In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 1

 

Resolving the identity of a man known as John Jack Maher helps tell the story of early European/Aboriginal integration inland from Albany. By following the threads we learn how Albany’s pioneer pastoralists merged with those from York in and around what later became the railway town of Katanning; most notably at a place called Eticup. Many shepherds and labourers employed by the pastoralists fathered children to Aboriginal women, angering their men, causing incidences of cross-cultural recrimination and violence. But what of those European men who engaged in this; mostly the convicts and Ticket-of-Leave men of the 1850’s and 1860’s? The story of their lives reveals backgrounds of deprivation and misery. What hope did they bring to their new opportunity and what chance of a fulfilling life did they and the result of their Indigenous unions really have?

 

Jack Maher, Bordenan and NgalanganAbove: The controversial photograph of John Jack Maher. The man here is either Johnny Maher the cricketer with his Aboriginal-descent wife Emily Maggs and daughter Maria Louisa, or he is Ngurabirding,  also known as John Jack Maher, husband to Waiman and father to Rachel as shown in the Bates genealogies. If the former, the photograph will have been taken around 1910 (as Maria Louisa was born 1901) putting Maher in his mid-40s. If the latter, the photo was probably taken in the 1890s when Maher was about thirty. Continue reading

Quartermaine Country

Originally Published  30 November 2015:

 

Warning: This post is concerned with Indigenous family history and carries the names of many deceased persons. Content addresses heritage relating to the Noongar branch of the Quartermaine family and by extension many others. Some assumptions may challenge existing beliefs. I should also point out that the Noongar branch of the Quartermaine clan shares the same paternal ancestry as the Non-Noongar branch and therefore this post may contain information sensitive to non-indigenous family members who are not familiar with the beginning West Australian generation.

 

For Daryl ‘Djaye’ Quartermaine – Born 21st January, 2014

Djaye in cap - Qrtrmne Country

 

New Noongar names and their often misty origins

 

History runs through the West Australian Quartermaine family wide and deep, as does the life blood of the old Aborigines. Like all Aboriginal families today, the story of the Noongar Quartermaines is one of rebirth and regeneration under an entirely new guise. Still mysterious and painful in many respects, it is now 140 years since the birth of  Grandfather Timothy Quartermaine at Yowangup homestead near Katanning, in Western Australia’s Central Great Southern region. The Quartermaine name is French in origin, became Anglicised via the Saxon raids of post Roman England, then turned Australian on the back of the great Colonial invasion. The story of the Noongar branch is central not only to the beginnings of Katanning town but to the story of the Perth-Albany Road, the Wheatbelt and Great Southern Railway. Also, to the stories of many other southern Noongar families who survived the 19th Century early settlement period only to face the social and economic abyss which lay beyond.

 

Untitled by Les QuartermaineAbove: ‘Untitled’ by Les Quartermaine and G.Q. Woods. The painting, which is in the Carrolup Style, was made on a cell wall in the old Fremantle Gaol in 1991. Author David Whish-Wilson commented on it in his acclaimed 2013 publication; Perth  Wilson said; “…the last time I saw it I was taken by surprise -tears flooded my eyes. It was a gloomy winter’s day and the cell was darker than usual, and yet the painting’s radiant light completely overwhelmed me.”  My experience when I first saw this painting in March 2013, though it was a bright warm day, was similar. It is hauntingly beautiful.

Continue reading