Aboriginal history

Lingering Look at Windows : Mount Nelson

Winter is finally here. A shroud of cloud and misty rain has hidden the majestic Mount Wellington for a week. The temperatures are dropping. Yesterday a break in the clouds revealed the summit.

 With only 14 days left in Hobart I did not want to waste the opportunity for a bus ride to the signal station on Mount Nelson whilst it was visible. So using my $3-20 “all day concession pass” I hopped aboard a local Metro bus.

If Mt Wellington is under a cloud, the much lower Old Signal Station on Mt  Nelson still provides excellent views. When Port Arthur was operating as a penal  site, a series of semaphore stations were positioned on all the high hills and  used to transmit messages across the colony. The one on Mt Nelson – first  established in 1811, though the current building dates from 1910 – served as the  major link between Hobart and the rest of the colony.

The road is narrow and with very sharp bends it requires skilled driving to manoeuvre the large Metro bus round the curves. Cars coming in the opposite direction have to pull to the very edge of the road and stop as the bus swings right across the road to turn these sharp bends.

The day is overcast and grey, not ideal for photography, but I still wander around recording what I see. The signal station was used in the 1800’s to pass semaphore signals, using flags, along to the port and town via a chain of signal boxes. This was in the days before wireless connections.

I think this is a moody and overcast photograph. Quite different to other sunny day photos, but it tells a story of what the day was like. Photography is all about the light.

I think this is a moody and overcast photograph. Quite different to other sunny day photos, but it tells a story of what the day was like. Photography is all about the light.

Only one other Asian couple enjoyed the view and came over to ask me to take their photo on their mobile phone. How communication has changed in 200 years since semaphore. Now that couple can, with a click of a button on their phone, send that photo and a message all round the world in an instant.

I gaze through the window of the signal station, the view is expansive, and the topography would be the same as 200 years before, but the tide of houses and habitation is spreading like a growth up the slopes of the mountain ranges.

Under the window was a panorama of the view outside with all the places named

Under the window was a panorama of the view outside with all the places named

Looking across the Derwent River

Looking across the Derwent River

Suddenly a tiny ray of sunlight highlights the east coast

Suddenly a tiny ray of sunlight highlights the east coast

I turn to look inland and see the signal masters house that is now a very welcome restaurant. I have an hour before the bus comes to take me back down. That means plenty of time for coffee and scones.

I look in the opposite direction that's where I am going now

I look in the opposite direction that’s where I am going now

The coffee warms me and as I walk back to the bus stop I notice a sign to a memorial to Truganini, only 5 minutes along a bush track. I have 10 minutes before the bus arrives.

I almost miss the memorial that blends into the rocky surrounds.

Truganini was the last full-blood Aboriginal to survive the terrible massacre of her people in the black wars of the mid 1800’s

Track to the memorial

Track to the memorial

Truganini memorial, it blends in with the rocks and I walked straight past it

Truganini memorial, it blends in with the rocks and I walked straight past it

Coming back toward the bus stop I noticed it. Truganini memorial

Coming back toward the bus stop I noticed it. Truganini memorial

This is Truganini’s sad story I found on the internet

TRUGANINI

(1812 – 1876)

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.

***************************************

Each week on Thursday Dawn of “the day after” asks that we post photos of windows we have come across. Having this weekly challenge opens your eyes to the amazing type and style of windows you can find. See what you can find, you may like to show them off in this challenge

Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, Hobart, Lingering look at windows, Mount Nelson signal station, photos, Tasmania | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Out and About Budget Style

Another perfect day, the sun was shining the air was crisp and clear. I felt like exploring, but with no car the alternative was to use the local buses.

So armed with information from the Metro Shop, timetables and of course my camera I sallied forth.

Seven Mile Beach sounds interesting. It is a half hour drive, out through the suburbs and into the country. I am the only passenger on the bus and enjoy the front seat view and chatting to the driver/chauffeur. As a child he lived in this area and told me some interesting details.

The bus would be back in an hour, excellent time for a walk along the beach.

7 Mile Beach

7 Mile Beach

 

Beautiful reflections

Beautiful reflections

Ripples in the sand

Ripples in the sand

It was a beautiful beach to walk along and I found some interesting shells. Notice how dry the hills look. Tasmania is the second driest capital city and at the moment they need rain, but I am pleased it isn’t raining today.

At the end of the beach is an all in one shop/take away/ garage and I stopped for a coffee. Sitting in the sun I watched the locals walking by with their dogs.

Then it was back to Hobart.

Next place I planned to find was Risdon Cove.

This is the historical site of the first landing of Europeans in Tasmania in 1803. It was quite difficult to find out any details about it. Being so important to the settling of Australia I was expecting to find interesting artefacts, monuments and information boards.

I had 45 minutes before the bus left, time for another coffee and a muffin.

This bus was full, I was surprised. Not really sure where the destination was I thought I would stay on till I either saw a monument or arrived at the end of the bus route, assuming a cove would be a dead-end.

Wrong….

When every one else had got off the bus I asked the driver about Risdon Cove.

“Oh I don’t actually go right past, but I can put you off at the round-about and you can walk approximately a kilometre to the site. It’s owned by the Aboriginals now” he said.

Well he put me off at the round-about which was in the middle of no-where and pointed out which road to walk along. I had to hurry to get across 2 lanes of heavy traffic and walked along the side of the road wondering what the drivers rushing by in their insulated world on wheels would make of this old lady wandering along. No one stopped to ask.

The road wound around a valley with bush clad slopes on either side. I couldn’t see very far ahead. Should I keep going or turn back? Would I see anything when I got there? I almost gave up, then I spotted a sign with a very prominent Aboriginal flag displayed. YES, I had arrived, but arrived at what? A building with children at play, another building that looked like a meeting hall. No sign of a museum and information centre I had read about in an old Lonely Planet book. Then I noticed the signs, they all told of the Aboriginal side of the “invasion” of the white man. There is two sides to every story and the Aboriginals were massacred in Tasmania and deserve recognition. But also the settlers should have acknowledgment at such a historical site.

I followed the track past a beautiful stream, the herons and ducks stalked the fish and the reflections created a tranquil atmosphere. Over a bridge. the monument to John Bowen who landed here with a group of convicts and soldiers in 1803 is surrounded by posters of Aboriginal protests and the handing over of the land in 1995The historic landing-place is covered in weeds and deteriorating. I walked up the hill to the place the first house was built and could only see a portion of the foundations and a few bricks strewn around.

It was an interesting experience. I was on my own in this historic place and I could feel and visualize the past. The strangeness for both cultures of the other parties. Even today with the sound of the traffic roaring by on the road below it has a feeling of remoteness. The views across the Derwent river where Hobart now stands, in 1803 would be bush and gum trees.

Destination around the back of the hill

Destination around the back of the hill

 

 Risdon cove

Can you see the white herons?

Can you see the white herons?

Dinner time for the herons

Dinner time for the herons

 

Monument to John Bowen

Monument to John Bowen surrounded by Aboriginal posters

 

Historic landing stage, very neglected, as a statement by the Aboriginals

Historic landing stage, very neglected, as a statement by the Aboriginals

 

Risdon Cove

The place were Restdown, the name given to the first house built on this site 1812

The place were Restdown, the name given to the first house built on this site 1833

 

These foundations are all that is left of the original first building

These foundations are all that is left of the original first building

 

Imagine what this would look like 200 years ago

Imagine what this would look like 200 years ago before Hobart was built

 

Risdon Cove

Poster of the hand over of the land 1995

Poster of the hand over of the land 1995

Risdon Cove

 

This is a controversial place and I walked back along the road to catch the bus with very mixed feelings. To me this place even with all its neglect and desolation was beautiful, it had a spiritual aura. The large number of water birds in the unpolluted stream, the reflections of the trees giving a feeling of peace. It touched me more than the pristine museums with the exhibits laid out under glass and carefully labelled.

It was an interesting day and the best part? It only cost me $3-20 for my concession day pass and the price of 2 coffees and a muffin. That is budget travelling.

I checked it out on Google, the history is certainly controversial. You can read a version of it here 

 

 

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Aboriginal history, Australia, Hobart, photos, Risdon Cove, Tasmania | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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