by Sarah Drummond
(a book review)
(abbreviated version here)
Good writing is every bit as instant as good music. The measure of both as much about how quickly and how far the work sends me off into my thoughts as it is appreciating the sheer quality of the composition. Just as a few bars of the right music can trigger an explosion of emotionally charged insight, a single paragraph can transport me to places it may take minutes to come back from.
I’m a slow reader of good books because of it.
Mokare- His character and influence
Above: Louis de-Sainson’s Albany Aborigines sketched in October 1826, coloured and printed 1833. The images are of Mokare (bottom right); Patyet, thought to be Nakinah (bottom left); and young brother Yallapoli with the brothers’ father, also named Patyet (middle). The two men at the top are unidentified but likely to be close relatives, possibly Mokare’s close cousins, half brothers or uncles Coolbun and Dr Uredale. Image courtesy Trove Unique identifier here:
Apart from confidence and his willingness to connect, what do we really know of Mokare’s character and influence among the Menang?
The best the archives can give comes from the personal writing of three people; Dr Isaac Scot Nind, Captain Collett Barker and Dr Alexander Collie. Prior to that it is the official despatches of the military which tell a more limited story.
Mokare: 1800 – 1831
Not since the time of Mokare has there been more future driven anxiety facing the South Coast’s Indigenous.
As final deliberation on the Single Noongar Claim looms, Western Australia’s South-Western Aborigines face acceptance of the decades long Native Title case against the Government of Australia, an issue as much rooted in the story of Mokare and first contact at King George’s Sound as with Midgegooroo and Yagan at Perth.
This post comes as response to the Noongar artefact exhibition Yurlmun: Mokare Mia Boodja at the West Australian Museum, Albany, a co-incidental display which ties physical objects from Mokare’s time to the resolution of an approaching two-hundred year ordeal.
Sponsored by the British Museum, the exhibition runs from Wednesday, 2nd Nov, 2016 to Sunday, 9th April, 2017.
The exhibition title translates as Returning: Mokare’s Home Country, words of such symbolic magnitude they render the artefacts transcendent. As if possessed by Dreamtime elements, these original spears, spear throwers, axes, hammers and boomerangs come as direct representation from a time long past; the era of the military garrison.
Originally published 14 April 2014:
” Every breath Patrick Taylor took filled him with joy. Having just turned twenty-seven, he had not only survived the voyage to the Swan River Colony but reversed his condition in the process. He was religious, had always believed, but since meeting Mary Bussell the glory of God had surpassed all expectation. ‘He’ was everywhere. Visible. Palpable. In every single thing. “
Looking south-east across the Lower Kalgan toward Mnt Boyle and Glen Candy, the hillside location of Patrick Taylor’s home. In later years the southern flank and then the district became known as Candyup. Taylor’s house passed to his son, Campbell, and was then sold. It burnt to the ground in a bushfire in 1940.
Major Lockyer and the story of the Amity anchoring in the large harbour at King George’s Sound on Christmas Day 1826 holds nothing new. Everyone who lives at Albany knows of the replica vessel down by the shore in the so-called historical precinct, as does (practically) everyone who has ever come to play tourist.
I didn’t particularly want to add to Lockyer’s story as he only commanded the garrison for a little over three months, but it’s hard to escape his influence on the settlement he left behind. After-all, it was his judgement that prevented disaster. If Lockyer had not perceived something was wrong when the soldiers and crew were making their first shore excursions he could have retaliated at the spearing of his blacksmith and got the business of settlement off on a complete wrong footing. The garrison was outnumbered at the time, the Aborigines could have organised and set against them, there could have been a massacre.
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: 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.