DETAIL : Jimmy BAKER 'Katatjita' 2006 synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy of Marshall Arts Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery, � Jimmy Baker


I know there are a lot of things go through my mind. Some of the things I really can’t stop thinking about: when Captain Cook came and landed and called it a new country in British justice or whatever you want to call it. Captain Cook made a map of our coastline. They even buggered that up, they did. They thought Tasmania was joined up to Australia, but it wasn’t. They came here with a lot of stuff and they went around to a lot of other countries and that, discovering new lands as well. But I can’t help thinking about when they landed here: what it would be like if the native people did start to spear them, frighten them and kill them all.

I wonder how this country would look now. Would we still be living in the bush – no fences, no cities and no pollution – everything the way it was before they came here? The air sweet and beautiful. The animals now extinct, they’d be around as well. But you know we can’t bring them back, and you can’t change the past, as the saying goes. But they did land here and Captain Cook and his men done things I don’t think they even put in their diaries or their catalogues …

It’s funny things never seem to work out. I mean, you look at the country now. It’s a fair bit of a mess now already, with all these factories diggin’ up the earth, people destroyin’ a lot of things. If you know in your mind or heart, you know what I’m tryin’ to get across. This is my opinion anyway.

It’s really up to each of us to make up our own minds what is right and what is wrong. You know this land was ours, but it’s yours now. But there’s still a lot of people out there fightin’ for us so that we can get it back one day, maybe in one lifetime.


H.J. Wedge, interview by Matthew Poll.