Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coranderrk

Recently I ventured an hour west of Melbourne, to the small and pictureseque town of Healesville. There at the outskirts I visited what once was the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve. Today there is one building remaining, the Aboriginal cemetery and Worawa, the local Aboriginal college. I paid my respects at the cemetery to family buried there, and to William Barak, an Aboriginal leader who as a young boy witnessed the supposed 'treaty', where John Batman robbed the Wirundjuri and neighbouring tribes of their lands.

Coranderrk existed up until the 1920's as a hub of activity, where originally the Aboriginal inhabitants were productive to the extent that they farmed their own land, becoming one of the new nation's major hop producers, and enabling their children to gain an education, have medical care and other facilities not seen by other Aboriginal people during the 1800's.

Among those who called Coranderrk home were my great great grandmother Maggie, her son John (my great grandfather), and Maggie's three other children - Bella, Minnie and Jacob. Both Bella and Minnie are buried at Coranderrk. I have yet to find much of a trace of Jacob, and I believe he died as an infant.

For more on the history of Coranderrk, and its significance in Black Australian history, check out the Victorian Museum website dedicated to the settlement, here.

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