Ben Wilkie Historian & Writer

About Me

I am a researcher, writer, and educator with a decade of experience in Australia's higher education sector. My teaching and research has been recognised by leading professional bodies, and I have published widely in key national, international, scholarly and popular forums. I have undergraduate degrees in history and philosophy, graduate training in higher education, and a research doctorate in history. I am currently completing a graduate law degree. My focus in academia has been the history of the Scots in Australia and the history of the Western District of Victoria. My first book was The Scots in Australia: 1788-1938 (Boydell Press 2017). My most recent book is Gariwerd: An Environmental History of the Grampians (CSIRO Publishing 2020), which won the Local History Small Publication Award in the 2020 Victorian Community History Awards. I am also a freelance writer and contribute to a range of publications on diverse subjects including classical music, religion, and history.

My Research


Scotland and the British Empire

My research on the histories of Scotland and the British Empire has focused on Scottish migration, settlement, culture, businesses, and politics in Australasia and, more recently, Africa. I am the author of The Scots in Australia: 1788-1938 and in 2019 was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. I am currently an Associate of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Otago and a Fellow fo the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. My current research in this area includes an ongoing project collecting Scottish diaspora poetry, and research into the economic and business connections between Scotland and British settler colonies in Australasia and Africa. I blog regularly at The Scottish Australian.


Australian business history

As a research assistant in business history at both the Macquarie Business School and the University of Wollongong, I have worked on projects that research the corporate elite in twentieth century Australia, the nature and impact of interlocking directorates in large Australian industrial and financial firms, and the history of multinational enterprises in Australia over the last one-hundred years.


Victorian environmental history

My second book, Gariwerd: An Environmental History of the Grampians, is an environmental and social history of the Gariwerd mountain ranges and Grampians National Park in the Western District of Victoria. Gariwerd was recognised as a winner in the 2020 Victorian Community History Awards and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's History Award. I have also published on the history of land management and conservation in Australia's defence forces. As an Honorary Associate at La Trobe University's Centre for the Study of the Inland, I have published research on the environmental, social, and economic histories of the Newer Volcanics Province of south-east Australia.

Find out more

Experience, research, and publications

You can find a list of academic publications, and more information about my background and experience, at my La Trobe University profile. A full list of my current scholarly publications is also available below. You can also get in touch to discuss my research using the details below.


Feel free to get in touch with me via email:

Publications and papers


Gariwerd: An Environmental History of the Grampians, CSIRO Publishing, 2020

The Scots in Australia: 1788-1938, Boydell Press, 2017.

Forthcoming and in preparation

'A Higher Loyalty? A Case Study of Anti-Catholicism and Section 44 of the Australian Constitution', Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, forthcoming 2021.

'Ngamadjidj Encounters with the Tappoc Gundidj, 1836-41', Victorian Historical Journal, forthcoming 2021.

with Claire Wright, 'Small worlds: Corporate-Professional Formation and Australia’s Corporate Elite, 1910-2018', Business History, under review.

with Fred Cahir, Ian Clark, Dan Tout, and Jiddah Clark, 'Aboriginal Fire Fighters in Colonial South-Eastern Australia', in preparation.


‘Volcanism in Indigenous History: Evidence and Interpretation’, Symposium on Australian Intraplate Volcanism: From Source to Surface and Beyond, online, September 2020.

‘The Deforestation and Reforestation of Victorian Volcanoes’, Restoring Forests in Times of Contagion, Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network, online, October 2020.

'Volcanism in Aboriginal Australian Oral Traditions', Geology Today, Vol. 36, 2020.

with Fred Cahir and Ian D. Clark, 'Volcanism in Aboriginal Australian Oral Traditions: Ethnographic Evidence from the Newer Volcanics Province', Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Vol. 403, 2020.

Review of All Things Harmless, Useful, and Ornamental: Environmental Transformation through Species Acclimatization, from Colonial Australia to the World, by Pete Minard, Environmental History, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2020.

'Rivers, Empire, and a Scottish transport company in colonial Malawi', Arcadia: Explorations in Environmental History, Spring, 2020.


Review of Global Migrations: The Scottish Diaspora since 1600, by Angela McCarthy and John MacKenzie (eds), The Innes Review, Vol. 70, No. 2, 2019.

‘Ferdinand von Mueller in the Victorian Grampians’, Victorian Historical Journal, Vol. 90, No. 2, November 2019.

'Scotland’s Antipodean Archipelago: The Otago Settlement and its Australasian Context', Scotland's Colony? Rethinking Scottish Studies through the optic of Otago, University of Otago, Dunedin, December 2019.

‘Menzies, Scotland, and the Australian Liberals, Meanjin, Winter 2019.

'The Scottish Enlightenment in Australia’, Genealogy Society of Victoria Scottish Ancestry Seminar, Melbourne, July 2019.

'Politicians, poetry, and the many faces of Robert Burns in Australia', Robert Burns Scottish Festival, Camperdown, July 2019.

‘Defending nature: Animals and militarised landscapes in Australia’, in Nancy Cushing and Jodi Frawley (eds), Animals Count: How population size matters in animal-human relations, Routledge, 2018.

'Rights, reconciliation, and the restoration of Djabwurrung and Jardwadjali names to Grampians-Gariwerd', Victorian Historical Journal, 2018. Shortlisted for the Biennial John Adams Prize for best article on Victorian history in 2017-18, Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

‘Grampians or Gariwerd? The meaning of national parks in settler-colonial societies’, Centre for the Study of the Inland, La Trobe University, November 2018.

'Introduction: Scots and the making of the Western District of Victoria', in Scotland to Australia Felix: Founding Scots of Victoria's Camperdown District, Camperdown & District Historical Socity Inc., 2018.

‘David Livingstone’; ‘The Darien Scheme’; ‘The Victoria Statue, Hong Kong’; 'Rajasthan Spice Box', in Mark Doyle (ed), The British Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2018.


'Scotland and Australian botany in the colonial era', Australian Garden History, Vol. 29, No. 2, October 2017.

'Scots, Empire, and the Australian Environment', History Scotland, Vol. 17, No. 4, 2017.

'Family networks and the Australian pastoral industry: A case study of the Port Phillip District and Victoria during the nineteenth century', Agricultural History, vol. 91, no. 1, 2017.

Review of From Alba to Aotearoa: Profiling New Zealand's Scots Migrants, 1840–1920, by Rebecca Lenihan, Journal of British Studies, vol. 56, no. 2, 2017, pp. 434-436.

'Landscapes of the dead: History and memory in a distant field of murder', Meanjin, vol. 75, no. 4, 2016.

'Bombs and biodiversity: A case study of military environmentalism in Australia’, Arcadia: Explorations in Environmental History, vol. 15, 2016.

'The Scots in the Western District of Victoria', Genealogical Society of Victoria, October 2016.

'Treacherous objects: A Jacobite compass in Australia?', History Workshop Online, June, 2016.

'Australian environments in war and peace: Toward an environmental history of Australia's defence estate', Australian Historical Association Conference, Ballarat, July, 2016.

'Defence white paper shows Australian forces must safeguard nature', The Conversation, February 26, 2016.

'Lairds of suburbia: Scottish migrant settlement and housing in Australian cities, 1880-1930', Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1.


'This continent of smoke: Bushfires and Australian history', Spike: The Meanjin Blog , November 3, 2015.

Review of Clubbing Together: Ethnicity, Civility and Formal Sociability in the Scottish Diaspora to 1930, by Tanja Bueltmann, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 46, No. 2. 2015, pp. 317-319.

'Beyond Scottish exceptionalism', History Australia, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2015, pp. 248-250.

'Mad Max as Australian Gothic: Don't leave the road if you want to survive', The Guardian Australia, May 2015.

'Space, commemoration, and iconography: Scottish monuments and memorials in Australia', in F Cahir, A Inglis, & A Beggs-Sunter (eds), Scots Under The Southern Cross: Scottish Perspectives Of Australia, Ballarat Heritage Services, Ballarat, 2015.

Review of Bigotry, Football and Scotland, by John Flint and John Kelly (eds.), Cultural and Social History, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 284-285.

'Popular imperialism, Scottish identity, and William Wallace in an Australian colonial city', Etudes écossaises, no. 18, 2015.

'Weaving the tartan: Culture, imperialism, and Scottish identities in Australia, 1788-1938', PhD thesis, Monash University, Melbourne, 2014.

'Water supply and sanitation in nineteenth-century Melbourne', CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Monash University, 2014.

'Urban water crises in the 19th and 20th centuries: A bibliographic essay', CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Monash University, 2014.

'When William Wallace was a Unionist', Quadrant, April 2014.

'The tie that binds: popular imperialism and the Australian Scottish delegation of 1928', International Review of Scottish Studies, Vol. 39, 2014, pp. 107-136.

'Sites of Scottish memory and identity: A survey of monuments and memorials in Australia', paper presented at the Scottish Australia Symposium, Federation University, Ballarat, 2014.

'Scottish convicts in Australia', History Scotland, Vol. 14, No. 6, 2014, pp. 22-27.

'Warriors of Empire: popular imperialism and the Victorian Scottish Regiment, 1898-1938', Victorian Historical Journal, Vol. 85, No. 1, 2014, pp. 73-96.


'Scottish identity in stone: statues of Robert Burns and William Wallace in 19th century Ballarat', Victorian Historical Journal, Vol. 84, No. 2, 2013, pp. 279-302.

'Scottish workers and radicals in early twentieth century Australia', Scottish Labour History, Vol. 48, 2013, pp. 74-94.

'Scottish communists in 1930s Australia', History Scotland, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2013, pp. 26-32.

with Malcolm Prentis, '"Coming lonely to the land" or "crawlers round the bardie's name": memorials to Robert Burns in Australia', paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Adelaide, 2012.

'Empire, identity, and the Australian Scottish delegation of 1928', paper presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Launceston, 2011.