2022 - Shortlisted
Gudyarra, meaning ‘war’, is the second of Stephen Gapps’ meticulous historical accounts of the British war against Aboriginal nations across New South Wales. Written as military history, it follows on from his Sydney Wars (2018) to explore the distinct strategies and practices in British dispossession and the Wiradyuri war of resistance. Gapps analyses the Wiradyuri’s adaptive approach to the tactics of colonisers, typified by bringing together distinct Wiradyuri groups in the use of warbands for coordinated resistance and warfare strategy.
Stephen Gapps shows how the growing influence, and profit, of large agricultural corporations matched the aspirations of the British Empire’s military administrators to claim possession of prime pastoral land, culminating in two years of outright warfare across the plains. Incorporating Wiradyuri knowledge with archival research, this book is a formidable work in Australia’s military history, and history of colonisation and Indigenous resistance. It deserves a wide readership for its serious contribution to truth-telling and documentation of what Wiradyuri Elder Uncle Allen Junior powerfully describes as ‘the Homelands Wars’.