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THE HISTORY OF DROMANA, VIC., AUST.,BY FRANKIE. (PART 1.)

Journal by itellya

THIS JOURNAL IS INTENDED TO CONVEY MY ADMIRATION OF THE FIRST AUSTRALIANS. I HAVE CHOSEN TO TELL THIS HISTORY, WHICH COVERS A PORTION OF AUSTRALIA'S HISTORY ON THE SAME RATIO AS A PIMPLE TO AN ORANGE, THROUGH THE PERSON OF ONE OF THESE FIRST AUSTRALIANS. AS IT IS ENTIRELY FACTUAL, THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN IS FACTUAL, BUT IN CASE ANY OFFENCE IS CAUSED TO OUR FIRST PIONEERS, HIS NAME HAS BEEN CHANGED.
"TANTI", A HISTORY TOLD THROUGH THE MOUTH OF AN ABORIGINAL BOY, AND DEALING WITH ABORIGINAL CUSTOMS, IS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA LIBRARY.
All facets of this story are true, gathered from scores of histories, except for Frankie's family's supposed involvement with them.

I'm a white fella now, so if you happen to come across me on the two bays trail or Eatons Cutting Road, you'll never recognise me. I was born in about 1832, about three years before John Batman (who had plenty of mates from the Sydney mob) and that dwarf, John Pascoe Fawkner, started squabbling over who was the founder of Batmanville, Bearbrass, the Settlement or whatever, finally named after the Prime Minister (instead of the King,because the sandbar would hamper its progress, making William's town a better site.)

I died in 1851 at the age of 19. Now you white fellas probably don't know this, but when we die, we come back as white fellas. That's why the mob on the other side of Nerm took such good care of William Buckley who escaped from Sullivan's Bay near Sorrento in 1803; they thought he was a re-incarnated member of their mob.We usually go walkabout after we die but I decided to hang around in case the other white fellas were not as considerate to my country and Kulin as Georgiana and Henry*, whom I met at the age of 13 while Henry was building Georgiana's house on Wonga. (The house is still there and you call it the McCrae Homestead.) So I've been keeping an eye on your mob (in my retirement!) for 161 years.(*Tuck.)

When I saw itellya's journals at an internet cafe, I just knew he was the bloke to write my story. He told me he was too busy, still having to finish his journals about Melbourne Brindle,the dictionary history of Red Hill and so on, but his obsession finally got the better of him. But he said I had to quote sources so that people would believe what I said. I said, "Listen Sport, (love that word)my people have been keeping their history alive by word of mouth for thousands of years and I don't recall the elders quoting sources. When I told the policemen about the four masons asking the Maori fisherman from Rosebud to take them to the quarantine station, he didn't want sources, just what I saw. And that's what my story is!"

The oldest piece of history I know comes from the dreamtime. I learned it, along with the men's and women's places and so on,when I was preparing for manhood. It was a vast plain with a river running through it where the Boon Wurrung could hunt and fish. We didn't have a name for places; names were more like descriptions of features of the place. Wonga (Arthurs Seat) was our word for the pigeon, very populous in the scrubby bushland on the mountain and our phrase, corrupted to rename the Saltwater River, means "I can hear a ring-tail possum."

My dad and the rest of our clan used to get together with the Wurundjeri where the Fitzroy gardens are now. One day he was standing near the waterfall that used to be near William St, when Surveyor Wedge pointed to the tumbling water and said "Name?" Dad replied, "Yarra Yarra," referring to the tumbling water, not the river, but the river was given this name because of a misunderstanding.It used to flow out between the Heads, with an S shaped course near Corsair Rock which is one of the factors making the rip dangerous, and meet Launceston's Tamar River in Bass Strait. Nerm rapidly filled with water during an incredible storm that was probably caused by earthquakes. We could no longer walk across Nerm to the Werribee River, which was our boundary with the Geelong mob but we still retained the coastal strip, south of the Freshwater River, to Werribee.

We shared a lot of vocabulary with the Wurundjeri, who shared it with other mobs so the pigeon is recalled by places as far apart as Wonga Park and Yarrawonga. We got on fairly well with the Wurundjeri, who lived north of the Yarra and east of the Maribyrnong and owned the famous Mt William axe quarry near Lancefield.The close correlation of our vocabularies probably had as much to do with our marriage partners coming from the other mob as did our shared festivities. We were far more wary of mixing with the mobs near Geelong and Dandenong. (Don't you love the music in our words?)

My dad stayed at George Langhorne's aboriginal mission where Melbourne's botanical gardens are now. He used to help in the garden and remembers when Tullamarine (called Bunja Logan by the white fellas)got into trouble for stealing potatoes. Tullamarine later got into real trouble for leading an attack on John Aitken's "Mt Aitken" but he and Gin gin escaped the first lockup by setting fire to the thatched roof. A fella called John Thomas Smith came down from Sydney to teach at the mission school but the money wasn't much good so he went into business. The next thing you know he's built Ascot House at Ascot Vale and Nyora at Mt Eliza, which became the Ranelagh Guest House.

I remember John Aitken. I was about four, so it would have been in early 1836 that the Chili went aground near Dromana. All of Aitken's sheep had to be carried ashore. Mum and the other lubras, who were collecting yam roots near the shore, called my dad and the other men who helped Aitken save his flock. The terrified sheep were in poor condition and it was only after grazing on what became the "Dalkeith" Run for some time that they were ready to tackle the long walk to Melbourne.

I remember John Pascoe Fawkner too. When the Princes Bridge over the Yarra was almost finished, Georgiana McCrae took me up to see the opening. She went to see her good friend and fellow culture vulture, Governor Latrobe, and took me with her.As luck would have it, the Governor's wife was indisposed and Georgiana pretended to be her. I thought the deception was hilarious but Georgiana swore me to secrecy. Okay, I broke the promise but keeping it for about 113 years is almost 113 years better than the average woman can manage.
(I don't know who janilye is but itellya said I'd better add: janilye excepted!)

Anyway I saw this little man, only 5 feet 2 inches tall, acting as if he owned the place.Georgiana told me how Captain Lancey, on Fawkner's behalf, had arrived at the waterfall, after being warned off by Jemmy Gumm and the others left at Indented Head as watchdogs when Batman returned to Launceston. Fawkner had to be put ashore to settle some financial matters so the Enterprize could leave but he started a seasickness excuse to explain his absence. When I arrived home, I didn't breathe a word about Georgiana's deception despite everyone asking me why I was sniggering to myself.

I did mention Fawker though. My dad told me how he met Fawkner when they both only about 10 years old as the clan moved along the Nerm coast. As boys do, they played at wrestling, climbing trees, drawing on the ground and digging with sticks and making rude noises with their armpits. Dad showed young Johnny two things. The first thing was a game called Marngrook which involved kicking and catching a possum skin ball. Already a budding capitalist, young Fawkner dismissed the idea as a money-making scheme. He stuck to this decision even though dad suggested a name-change might improve its popularity, perhaps something short like AFL.

The second thing was shown during their drawing and digging with sticks. In places where there had been a cooking fire the strange white stuff under the ground had turned to powder. Dad showed Johnny what happened to the powder when it was wet. Captain Collins left Sullivan's Bay soon afterwards to establish Hobart, taking John's father and the other convicts(minus Buckley)as well as the militia and free settlers. Young Johnny was brought up well (in the den of iniquity that Hobart was) by his mother, Hannah (nee Pascoe)after whom a street on Gowanbrae was named at itellya's suggestion, and would have got to know Robert Rowley's parents. Robert's father, a former soldier, drowned while combining boat-fishing and drinking and his mother married Richard Kenyon.Robert's mother and stepfather were the first longtime lime burners near the Heads and John Fawkner was a very early lime merchant in Melbourne. I'm not sure but the Kenyons probably worked for Fawkner.

Talk of Robert Rowley reminds me of when I was about eight or nine and met his mate, Henry Cadby Wells. You might wonder how Wells Rd got its name. Explorers in the Western district raved on about how my people were so clever building eel races there. But we had them everywhere; Solomon's Ford at Avondale Heights, Eel Race Rd at Seaford and so on.Mum, dad and I had one at Eeling Creek that today enters the bay through a drain under the car park on the east side of Tom Salt Park at Rosebud. We had just cooked a huge eel when along came a young white fella and his pregnant lubra. They had followed bullock tracks from Melbourne and despite a couple of day's rest at Stone's hotel to break their walk, they were exhausted, especially the missus.

My dad was a compassionate man so he invited the young couple to share our eel and some conversation, and camp with us for the night which was fast approaching.My dad was also a clever man and a realist.Even though I was a toddler, he insisted that I speak to George Langhorne and other white fellas at the mission school to learn English. He, himself, learnt most of his English from that wonderful man, Protector Thomas, as well as helping Thomas to compile a vocabulary of our language. This mainly happened while Thomas was waiting, with increasing impatience, to get to Tuerong so he could get the Boon Wurrung away from the corrupting influence of Melbourne. Chief Protector Robinson, a well-motivated man, because of his delays, was responsible for the demise of my people-as much as his lack of understanding of connection with country and his decision to settle Truganina's mob on Flinders island led to theirs. Mum and I continued our education at Tuerong until with much wailing and pleading, and lubra's trailing the cart, Protector Thomas was forced to return to Melbourne because of his wife's ill-health.

So it was that we were able to carry on a fluent conversation with the young couple. Hannah told us that they had lost their first child, Mary, (then called Polly at the captain's suggestion)and said that they would give the same name and nickname to their soon-to- be-born child if it was a girl. (It was and they did, Polly being born on the site of the Koonya Hotel at Sorrento, the first child born to permanent settlers on the Peninsula.)

Henry asked dad what the tree on the foreshore with the twisted branches was and why it didn't grow further inland. He was talking about ti tree and dad said that it would be everywhere if we didn't do our regular burns
to maintain open woodlands and make hunting easier. (A trick James Little Brown used to restore a rabbit and ti tree infested hinterland 69 years later.)

Henry had been puzzled by two very faint, and obviously rarely used, dray tracks near Arthurs Seat, one heading up the hill just before a ti tree swamp (and a spring that fed it) and another set that disappeared into the sea near the rocks. Dad explained that drays could get around the rocks on the sand but they had to wait for low tide. I asked Henry where he was going and why. I don't have to tell you where he was going. He was going there to burn lime in partnership with Robert Rowley. Robert had visited the Kenyons in 1839, but probably did not join their partnership,perhaps for personal reasons. He obviously retained his connection with the Apple Isle as he married his bride, Christina Edwards, in Longford, Tasmania. Henry and Robert probably worked together for about half of the 1840's but their market was affected by the 1840's depression, which caused a downturn in demand for mortar. Henry returned to his bootmaking trade in Richmond.More of these two later in relation to crayfishing.

There were few people near Arthur's Seat in the 1840's. There were limeburners from what is now Marks Ave to Point Nepean, the most easterly being established by Edward Hobson before leaving the Tootgarook Run in the capable hands of Peter Purves and tending his brother's Run (and naming the area Traralgon from the local mob's phrase for something to do with rivers.)The market gardening and Masters and Servants Act-breaking Sullivans arrived at the Quarantine site in 1843 but had to move east in 1852, machinery-breaking activist and ex-convict, James Ford supposedly jumped ship, named Portsea, gained a wife and gardening expertise from the Sullivans, and prospered. Owen Cain arrived in the early 1840's and set up his limeburning operation on Tyrone, experiencing heartburn when his 4 year old daughter became lost in the wilderness for four days,refusing to answer searchers' calls in case they were from a savage (Like me!) The Skeltons were early limeburners on Shelley Beach which should be called Skelly (short for Skelton)Beach.

Nearer to Arthurs Seat were the Meyricks on the Boneo Run, a succession of occupants on the Cape Schanck Run, the McCraes on the Arthurs Seat Run and Henry Dunn who leased Jamieson's Special Survey (formerly part of Edward Hobson's Kangerong Run) from 1846 to 1851. It was fairly quiet near Arthurs Seat and there were plenty of kangaroos so there was no need for us to kill sheep or cattle to survive;in the name of SPORT that was soon going to change!
END OF PART 1.

Hang on, I just had a flood of memories from the 1840's.The first one was from Tuerong when I thought the English had two different kings at the same time. Protector Thomas was telling me about the king and his crown, beautiful horses and carriage and so on. When I asked him where the King lived, he pointed to the bit of land sticking out into Nerm where we used to get the fish you call schnapper and said, "Far away over the sea." Then we sang a hymn about the king of Hebben. I asked if this was the king of England and Mr Thomas said he was the king of everywhere.Then I enquired where he lived and he pointed up in the air. That made sense; if you're king of everywhere, you'd need a high lookout to keep an eye on all your subjects.

I became a friend of the McCraes' tutor, John McLure, and George McCrae, and when I was 8, we followed Georgina and a man I thought was a doctor (because his name was Surgeon Franklin) as they walked to the top of Arthurs Seat. I asked George if Surgeon Franklin used a saw and John chuckled," It's Siiiir John because he is a very important man and has been the Governor of Van Dieman's Land. He climbed to the top in 1802 with his uncle, Matthew Flinders, so they could see the size of your Nerm."

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2013-02-01 23:56:14

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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