Almost super-human. A powerful, shackle breaking story of coming alive.
Originally Published 8 April 2014:
The motivation for my writing came from a late realisation I had spent time with an Aboriginal friend when I was a kid but that all along I never knew anything about him. Many years after that friendship fell away, the realisation prompted me in a quite sudden and wrenching fashion to want to find out. So I began searching for Noongar literature, anything I could find that would help me to understand the story behind Aboriginal identity in the South West of Western Australia.
This introduced me to the writing of Kim Scott. Upon recommendation I bought ‘Kyang and Me’ an exploration in conjunction with his aunt, Hazel Brown, of his wider family history; and then ‘Benang; From The Heart’, his Miles Franklin Award winning exploration of what I concluded to be the anger of being forced to feel incomplete.
Rough men in small boats. The trade in fur-seal pelts left an indelible mark on early European settlement along Australia’s Southern Ocean littoral. Albany was no different. Noongar men between Cape Arid and King George’s Sound were tricked, their women kidnapped and abused.
Originally Published 7 April 2014:
So, it was the great French and British maritime explorers who gave name to most of the coastal sites we are concerned with and recognise today. I’m going to stay with the foreign influence as the trade in fur-seal pelts is largely about that, but first want to establish a contrast which is and will remain consistent throughout this series of posts.
Consider the primary places of recognition along the South Coast in a macro sense; King George’s Sound, Cape Riche, Doubtful Island Bay and the Recherche Archipelago, including Cape Legrand, Cape Arid and Middle Island. There are just a handful of European names really and on any coastal map today they still make the primary points of bearing. There are more European names, of course, but these were applied during the settlement period from 1840 onwards. Most when E.J Eyre, J.S. Roe and J. Forrest made their explorations, others from more local pastoral endeavours over roughly the same time. On a micro level, however, along the same approximate 500 mile length of coast, the opposite occurs. On a micro level there are literally hundreds of Aboriginal place names. They range inland but we can draw points of delimitation for our own purposes running west to east at Kendenup/Eticup, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Cocanarup, Mandurbanup, Condingup and Balbinya. Many of these names are Anglicised to some degree or another; that is, they are no longer recognised in their original Aboriginal form, but they represent the native presence and were all in existence by way of living knowledge (memory) long before any map or chart was ever made.
Originally published 5 April 2014;
There are two other French excursionists I need to mention. One is Bruny d’Entrecasteaux, the other Jules d’Urville.
These voyagers didn’t do anything in particular to influence settlement. They just visited, gave names to the most obvious geographic features they came across, collected specimens of flora and fauna, drew pictures, configured maps and tracked the path of the stars at night. Their job was exploration and discovery, furthering the practise of navigation and their limited understanding of the strange New World.
The names they gave provide geographic reference points in a language we understand today, but the seafarers in the big ships didn’t actually do anything to shape the local history we are interested in here. We can’t proceed, however, until we have this under our belts because those geographic references are essential to knowing exactly where we are talking about.
Originally published: 2 April 2014
A word about those early navigators …
When relating Roe’s maritime experience it’s important to talk a little about the great French and British pelagic explorers, the great navigators and cartographers of the 1700’s who charted most of the south seas and are remembered in a thousand-and-one local histories around it for ‘first sighting’, ‘first charting’, or ‘first setting foot on’, etc, etc..
First Release, 1798
One of the things you learn when you begin to discover early Australian history is that those who undertook to make it also undertook to make sure they were remembered. This applies to land based as well as maritime discoverers. They didn’t just carry out, they carried out with a note book, the relevant content of which was transferred to a day journal from which, if the expedition was a success (or even just noteworthy in a general regard), they edited into manuscript form for general publication.
There was an obvious purpose for the day journal and their pay masters demanded it. Expedition diaries and ship’s logs were extremely valuable to subsequent travellers. The information needed to be detailed and accurate in order to progress knowledge and the general exploration process, as well as to save future lives, equipment and money.
Originally Published: March/April 2014
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. Australian Aboriginal Proverb
Albany: On King George’s
The first story in the ‘OUTDONE’ collection is called ‘Time and Place’. I called it that because I felt it placed significance on the historical nature of the stories as well as the geographic location of Albany, in a West Australian as well as global context. Much later, I discovered the two key words in the title formed part of an oft-quoted proverb (above) and that the proverb’s source, while exactly unknown, is attributed to the indigenous Australian community. That made me feel pretty good because while this first story isn’t primarily concerned with Aboriginal Australia the collection most certainly is.
Also, the proverb encapsulate’s the secondary meaning I intended the story to convey; that is, an inner sense of awareness about our time alive. Two hundred years ago geographic discovery was the thing. We live in a global digital age now, but my belief is that regardless of race and era mankind has always held an inner sense of mystery and wonder related purely and simply to existence.
Originally Published on Blogger – 27 March 2014
I used to live at the foot of Mount Clarence, on the beach side near to Eyre Park. Later, when I was about ten or eleven, we moved across to Mira Mar, the hill over by Lake Seppings, and I was able to look south at Mount Clarence and see it from a different perspective. When we played footy it was mostly at Centennial Oval, in the northern shadow. I went to CBC, on the town side of Mount Clarence, when that school was located on Aberdeen Street. During P.E.classes sometimes we ran cross-country around Mount Clarence’s western flank. My dad was a doctor and he used to visit the tug pilot’s house down by the old Deepwater Jetty. From there I’d look back up the steepest face of all then out to the narrow channel where the ships came in.