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ABORIGINAL HISTORY

NORTHERN NSW AUSTRALIA

[Transcribed from North Coast Advocate Newspaper 2001, Ballina Shire's Own Community Newspaper by Margaret Kennedy, Ballina.]

ARTICLE - THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 6th 2001 - Advocate Newsaper

JINDA WALLA NEWS

[from the Ballina Reconciliation Group- Compiled by Lois Cook 2001 ]

COLONISATION

BUBBA COOK laughed at Lewis when he came home from school filled with tales of Captain Cook's discovery of Australia. He knew of earlier contacts with the Vikings, Egyptians, Chinese, Islanders, Portuguese and the Dutch but now the English had made claim to our country.

The first European map of Australia is the Dauphin Map made by the Portuguese in 1536 for the Crown Prince of France. Queen Elizabeth established the Chartered Companies Act in 1600, which allowed trade in territory which was not under the influence of a 'friendly power'. This opened trade with India, but Europe had difficulties in finding goods that could be sold in exchange.

The charted Virginia Company of London led to the first permanent English settlement in the New World in 1606,when company directors, instead of staying in Europe, moved to their company towns.

By the 1770s American independence, slavery, handing villages commons into private ownership and industrialization were influencing policy in Britain's envolving party system of Whigs (mercantile interest) and Tories (agriculturists). Captain Cook's log records the Arakwal people walking the beaches near Ballina, Seven Mile beach (north of Lennox Head) and Byron Bay taking little notice of his ship, indicating it was nothing new.

When Cook set off on his voyage he was told to treat any natives with 'amity and kindness' a olicy continued with the arrival of Arthur Phillip on the First Fleet. However, relations quickly deteriorated as the Koories of Port Jackson realised the white men were building permnent dwellings and intended to stay. Terris Nullis (empty land) allowed colonisation of Australia without a treaty. If there was no central government. Civilisation has been the scourge of our people,; disease; crime; misery and death have hitherto diminished our people. We have a complex and rich culture of our own in which we grew to maturity. Intricate clan structures permitted our people to travel and access sites of significance for religious purposes. This involved a complex system of centralised government. We had, and still have sovereignty.

Army Officers who commanded convict settlements would have their authority seriously eroded if Englnd sent a regular aarmy to battle with our people. Battles were rarely recorded although 20 000 to 30 000 Aboriginal people died in the initial conflicts and many heroes are still remembered. The whites were held off from crossing the Clarence for up to 40 years. In April 1838 Governor Gipps drafted a Government Notice that Aborigines were original possessors of the soil with equal rights under British law against violent crime. It was nearly not published following the Myall Creek massacre two months later. The resulting trial and execution of white perpetrators encouraged Aboriginal people to become braver.

Civilisation has been a scourge for us; disease,crime,misery and death have hitherto diminished our people. Many whites became bent on war of extermination. Aboriginal People were shot like dogs, poisoned, herded off cliffs, drowned, tortured, branded, enslaved or were the subjects of dehumanising experiments. By 1839-40 squatters had followed the track off the ridge overland from the New England to Atherton Tablelands to settle the open country up river. Some Europeans notably Thomas Hewitt and AA Leycester, made peace with the natives, offering food, tobacco, clothing and utensils for assistance.

In 1842 Oliver Fry was appointed the first commissioner of Crown Lands for the Clarence Squatting District, incorporating the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed Valleys. It was his decision not to officially record Aboriginal culture of the region. Fry was instructed to 'gain confidence and goodwill of the blacks' in the 'pursuit of civilised life' he was involved in at least one known massacre at Boyd River in 1845. Richard Craig, who was shown the overland route to the Clarence by aborigines and was asked by the Goverment to assist in their civilisation reported "My attempts were defeated by the harsh treatment Mr.Fry and the police force used towards them". Stories from 'stray natives' of the great Wudgie-Wudgie' (Red Cedar) on the river north brought cedar cutters to the Richmond .

There was no official record of the Richmond Valley Aborigines. However, when JAS Ainsworth put down his reminiscences in 1922, he recalled "...They were a simple, good-hearted and friendly people who generously give anything they possessed to the white feller. It is regrettable to have to record that in return they were often badly treated by the settlers "... Naturally conversant with the ways of the bush and the scrubs they were of incalcuable assistance to the cedar getters. They also became fine axemen and expert and squaring the logs, rafting and bullock driving. It was never known that the whites had ever suffered injury at their hands, but on the contrary their help was in constant requisition in many ways." Epidemics of influenze, diphtheria and small pox were allegedly accidentally introduced with government provisions of blankets and clothing. (In North America blankets were puposely infected before distribution to the native Indians).

Recognising the deteriorating state of Aborigines in the 1800's, local government administrators selected "king" and and gave them King Breast Plates recogising as leaders. However on the Lower Richmond Aboriginal people were not fringe dwellers, and maintained their identity without being labeled by King Plates. By 1861 the Robinson's Land Act was passed allowing 'selection before survey' between 40 and 320 acres.

Over demand for land on the South Coast and Hunter Valley forced many north to our fertile valley to join the local cedar cutters, many of who took up selections. For Aborigines who survived the massacres and epidemics that decimated the population, this meant tribal lands were fenced, cleared and out of bounds. Bubba Cook was adopted after these massacres by Henry Cook, who had a selection near Broadwater.

Bubba grew up with Henry's son Samuel and worked as a stockman, bullock driver, cedar cutter and farmer. He was a fully initiated man who was able to visit with other tibes people, maintain sites and educate his children in Njangbal Arakwal traditions. [LOIS COOK - 2001 descendant]

 

EXCERPTS & STORIES [From "Reminiscences" - by Jas Ainsworth]

GRAFTON

page 46...The nearest town at which Richmond River official and banking business could be transacted was GRAFTON on the Clarence River. The first Cedar Cutting Licenses were issued by Commissioner Oliver Fry for the North Creek and Emigrant Creek scrubs c1851 at a cost of 6 .

CASINO IN THE FIFTIES [1850's]

Page.46 ..."Of all the community settlements on the Richmond in the forties and fifties Casino made the most marked progress, and rapidly developed from a hamlet into the status of the first river township.Situated at the head of navigation it became the convenient depot and trading centre for the many cattle stations that occupied the immense area of open country extending from Mt.Lindsay to Lismore. It was there also that river officialdom was given a first abode, and for many subsequent years CASINO was in fact the absolute capital of the entire territory north of GRAFTON. The first river police were located there, also the first courts of justice, the first clergymen, the first LANDS OFFICE etc.etc"...

Registrations for births, deaths and marriages and land selections were recorded at Casino.

 

BALLINA - ABORIGINAL HISTORY

Transcibed from THE LATE MR.JAS.AINSWORTH - 1847-1922 - REMINISCENCES - BALLINA IN THE EARLY DAYS - Written by THE LATE MR.THOS.RUSSELL (retired Ballina school teacher).[M.KENNEDY]

[Forewood - This little booklet is placed on sale for the benefit of the Ballina District Hospital]... To-day the book is still for sale with the proceeds donated to the hospital. [MARGARET KENNEDY 2001]

THE ABORIGINES.- page 43 paragraph 1

..."In 1847 there were between 400 and 500 native blacks in the tribes belonging to East and West Ballina. At that time they had not yet become contaminated by the white approach. They lived in rigid accordance with their own primitive customs and were strangers alike to grog and to many of the other vices and diseases of the white civilisation. The men were destitute of clothing and the women wore loin cloths mostly made from the fur of the opossum. Their principal food was fish and oysters and the varied products of the chase. They were a simple, good-hearted and friendly people who would generously give away anything they possessed to the "white feller". It is regrettable to have to record that in return they were often badly, treated by the settlers. ..."

Page 45 paragraph 1- ..."The hunting ground of the Ballina tribes extended north to Broken Head and back from the beaches to the Big Scrub. The seasons were known to them by foliage and flowers and the great Book of Nature undoubtedly revealed to them many of its secrets. They could tell by natural signs of flowers and fruits when the salmon nd the mullet were due on the beaches and in the ribers, and also when certain game was bound o be in evidence in particular localities."...

- Page 45 - Paragrah 2 - ..."The tribe usually camped in division at different placed excepting during the oyster season, when they assembled unitedly at Chickiaba on North Creek, where the large oyster banks on the foreshores to this day mark the old feeding grounds..."

AN EAST BALLINA MASSACRE.

SHOT DOWN LIKE DOGS

In 1853 or "54 when Queensland was still under the jurisdiction of NSW. it was the custom (ocassionally) to patrol distant territories with black-trackers in charge of white troopers. These were trained horsemen and musket shots, but were possessed very often with only a cramped conception of their duty.

It had been alleged in Brisbane that the blacks to the north of the Tweed had murdered some white men and that the murderers had fled south towards the Richmond.

In due course one afternoon of these patrols - a small one - rode into East Ballina and put up at Ainsworth's public house, "The Sailors' Home". That is to say the white troopers stayed at the hotel while the black trackers camped outside.

The object of the mission to Ballina was not disclosed to the settlement and no inquiries were made by the patrol, but at 3 o'clock the next morning they turned out and ascended the hill in the direction of the present reservoir. The blacks had a camping ground on the clear slope of the hill facing the valley reaching over towards Black Head. At the time between 200 and 300 of them lay asleep in the camp.

The troopers and trackers stealthily surrounded the slumbering blacks and when sufficiently close at a given signal opened fire. Men, women, and children were slaughtered without mercy, and their screams and cries during the onslaught were heartrending. Between 30 and 40 of poor wretches were killed outright and many who got away were badly wounded. Their graves may still be found on the fatal ridges".

ON THE 12TH AUGUST, 2001 A MONUMENT WAS PLACED NEAR THE AREA WHERE THE MASSACRE OCCURRED IN MEMORY OF THE FALLEN.[M.KENNEDY]

_______________________

ABORIGINAL LEGENDS

Transcribed by Margaret Kennedy, Ballina from "Lennox Free Times" newspaper 2000

THE THREE BROTHERS STORY.

"The coastal areas of New South Wales and southern Queensland were associated with the legend of the THREE BROTHERS the ancestors of the Aboriginal people who came from the sea and landed on the east coast. The details of the legend vary from one part of the coast to another, each Aboriginal language area claiming that the brothers landed in their territory.

In our area the legend states that the three brothers made their first landing at Evans Heads,and after two subsequent landings further north (one at Lennox boat channel area), two of the brothers occupied the coast, while the third moved inland and occupied the Lismore district.

Evans Head was known as Gummingarr, a name derived from gummi, meaning father's mother. This recalls an incident in the legend where the grandmother of the three brothers went into the bush to gather fern roots; she could not be found when the three brothers prepared to paddle northward, and was therefore was left behind. Arriving back at the beach the grandmother grew very angry at being left behind and used her magic to summon up a storm making the first waves on what up till that point had been a waveless ocean. This forced the brother ashore at Ballina and they went overland back to retrieve the grandmother.

The next landing was at Lennox Head in the boat channel area (bream hole/moat) of the beach. One of the brothers, named Yarbirri (his beard was a dark red colour), thrust his hunting spear into the sand, and fresh water gushed out. Before the swampy area in the southern corner was filled and drained a ti-tree coloured stain was often seen that resembled a red beard.

After Lennox the brothers continued north to their final landing at Brunswick Heads, where they are said to have made the first wandaral or bora ring.Be that as it may, there is a well preserved bora ring in Lennox. It is situated ninety metres west of Gibbon Street and is also adjacent to the Megan Crescent cricket field. It is fenced and maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of NSW and is open to visitors. The Bora Ring was used mainly for male initiation ceremonies.

After the first Wandaral ceremony at Brunswick, The eldest brother, Yarbirri, made the laws. The brothers decided to separate and to populate the earth, Yarbirri went north, Mamoon to the west and Birrung to the south. The name Birin (Birrung) was widely used to mean "southerners"; the people north of the Brisbane River regarded all of the Bunjalung people as Birin: to the people here Birin referred to the people of the Clarence."...>From Aboriginal Pathways in Southeast Queensland and the Richmond River - J.G. Steel.

THE HISTORY OF LENNOX HEAD

"Lennox Free Times" Newspaper PART 1.

Transcribed by Margaret Kennedy, Ballina.

GEOLOGICAL HISTORY

Lennox Point was formed about 20 million years ago in the Cenozoic Era as part of one of the lava flows from the Tweed Shield Volcano, centred on what is now Mt.Warning. The basaltic lava spread south and east from the volcano in a succession of flows which covered to varying depths an older landform uplifted from the ocean bed in the Mesozoic Era.

Evidence of this can be seen in the sandstone at the base of THE POINT, known to surfers and fisherman as REDROCK.

Millions of years of erosion wore the basalt into the red soil seen in this and the ALSTONVILLE area.

The flat area extending back to the KNOCKROW hills thence once covered by the sea. During this period Fig Tree Hill was an island. From the hill looking north you can see evidence of old shorelines in the curving lines in the vegetation of the undisturbed heath country.

 

Disclaimer

Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this material, due to the fact that it is based on various records, and in some cases vary, it may or may not be, 100% correct.Consequently, no responsibility can be taken for any errors or ommissions that may have inadvertently crept in. [M.KENNEDY]

page created by Margaret Kennedy, Ballina 2001.