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HCNSW @ the Newcastles Writers Festival | Captain Cook and the Frontier Wars

This session has unfortunately been cancelled. The Newcastle Writers Festival has been cancelled due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19.


At this challenging time, we are doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our members & the public in lieu of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our staff, guest speakers & communities’ health are paramount to us. We are advised & informed by our partners & the NSW Government Public Health Recommendations.

Due to the developing crisis, we extend our deepest apologises to all members & individuals for any inconvienance caused & wish for all your good healths! We would like to thank you for your understanding & support. The History Council of NSW looks to investigating ways to bring this session to you. Watch this space!




The History Council of NSW’s session, Captain Cook and the Frontier Wars, responds to the 250th anniversary of the visit of Lieut James Cook to the east coast of Australia and will explore how Indigenous Australians are responding to and would like others to respond to this anniversary.

The session will be chaired by History Council President, Dr Stephen Gapps, a curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum and author of The Sydney Wars (2018).

Speakers will include Indigenous staff members from the Australian Museum and the National Maritime Museum who are developing exhibitions in response to the 250th anniversary of Cook and the arrival of the Endeavour in 1770. They will be invited to speak about interpretation and story-telling around issues of decolonising museums and understanding histories of colonial dispossession.

John Maynard, Professor of Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous History) at the University of Newcastle will deliver an Aboriginal perspective on James Cook and his visit.

A central feature of the discussion in this session will be the community consultation undertaken by museums that has indicated Indigenous Australians do not want to see recycled histories of Cook and Endeavour in exhibitions or programs, but wish to know more about the resistance to colonialism during the Frontier Wars.

Dr Stephen Gapps, President of HCNSW, a Curator with the ANMM (Session Chair)


Dr Stephen Gapps is the President of the HCNSW, a Curator with the Australian National Maritime Museum as well as a published author, speaker and professional historian.
His publications include Cabrogal to Fairfield, History of a Multicultural Community (Wakeley, N.S.W. : Fairfield City Council, 2010) which won a 2011 NSW Premier’s History Award and The Sydney wars : conflict in the early colony 1788-1817 (NewSouth Publishing, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, 2018). Stephen is a Conjoint Lecturer in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Newcastle and is currently working on a project about the Wiradjuri Wars of Resistance.

Dr Mariko Smith, First Nations Assistant Curator, Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection, Australian Museum


Mariko Smith is a Yuin woman and First Nations Assistant Curator in the EECC branch of the Australian Museum.

Mariko focuses on Indigenous community-based cultural resurgence initiatives and incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into curatorial and artistic practices.

Mariko’s academic and professional qualifications include a combined Bachelor degree in Arts and Laws (University of Sydney) conferred in 2005 and 2007 respectively, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (College of Law), Master of Museum Studies (awarded with Merit: University of Sydney), and Doctor of Philosophy from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Laura McBride, First Nations Curator, Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection, Australian Museum


Laura is a Wailwan-Kooma woman and First Nations Curator in the Exhibitions, Engagement and Cultural Connection branch of the Australian Museum. 

Laura’s curatorial approach centers First Nations voices and interpretation of objects and histories so that communities represent themselves and their cultures within the Museum. Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Australian Indigenous Studies), University of Sydney, 2008; and Master of Education, University of Technology Sydney, 2012. 


John Maynard, Professor Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous History), University of Newcastle


Professor John Maynard is of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, NSW and the foremost Indigenous historian in Australia. He was awarded a PhD examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism from the University of Newcastle in 2003. 

His books Fight for Liberty and Freedom (shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers 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. 


Where | Hunter Room, Newcastle Town Hall

When | Saturday, 4th April 2020 at 3:00pm to 4:15pm.

FREE | RSVP here

Captain Cook and the Frontier Wars