Although set 200 years ago The Secret River explores issues and themes that are still very much present in contemporary Australia. Themes relating to acceptance and tolerance of difference, land rights and abuses of power. It also invites the reader to see how people deal with disenfranchisement, personal morality versus social norms as well as personal responsibility.
The article below examines themes that are common to contemporary Australian fiction that deals with our colonial past. At times it makes specific reference to The Secret River but even if it does not, consider how the themes it identifies are present in this novel.