Friday, September 26, 2008

Koori in the South Coast

I'm moving on to the South Coast where we have Koori who spoke the Dharawal language.   Their land stretched from Botany Bay in South Sydney all the way down to Jervis Bay.

One clan was called Wodi Wodi.   Their land was between Wollongong and Shoalhaven.   

Europeans began to move into the area around 1815.   In 1816, the settlement became official.  What does that mean?   I'm not sure.

Moving to a new country is hard.   If you don't believe me, read an expat blog.   People want to cling to their original country.   Just as Americans in Australia today seek out grocery stores selling Lucky Charms and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups;  the British who sailed to Australia wanted European stuff that would make them feel like they were at home.     

They introduced animals and plants to Australia that did not belong there.   This wreaked havoc on the Australian fauna and flora.   And that caused major problems for the Koori.

Their whole way of life was totally messed up.

If that wasn't bad enough, there was the whole Smallpox thing going on.

Kooris died and if they didn't die, they were killed.  If they weren't killed, they were forced off the lands.

No, life wasn't sweet for the Kooris of the South Coast in the 19th century.  

Paradise Lost.

Paradise VERY lost.

Governor Macquarie announced that he was going to force the Koori off the lands. Those who stayed would be captured as prisoners of war. An explorer/settler named Charles Throsby in Wollongong wrote a letter defending the Aborigines.

In 1822, Governor Macquarie visited Illawarra for first time.  In this same year, Seth Hawker shot an Aboriginal woman and then watched as his dogs attacked her. He was arrested for murder but released because Aborigines were not allowed to testify.

An 1832 incident was a little more fair.   Joseph Berryman attacked some Koori in retaliation for killing his livestock. He was sent to jail.

In the 1870's, more of the white settlers started to show concern for the Koori.   

In 1889, A total of thirty-three aborigines were reported to be living in Wollogong area.  

In 1909-The Aborigines Protection Board Act is passed in NSW. This gives the state the power to remove Aboriginal children from their parents.   You know....the cultural superiority delusion is a complete bitch.

Today's population of Koori in Wollongong is 3100.   That's not bad.  It's good that the numbers are increasing.   

I'm now asking Lord Wiki for some information about Charles Throsby.   He seems like a pretty decent fellow.   Wiki says he was lost at some point (near Kangaroo Valley) and some Koori helped him out.   Is that why he was sympathetic towards them?  Or was he sympathetic towards them before that?    If one bad incident can turn someone against a whole race of people, can one good incident make someone become  an advocate for a group of people?


the Albino Bowler said...

Hey. How are ya? I just got back from Down Under and am looking forward to having the time to catch up on your doings. I wanted you to know that you made my list of top blogs, and I added a feed to you at the Rodeo. It shows a thumbnail pic and quick blip from your most recent post so my other readers can check in on you easily. I'll talk to you soon


Dina said...

Albino Bowler,

Hi! I like your blog. I wasn't sure if you were in Australia while writing your entries or were posting them after getting back. I was confused!!

Thanks for adding me to your top blogs!!

Tors said...

If one bad incident can turn someone against a whole race of people, can one good incident make someone become an advocate for a group of people?

Well, yes. My great-great-grandfather was a West Virginia coal miner whose feelings on race relations changed overnight (literally) after his life was saved by a black man.

I think, though, we need to be careful not to judge the past too harshly. Most people were not inherently evil; they are simply products of their time. Back then, people didn't realise that bringing over a few comforts from home would wreak such environmental disasters. They didn't know anything about germs or biological effects. People weren't taught to love all men/women of all races. Sure, SOME people did, but they were probably considered freaks. :-)

Don't get me wrong, it's tragic that these things happened. Absolutely tragic. But I really don't believe it was always as black-and-white as good vs. evil and cultural superiority vs oppression. There were people that absolutely believed in their hearts that they were doing the right thing. Again, that doesn't make them evil, just products of their time.

*off soapbox now*

Dina said...


I agree. And I think there were a lot of people in the past who WEREN'T that bad--who did try to do the right thing.

I really admire those people...the "freaks".

I think the great thing about Australia is that for the most part they're facing the past and apologizing for it. I think that's a great thing.

I highly respect that.

We all make mistakes, but I don't think that makes it okay.

I mean I don't think we should avoid providing a genuine apology and an attempt to fix things by saying "Hey, we all make mistakes. Get over it. Stop dwelling in the past."

To me...this translates to "I don't want to accept the fact that we made mistakes. Stop making me think about it."

I think we should dwell on the past enough to learn from it and not make the same mistakes over and over.

I mean we don't need to repeatedly chastize the poor guy who brought over some rabbits to Australia. We don't have to turn him into Aussie-Enemy #1. But I think we can dwell on his tale enough to tell our children and any new visitors so they don't make the same mistakes.

matt said...

Hi Dina,
Just thought i would might be interested in the Myall Creek Massacre, it happened in 1838 and is famous because the people who committed the crime were punished for the murders and is the first time it happened under British Law

Dina said...


Thank you. Yes, I'm very interested. I'm going to Google it right now.

Dina said...

Matt and Tors,

Okay I read it.

I think it makes me think more about what Tors said in comments--not dwelling on the past.

The thing is it's NOT in the past.

In 2005, the memorial to the massacre was vandalized. There are still racists today.

My feeling is until non-white people (whether Australian or American) are

equally wealthy
equally healthy
equally happy
equally safe
to white people.
And.... there are no more hate-crimes,

than it's part of our present--not our past.

When things are equal and good for ALL people....then we can stop "dwelling" on the past and get over it.

Now I'm not saying things are going to be good for every single individual and things can never be equal for everyone.

I'm talking about general equality between groups of people.

I am criticized by people in my life for dwelling on the past too much. I'm talking about personal problems, not worldly stuff.

The thing is if my relationship is going well with someone, I rarely think of anything they've done wrong towards me in the past. It's like its buried deep in my memory. It's not an issue. But as soon as they do something in the present that hurts, I remember things they did in the past that hurt. It all comes flooding back.

The same goes for myself. When I am unhappy with something I've done, I remember all the past shit I've done.

It's hard on me and a bruise to my self-esteem. But you know...lately I've realized. I'd rather be a person who's a little too hard on herself, than a person who denies I've done things wrong.

Tors said...

I think we should dwell on the past enough to learn from it and not make the same mistakes over and over.

Oh I totally agree. :) But then, I wouldn't call that "dwelling". I'd call it "learning".

I don't see it as an either/or thing. To refrain from dwelling does not equate to being in denial. We can acknowledge the sins of the past and work to do better while not dwelling on the negative emotional aspects.

And then there is forgiveness. It is something that cannot be demanded, cannot be forced, but I really feel it's an important aspect too. True forgiveness is an amazingly healing thing... not so much for the person who did wrong, but for YOU.

I believe that in many ways (not all ways, but many ways), we are masters of our own destinies. We cannot control what other people do; we can only control ourselves and how we react to that.

Yes, those people were wrong, they committed horrible atrocities, and they deserve to be punished. But to say that without any emotion... now there's the true test!

Dina said...


I think it's easier to forgive people when they're truly sorry--when they act sorry.

I think Kevin Rudd's apology was very beautiful. I don't think it solves everything and it doesn't erase the pain of the past. But I think it could help people forgive.

I think it's VERY hard to forgive people when they don't act sorry--when they make excuses for what they did or deny what they did.

It gets very complicated when you're dealing with the sins of your ancestors because you're NOT directly responsible for what was done.

But I think if we study the past, this will help us have empathy for the situation people are in today. We'll want to help them.

Tors said...

No one said forgiveness was easy. In fact, it's supposed to be divine. ;)

But I know what you're saying. And I guess it goes into the comments I made on your other entry - about how murky it gets when we start talking about exactly what is the 'right thing to do', shades of grey and all that.

Dina said...


I actually wrote about forgiveness about a month ago....a whole post on it.

I'm not sure if you saw it or not?????