In 1972, the late Fay Gale (AO) published a characteristically self-styled book titled Urban Aborigines. It launched a richly diverse career that delivered an exceptional legacy to the academic discipline of geography, aboriginal justice, university administration, and women's professional advancement. This article, based on a 2010 lecture in her honour, takes up Fay's intellectual contribution to one of these fields. It pursues her critical interest in the clash of indigenous/settler cultures in Australia through a novel account of the notorious head-measuring practices of 19th century racial craniometry. Probing the Western premise that ‘mind’ is the assured marker of human distinction from nature, the article explores a question of fundamental contemporary relevance for Australian audiences and others across the globe: are there fresh prospects for reconciling settler and indigenous, as well as ‘green’ and ‘growth’, values if the conceit of this distinction can be overcome? This question is provoked from a peculiarly southern perspective in the spirit of the insistently geographic project that was Urban Aborigines.