Tanderum: A walk through time and culture at the crossroads of Australia history
Garry Egger and Bob Morgan
Tanderum is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘permission to pass through country'. The failure to recognise this by British colonialists speaks to the ongoing struggle of Australia's First Peoples, which exists to this day.
In 1788, the Sydney Cove, a coastal trader from India carrying alcohol and other necessities of life for the new settlers in Sydney, foundered on a remote island off Tasmania. A group of five English masters and twelve Bengali sailors, or Lascars, made it to shore and were forced to make the first and longest walk of any non-indigenous people along this unknown but beautiful and forbidding coast. During the course of their journey, the survivors were forced to change their views of the country, its people and each other.
The novel Tanderum is centred around the true story of the interaction of the English and Indian sailors with each other and the local Aboriginal people in an environment the latter saw as part of their being, but the former saw as alien and foreboding.