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Hungry times: Food as a source of conflict between Aboriginal people and British colonists in New South Wales 1804–1846

Greg Blyton


This paper investigates food as a critical social determinant of conflict between Aboriginal Australians and British colonists in the Hunter region of central eastern New South Wales from 1804 to 1846. For Aboriginal people in the region food became a basic human need in short supply, causing duress and motivating desperate human action with stern consequences. British colonization saw violence, alienation, dispossession, starvation, malnutrition and destitution beset many Aboriginal people in the region as colonial timber, pastoral and agricultural development ripped through land encroaching on and alienating traditional hunting and harvesting grounds. Ultimately the traditional food economy collapsed under the pressure of militant colonial occupation, culminating in cultural disintegration and a forced dependency on colonial benevolence.

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