|What if Australia had
been colonised by Russians?
What America was to England, Yuzhem was to Russia. Religious dissidents, suspicious of
churchly ways, sought sanctuary in the new world. Unable to fend for themselves, they
invite an ungoldly pretender to rule over them. His rule is predicated on its
The Old Believers of Yuzhem stand for the unchanging truths, principally nature and God.
Their nation is split between the Mikhailovites, who stand by timeless traditions, and the
Constantines who look outside to the forces of change.
What follows is a skeletal history. Readers are called upon to give body to this outline.
|1788. English settle Port
1800. English abandon "Australia", allowing Russian Old Believers to
replace them as religious exiles.
|1820. First Imperial
Russian settlements in north-eastern "Australia";. Aboriginal population and Old
Believers unite in resistance
1828. Ivan "Romanov" invited to lead Old Believers in battle against
Imperialists, on condition that he admit the title "Pretender"
1830. Victorious Old Believers crown "Ivan the Pretender" as monarch of
Yuzhem. Ivan marries Olga, the first woman to be born on Yuzhem soil. "Olga the
Sturdy" bears Mikhail and Constantin
|1850. Ivan dies of a
tropical disease, leaving Yzhem in the hands of his wife, Olga. Her reign is long and
stable. Mikhail identifies with the spiritual mission of Yuzhem and marries an Pitjanjara
girl. Constantin yearns for contact with the modern world and fosters trade.
1853. Raisa bears Alexandr
|1915. Tsar Mikhail
assasinated by Old Believers, enraged by mining in gl. His son, Alexandr takes the throne,
but is fraught with self-doubt.
1917. Yuzhem opens doors to White Russians, including literary and scientific
1918. Yuzhem declared a constitutional monarchy and first democratic elections
held. Kerensky elected Prime Minister.
1925. "Uncle" Constantin founds Platonopolis, a university city employing
the brains of the Russian exodus
|1933. Tsar Alexandr and
Princess Anna are killed in a bomb blast. Soviet espionage is suspected. "Ivan II the
Real" ascends the throne, hoping to pursue the strength of this forbear.
1935. Tsar Ivan establishes Vanka, a formidable secret service employing Aboriginal
bush knowledge to scour the continent for communist infiltration. Marriage to the only
surviving member of the Romanov family serves quest to legitimate Yuzhem dynasty.
|1942. Yuzhem comes to aid
of China in war with Japan. Japanese forces invade northern tip and a desperate struggle
1945. Top Yuzhem scientists develop nuclear weapons that are passed on to USA for
deployment to end war.
1949. Chiang Kai-shek and his followers seek refuge in Yuzhem.
1950. Chinese city of Lamarck established in Arnhem Zemlya
1989. Communist Party founded in Yuzhem.
Who does Ivan II marry? Does the dynasty continue? As the Soviet Union embraces
capitalism, does Yuzhem reverse its direction and embrace communism?
|On 23rd May 1997,
Yuzhem was founded by residents of Gladstone Queensland. This entirely fictional country
is based on the speculation about what Australia might have been like if Russians had
colonised it. There are many in Gladstone of Russian extraction. Most were White Russians
who fled communist rule in China after the second world war. They had come to Queensland
via Siberia, Manchuria, Japan and sometimes South America.
Yuzhem was developed by Marilyn Haertel,
Marguerita Dobrinin, Suzanna Jackson, Luke Marsden, Belynda Waugh, Irena Elliot, Sasha
Schnedny-Pepovic, Valeria Slamenovic, Jolhe Knottenbeld & Virginia Berry. Members of
the workshop included descendents of these first Russians, more recent Russians and
neighbours of Russians.