, I ask, no, beg you, don't write anything about Indigenous people that comes from a position of ignorance. There is enough misinformation and misunderstandings about them, particularly about their spirituality and the Outback, and it all contributes to the stereotypes and social alienation that causes so many problems today. I don't mean to be a party-pooper, but yeah. Do your research, and make sure its with an Indigenous person from Perth. If you were to ask an Indigenous person from Melbourne about their culture and then apply that to Perth... that would sort of be like asking a Polish person about their culture and then applying that to Spain.

Anyway, ask away!

StarWombat
11-20-2014, 01:00 AM
I spent 7 years living in Canberra (the national capital) and I plan to move back, so I keep my ear on the ground. If I can help, I will. I'm not sure I know all that much about the Aborigines, though, so I wouldn't feel comfortable doing anything other than pointing you to resources about them.

Helix
11-20-2014, 01:53 AM
Echoing what RightHoJeeves and StarWombat have said. Also, there is no one Indigenous culture. Here's a map of Indigenous languages (http://www.abc.net.au/indigenous/map/) in Australia to give you an idea of the cultural diversity.

Travel in the Outback? Ask away! (Have you looked at Google Street View?)

Dragonwriter
11-20-2014, 02:02 AM
Thanks for the info and the map!

One thing I really need to get a feel for is what it's like to travel in the Outback. My story is set in the future so some things will be different due to the requirements of the world, but if they were to travel northeast from Perth around 900 km, what would they likely encounter as far as roads, temperature, dangers, etc? In this world there are a lot fewer people and the Outback is a dangerous place due to magic (can't go into details since it's not my world), so assume that pretty much the only people you'll find in the Outback are various Aboriginal groups, biker gangs, and people trying to get from point A to point B.

This isn't a big part of the story--I just want to add in a few bits of local color and be realistic enough that any Australian readers won't roll their eyes. :)

Thanks!

Helix
11-20-2014, 02:28 AM
900 km NE of Perth will put you in desert. Most N-S travel in WA is on roads closer to the coast, although there's one inland highway that goes from Perth to Port Hedland via Newman. Have a look at Laverton (WA, not Vic) on Google Maps. It's prob. the closest town to the area you're thinking about.

I don't know why there'd be bikies out in the middle of nowhere. Be difficult to get petrol, I'd have thought! Don't forget that there will be cattle properties out that way -- big ones -- and mines. But the population is sparse.

Yer biggest problems are heat and water. There's a lot of one and not very much of the other. Things there are also a lot of ---> flies, dust.

ETA: On roads of all sorts, you might encounter road trains.

Dragonwriter
11-20-2014, 02:54 AM
900 km NE of Perth will put you in desert. Most N-S travel in WA is on roads closer to the coast, although there's one inland highway that goes from Perth to Port Hedland via Newman. Have a look at Laverton (WA, not Vic) on Google Maps. It's prob. the closest town to the area you're thinking about.

I'm thinking of using a ghost town called Kykoolie as one of my settings.


I don't know why there'd be bikies out in the middle of nowhere. Be difficult to get petrol, I'd have thought! Don't forget that there will be cattle properties out that way -- big ones -- and mines. But the population is sparse.They have a base in the ghost town (remember, this is set in a dystopian future, and it's established as part of the lore that there are bikie gangs that cruise around the Outback). Population is very sparse--more so than in the real world--but the Aboriginal groups have reclaimed the Outback for their own. For various reasons (not wanting to give too much away) it's very dangerous to travel there, especially if you aren't in tune with the local spirits (who aren't very nice, for the most part).


Yer biggest problems are heat and water. There's a lot of one and not very much of the other. Things there are also a lot of ---> flies, dust.Cool, that's what I figured. What are the roads like? Are they paved? I noticed a lot of the smaller roads seemed to be dirt (and probably would be even more likely to be in this time period, since there's not a lot of maintenance).

Thanks!

Helix
11-20-2014, 03:05 AM
A few roads are surfaced (the Goldfields Highway, which is the one to Newman), but away from the major routes, the inland roads are unsealed. Which is not to say the bigger ones aren't maintained, e.g. Great Central Road (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Central_Road) and Gunbarrel Highway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunbarrel_Highway).

You'll need to look at Indigenous concepts of land and ownership. They're complex.

mccardey
11-20-2014, 03:47 AM
I'm thinking of using a ghost town called Kykoolie as one of my settings.

They have a base in the ghost town (remember, this is set in a dystopian future, and it's established as part of the lore that there are bikie gangs that cruise around the Outback). Population is very sparse--more so than in the real world--but the Aboriginal groups have reclaimed the Outback for their own. For various reasons (not wanting to give too much away) it's very dangerous to travel there, especially if you aren't in tune with the local spirits (who aren't very nice, for the most part).



Be careful with this sort of thing. Appropriating cultural beliefs and systems that you don't understand can be really, deeply upsetting for the people concerned. Be doubly careful if the people concerned are still suffering trauma from their dispossession and are kicking back against things like, oh, cultural appropriation, misrepresentation and stereotyping.

Very much worth a bit of time spent on researching the issues and current thinking on sensitivity. (Plus simple facts - as noted upthread, there's not one Aboriginal culture.)

Rufus Coppertop
11-20-2014, 04:50 AM
What the others have said.

And... Check out "Diamond Dove" by Adrian Hyland. It's a whodunit set in the outback, written by my stepfather's brother-in-law. It might be useful. He himself lived in the outback for at least a decade and ended up making up a fictional tribe so as not to tread on any toes.

mccardey
11-20-2014, 05:08 AM
What the others have said.

And... Check out "Diamond Dove" by Adrian Hyland. It's a whodunit set in the outback, written by my stepfather's brother-in-law. It might be useful. He himself lived in the outback for at least a decade and ended up making up a fictional tribe so as not to tread on any toes.

Wow - nice (http://www.smh.com.au/news/book-reviews/diamond-dove/2006/08/21/1156012451873.html) reviews (http://www.austcrimefiction.org/content/diamond-dove-adrian-hyland-0)!

Helix
11-20-2014, 05:53 AM
Diamond Dove is very good. I also have Gunshot Road on my 'to read' pile.

RightHoJeeves
11-20-2014, 06:39 AM
If you're into the idea of dystopian outback stories, check out the recent film "The Rover".

RightHoJeeves
11-20-2014, 08:06 AM
Cool, that's what I figured. What are the roads like? Are they paved? I noticed a lot of the smaller roads seemed to be dirt (and probably would be even more likely to be in this time period, since there's not a lot of maintenance).

Thanks!

The main roads (ie between Perth and Kalgoorlie, or up and down the coast) are pretty decent.