Aboriginality and Racism
Although not of Aboriginal decent, Hewett was sympathetic to the treatment of indigenous people in rural centres. There is a sense in The Man from Mukinupin that the unsavoury past: the unspoken massacre and alleged rapes of Aboriginal people in the creek drifts above the action – as a spectre of the past. The secrets of how humans can live in such hostile landscapes died in the genocide, and the ghosts of the indigenous people cannot help but continually remind the white inhabitants that they are colonisers who will always be at odds with the bush.
Lily seems to be their only link with Mukinupin, and her lot in life is miserable as she is the shamed ‘touch of the tar' from her father's wilful taking of unnamed Aboriginal women/woman. She is a constant reminder of his and the town's ‘sin' against Aboriginal people, and she's hated for it. Yet, she is the only one who has an affinity with the land as she also will not be tamed'. She knows the rain is coming because she has a connection with ‘country' and has seen the black cockatoos fly over head. She is a night-time character who lives on the outskirts and displays a dishevelled existence in order to survive, but for her the harsh landscape is not in the dust or the heat, but in the town that is at odds with its surroundings. She yearns to escape it, and she eventually does ‘go bush' with Harry in the final scene of the play. Using Lily, Hewett, manages to "turn on its head the conventional view of the civilising impact of Anglo culture on the indigenous Aboriginal Culture" (Hopkins 95) and thus expose the myth of many ‘battler' stories from the bush.