The Shag Bay and Bedlam Walls area covers much loved and used aboriginal land of the Moomairremener people

Various websites have indicated that the tract of land between Geilston Bay and Risdon Cove contains a great deal of evidence of land and river use by the original land owners.

Previously I acknowledged the traditional owners of the land along the Derwent River that I have been walking across. This land, before European settlement, belonged to the Moomairremener people however the early international settlers failed to understand that the local inhabitants had established government practices and legal systems, and worked with the land and sea to ensure an ongoing food supply. Unfortunately the characteristics which made the indigenous people civilised were different to those characteristics which made the settlers civilised. Because of their major cultural differences, both groups of people couldn’t grasp the positive values of each other. Each failed to learn from the other so that neither came to an understanding that the difference between them did not make one group better or worse.  As the new settlers encroached on aboriginal land and hunting grounds without understanding the value and significance of what they were doing and attacked aboriginal people, inevitably the Moomairremener people attacked in return.

Bedlam Walls Point’s aboriginal cave, middens and quarry were the main features of aboriginal occupation that I expected to access during my walk. Regrettably I did not find the cave or the middens but I did see, at a distance, the quarry.  Another walk is needed to take more time to access these additional sites.

All the above are in easy walking distance of the site (Risdon Cove) at which, according to one story, an Aboriginal band hunting kangaroos was mistaken by whites for attackers and massacred (http://fieldnotestasmania.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/bedlam-walls-walk.html). According to http://www.australianhistorymysteries.info/pdfs/StudiesAHM-1.pdf “On 3 May 1804 there was a violent clash between a group of British settlers and a large party of Aboriginal people at Risdon Cove, near Hobart in Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land). Different writers and historians have given varying accounts of what happened then.”  In my view, neither option expressed on this website does any credit to the early settlers.

I cannot help thinking about the ongoing contemporary parallels where governments provoke fear by urging our populations to be vigilant against others who dress or look different. I cannot see this is a helpful way to learn to understand the benefits that different people can bring to all our lives.

2 thoughts on “The Shag Bay and Bedlam Walls area covers much loved and used aboriginal land of the Moomairremener people

  1. Scott Seymour

    Hi…..RE; Bedlam Walls……there are two caves……three tool sites……the ‘quarry’ that you said you had seen ‘from a distance’……is not Aboriginal……the tool sites (quarry’s) are small, you can’t see them from a distance…….one is so small an area that I was actually standing on it wondering where it was…..and then looked down to see obvious quartz rock chippings from a fairly large group of quartz rocks……there are unfinished scrappers on the ground too if you look for them….the Bedlam Walls site is where we believe the Aborigines (Risdon Cove 1804) were heading too…..it’s clearly very rich in Aboriginal history and was occupied for a few thousand years……so much more important to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community than the site of Risdon Cove…….it’s a shame nobody cares about the Bedlam Walls site any longer, Parks and Wildlife have delisted it from their books and it has reverted back to the Clarence Council……the stairs that use to lead down to the caves are there but they are blocked off and the railings removed. It’s an amazing Indigenous site with nobody interested in it. I have to wonder what some groups priorities really are……

    All the best,
    Scott Seymour.

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Thank you Scott for this information. I do not understand the lack of interest. Has someone influential determined that by not drawing attention to those important aboriginal sites, we are protecting them – on the basis people will either forget they exist, or will never know they existed?

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