Deep Time Dreaming

Deep Time Dreaming

Uncovering Ancient Australia

Billy Griffiths


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People would have known about Australia before they saw it. Smoke billowing above the sea spoke of a land that lay beyond the horizon. A dense cloud of migrating birds may have pointed the way. But the first Australians were voyaging into the unknown.

Soon after Billy Griffiths joins his first archaeological dig as camp manager and cook, he is hooked. Equipped with a historian’s inquiring mind, he embarks on a journey through time, seeking to understand the extraordinary deep history of the Australian continent.

Deep Time Dreaming is the passionate product of that journey. It investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia.

It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and belonging. It is about a slow shift in national consciousness: the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many of us relate to this continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.

  • John Mulvaney Book Award: Winner
  • Ernest Scott Prize: Winner
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards: Winner - Book of the Year
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards: Winner - Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction
  • Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards: Highly Commended
  • Queensland Literary Awards: Shortlisted
  • Prime Minister's Literary Awards: Shortlisted
  • Educational Publishing Awards: Shortlisted
  • Australian Book Industry Awards: Longlisted
  • CHASS Book Prize: Longlisted
‘What a revelatory work! If you wish to hear the voice of our continent's history before the written word, Deep Time Dreaming is a must read. The freshest, most important book about our past in years.’ —Tim Flannery

‘Once every generation a book comes along that marks the emergence of a powerful new literary voice and shifts our understanding of the nation’s past. Billy Griffiths’ Deep Time Dreaming is one such book. Deeply researched, creatively conceived and beautifully written, it charts the expansion of archaeological knowledge in Australia for the first time. No other book has managed to convey the mystery and intricacy of Indigenous antiquity in quite the same way. Read it: it will change the way you see Australian history.’ —Mark McKenna, historian

‘Billy Griffiths’ Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia is a remarkable book, and one destined, I believe, to become a modern classic of Australian history writing. Written in vivid, evocative prose, this book will grip both the expert and the general reader alike.’ —Iain McCalman, author of The Reef: A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change