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Open Right

Ben Pobjie: The Humour in History

Session Info:

The history of Australia is a fascinating subject, and an important one for all Australians to engage with. But often history is seen as a dry and unexciting area, and Australian history is frequently considered the most boring history of all.

Here I speak about how history is not as dusty as we often think, about how the personalities and stories of Australian history are a lot funnier than they’re often painted – historical figures are just as stupid and incompetent and ridiculous as famous people of today. By showing the humour of history, we find a “way in” to the subject and it becomes more interesting to us all – we start by laughing, but it spurs us to learn more.


  • First contact, and the trials and tribulations of the first settlement
  • Governor Bligh, and how personality flaws simultaneously help people reach the top, and bring them down
  • The incompetence of the age of exploration, and how the distinguishing features of the “great explorers” tended to be their enthusiasm, not their suitability for the job
  • How mistakes shape history just as much as successes
  • Breaker Morant, the Anzacs, and military myth-making

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