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Artwork:  Studio: FrenchBaker.  Designers:  Kate Fitzgerald / Betsy Baker



Annual History Lecture

Counter Currents –
Aboriginal Men and Women at the Heart of Empire.

3 September 2019  |  #HistoryWeek19

The Annual History Lecture is an event produced by the History Council of New South Wales every year in History Week, a state-wide celebration of History, which aims to engage and educate the community about the vitality, diversity and meaning of history and its practice. 

In 2019, the History Council of New South Wales is honoured that Professor John Maynard (pictured) will deliver the Annual History Lecture with a paper entitled Counter Currents – Aboriginal Men and Women at the Heart of Empire.


Largely unreported in the press or historical documents, Indigenous Australians traveled to Britain in significant numbers from the late eighteenth century through to the twenty-first century.  Some of these travellers were performers, footballers, boxers, jockeys, athletes, soldiers, sailors and political activists. Innovative observers, they were intent on gaining as much information about the world around them as they could, utilising that knowledge within their rapidly changing world.

Other Aboriginal people had horrific experiences.  Kidnapped and enslaved, they were eventually discarded on the far side of the world far from their homeland.

In this Annual History Lecture, Professor John Maynard will explore the significant and largely missed movement of Aboriginal people to Britain from the late eighteenth century through to the twenty first century. Through his lecture he will analyse memory and location in an Aboriginal context, far removed from the Australian experience, providing an Indigenous perspective and insight about these journeys, asking the key questions – Why were they there? What were the differences in experiences of these Aboriginal travellers?  Did they come home, and if so, what experiences, memories, observations and understandings did they bring back with them of the lands outside Australia? In the lead up to 2020 and the 250th Anniversary of the arrival of James Cook and the Endeavour, this Annual History Lecture turns our attention toward Aboriginal people at the heart of empire rather than the periphery.


Professor John Maynard is of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, New South Wales. He was awarded a PhD examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism from the University of Newcastle in 2003 and is Professor of Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous History) at the University of Newcastle.

Over the past decade Professor John Maynard has established himself as the foremost Indigenous historian in Australia. His books Fight for Liberty and Freedom (shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s History Award), The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe (a highly commended finalist for the prestigious Walkley Award) and Aboriginal Stars of the Turf (Dymocks Readers Choice) have received high acclaim. His research has concentrated on the intersections of Aboriginal political and social history and made significant contributions to the research fields of Aboriginal, race relations and sports history both nationally and internationally.

Bookings can be made online via the button above.  Discounted student tickets (limited number) can be purchased by contacting 

Note:  your organisation must be a member of the History Council to register an event as part of History Week 2019.

Further questions about History Week 2019?

More information is available through our frequently asked questions to the right, or contact us at

Past History Weeks

Further information about past History Weeks as well as our overall aims can be found here.

Do I have to be a History Council member to participate?

History Week events are open to the public. However, all organisations or individuals wishing to host a History Week event or take part in the History Week Speaker Connect program must be current members of the History Council of NSW. The History Council relies on the financial support of its members to deliver its annual programs. Apply to become a member here.

What makes a successful History Week event?

Successful History Week events:

  • relate to or incorporate the History Week theme
  • select a running time most appropriate for the target audience (for example, many students, full-time workers and young people are unable to attend events scheduled during the day. We advise hosts to consider running an event outside of regular office hours to attract wider audiences)
  • select a format most appropriate for the target audience (for example a lecture, exhibition, interactive experience etc)
  • are well and consistently promoted at least one month in advance and across a variety of channels, in addition to the History Council of NSW’s online channels
  • have a clear, concise and engaging event description, along with an eye-catching and relevant feature image, which entices audiences to attend
  • include clear instructions on how attendees can book or register for the event, whether this be through an online booking system, or via a contact email or phone number.
What is the History Week event registration process?
  1. All History Week event registrations must be made through our online registration form 
  2. Registrations will be processed as they are received. You will be sent a confirmation email with your registration details. The contact person listed on the registration form will be the primary liaison with our staff
  3. Changes to any of these details must be sent immediately to our staff at
  4. After registrations close at 5pm on 14 June 2019, our staff will begin to post events on the HCNSW History Week website, starting with Speaker Connect events. A downloadable PDF program will be made available, as will a further digital interactive program.
  5. Events will be circulated and advertised throughout the months of July and August. Event hosts are strongly encouraged to advertise their selected event through a variety of their own channels in addition to our channels
  6. After History Week, event hosts will be approached to provide feedback on their experience of the event and its organisation and promotion. Detailed and specific feedback is greatly appreciated
  7. We will release a History Week report for download on our website.
Do you have a media pack and guide?

We have made a media pack available for our host organisations to assist in publicity. Download our logo, publicity guide and media release template below.

HCNSW logo (jpeg 62kb)
Publicity guide (pdf 172kb)

Please contact us at for assistance.

NSW Government logo thumbnailHistory Week is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW

History Week partners

We are grateful to our partners listed below for all of their assistance and support.


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