Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australia Day: Invasion to Reconciliation (Parramatta)

These images are part of the walkway along the Parramatta River.

On 26 January 1788, the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Cove. Parramatta, 23 kilometres west, was also established in 1788, after food growing failed in the poor soils around Sydney Cove. The indigenous Dharug people had known this as an area of rich food resources for thousands of years. It is the point where salt water becomes fresh, so also useful for farming.

Baludarri the Young Warrior, from Parramatta, befriended Governor Phillip and lived at Government House in Sydney from late 1790 to early 1791. He then left to return to Parramatta for a seasonal fishing trip, and encouraged by Phillip began to trade fish with new European residents of Parramatta.  

While fishing, convicts destroyed his fishing canoe. Phillip intervened and promised that the convicts would be punished if Baludarri did not kill a white man.  However, enraged at the act, Baludarri sought traditional revenge and speared a convict. Phillip learned of this and ordered Baludarri be outlawed and shot. Phillip later relented when he learned Baludarri had a fever. Baludarri died in late 1791 and was buried in the Governor's garden.

Between 1791 an 1805 a guerilla war was fought between Aboriginal people and whites. Aboriginal people defended their land ferociously from the appropriation following invasion. However, the arms available to the colonists ensured battle superiority. As well, the smallpox (an introduced disease ) epidemic of 1789 hit the Indigenous people very hard.

One leader, Pemulwuy, speared and killed Governor Phillip's gamekeeper, in revenge for the gamekeeper killing a large number of Aboriginal people. Phillip dispatched 50 soldiers with orders to bring back the hearts of any 6 men belonging to Pemulwuy's group. 

Pemulwuy led a series of attacks on farms. He was ambushed and killed in 1802. 


In 1805, local Indigenous representatives and a settler, John Kennedy, initiated a 'Peace conference' at Parramatta. It was described as 'a conference with a view of opening a way to Reconciliation.' This was one of the earliest uses of the word in Australia - a first attempt at Reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia.

This goal remains one to strive for.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous post for today Sally. My knowledge of this time is pathetic, so thanks for opening my eyes.