The Boundary

The Boundary Author : Nicole Watson
Country : Australia

Nicole Watson’s novel The Boundary won the 2009 David Unaipon Award for unpublished Indigenous-Australian authors. Its title refers to the curfew that in colonial times ruled the Aboriginal presence in Brisbane.

Nicole Watson’s only novel, The Boundary (2011), won the 2009 David Unaipon Award for unpublished Indigenous-Australian authors and is inspired in a native title claim on South-West Brisbane’s Musgrave Park—Meston Park in the novel—which is a remnant of Aboriginal ceremonial grounds. The title refers to the curfew that in colonial times ruled the Aboriginal presence in Brisbane. The old boundary between the Corrowa people and white settlers still survives in Brisbane’s Boundary Street today and translates into contemporary lack of access to land, resources and decision-making power, and so into lack of material and spiritual well-being for Aborigines. In The Boundary, the criminal element is based on the impossibility for the local Corrowa mob to see their legitimate claim on Meston Park honoured, which has fallen prey to neocolonial speculation. The three males most responsible for the claim’s rejection, Judge Brosnan and the defence’s Senior Councils Dick Payne and Harry McPherson are brutally murdered within days of the sentence, and the spiral of violence peaks when the conservative Premier and his Aboriginal assistant are assassinated, taking violence to the highest sphere of state power. The crime scenes are linked to each other by the mysterious presence of red feathers of a native bird species that has long been displaced from the Brisbane area in the process of white settlement and is now considered extinct. The connection with Corrowa displacement and dispossession is clear and acquires capital significance in the sense that the Corrowa, symbolised by the paradise parrot, have defied extinction and maintained their ancestral connections to country through the Dreaming up until the present. This, in turn, highlights the pay-back nature of the murders, perpetrated by unlikely killers. The novel is critical with racist and masculinist politics of disempowerment and dispossession, and written from an informed legal perspective. It also activates the Aboriginal universe of the Dreamtime, and is well-achieved in its literary qualities, notably Watson’s use of metaphor and characterisation, which is suggestive and engaging, especially where it comes to the two main characters, the Aboriginal lawyer Miranda Eversely, who is the Corrowa’s legal representative in the native title claim, and the Aboriginal detective Jason Matthews.

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