Posts Tagged With: aboriginal history

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

We stumble into a part of the history of “The Stolen Generation”

Sometimes when you are travelling you stumble across or into a part of history that stuns you, images that stay in your mind long after you come home. Today was to be one of those times…

We saw a small sign on the side of the road announcing “Mogumber farm tours” so we went to investigate. Approx2 kilometres along a dirt road we came to another sign”Mogumber Farm (A Stolen Generation Site) A place in the Heart since 1917″Then on the open gate a notice requested that you report to the care taker.We drove slowly towards the houses looking for the caretaker, but the place was deserted.

Where have all the children gone?

Caretakers house

There was a very eerie feeling about the place. The childrens swings were moving slightly in the wind. The houses were run down and sad looking but not unlivable. Brooms and mops were leaning against the walls, waiting for some one to come along and clean the place up. Further along a large corrugated barn had plastic chairs laid around, trestle tables and fridges all empty. Outside was parked an old school bus with the windows shattered. At the end of the road was a church. The pews waiting for the congregation and an old organ covered in cobwebs waiting to be played.

Across the paddocks we could see sheds and what looked like a piggery or some sort of animal shelter. We felt we were intruding into a place of sad memories and it certainly stayed in my mind for a long time. The way the aboriginals were treated was a bad part of Australian history and until recently has mainly been covered up. It is slowly being acknowledged. This place brought it home to me.

Waiting to be used

School bus

Mugumber church

Inside the church

We carried on to New Norcia. (This is a very interesting town that deserves a post of its own later) To carry on with the story….

At New Norcia I made enquiries about Mugumber and the receptionist at the New Norcia monastry was horrified that we had wandered in to the farm. That is aboriginal land and the owners are very aggresive if they see people on the land. It is a defiled place for the aboriginal people. It holds very bad memories of the stolen generation.

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, travel, Western Australia | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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