In his essay ‘On living in a new country,’ English art historian Stephen Bann explores the different textures of the pasts produced by museum and heritage projects in Australia and England. His purpose in doing so, he tells us, is not to propose a bi-polar contrast between the pasts of the Old and New Worlds. To the contrary, drawing on Patrick Wright’s (1983) account of a series of distinctively English heritage sensibilities and on Philippe Hoyau’s assessment of the defi ning qualities of French patrimony, Bann interprets the museum projects of the History Trust of South Australia as, like these, producing and ordering an Australian past that is shaped by the concepts of ‘family, conviviality and countryside’ (Hoyau, cit. Bann, 1989: 109). All the same, the very conception of Australia as a new country lacking a deep past pervades Bann’s discussion. The essay was published shortly after Bann had visited Australia and just a year after the bicentennial celebrations of the European occupation of Australia in 1788. This marked a key moment in bringing to the fore of public consciousness Indigenous Australian critiques of dominant white understandings of the Australian past. Offi cially conceived as a celebration of 200 years of European ‘settlement,’ the bicentenary was boycotted by many Indigenous Australians and their supporters as the marker of an invasion of already occupied territory and the beginning of a history which, from an Indigenous perspective, far from resonating to the values of family, conviviality and countryside, had led to the disruption of kinship networks, the enmity of an ongoing frontier war and the theft of country.