Because the author is an archeologist and has worked closely with Aborigines, I hoped this book - in view of the title - would be about their origins, the Dreamtime myths, and their culture. This is the oldest still-living ancient culture (at least 60,000 years, it is now believed) and must have fascinating information to offer all of us. Traditional Aboriginal law, for instance, is an amazingly complex oral culture, rich in history and symbolism. Yet, because of the deliberate simplicity of their few tools and their choice not to settle in one place nor to develop metals, pottery or agriculture, these peoples were called primitive!
While there is a chapter (30 pages) on "origins: the last 50,000 years" and another (40 pages) on "tradition: indigenous life at first contact", the remaining 200 pages are about the last four hundred years, since Europeans discovered Australia and started to settle there.
The author explains that she asked many people, both in Australia and outside it, what questions they had about the Aborigines, and set out to write a book that would answer them. It is a neutral and well-researched account of known good and bad (mainly bad, unfortunately) accounts of the insults and injuries perpetrated on both sides since first contact. If this is your main interest, then the book should have 5 stars. For me, only 70 pages are of interest, so I have given the book 3 stars.
I guess I will need to wait for a book by an anthropologist in order to learn more about the Aborigines before European settlement. In the meantime, "Aboriginal Mythology" and "Aboriginal Dreaming" have supplied the strongest taste of these most ancient ways. They each offer a flavour of the many fascinating elements of Aboriginal culture: the song circles and stories, artefacts, landmarks, characters and customs. Also, "Australian Myths" shares some of their dreamtime stories and has great illustrations.