Debate over how to describe the arrival of Europeans to these shores is often seen as a political issue about who controls history. How was the landing of the First Fleet seen by the Indigenous people of Eora, who lived in what has become the Sydney region? How did the officers view these events? And what did the numerically dominant, transported, convict population think was happening? It is important that students be encouraged to frame questions which can allow them to consider events from a range of viewpoints. (The first part of the video series Women of the Sun, or the documentary history Frontier, attempt to show both Indigenous and immigrant/invader viewpoints. A much older but useful, historically-based work of fiction, Eleanor Dark's The Timeless Land, also provides multiple viewpoints.)

There are two factors to consider here. One is to do with the position of the observers - Bennilong at the shore looking out to the boat 'with great white wings ... like a bird' (Dark 1941, p.17) - and those other two, very different positions: the officer on the deck, and the prisoner below. While we have the benefit of diaries such as that of Captain Watkin Tench in understanding an officer's position, and some accounts by prisoners, communication among those on land was by speech, not writing. Did the Eora people see the strangers as invaders? What did the officers consider was happening? Certainly Tench admits in his diary that 'the country is more populous than it was generally believed to be at the time of our sailing' (Clark (ed.) 1957, p. 95). What is important for our students is that with the help of available evidence they are assisted to an imaginative understanding of these contrasting human viewpoints when two very different cultures met.

A second factor concerns a changing historical understanding of what happened when the prisoners and their warders arrived on these shores. There is evidence that from the earliest days some immigrants saw settlement as an act of aggression. In 1845 Archbishop Polding, appearing before the NSW Parliamentary Committee on the condition of Aborigines, was asked: 'Do you think they have such an idea of the value of land as to lead them to view its settlement as an act of aggression?' He replied: 'I am convinced of it and think it is the root of the evil' (Brennan 1993). By the time of Federation, such minority views were little expressed.

Over the past 25 years, and with the graphic renaming of the bicentenary as invasion day, Indigenous people have used the language of the colonisers to articulate their views of those events 200 years ago. The earlier, comfortable verb 'settle' and its other forms - 'settlement' and 'settlers', with their specifically Australian meaning - have became euphemisms to escape from facing the reality of frontier relations and of dispossession.