The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back

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The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back
Directed by Alan Lowery
Produced byAlan Lowery
Written by John Pilger
StarringJohn Pilger
Release date
21 May 1985 (UK) [1]
Running time
53 minutes

The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back is a 1985 television documentary made for the British Central Independent Television company by writer/presenter John Pilger and producer/director Alan Lowery. [2] It details the persecution of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders throughout Australia's history. [3]



The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back shows that when British colonists first arrived in Australia, they saw Aboriginal Australians as having no proprietorial rights to their land because they didn't cultivate it. As a result of this, no treaty was ever signed. Aboriginal Australians had no rights under British colonial rule and much of their resistance to British colonisation wasn't recorded. John Pilger aims to document some of the historical struggles of Aboriginal people as they were driven from their lands and he follows some of the major events relating to Aboriginal rights throughout the 20th century. [4]


The Secret Country was my first film on Indigenous Australia. I look at it these days and what shocks me about it is that virtually nothing has changed. Please keep that in mind as you watch the film. I knew almost nothing about the first people of my own country until I left Australia in my twenties and went to London to work. My London newspaper sent me back to Australia to find out the secret and shocking truth - which is that ‘we’ who are the majority in this country bear the same responsibility as the white minority in apartheid South Africa

A Secret Country

Pilger's book A Secret Country was published in 1989. It focuses on the same themes presented in this documentary. [3]

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  1. Hayward, Anthony (2008). Breaking the Silence: The Television Reporting of John Pilger. London: Network. p. 362. (no isbn; included with John Pilger box set)
  2. "The Secret Country: the First Australians Fight Back". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  3. 1 2 ""8 July 2014, 9pm The Secret Country shown on NITV"". Respect & Listen. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  4. ""1985, English, Video edition: The secret country [videorecording] : the first Australians fight back : a special report / by John Pilger."". National Library of Australia . Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  5. "Movies - The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  6. "WGAR News: Tiga Bayles interview with John Pilger: First Nations Peoples and the new Film 'Utopia'". IndyMedia Australia. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2014.