The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History

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The Road to Botany Bay, first published in 1987 and considered a classic in the field of cultural and historical geography, examines the poetic constitution of colonial society. Through a far-reaching exploration of Australia’s mapping, narrative description, early urbanism, and bush mythology, Paul Carter exposes the mythopoetic mechanisms of empire. A powerfully written account of the ways in which language, history, and geography influenced the territorial theater of nineteenth-century imperialism, the book is also a call to think, write, and live differently.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this ``spatial'' and cultural history, the British-born Australian author, editor of a Melbourne magazine, seeks the origins of Australian civilization in the journals, letters home, unfinished maps and other narratives by its explorers, soldiers and emigrants, including tall tales and accounts of escapes by convicts who helped settle the vast territory. Carter devotes much attention to the motives of explorers' selection of geographical names, and reflects upon the role of boundaries and grids to distinguish town from bush and balance nearness with distancea horizontality that developed into Australia's ubiquitous suburbs. He evokes in philosophical and poetic terms the loneliness of the early travelers crossing endless forests, plains and deserts, and the welcome of a candle in the window, celebrated in Australian literature. Carter explains that, because of the language barrier between invaders and aborigines, he views the latter only through the eyes of the former. Illustrations not seen by PW. (March)
Reprint. Originally published in 1988 by Knopf. Carter's narrative draws on many disciplines to offer insights into the history of Australian settlement. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816669974
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,528,543
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Carter is author of many books, including Dark Writing (2008) and Material Thinking (2004). He is creative director of Material Thinking, a place-making research and design studio based in Melbourne, Australia.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction: A Cake of Portable Soup xiii

1 An Outline of Names 1

2 An Airy Barrier 34

3 The Charm of Novelty 69

4 Triangles of Life 99

5 Debatable Land 136

6 A Thorny Passage 172

7 Elysiums for Gentlemen 202

8 A More Pleasing Prospect 230

9 Intimate Charm 261

10 The Road to Botany Bay 293

11 A Wandering State 320

Notes 353

Index 377

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