Click through to RV Daily, The Dark Sky Park by Jan
There are times when the past comes to visit. Times when you are touched by something from your heritage and you are reminded that people, those from history, loved and lived just like you do. Their life experiences, the recount of day-to-day events from a century ago are like a window into a world that is no more. It is a wonder to visit such things.
History is a wonderful thing, it provides us with a frame of reference, a background and tales of the past, ours. It is our greatest shame that our children are not taught Australian history in our schools and are instead taught mostly English maritime history.
Australian history or the deeds and challenges of the past are epic, from the trials of the native Australians to the building of our nation, including both the good, the bad and the downright distasteful.
They say that you should never go back, but there are some things, some places from your childhood that draw you back towards them irresistibly. At the moment The Man and I are showing one of our precious Grandies the sights of Sydney, introducing her to the joy of adventure and the wonders of the greater of the Aus. cities.
We headed out towards the mountains west of Sydney to show her something special, the area otherwise known as the Blue Mountains. They are a misty eucalypt blue at a distance from Sydney and are charming backdrop to any metropolis. Continue reading
To read part 1 -> Mistakes – Owning Your Past
Continued … Colonial Solutions for Social Problems
One of the few institutions of the colonial era that did address a social problem prevalent of the day was Point Puer, at Port Arthur Penal Prison. Young boys and men were seen to be in an insidious position when they arrived into the colony as convicts. Some as young as 9yrs old were exposed to the worst of social constructs, abuse and ill-use as convicts, this particularly in the penal settlement of Hobart Town where the majority of convicts were first sent. This problem of unassigned boys and how to deal with them was considerable .
Unlike the young girls who were quickly assigned for reasons addressed previously, as well as being placed into service as domestic servants, the boys were unwelcome and viewed as a drain on the penal system and so Point Puer was developed. It was no holiday for the young boys and young men but it was a improved arrangement which often gave them skills and training they badly needed. Some of these skills were of course questionable as can be seen in the wake of the bushranging era of the mid-late colonial era… many of these bushrangers were early inmates of Point Puer.
I’m currently in Sydney, looking out over the CBD and enjoying the Sydney Corroboree. To be back in the city of my birth is a delight and truly delightful, but to be able to enjoy the city, drink in the flavour of all that is Sydney and explore its museums, galleries and the city itself is a real treat.
The pic’ I have chosen to head this post is a art work by Brett Whitley, The Balcony; It depicts the beautiful Sydney Harbour and gives you the wonderful sense of freedom which is so much part of the Australian culture and people.
Amazon.com has now launched Matchbook for its customers.
Matchbook is an innovative program where you can get an e-book version of any print book you purchase for much less than you would pay, or even for FREE.
As an Author I have come right on board for this program as I feel it is a great concept for readers. In the ‘Around the Campfire’ series there are a number of print versions available, mostly for the more popular of the series.
It is no wonder to me that our kids do not know our own history in Aus. I have spent the last few days examining just what our vegemiters are taught of our national history at school and further down is a breakdown in case you yourself are wondering. The data presented here is collected from Queensland but can be applied as an example across our country.
It is little wonder to me that we are now dealing with endemic racism and gross misunderstanding and ignorance about who we are and how we got here. Most believe we were English crim’s who having arrived in a convict boat with a couple of the landed gentry, hopped off in old Sydney town to a land full of roos, sheep and ockerisms to be greeted by Aboriginal savages and there we started the fighting. This is a load of crock! Having received such a strong response to my recent post Just Who are Aussies I have consistently heard of how history as a subject is failing to inform Australians about ourselves, and our national heritage and history.
I sincerely believe that if we were taught something of our rich and varied experience as a colony and a nation, we would not be dealing with the racial dissention we are now seeing, this about WHO Australians are and just where we each belong in our world.
The RACISM I see everywhere, sticking its head up like a ferret out of a nest to be shot at by others is truly disturbing. We need to understand WHO we are and how we got here to truly appreciate our diversity with due respect.
Our kids spend a small part of Year 5 learning about our Colonial History, that which forms the basis for our self-awareness as a nation and valued individuals and I sincerely think that this is grossly inadequate. While the topics relevant to our self-awareness are so blatantly absent from the curriculum, or are barely mentioned if addressed at all, our children will lack in self-awareness and due respect in their varied heritages.
I’m an Aussie and proudly so. But my family story is often forgotten or lost in the melee of righteous injustices of the past, so I would like to tell you about one of my fore-fathers experiences of colonial Australia.
During the years of the Australian colonization my ancestor was taken from his country and sent to a reformatory a long way from his family. It was a harsh place with strict discipline and although there was segregation he thought himself lucky because he could be with his brother.
This story is true in every detail and well documented.
With literary licence I recount the following story in the first person, though I have not altered the facts as found in extensive research over many years and personal knowledge. My fore-father didn’t ever learn to write, though he learnt to make his mark and sign his name after a fashion.
Colonial Australia: A Letter from the Past
They took me from my family, from my mother and sent my brother and I to a place a long way from our country because they thought us thieves. We never saw our family again. I was barely 10 and my brother was 12 when we were first removed from our family. Where they took us to we had to work every day along with the other boys for many years. Every day but Sunday was the same, on Sunday we had to go to church so it was special. I had never been to church before this and I didn’t much like it because I always got into trouble and our punishment was harsh, but you get used to it in time and Sunday was the best day. My brother liked church though and everyone was punished so we were no different than others. In time when we grew stronger we were taken from the boys camp and sent to work with the men where the work was much harder. We never saw wages, but no one did so we were no different.
By the time I grew old enough to leave and was able to walk free I was 20 and I wasn’t welcome in the town because I was a man amongst many men in town who couldn’t find work, so I lived in the bush with others. There we lived off the land and learnt to hunt and had to steal to survive as there was less wild game to hunt by then and sheep were slow and easy to kill.
I became a man in the bush and lived there for years until I was sent to an island prison for stealing food. My brother was also sent there with me as we did every thing together, he was the only family I had then and although we were treated harshly, often beaten and whipped when we didn’t work hard enough, or didn’t tip our heads to our overseers or were thought to be insolent, we were at least still together.
By the time we were returned to the only country we had ever really known I was able to find work in the town, on the docks and helping colonists in their gardens. I wasn’t allowed to return to the country where I had lived before because they thought I would cause trouble with the settlers.
I met my woman in the town. She too had been taken from her country and worked for the settlers as a servant. Her first child had been taken from her once the baby was just a year old and it died soon after. So did our son who was also taken from her when he was just 14 months old, soon after that he died of starvation. They said that she couldn’t work with a child on her hip but he was too young to survive without his mother and he fretted away they told us.
Many children died in these days when they were taken from their mothers, those who worked as house servants and cooks for the settlers, they even had an orphanage where they sent the babies and most died there.
I had trouble with drinking at this time, alcohol that I got from the town people often as payment for the work I did and sometimes I was given flour or tea and salted beef. The year our first daughter was born was the year that we left the town because there was no life or freedom for us there and we wanted a better life for our kids. We wanted our children to survive and to be with us.
But alcohol was still a problem I had and it was difficult to provide for my woman and children so I ended up returning to work for the settlers, even though I was often paid only in alcohol or food, sometimes I would even be given coin now. Because I had not reported weekly to the police station as they said I should have done, even though I was free, I was thrown back into gaol again. I was also sent back to gaol because we grew small crops for a while but when they were ready for harvest we were told that the land was not ours. We never did harvest those crops. I think the settler who said he owned the land sold our crops even though we had paid to use the land with extra labour.
When I finally was released we once more fled the town but two years later I was gaoled for stealing a blanket. It was in July in winter and my kids were cold and there was no work. I spent four years in gaol for that, a long way from my family and when they set me free I was at least able to work once more to feed my kids. We had four kids still alive by then but we had lost two more, they had died while I was in gaol.
My hope is that my kids and their kids will have a better life. Perhaps in 150 years time or so my Great – Great – Great Granddaughter will write and tell of my life and you will wonder just who I am.
I am Australian, and we are a proud people.
Robert Charles was a convict, sent around the world to Van Dieman’s Land as a young child with no hope of ever returning to his family. He and his brother were sent to a land that was the only home he really ever knew. His descendants are likely of many different colours by now and if this is your country also, I would like to remind you that we are all Australian.
1823 – 1881
I have just returned from the Rooftop of Queensland, having spent time toasting my toes around the campfire at the delightful Mount Moffatt. We camped in what is part of the Carnarvon National Park, up high on the Consuela plateau where the Maranoa River is born and we explored the ancient lands of the Bidjara People.
I have visited the Carnarvon National Park many times over the years but this was the first time I could sit with the wild birds and animals, amongst the towering cyprus pines and gums on the high plateau for more than a short time. It was glorious!
Our days were filled with exploring the ancient campsites and art galleries of the Bidjara mob, photographing and documenting stencils left on sandstone cave walls in ochres of red, yellow and black along with rock etchings of the burial sites where the tribal people of the plateau buried their dead in a rich social and ritual life for near 20,000 years.