Pocock book review cover AA72John Mulvaney Book Award 2010

Jane Lydon


Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology Of An Aboriginal Mission

The John Mulvaney Book Award for 2010 was presented to Dr Jane Lydon of Monash University for her book Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission.

Fantastic Dreaming, published in 2009, focuses on the history and archaeology of Ebenezer Mission, in north western Victoria, and the attempts by Moravian missionaries to ‘civilise’ the Wergaia-speaking peoples that were housed there. The book is more than an archaeology text. Fantastic Dreaming also considers the social context of the history of, and memories about, Ebenezer Mission. It also explores the importance of Aboriginal missions as a category of place to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and as sites of both past and continuing historical, archaeological and social significance.

Jane traces the aftermath and afterlives of the mission and its inhabitants after its closure in 1904, showing how Aboriginal people were subjected to various government policies of housing, segregation and assimilation, but nonetheless resisted and persisted as a group into the present.

Fantastic Dreaming is a beautifully written book that makes an important contribution to Indigenous archaeology and heritage management in Australia.

A review of this book by Celmara Pocock is available by clicking here.