Aboriginal history

Bench Series : March Wooden Benches #2

Truganini Memorial

Truganini Memorial

I found these wooden benches in front of a memorial plaque dedicated to an Aboriginal woman called Truganini. In this rustic and peaceful setting I sat and thought about the terrible way the Aboriginal people had been treated when the white man arrived in Australia.

Mount Nelson signal  station 054_3264x2448

 This is the sad story of the Tasmanian Aboriginals.

Truganini was a famous Tasmanian Aborigine.
In her lifetime, she saw her people decimated by murder and disease but refused to be a passive victim.
Her strength and determination persist today within the Palawah people who have lived in the region for over thirty thousand years.
In 1803, the first white settlers arrived in Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land as it was known then, and began clearing and farming the land.
Over four thousand Aborigines lived in Tasmania too. Fighting began and continued for many years and hundreds of Aborigines and Europeans were killed.


It was during this turmoil that Truganini was born, around 1812, in the Bruny Island-D’Entrecasteaux Channel area of Tasmania.
She was a vibrant and beautiful girl whose father was an elder of the south-east tribe.
By the time Truganini was aged seventeen, her mother was murdered by whalers, her sister abducted and shot by sealers and her husband-to-be murdered by timber fellers. Truganini was raped.


By 1830, the fighting was so widespread it was known as the ‘Black War’ and something had to be done to stop the killing.
So colonial authorities appointed George Augustus Robinson, a builder and untrained preacher to mount a ‘Friendly Mission’ to find the three hundred remaining Aborigines who were deep in the Tasmanian bushland.
His job was to convince the Aboriginal people to move to a nearby island.
When Truganini and her father met Robinson he told them he was their friend and would protect them.
He promised that if they agreed to come with him he would provide blankets, food, houses and their customs would be respected. He also promised they could return to their homelands occasionally.
Truganini could see that Robinson’s promises were the only way her people could survive.
She agreed to help Robinson and with her husband ‘Wooraddy’ and others. She spent the next five years helping Robinson find the remaining Aboriginal people.


Robinson needed Truganini and her friends to show him the way through the bush to find food and protect him , as well as to convince the remaining Aborigines to move to the island.
Truganini even saved Robinson from hostile spears and drowning.
By 1835, nearly all the Aborigines had agreed to move to Flinders Island where a settlement had been set up at Wybalenna.
Here Robinson intended to teach the Aboriginal people European customs.
The Aborigines believed Flinders Island would be their temporary home and that they were free people who would be housed, fed and protected until they returned to their tribal lands.
But instead the island became a prison and many became sick and died.


Truganani could see Robinson’s promises would not save her people and began to tell people ‘not to come in’ because she knew they would all soon be dead.
In 1838, Truganini and thirteen other Aborigines accompanied Robinson on another mission to Melbourne in Victoria but they could not help him this time.
When Truganini returned to the settlement at Wybelanna in 1842, it was without Robinson.
The man, who had promised their race protection, had abandoned them. The Aborigines had no choice but to continue their unhappy exile on the island.


In 1847, Truganini and the remaining 45 people were moved to an abandoned settlement at Oyster Cove on the Tasmanian mainland.
Conditions were even worse, but Truganini found some contentment because this was her traditional territory. She was able to collect shells, hunt in the bush and visit places that were special to her.
Some say this made her strong again because she was the last of the group to survive.


In her later years she moved to Hobart to be cared for by a friend.
Wearing her bright red cap, an adaptation of the red gum tips or ochre the Palawah people loved wearing in their hair, she became a well-known figure in town.
Truganini died in 1876 aged sixty-four, and was buried in the grounds of the female convict gaol in Hobart.
Even though Truganini’s dying wish was to be buried behind the mountains, her body was exhumed and her skeleton displayed at the museum until 1947.
Her ashes were finally scattered on the waters of her tribal land , one hundred years after her death.
Truganini is remembered as a proud and courageous survivor in a time of brutality and uncertainty.
Today, descendants of those early tribal Aborigines maintain the indomitable spirit of Truganini
.

In less than one persons life time a proud culture that had existed for over 40000 years was decimated.

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A rather sad post this week. I’m sure if you go over to Jude’s blog “Travel Words” you will find more uplifting benches from around the world.

Categories: Aboriginal history, bench series, photography, Tasmania | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Travel Theme : Energy #2 Fire…

 

Fire lighting using 2 sticks

Fire lighting using 2 sticks

Fire lighting is very hard work

Fire lighting is very hard work

Success

Success

For the first Australians the creating and use of fire was the source and energy of their survival.

It is not light that we need, but fire;

it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.

We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

Frederick Douglass

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Go to Ailsa’s blog “Where’s my backpack”to enjoy more interpretations of energy.

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, energy, photography, Queensland, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

A to Z Challenge : O for Outback

The road travels endlessly to the horizon

The road travels endlessly to the horizon

2010 was a good year in the Australian Outback, the rains had fallen on the usually dry and barren land and the shimmering  silver of the Mitchel grass plains stretched to the horizon to meet the relentless blue of the sky. It is an unforgettable sight.

It was the year we travelled round Australia. Photographs cannot convey the splendour and immense beauty of this land. The emptiness and vastness, the feeling of isolation, it is a land that must be experienced.

The life giving windmill

The life giving windmill

As sun sets we find a place to camp among some spindly gum trees and listen to the quiet whirring of the windmill as it draws the life-sustaining water from deep in the earth. We drift to sleep under a huge canopy of stars.

For thousands of years the Aboriginals lived in harmony with the Outback. I came across this inspiring YouTube as I searched for music to add to this post.

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 I really enjoy this challenge from “Frizztext”. It is open to so much interpretation and I like to check out what other bloggers have chosen. Click here to visit other posts

 

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, Frizztext A to Z challenge, outback, photography | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Frizztext’s A to Z Challenge; Aborigine

I have just discovered “Frizztext’s” weekly challenge. Working through the alphabet a letter each week and this is week one so we start with A.

What better way for me to start from Australia and showcasing our amazing indigenous people, the Aborigine.

Playing the didgeridoo an instrument carved from a hollow tree trunk

Playing the didgeridoo an instrument carved from a hollow tree trunk

Dance of the Jabiru

Dance of the Jabiru

Dance of the Jabiru

Dance of the Jabiru

Success

Success, where there’s smoke there is fire…

At the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary The local Aboriginal tribe give a demonstration of their culture, including dancing and fire lighting ceremonies.

 

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, Frizztext A to Z challenge | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Travel Theme : Hidden

We stumbled into a hidden part of Aboriginal history on our trip around Australia in 2010.

200 years ago the way the settlers and pioneers treated the Aboriginal people was a shameful part of Australian history. For years the true extent of that story has been hidden. Stories of the horror and pain of children being forcibly torn from their families. Their culture and way of living going back 40000+ years being denied.

Exploring an overgrown track we found, a wall of remembrance covered with names, many of them with only a Christian name, the poor children were even stripped of their Aboriginal name. Behind the wall and hidden away, a graveyard, neglected and reverting back to bush. The occasional iron cross leaning in despair, no names, no recognition.

It was sad to see and think about lives lived and died never knowing their families or culture.

Entrance to the cemetery

Entrance to the cemetery

The bush regenerating

The bush regenerating around the lonely crosses

As it has for thousands of years spring brings the beauty of new growth

As it has for thousands of years spring brings the beauty of new growth

So sad

So sad

Mugumba

Remembrance and respect from young people

Remembrance and respect from young people

As we travelled around Australia I did a post about the Mogumber mission where the children from the stolen generation were taken. Now deserted and derelict it left a  lasting and uneasy feeling in me. Click here to read about this sad place. 

Ailsa has given us the theme of “hidden” this week and that triggered my memories of this sad place. Go to Ailsa’s blog “Where’s my backpack” to discover more hidden treasures.

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, hidden, photography, travel theme, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Culture

The Australian Aboriginals are said to be one of the longest existing cultures in the world. Some put the culture as long as 60,000 years some around 40,000. That is a long time to survive in a land as harsh and unforgiving as Australia.

http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-indigenous-cultural-heritage

(Quoted from the above web site)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are complex and diverse. The Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultural history1 in the world – they go back at least 50,000 years and some argue closer to 65,000 years. One of the reasons Aboriginal cultures have survived for so long is their ability to adapt and change over time. It was this affinity with their surroundings that goes a long way to explaining how Aboriginal people survived for so many millennia.

Cultural heritage2 is seen as ‘the total ways of living built up by a group of human beings, which is passed from one generation to the next’, given to them by reason of their birth.

In Australia, Indigenous communities keep their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, arts, rituals and performances from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages, protecting cultural materials, sacred and significant sites, and objects.

Land – at the core of belief

APY Lands, Ku Arts Tours. Courtesy of Ananguku Arts.

Land3 is fundamental to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people. The land is not just soil or rocks or minerals, but a whole environment that sustains and is sustained by people and culture. For Indigenous Australians, the land is the core of all spirituality and this relationship and the spirit of ‘country’ is central to the issues that are important to Indigenous people today.

All of Australia’s Aboriginals were semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers4, with each clan having its own territory from which they ‘made their living’. These territories or ‘traditional lands’ were defined by geographic boundaries such as rivers, lakes and mountains. They understood and cared for their different environments, and adapted to them.

We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. I was taught to preserve, never to destroy. Aborigine Tom Dystra 5

Indigenous knowledge of the land is linked to their exceptional tracking skills6 based on their hunter and gather life. This includes the ability to track down animals, to identify and locate edible plants, to find sources of water and fish.

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Travelling around Australia and reading the story of the Aboriginals in various museums we gained a great respect for them. In the past they have been terribly abused by the European settlers and only recently has their story been told and listened to.

At the local Wild Life Sanctuary at Currumbin near where I live on the Goldcoast of Australia a display of Aboriginal dancing and the fire lighting ceremony is shown. The Aboriginal people did not have a written language and their history and stories was passed down by song and dance.

Here are some photos of those customs…

Playing the didgeridoo

Playing the didgeridoo

Stork dance

Stork dance

Spearing fish

Spearing fish

Jabiru dance

Jabiru dance

The Jabiru dance

The Jabiru dance

Fire lighting is hard work so they take turns to keep the stick rotating

Fire lighting is hard work so they take turns to keep the stick rotating

Fire lighting

Fire lighting

Were there is smoke there is fire

Where there is smoke there is fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, culture, photography, weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

A Word a Week : Industrial

When travelling around Australia we marvelled at the scenery, the flora and fauna, the red dusty  colours of the outback, the endless expanse of the Mitchell grass plains, the remoteness and emptiness of many of the areas we passed through, camping in Matilda (our faithful van) under the vast Australian star-studded sky. The Australian wilderness experiences filled my heart and thousands of my photographs.

Then we arrived in the North West corner of Western Australia…

North West Shelf Venture

North West Shelf Venture

This is the North West Shelf Venture. Drilling and processing oil and natural gas from off shore. Representing an investment of A$27 billion, the North West Shelf Venture facilities constitute Australia’s largest oil and gas resource development and now account for more than 40 per cent of Australia’s oil and gas production.

Many years ago Australia thrived on the wool from the back of the national sheep flock, but synthetics killed that industry, now it is the huge oil and mineral boom that keeps Australia thriving in a world that is in deep economic troubles.

But there is conflict in this area. It looks like a wilderness area, but just across the road and stretching back into the ranges are these amazing natural rock formations. They look like slag heaps and I found it very hard to believe that they were natural formations.

North West Shelf Venture

North West Shelf Venture

Aboriginal rock art sites

Aboriginal rock art sites, can you see me? I’m looking for the rock art. Can you see one of the rock art drawings?

Can this one small sign save this rock art that is thousands of years old?

Can this one small sign save this rock art that is thousands of years old?

Dampier Archipelago contains the largest concentration of rock art in the world, estimated at perhaps a million Petroglyphs.( go here to see images of the rock art) The art is extraordinary in its range and diversity. Associated with the art is a rich archaeological record, including camp sites, quarries, shell middens and stone features. Many motifs and some stone features are connected to the beliefs and ceremonial practices of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara region today. The entire Archipelago is a continuous Cultural Landscape providing a detailed record of both sacred and secular life reaching from the present back into the past, perhaps to the first settlement of Australia.”

We scrambled over these rocks and found dozens of rock art drawings. Of course the giants of industry do not want to know about this amazing cultural treasure. I do not know the answer to this deeply divided question, which is the most important, the income from the oil and gas, or the history of a culture that is thousands of years old?

I think industry with it’s vast resources may be able to brush these important artefacts under the carpet, figuratively speaking.

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We could not get very close or go inside the North West Shelf Venture it all seemed very secretive, but when we arrived in Kalgoorlie, the gold producing capital of Australia, it was very different. Kalgoorlie flaunts its gold heritage. there is a very interesting Hall of Fame museum detailing the history of gold in the area, and bus tours are taken to the HUGE super pit Based in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, The Super Pit produces up to 850,000 ounces of gold every year and its operation far outweighs any other mining centre in Australia. The Super Pit is the biggest gold open pit mine in the country.

Looking down into the super pit

Looking down into the super pit

The big dumpsters look like dinky toys at the bottom of the pit

The big dumpsters look like dinky toys at the bottom of the pit

One of the huge dump trucks that collect the dirt from the pit

One of the huge dump trucks that collect the dirt from the pit

We were not allowed out of the bus in this area

We were not allowed out of the bus in this area

The huge crusher that crushes rock to extract the gold

The huge crusher that crushes rock to extract the gold

Thank you Sue for opening your dictionary at this word, “industry”. It will be interesting to see what other bloggers come up with. Go to this site to see them. “A word a week”

Categories: A word a week challenge, Aboriginal history, aboriginal rock art, gold, industry, photography, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge : Fire

This week the challenge from Cee of “Cee Photography” is to show off a few photographs of the Chinese Element of Fire.

The Aboriginal people of Australia have lived here for a very long time. Some say 40,000 some say 60,000+ years. They lived in harmony with the land and survived in this very hard and hostile country. They used fire as an aid to survival. Patch-work burning, starting small controlled fires, reduced the growth of the grasses and bush land. ( That method is now used by National Parks and Wildlife services to try to control bush fires, it is called back-burning or cold-burning now)  This in turn would create re-growth that would attract the wallabies and wild life back to the fresh grazing, keeping a source of meat close for the Aboriginals to hunt. As still happens now-a-days some fires would get out of control. Australia now has many species of trees and flowers that need fire to survive. For example some species actually need fire before the seed pods can open.

At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary a group of local Aboriginals gave a demonstration of tribal dancing and finished the show by rubbing two sticks together to start a fire.

Rubbing sticks together to start a fire

Rubbing sticks together to start a fire

Success at last the fire starts

Success at last the fire starts

On a lighter note!!!!

Our way of controlling fire!!!!

Our way of controlling fire!!!!

 

 

Categories: Aboriginal history, Cee's fun foto challenge, fire | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Travel Theme : Spooky (Mogumber Farm information)

This is an extension to my previous spooky post about Mogumber Farm

I have been informed that the link to my former post, with information about Mogumber Farm, would not connect. (Thank you Cindy for letting me know). So I will add more details and information here.

Mogumber Farm was part of the plan, in the early 1900’s to re-educate Aboriginal children. They were forcibly removed from their families, some were only babies, and put into institutions, missionaries and farms. They took away their names,language and culture. Siblings were sometimes sent to different locations. White households fostered some of the children, many became cheap labour. A large number died with only a western christian name, no surname or way of identification.

These indigenous people became known as the “Stolen Generation”

For decades each preceding Australian government would not acknowledge the sins of previous governments and refused to say “Sorry” During the election of 2006 it became a “hot potatoe” and the opposition contender for Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, based part of his election campaign on a promise to say “sorry” to the indigenous people if the Labour Party won the election and he became Prime Minister.

When the Labour Party won the election and became the government Kevin Rudd did follow through with his promise. It became a very emotional day on February 13 2008 and thousands gathered together around the country to hear him say a very heart-felt “Sorry”. (click here for the news report of the speech)

We also came across an Aboriginal grave yard, just iron crosses among the grass and bushes, no names on the crosses. Outside a memorial wall recorded names and dates.

Entrance to cemetery

Mogumber memorial wall

I found the following history from Wikipedia…Early history

The settlement was opened by the Government of Western Australia in 1918. It was originally intended to be a small, self-supporting farming settlement for 200 Aborigines, with schooling and health facilities available for the children and employment opportunities for the adults. The settlement was supposed to accommodate Aborigines mainly drawn from the Murchison, Midlands and south-west regions of Western Australia.

The ambition to turn the settlement into a farming community failed because the land was unsuitable for cultivation.[1] During the 1920s its purpose shifted: Residents were usually brought there against their will as the camp attempted to fulfil the broader functions of orphanage, creche, relief depot and home for old persons, unmarried mothers, and the unwell. It also housed many “half-caste” (mixed-race) children. Many of the Aboriginal and mixed-race children were sent to Moore River, usually against their will, as part of the Stolen Generations.

The Moore River Native Settlement was opened under the auspices of the Chief Protector of Aborigines A. O. Neville. Neville came to this position completely inexperienced in Aboriginal affairs or any dealings with Aboriginal people. He was strongly guided by Rufus H Underwood. Neville adopted Underwood’s anti-mission stance and between them developed the ‘native settlement scheme’, devised to meet the varying demands of non-Aboriginal people, for their segregation from the wider community and the continuing need for Aboriginal labour. It was also meant to fulfill Neville and Underwood’s determination to devise a solution involving an absolute minimum of expenditure.[2]

[edit] Poor conditions

The camp population became increasingly mixed as Aborigines came in from various parts of the state, with some coming from as far away as the Kimberley and Pilbara. By the mid-1920s conditions in the institution had declined significantly as overcrowding and poor sanitation were the norm, with many health problems being reported amongst its inmates. From 1924, the settlement had an average population of 300 and its buildings were becoming dilapidated. By 1933 the Aboriginal population at the institution had risen to over 500, leading to greater deterioration in the conditions experienced by the inmates. Between 1918 and 1952, 346 deaths were recorded at Moore River Native Settlement, 42% of which were children age 1–5.

Socially, Moore River Native Settlement practiced strict segregation of the sexes and separated children from their parents under the dormitory system. Compound inmates were not allowed to leave without written permission. Absconding was a common problem as many tried to re-unite with family members living outside the settlement. To counter this practice, a small number of Aboriginal men were employed as trackers to apprehend absconders.

[edit] Name change

In 1951 the government handed control of the settlement to the Mogumber Methodist Mission, which renamed it Mogumber Native Mission.[3] A greater emphasis was placed by the new owners on Christian guidance and on the vocational training of youths than had existed when it was a government institution. The facility remained running until 1974, when it was taken over by the Aboriginal Land Trust. Currently the land is leased to the Wheatbelt Aboriginal Corporation, and is known as Budjarra.

[edit] Cultural and journalistic coverage

Several plays, films and books have been produced which tell harrowing tales of life in the settlement:

  • Aboriginal poet and playwright Jack Davis‘ play Kullark where an Aboriginal man named Thomas Yorlah is forcibly moved to the settlement and makes numerous attempts to escape. Davis lived in the settlement in the 1920s.
Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, memories, spooky, travel theme | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Theme : Spooky

When something is spooky or eerie or weird it raises the hairs on the back of your neck. You feel uneasy and nervous; this strange sensation can cause you to be ultra-cautious.

What is it? Why do you feel this way? Is it the place has lingering spirits or feelings from things that have happened in the past?

We encountered a very unsettling experience as we travelled around Australia in 2010.

 

Sign to Mogumber

As we drove towards New Norcia in Western Australia we noticed a small sign on the side of the road. It offered tours of Mogumber Farm. Following the narrow, dusty track it took us to an open gate advising us to contact the caretaker.

The place was deserted, no caretaker to be found. We walked around the scattering of houses. The doors were locked and the windows tight shut. Looking inside, through the windows, the rooms were all empty. Further along a sign saying dining room pointed to a larger building. Mops, buckets and brooms lay in a haphazard clutter at the back door, another sign asked people to help with the cleaning.

Mogumber farm

 

Childrens play ground

Slowly we drove along the track past the swings and slide in a children’s play-ground. Around a bend we came to a large corrugated shed, the sliding doors open and inside a cluster of plastic chairs leant against the trestle tables and three empty, dirty fridges stood with their doors hanging open. Dead leaves swirled around old sneakers and torn t-shirts that littered the floor.

Outside the barn parked under the gum trees an old fashioned school bus waited, the windows had been smashed and the tyres had long since deflated.

School bus

At the end of the track a church nestled among the trees looking abandoned and forlorn. Inside a scratched and worn out organ faced the pews that were covered in dust and cobwebs. Looking through the glassless windows we could see in the distance more corrugated Nissan style huts, maybe piggeries.

The church

Very spooky, very unnerving definitely time to leave.

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I did a post about this experience on my “Gypsy Life” blog as we travelled around Australia. At the time I looked on Google for information about the place. It was part of the history of the “stolen generation” If you click here it will take you to that post and give you more details about this very spooky place. I also took a video click here to see the video

Ailsa’s theme this week brought back those memories. Visit her blog “Where’s my backpack” for more spooky reading….      

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, spooky, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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