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Out of Darkness (1984)


Produced in 1984, this documentary outlines the archaeological findings on Australian Aboriginal history and culture. Various experts postulate on human development at a range of archaeological sites.

Curator’s notes

A useful layman’s summary of the significant findings by scientists in 1984.

Secondary curator’s notes

by Romaine Moreton

Out of Darkness offers a scientific framework to explain the presence of Aboriginal peoples in the land now known as Australia and the impact the Indigenous peoples had on the landscape. The findings are quite interesting as an insight into life in the prehistoric Australian landscape.

There are, however, two distinct cultural perspectives present to explain the singular phenomenon of Indigenous occupation of what is termed as prehistorical Australia. One discourse is scientific and evolutionary, and the other is an Indigenous belief system that speaks of the Dreaming. Scientific discourse depicts Indigenous people as migratory, having travelled to the land mass now known as Australia from Java, the theory presented in this documentary being that perhaps one day while fishing, people were caught in a storm that blew them out to sea. Days later, the group that stumbled across a strange land are the peoples from whom Australian Aborigines are descended. However, this theory contradicts the stories that Indigenous peoples have passed on through the generations, which is that Indigenous folk were born from and of this land.

One of the most valuable messages of Out of Darkness is that the Australian landscape is in fact an Indigenous artefact. In other words, the way the land looked and was ordered when europeans first arrived was not a random product of nature, but a country that was shaped by Indigenous people’s lifestyle, belief and value systems, essentially a country that was a farmed sustainable environment.