The Last Dream: Heroes Unsung

“‘From George III to Margaret Thatcher, the problem of the poor and the Irish has been a difficult one for the English Establishment. Two hundred years ago, mass deportation to a great Southland, an Antipodean Siberia, was to be the final solution.”

John Pilger returned to his homeland with director Alan Lowery, a fellow Australian, to make a special, three-part documentary, The Last Dream, at the time of the country’s bicentenary. Reflecting on 200 years of white Australia, it is naturally critical and a call for a one-nation future, and an antidote to the celebrations that followed. 

In Heroes Unsung, the first in the trilogy, Pilger explains the transformation of the country from a “second-hand European” society, in which he grew up, to the second-most culturally diverse in the world, after Israel. He recalls his great-great-grandparents, Francis McCarthy and Mary Palmer, being transported to Australia in the early 19th century.

During the following century, the so-called White Australia Policy developed, reflecting or fuelling the racism of the majority population. Many British emigrated to the country, tempted by the £10 trip Down Under, to start a new life, seeing Australia as “the last dream”. 

The Last Dream: Heroes Unsung (Viewpoint Special series, Central Independent Television), ITV, 12 January 1988

Producer-director: Alan Lowery (51 mins)

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The John Pilger archive is held at the British Library