Starting with the 1836 shipwreck of Eliza Fraser on the remote Queensland island that now bears her name, Finding Eliza takes the reader deep into the history and racial divide that separates Australia, still, to the modern day. But rather than step through facts and figures alone, author Larissa Behrendt explores the words, thoughts and actions of fictional characters.
In doing so, the very real motivations and preconceptions of the authors and their contemporaries are exposed. And here lies the strength of Finding Eliza – Behrendt is able to communicate the plight of Aboriginal women in surviving the colonisation of Australia, in a real and powerful way, by exposing the prejudice of generations of white Australia in accepting a flawed and censored view of history. It’s a message that Behrendt finely crafts in Finding Eliza – while white Australia refuses to accept the facts, and rather lives with a fictitious version of the past, colonisation continues. For the racial divide to be closed in our nation, recognition of both the good and bad in our history needs to be found. Otherwise we’re bound to follow the lies of the past.
Finding Eliza is Larissa Behrendt’s third book. The Aboriginal lawyer, writer and filmmaker is also a Professor of Law and Director of Research at UTS’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning.