Thursday, 5 January 2017

History of Australia and Aboriginal People


Good morning all here I am this somewhat wet morning thinking about what to write about and after some thought decided I would tell you a little bit about the history of this country and the Aboriginal people who have lived here since way back when.

Europeans arrived in and yes I know some would say invaded this country way back in 1788, back then the locals known as Aboriginals lived here for some say thousands of years, wandering around this great country and living off the land.

“… they were so ignorant they thought there was only one race on the earth and that was the white race. So when Captain Cook first came, when Lieutenant James Cook first set foot on Wangal land over at Kundul which is now called Kurnell, he said oh lets put a flag up somewhere, because these people are illiterate, they’ve got no fences. They didn’t understand that we didn’t need fences … that we stayed here for six to eight weeks, then moved somewhere else where there was plenty of tucker and bush medicine and we kept moving and then come back in twelve months’ time when the food was all refreshed …”1
the late Aunty Beryl Timbery Beller

I will not pretend to understand how the Aboriginal people feel about other Australians because I don't know, what I do know is that the way they were treated was disgusting we can't undo what was done we can only do better in the future.

What I do know that it must have been scary having all these strangers arrive in their country, strangers who brought with them new unknown diseases that the locals had no idea how to treat. These diseases would have caused so much suffering and death for the locals.

It is estimated that over 750,000 Aboriginal people inhabited the island in 1788. It should be noted that the colonists were led to believe that the island was “terra nullius” (no ones land) which is what James Cook declared the country to be in 1771 during his voyage around the coast of the country.

We found the natives tolerably numerous as we advanced up the river, and even at the harbour’s mouth we had reason to conclude the country more populous than Mr Cook thought it. For on the Supply’s arrival in the [Botany] bay on the 18th of the month they assembled on the beach of the south shore to the number of not less than forty persons, shouting and making many uncouth signs and gestures. This appearance whetted curiosity to its utmost, but as prudence forbade a few people to venture wantonly among so great a number, and a party of only six men was observed on the north shore, the governor immediately proceeded to land on that side in order to take possession of this new territory and bring about an intercourse between its new and old masters.
Watkin Tench, January 1788

It is now believed that the Island continent was in fact owned by over 400 different nations at the time of Cook's claim that the island was no ones land. In fact Captain Philip was astounded with Cook's theory saying “Sailing up into Sydney cove we could see natives on the shore shaking spears and yelling” so how could Cook say the land was no ones.

For thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans, northern Sydney was occupied by different Aboriginal clans, living mostly on the foreshores of the harbour were they fished and hunted in the area and harvested food from the bush. They were self-sufficient and mostly harmonious, they traded with other tribes. They would move throughout their country in accordance with the seasons, they would spend around 5 hours per day working to ensure their survival.

Because they had such large amounts of what we call leisure time they developed a rich and complex life with customs and laws the heart of which was the connection to the land.

The arrival of Lt James Cook in 1770 was the beginning of the end for this ancient way of life, his voyage of exploration had sailed under instructions to take possession of the Southern Continent if it was uninhabited, or with the consent of the natives if it was not uninhabited, either way it was to be taken. So really whether those who inhabited the land gave their consent or not didn't matter.

Upon his arrival Lt Cook declared the land which he called New South Wales to be the property of Britain's King George 111, and ignored the inconvenient fact that the land was already well populated. Of course his failure to even attempt to gain the consent of the Aboriginal people began the legal fiction that the country was waste and unoccupied.

Of course Cook was soon followed by the arrival of the First Fleet in January 1788, under the command of Captain Arthur Philip who mission was to establish a penal colony and take control of Terra Australia for settlement. More about that in a later post.





16 comments:

  1. Good post Jo-Anne.
    Wonder how we would feel if put in the Aboriginals place back then....hard to know what we would have done.
    It's not our fault though for we were not born then..

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    1. So true we didn't do these things most of us are disgusted by this part of history

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  2. It's always interesting to learn more about how countries developed and grew and hopefully evolved along the way.

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  3. I just wonder what would have happened if we were so "enlightened" as we are now in the colonial age. Would it have been any better, or just different excuses.

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  4. Interesting bit of history. Makes me wonder how people in 2517 will view us :)
    Happy New Year!

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  5. This was really interesting to me because I knew about the aboriginal people of Australia but nothing about how the country came to be populated with so many from other places. It sounds very similar to what occurred in America, and yes, the diseases killed so many, along with alcohol and intentionally plaque infested blankets. It is unfathomable to me.

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    1. Unfathomable to many of us, why these people were treated so badly I don't understand fear of the unknown I think

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  6. I knew about the penal colony and prisoners and that the native peoples were displaced and ill treated. Seems no matter where in the world you go...no matter where...people are all the same. Take what isn't theirs and the devil with those we take it from.

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    1. Yes not something that just happened here but in many parts of the world

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  7. Very interesting. I've never really known much about Australian history other than than what was taught to us in school. I know my husband sure likes your country. He is always saying, if the US totally craps out, he'd move to Australia. I guess that means, I would too.

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    1. Yeah this is a pretty good country but like all countries it has a terrible part in its history

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  8. Thank you for sharing this interesting piece of history. The rain has stopped for 2 days and we are feeling hot over here. Have a lovely day!

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A Sunday Post

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