Tag Archives: aboriginal

Shag Bay industrial history

 

In earlier posts I directed your attention to the online magazine Tasmanian Geographic .  The latest issue contains a well-researched and lengthy article, ‘Early Recycling at Shag Bay’, on the early industrial history of late 19th and early 20th century of Shag Bay.  Thanks to authors, John and Maria Grist, I now understand more about what I saw as I walked past the detritus scattered around this Bay. I strongly recommend accessing their article for its historical photographs and the fascinating content. Thanks John and Maria – much appreciated.

My long term blog followers may recall the name of Shag Bay but unless you know this part of the Derwent River, its location will remain a puzzle.  Shag Bay is a small inlet on the eastern shore between Geilston Bay and Risdon, and is mostly easily accessible on a dirt track from the Geilston suburb end. My posts from walking around Shag Bay include:  From Geilston Bay to Risdon on Stage 6 of my walk along the Derwent River yesterday ; Reaching Shag Bay as I walked along the Derwent RiverThe Shag Bay and Bedlam Walls area covers much loved and used aboriginal land of the Moomairremener people ; and Along the northern side of Shag Bay and onwards along the Derwent River.

To help you to remember Shag Bay, here are a few photos I took way back very early in my trek from the mouth the source of the Derwent River.

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Aboriginal inclusion

My last post explained how someone or some people made their destructive marks on a culturally significant site. In so doing they were showing disdain and attempting to wipe away part of Tasmania’s aboriginal heritage.  Their act sits in stark contrast to a November 2015 document, which was reported in the media a few weeks before the vandalism, that promoted inclusion rather than exclusion.  Refer The Mercury article of 11 April 2016.

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) produced a report Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia with many recommendations.  These included:  ‘The term “wilderness” should be retained in the property name, while future dual naming is strongly encouraged to reflect both the Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property’;’The “Wilderness Zone”, as currently used and interpreted, should be retained in the zonation of the TWWHA, while explicitly providing for Aboriginal access for cultural practices as an integral part of the management of the zone’, and ‘The State Party should support and consolidate the emerging joint management of the TWWHA with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community’.

The vandal or vandals who defaced the rock art are obviously out of step with growing community attitudes of support for aboriginal heritage and understanding of the values inherent in special sites.

Information additional to yesterday’s posting

I am grateful for the extensive comment provided by one blog follower, which puts my last posting into perspective.  I recommend you go to the website and read the information.  I will be interested to read any comments offered by others.

Possession of aboriginal lands by European settlers and the government of Van Diemen’s Land

John Wadsley’s Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Councils Joint Land Use Planning Initiative – Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan of July 2010 reports: ‘After the initial period of European settlement from 1803, a large influx of free settlers and pastoralists in the 1820s saw a major expansion of European influence and land grants in the central and midlands areas of Tasmania. Settlement along the Derwent, Jordan, Clyde and Ouse rivers forced local Aboriginal bands from traditional hunting grounds and increased tension between settlers and tribal groups. Conflicts flared in a number of areas, with local farmers and vigilantes attacking Aborigines and retaliation by tribal groups attacking road gangs, stockmen and homesteads.

In 1828 Governor Arthur declared martial law against Aborigines after failed attempts to divide Aboriginal lands from the “settled districts” to reduce the number of attacks by tribal groups. By 1830 the number and frequency of attacks by and on had reached such a level that Arthur decided to launch a full scale military operation against the indigenous population in the southern Central Highlands, southern Midlands and south east areas. This became the so-called “Black Line” which was intended to round up Aborigines and move them from the settled districts. By 1831 some hundreds of Aborigines and settlers had been killed over land occupation and dispossession of traditional tribal lands. The Aboriginal population in the Midlands and Central Highlands was by now very small, probably less than 100. Many traditional hunting areas had been cleared of tribal groups allowing further expansion of pastoral activities. The so called “conciliation” process under George Robinson eventually saw the remaining Aboriginals moved off their traditional lands to Flinders Island by 1834, and then to Oyster Cove in 1847.’

Aboriginal history associated with Meadowbank Lake

Hydro Tasmania acknowledges aboriginal history was apparent in a cave that is now beneath the waters of Meadowbank Lake in central Tasmania.

In 1977, J Stockton wrote a paper A Tasmanian painting site which adds to the information provided by the Hydro.  The paper provides some background on the submerged cave and indicates that other caves exist with similar markings and ochre residues.

I do not know where these caves are and I wouldn’t want to visit and disturb them even if I knew their location.  Therefore, Chantale’s photo below, showing the north western end of Meadowbank Lake as it receives Derwent River water travelling downstream from Cluny Dam, is simply a picture of one part of the Derwent River system and it is not intended to relate to the location of the caves. I have included it simply to remind readers how part of Tasmania appears these days; that is, with all the signs of European settlement and land control.

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Aboriginal Cultural Walks in Tasmania

Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service provides information about an Aboriginal Cultural walk, the Needwonnee Walk, in the very remote southwest of Tasmania.  In addition, information is provided about a cultural walk at Lake St Clair – here. The Tiagarra Walk in Devonport on the north-west coast of Tasmania, is introduced on this website. Last weekend I visited Devonport and went to walk in this Mersey Bluff area before learning that the site was closed.  Alas.

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However, I was born and grew up west of Devonport where I could look out at Bass Strait during those early years of my life.  Standing and listening to Bass Strait with the onshore breeze blowing into my face brought back many memories.  This felt right. This was my place. I knew my place.

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Watch this video to hear the sound of the Bass Strait waves lapping the stony shore near Mersey Bluff.

Journalist David Beniuk reported (Sunday Tasmanian 1 November 2015) that a survey of Australian holiday makers found ‘more than a third of domestic tourists would consider an Aboriginal cultural walk on their next trip to Tasmania.’ He went on to say ‘The results have buoyed the proponents of a four-day trek through the traditional homeland of Tasmania’s Aborigines from wukalina (Mt William National Park) to larapuna (Eddystone Point) in the North East.’

The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania is seeking funds to build huts based on Aboriginal building practices, and to set up the walk as a commercial operation.  The walk would include traditional stories, bush tucker and premium Tasmanian produce.  I like the concept of a four day walk because it provides sufficient time for walkers to forget their city or other lives and immerse themselves in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of the land.

Yam Daisies

Thanks to information and photographs supplied by blog follower, Ma from Melbourne, I will be more alert for the plant and flower Microseris scapigera or Microseris lanceolata known by indigenous Australians as Yam daisy or Murnong. Ma told me these plants would provide nourishment as I walked.

Yam daisy Microseris-scapigera-2-226x226

The photo above is located on http://www.victoriannativeseed.com.au/?product=yam-daisy . As the flower continues to open, the similarity with our common dandelion becomes obvious, and a number of websites suggest the dandelion head is similar to the seed head of the Yam Daisy.  It seems perfectly understandable that this plant may be referred to as the native dandelion and it explains why, when walking in our bushland affected by the intrusion of exotic plants, the possibility of misidentification exists. From Wikipedia I have learned that ‘the Tasmanian form is markedly smaller than the mainland Australian form’.

According to http://www.anbg.gov.au/gardens/visiting/exploring/aboriginal-trail  ‘This small perennial plant … has a radish-shaped tuber, which is renewed each year. In the spring the plant forms a yellow flower-head like a dandelion, and in the summer the leaves die off and the tuber becomes dormant. The tubers were cooked in baskets in an earth oven, producing a dark sweet juice which was much liked.’

The Yam Daisy has offered a traditional source of food for indigenous Australians. Wikipedia claims the tubers were ‘prepared by roasting or pit baking; the taste is described as “sweet with a flavour of coconut’.  Sounds yummy to me! The website http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/botanic-gardens/pubs/aboriginal-plantuse.pdf tells us that the ‘Yam Daisy was a most important staple food. Women dug the roots with digging sticks and then roasted them in baskets in an earth oven. Digging for roots turned over the soil and thinned out the root clumps, two ways of encouraging plant production. Aboriginal people didn’t take the lot or there’d be none left for next time! Aboriginal people believed that the roots of ‘murnong’ should not be collected before the plants flowered. This was probably because during the drier winter period before springtime flowering, the roots would not be fully developed.’

Women digging roots of yam daist State LIb of Vic

The drawing above by J.H. Wedge (1835), showing women digging roots of the Yam Daisy, is held in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. You can see a detailed drawing of a digging stick at https://www.anbg.gov.au/aborig.s.e.aust/roots.bulbs.html.

According to https://tasmanica.wordpress.com/tag/yam-daisy/ ‘… the Yam Daisy (Microseris lanceolata) or ‘Murnong’ as it is known by tuber hunting aborigines on the mainland, has a convoluted history. This makes it a subject of ecological and evolutionary interest to biologists. Its closest relatives are found in western North America. Based on morphological and chromosome studies, the Yam Daisy probably came about by the hybridization of two American species followed by long distance dispersal – quite a distance I might add. So it goes that aborigines were eating foods of American origin way back. This marvellous feat of intercontinental dispersal has been confirmed more recently by studies using DNA extracted from the chloroplasts (cpDNA) of American and the Australian/New Zealand species of Microseris (Vijverberg et al. 1999).’

In my walks along the Derwent River, I have seen these Yam Daisy flowers from time to time. Of course, next time I will look at the plants more closely.