In the nineteenth century the colonial narrative represented Central Australia negatively--it was a dangerous and hostile environment. It was the Australian Outback, and this was represented as being without economic potential a dead heart, arid and waterless, as a space of the 'other',
In the late 20th Australia represents Central Australia is seen positively. It becomes the Red Centre, a major desert tourist destination in the Northern Territory. The Red Centre in the tourist marketing brochures is the welcoming heart, the place of cultural significance, the site of the 'real' Australia, a site of unchanging beauty.
The tourist conception of the Red Centre primarily refers to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Simpsons Gap, Glen Helen Gorge, Kings Canyon etc and the promotional images are those of a decorative pictoralism. The Tanami desert, which lies beyond the region of Australian Tourism's Red Centre, remains a space of the 'other': an empty land without a trace of culture.
The Tanami, as this snap of the landscape at Hooker Creek
indicates, is not an empty land. It is the space marked by the foundation of settler society and the dispossession of indigeous peoples, the intersection of indigenous and settler cultures, and the site of indigenous painting of country as a contemporary art form. There is a form of forgetting or disremembering by settler Australians associated with how they understood the history of their nation.