Black Diggers

Black Diggers

by

Tom Wright

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Abbeville

A town in northern France that served as an important military hospital during World War One, and where Norm, Ern, and Bob recover from their injuries. read analysis of Abbeville

Aborigines’ Protection Boards

Various agencies run by Australia’s different states, charged with institutionally regulating Aboriginal Australians’ second-class citizen status by removing children from their parents, enforcing slavery, and seizing Indigenous people’s land (among other policies). read analysis of Aborigines’ Protection Boards

ADF

Australia’s military, the Australian Defense Force. read analysis of ADF

AIF

The First Australian Imperial Force, or the Australian force of more than 300,000 men sent to fight in World War One. read analysis of AIF

Allied Forces

The coalition led by the British Empire, France, and Russia (but also including various other countries) that defeated the Central Powers—Germany, Austria Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria—in World War One. read analysis of Allied Forces
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Amiens

A city in northern France where an important battle near the end of World War One played a significant role in the Allied victory. Archie briefly fights there. read analysis of Amiens

ANZAC

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a collection of forces that fought in the Mediterranean (including at Dardanelles) during World War One. read analysis of ANZAC

Anzac Day

In Australia and New Zealand, a national holiday honoring military veterans (and, originally and specifically, veterans of the ANZAC in World War One). In a number of scenes in the play, the Indigenous soldiers struggle… read analysis of Anzac Day

Australian Museum, Sydney

The oldest and arguably most famous museum in Australia, which was founded in the early 1800s as the Colonial Museum to valorize the British Empire and advance the project of national territorial expansion by trying… read analysis of Australian Museum, Sydney

Barambah

The former name of Cherbourg, a settlement where Indigenous people from around Queensland were forced to move, and where Ern grew up. read analysis of Barambah

Beersheba, Palestine

An important city in the southern desert of Palestine (now Israel). Its founding is recounted in the Bible, and it was the site of an important World War One battle between British and Ottoman forces… read analysis of Beersheba, Palestine

Bellender Ker, Queensland

The name of a town, a tall mountain, and a mountain range in the northeast of Australia, in the state of Queensland. This region is the site of the first and historically oldest scene… read analysis of Bellender Ker, Queensland

Boundary Hotel, Brisbane

One of the oldest sites in the city of Brisbane, the capital of Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland, the Boundary Hotel is a pub, hotel, and historical monument in continuous operation since 1864. Normread analysis of Boundary Hotel, Brisbane

Bullecourt

A village in northern France, near Amiens and Abbeville, that was completely destroyed during World War One. Australian forces led the two Battles of Bullecourt, suffering catastrophic losses. Nigel fights at Bullecourt and watches… read analysis of Bullecourt

Callan Park

The historic Callan Park Hospital for the Insane was New South Wales’s largest insane asylum. Nigel ends up institutionalized there at the very end of the play, after the Australian government and media ignore… read analysis of Callan Park

Canaan

A region of the Levant where many important events in the Bible took place, and referenced in a hymn sung during Black Diggers. Significantly, “Canaanites” refers to the indigenous people of this region, who… read analysis of Canaan

Castlereagh Street

A major street in downtown Sydney, where Harry ends up begging and presumably homeless at the end of the play. read analysis of Castlereagh Street

Cherbourg

The Indigenous reservation community in Queensland formerly known as Barambah. read analysis of Cherbourg

Coniston Massacre

The 1928 mass murder of as many as 170 Aboriginal Walpiri, Anmatyerre, and Kaytetye people in a sparsely-populated region of central Australia by white settlers and government forces, all of whom were acquitted for the… read analysis of Coniston Massacre

Dardanelles

A narrow strait in modern-day Turkey, forming the boundary of Europe and Asia, which was a major strategic chokepoint during in World War One. This is where Laurie first arrives during the war. read analysis of Dardanelles

Diggers

A slang term for a soldier from Australia or New Zealand. read analysis of Diggers

Erskineville

A diverse, working-class neighborhood of Sydney, where Laurie grows up. read analysis of Erskineville

Forest Lodge, Sydney

A Sydney neighborhood where Nigel writes his letter condemning the Coniston Massacre. read analysis of Forest Lodge, Sydney

Frying Pan Creek, NSW

A rural, forested region of New South Wales where Bertie lives. read analysis of Frying Pan Creek, NSW

Glebe

A suburb of Sydney, where the town hall that opens Act Two takes place. read analysis of Glebe

George Street

The busiest and historically most important street in downtown Sydney, where Nigel ends up spinning a sign and handing out flyers after the war, despite his attempts to publicly advocate for Indigenous soldiers. read analysis of George Street

Gwyndir River

A major river in the northern part of New South Wales, in a region traditionally populated by Aboriginal peoples. read analysis of Gwyndir River

Half-Caste

An antiquated, derogatory term for people with mixed racial or ethnic descendance, which in Australia specifically referred to people with one Aboriginal and one white parent. read analysis of Half-Caste

Iron Cove

A bay in Sydney. read analysis of Iron Cove

Jordan River

A river in the Levant that marked the boundary of the Holy Land and is cited in a hymn sung by the play’s actors. read analysis of Jordan River

The Light Horse

A number of Australian mounted soldiers who fought on horseback during World War One, especially in the Middle East (including Laurie). read analysis of The Light Horse

Maranoa

A region of southern Queensland, named in the song “Sandy Maranoa” in Black Diggers. read analysis of Maranoa

Maori –

The indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. In an anonymous letter, a veteran explains that he decided to pass as Maori instead of Aboriginal (because he has a Chinese ancestor) and received less trouble… read analysis of Maori –

Messines

In Western Belgium, the site of a major offensive by the British during World War One. Archie fights there and kills a German soldier. read analysis of Messines

Mount Gambier

A small city in the state of South Australia, where Laurie ends up working in a church after the war. read analysis of Mount Gambier

Murgon

A town in Queensland, where Ern gives up his war medals. read analysis of Murgon

Murrumbidgee

A major river that flows through various Indigenous lands in New South Wales, including the family land to which Bertie returns after the war. read analysis of Murrumbidgee

New South Wales

Australia’s most populous state, located on the island’s southeastern corner, which was also the center of its indigenous population before British colonialism. read analysis of New South Wales

No Man’s Land

During World War One, a term for the area between the two sides’ trenches. read analysis of No Man’s Land

Palarver

An Australian slang term, often used to describe something tedious or long-winded. When Bertie cites “all that palarver” about Indigenous people being fighters in the past, ironically enough, his mother reprimands him, insisting that he… read analysis of Palarver

Passchendaele

The location of a major battle led partially by Australian forces, in which Laurie participates. read analysis of Passchendaele

Petrie Terrace

A neighborhood of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, where Ern, Norm, and Bob first sign up for the military (but are rejected for being Aboriginal). read analysis of Petrie Terrace

Picaninny

An archaic, now deeply offensive term for black children (including Aboriginal Australians). read analysis of Picaninny

Polygon Wood

The site of a major battle in Western Belgium, near Ypres and Passchendaele. Harry fights alongside and meets Stan here. read analysis of Polygon Wood

Pozieres

The site of a major World War One battle in France, where Australian troops suffered the heaviest losses of anywhere, and where Mick kills a number of German soldiers and Bertie and Tommy get buried… read analysis of Pozieres

PTSD

A disorder in people who have experienced traumatic events frequently relive those events and their emotional impact. Although it is a recent technical term, the disorder was first brought to public attention after World War… read analysis of PTSD

Queen Street

The main street in Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, and where Norm, Bob, and Ern get their photos taken after enlisting. read analysis of Queen Street

Queensland

A large state in northeastern Australia, and home to friends Norm, Bob, Ern. read analysis of Queensland

Red Cross

A decorated humanitarian organization dedicated to protecting and providing medical treatment to people in conflict areas. read analysis of Red Cross

RSL

The Returned and Services League of Australia, an organization for Australian war veterans that often excluded Indigenous people. read analysis of RSL

Soldier Settlement Commission

An agency responsible for granting land to returned soldiers in exchange for their service, which plays an important part in Act Two of Black Diggers, when Mick Dempsey learns that his ancestral lands in… read analysis of Soldier Settlement Commission

South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission

A commission formed after the end of apartheid (white supremacist rule) in South Africa, aimed to help the nation heal its divisions and create the foundation for a new, inclusive future. The commission’s unique structure… read analysis of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Southern Cross

A bright constellation visible in the Southern Hemisphere, which features on the Australian flag and has held a variety of meanings throughout Australian history: it is of deep religious importance for many of Australia’s Indigenous… read analysis of Southern Cross

Torres Strait Islanders

A distinctive group of Indigenous people who have lived for millennia on islands in the Torres Strait, the body of water separating Australia from New Guinea. read analysis of Torres Strait Islanders

Villers-Bretonneux

A town in northern France and the site of an important World War One battle, in which many Australian fighters participated. The Australian government contributed to the village’s reconstruction after the War, and Ern fights… read analysis of Villers-Bretonneux

Western District, Victoria

A large, rural area in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, which was traditionally occupied by Indigenous people, who were slaughtered and evicted en masse during the 19th century. After World War One, a scene… read analysis of Western District, Victoria

Woolloomooloo

A central, waterfront district of Sydney. read analysis of Woolloomooloo

Ypres

A city in northwestern Belgium that played an essential part in the First World War, due to its location along the Germans’ planned invasion path into France. The 1917 Third Battle of Ypres extended out… read analysis of Ypres

Zössen POW Camp

A German prisoner of war camp near Berlin, Zössen was especially designated for non-Europeans, including large numbers of soldiers from British colonies. When he is imprisoned there, Nigel is forced to listen to a German… read analysis of Zössen POW Camp