It was the world’s first monopoly, a multi-headed hydra whose tentacles reached into every corner of the globe. It was the East India Company and its tendrils stretched as far as the penal colony of New South Wales.
In those years Sydney women wore dresses made from Indian cloth, they ate food grown on Indian soil and were ruled by men who had honed their skills on the subcontinent. Lascars worked on ships that transported vital supplies and Indian servants slaved for English expatriate masters.
East Of India at the Australian Maritime Museum rewrites the history of India/Australia relations with an interactive exhibition that illustrates the story. It features Victorian laments for the siege of Lucknow, relics of resistance such as the arrows of Tipu, the Tiger of Mysore and concludes with Indian-Australians reflecting on their own journey.
A tale of empire, riches, massacres, triumph and tragedy, this fascinating display is a glimpse of the web that draws the two nations together. (LR)
Until Aug 18, Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St, Darling Harbour, $15-25, (02) 9298 3777, anmm.gov.au