Bronwyn Adcock is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Griffith Review and The Saturday Paper and on the ABC.
“The most frustrating thing is that everyone gets out there for Australia Day, there’s so much controversy, but April 29 comes around and there’s just silence.”
It’s a windy autumn day, and Rodney Kelly is slumped over a wooden picnic table at the Bermagui headland, on the far NSW South Coast. He is trying hard not to be broken by the events of the past two years. “Sometimes I want to give up. And I don’t know why, I just can’t.”
From his seat, Kelly looks out across the wind-chopped ocean, where 248 years ago Captain James Cook sailed on his way up the east coast of the continent. Nine days after passing this point, the British explorer arrived at Botany Bay, and he and his party made first contact with Aboriginal Australians – Kelly’s ancestors.
It was a dramatic opening act to the colonisation of Australia. Cook’s journal records that on April 29,...