What the bloody hell is a touristic terra nullius?

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Edelheim, JR 2008, 'What the bloody hell is a touristic terra nullius?', in S Richardson, L Fredline, A Patiar & M Ternel (eds), CAUTHE 2008: Tourism and Hospitality Research, Training and Practice: “Where the 'bloody hell' are we?”, Surfers Paradise, Qld., 11-14 February, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Qld. ISBN: 9781921291333


This paper suggests that tourist attractions might act as powerful agents in forming and forging people’s understanding of national identity. Attractions are often presented in a simplistic manner as objects without further complexity, this understanding hide the fact that images presented to the public might work as social tableaux. An analysis of how attractions are constructed in the social realm by texts surrounding them is here done by highlighting the racial/ethnic context of them. The suggestion that attractions can be understood as narratives in themselves leads the paper to deconstruct the way attractions currently maintain a colonial discourse. A case is presented in this paper, involving a bushranger called Thunderbolt that Uralla, a small town in the New England area of NSW, uses as its main attraction. The paper suggests that a touristic terra nullius is created by the focus on what exists as objects in the present, without a regard for what has existed in the past. The discussion shows how a narrative analysis of tourist attractions can lead researchers to discover a palimpsest of a location’s history, still visible through the modern texts about it.