In recent years, ways of representing and narrating the events of the frontier other than those traditionally adopted by academic historians have become increasingly apparent. The most common of these ways of relating the past—oral history, saga, myth, tradition and legend—are frequently described as memorial rather than historical in nature, because they do not rely on traces of the past contemporaneous to the past being recounted— or, to be more precise, they do not depend on traces whose provenance is unquestionably of that time. These histories have entered the public arena and have had a significant impact on the way in which many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians now know or understand the frontier past. They have presented an enormous challenge to the discipline of history, but also provide its practitioners with an opportunity to reconsider the ways in which they relate the past and relate to that past.
Aboriginal people have long told stories of their encounters with newcomers in this country. Many of these tell of the violent conflict that occurred. Sometimes, these are stories that have been told by participants or witnesses; at other times they are not. Often the Aboriginal accounts have no counterpart in the contemporary written sources.
In many respects, these oral histories differ markedly from the manner in which contemporary sources, or academic histories which draw on these, narrate the violent conflict of the frontier. They are often generic rather than specific in their reference to protagonists, times and events, if