It's not often that debate between academics makes it into the news.
But when it comes to the one currently raging around the accuracy of Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu, people are definitely listening.
The award-winning 2014 bestseller challenges teachings of pre-colonial Indigenous traditions and practices of land management.
But now a new book aims to debunk much of Pascoe's thesis that Indigenous Australians were sophisticated farmers, rather than "just" hunter-gatherers.
Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, contends that Dark Emu shows a "lack of true scholarship", and is selective around important information, some of which is fabricated outright.
In his review in Inside Story, published in print in The Canberra Times on Friday, Professor Tim Rowse declares that Sutton and Walshe "chip away at so many parts of Pascoe's thesis that it is, in my opinion, demolished".
For ANU environmental historian Ruth Morgan, the fact that Dark Emu is the text that seemed to resonate the most should give pause to other academics, especially those who have been working in the field for many years.
"It's all very well and good to say, 'Well, academics have been telling us for a long time'," she said.
"Well, yeah, maybe to each other, but those narratives and stories have not been getting out there, and/or maybe people haven't been willing to listen. Now, people want to listen."
But she said the worst end result of academic debate would be if people were to turn away from the issue altogether.
"A book like Dark Emu is such a great place to start, because it brings people in - but if the response to this latest salvo, if you like, is 'Oh, it's all too hard', that would be such a missed opportunity," she said.
Ultimately, she said, any debate about the topic was a healthy thing and shouldn't be shied away from, least of all by those wanting to know more about Australia's Indigenous history.
"This is something that is essential for a thriving democracy, really, not to overcook it; to be able to critically engage with any source is vital," she said.
"I think hopefully this means that then there's going to be an appetite for understanding further, to seek diversity, to see that on a continent of this scale with so many different environments, you're going to encounter different practices, and you are going to have different experiences, just because it's so damn big. And people have been here for so damn long."
- Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe will be in conversation at Cultural Centre Kambri, ANU, Monday June 21, 6pm.