Image: sandalwood


Sandalwood, Santalum austrocaledonicum, was widely exploited by Western traders in the 1800s. These pieces, approx 60 cm in length, were collected from the island of Erromango, Vanuatu in the early 1900s by missionary Rev Dr HA Robertson. E12420 & E22590

Stuart Humphreys
© Australian Museum

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These two short branches of seemingly ordinary wood seem out of place in the Australian Museum’s cultural stores, surrounded by shelves filled with all manner of cultural artworks and artefacts. Yet they reveal much about the history of conflict between Western and traditional indigenous attitudes towards land and natural resources – conflict that continues in various guises today.

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