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Against the Grain. Colonialism and the Demise of the Bunya Gatherings, 1839 – 1939

  • Raymond Evans

Extract

The white man dropped from the sun bright sky

For he envied the blackfellows' land,

With greed and revenge in his restless eye

And disease and death in his hand.

And he grasped the forest, and seized the strand

And claimed the blue mountains high…

Songs of the Carobra (1855)

You literally could not kill an Aborigine with an axe.

Toowoomba Chronicle (1919)

Idyllic accounts of South-East Queensland's triennial bunya festivals - invariably written by Europeans - seem to float like beckoning mirages above a relative historiographical desert.' The story of the bunya gatherings in the coastal Blackall Ranges or in the Bunya Mountains, at the north-eastern periphery of the Darling Downs, is largely cut adrift from the intricate race relations history of these districts, its aura of ‘romantic reminiscence’ conveniently unsullied by surrounding patterns of colonialism, racism and violence which punctuate the extended process of European intrusion and displacement.

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References

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Notes

1 Moreton Bay Courier, 13 October 1855.

2 Toowoomba Chronicle, 11 September 1919

3 Chisholm, A. H., ‘The Bunya Range Excursion’, Emu 19 March 1920, 203.

4 Gunson, W. N., ‘The Nundah Missionaries’, Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal 6 3 (1960–61): 512; Eipper, C., Account of a Journey to the Bunya Mountains, March-April 1843, Rev. J.D. Lang Papers, 1837067, A2240, Vol. 21, Mitchell Library, Sydney.

5 Simpson, S., Journal of an Excursion to Bunya Country, Governor's Despatches to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Jan–April 1844, Vol. 44, ML A1233, Mitchell Library, Sydney; L. Skinner, ‘The Days of the Squatting Acts Districts of Darling Downs and Moreton Bay, Part II’, Queensland Heritage 3 7 (November 1977): 16, 18 and 25. The Hottentot military prisoners were Hausman Jantjies and Hendrick Witnalder.

6 Young, H. E., ‘The Romance of the Bunya Tree’, The Queensland Naturalist 2 1 (January 1939): 5.

7 Evans, R., Fighting Words. Writing About Race (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999), 7475; Evans, R. Thorpe, W., ‘In search of “Jack Bushman’ in Chain Letters. Narrating Convict Lives, L. Frost and H. Maxwell-Stewart eds., (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001), 36; B. Thorpe and R. Evans, ‘Frontier Transgressions: writing a history of race, identity and convictism in early colonial Queensland’, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 13 3 (1999): 325–332.

8 G. Mitchell's story, as reported by Allen Cunningham, June 1839, quote in Steele, J., Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824-1842 ( St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1975), 107–8.

9 Petrie, C. C., Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland (Melbourne: Lloyd O'Neil, 1975), 15, 254; Huth, J., ‘The bunya pine – the romantic Araucaria of Queensland’, Paper prepared for the international Araucariaceae Symposium, Auckland New Zealand, 14-17 March 2002, 3.

10 Mabberley, D. J., ‘Bidwell of the Bunya-Bunya’, Curtis Botanical Magazine, 18 1 (2002): 3146.

11 James, S., A Submerged History, typescript, 1314.

12 Eipper, Account of a Journey, 19 March 1843, 147.

13 Ibid, 25 March 1843, 150; Simpson, S., Journal of an Expedition to Wide Bay, 7 & 15 April 1843, in The Simpson Letterbook transcribed by G. Langevad, Cultural and Historical Records of Queensland 1 1979, 910.

14 Steele, J., Aboriginal Pathways in South-Eastern Queensland and the Richmond River (St. Lucia; University of Queensland Press, 1984) passim; Mackenzie-Smith, J., Evan Mackenzie. Pioneer Merchant Pastoralist of Moreton Bay, Master of Arts, History, University of Queensland, 1990, 79.

15 Eipper, Account of a Journey, 26-28 March 1843, 151–53; James Davis ‘belonged to’ the Giggabarah clan.

16 Ibid, 27 March and 14 April 1843, 151–2, 159–60.

17 Ibid, 28 March and 1 April 1843, 152, 154–55.

18 Mackenzie-Smith, , Evan Mackenzie, 8085.

19 Ibid, 104–05.

20 Kirkhove, R., The Great Bunya Festival of Baroon, unpublished paper prepared for the Foundation of Aboriginal and Islander Research Action, 1986, 1415.

21 Mackenzie-Smith, , Evan Mackenzie, 105; Sydney Morning Herald, 6 July 1843; Copland, M., Richards, J. Walker, A., A Historical Overview of Dispossession in Southern and Southwest Queensland, Report prepared for the Indigenous land Corporation, January 2002, 17.

22 Eipper, Account of a Journey, 28 March 1843, 154.

23 Ibid, 24 April 1843, 165–66.

24 Mackenzie-Smith, , Evan Mackenzie, 110; Copland, Richards and Walker, A Historical Overview, 1519; French, M., Conflict on the Condamine. Aborigines and the European Invasion (Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1989), 92–100.

25 Polding, J. B., evidence, 10 September 1845, ‘Select Committee on the Condition of the Aborigines’, New South Wales Votes and Proceedings, 1845, 952 quoted in Mackenzie-Smith, Evan Mackenzie, 111–12.

26 Demarr, J., Adventures in Australia Fifty Years Ago. Being a Record of an Emigrants’ wandering through the Colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland during the years 1839-44 (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1893), 233.

27 Collins, P., Goodbye Bussamarai. The Mandandanji Land War, Southern Queensland 1842-1852 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2002), 113, 150–51; Lang, G., The Aborigines of Australia, In their Original Condition, and in their Relations with the White Men (Melbourne: Wilson and McKinnon, 1865).

28 Hodgson, C. P., Reminiscences of Australia with Hints on the Squatter's Life (London: W.N. Wright, 1846), 233.

29 Stobart, H., Journal commenced on board the ‘Resolute’ on her voyage to Australia, November 1852, M467, 92, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London. Stobart also observed, ‘The blacks about here are greatly diminished not numbering more than 40 men now. It is quite remarkable the aged appearance the men and women bear even when only 20 or 30 years of age’.

30 Evans, R. Thorpe, B., ‘Indigenocide and the Massacre of Aboriginal History’, overland 163, winter (2001): 2633; Collins, Goodbye Bussamarai, 44–65, 122–155.

31 Mackenzie-Smith, , Evan Mackenzie, 89.

32 Moreton Bay Courier, 20 November 1852; Collins, Goodbye Bussamarai, 94, 100.

33 Richards, Copland Walker, , A Historical Overview, 36; Moreton Bay Courier, 16 Feb. 1850 and 2 April 1853.

34 Reid, G., A Nest of Hornets: The Massacre of the Fraser Family at Hornet Bank Station, Central Queensland, 1857, and Related Events (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982).

35 Serecold, G. to Serecold, C., 31 December 1857, John Oxley Library, QHRP 5–7; Copland, Richards and Walker, A Historical Overview, 40; G.D. Lang to J.D. Lang, 31 March 1858, A63, Mitchell Library; R. Evans et.al., Race Relations in Colonial Queensland. A History of Exclusion, Exploitation and Extermination (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1993), 51–52, 71–72, 375–78.

36 Kirkhove, R., A Concise Aboriginal History of the Sunshine Coast, typescript, 1986, 7374; James, S., A Submerged History, typescript, 32; F. Wheeler, Sandgate to A.W. Manning, 1 December 1863, Col/A47, in – letter 2889 of 1863, Queensland State Archives.

37 Mortimer, J. & A., Manumbar to Col. Sec., 3 April 1861, Col/A14, in-letter 908 of 1861, Queensland State Archives; Moreton Bay Courier, 16 March 1861; D. Cryle, The Press in Colonial Queensland. A Social and Political History 1845-1875 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1989), 66–68; Copland, Richards and Walker, A Historical Overview, 21.

38 Evans, et al. Race Relations, 96101; Copland, Richards and Walker, A Historical Overview, 14.

39 Evans, R., ‘The Mogwi Take Mi-an-jin: Race Relations and the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement’ in ed. Fisher, R., Brisbane: The Aboriginal Presence 1824-1860 (Brisbane: Brisbane History Group Papers 11, 1992) 2225.

40 Meston, A., ‘Mestonian Flashes’, Cummins and Campbell's Monthly Magazine, January 1955, 13; Meston, A., ‘The Bunya Mountains’, Queenslander, 21 May 1892.

41 The Bunya Mountains’, N.P.A News, January 1986, 7.

42 Sullivan, H., Aboriginal Gatherings in South-East Queensland, BA Honours thesis, Dept. of Prehistory and Anthropology, ANU, 1977, 1819; P.J. Harley, ‘Feasts of the Bunya-Bunya’, Walkabout, 9.10, August 1943, 37; Moreton Bay Courier, 10 February 1851; Young, H.E., ‘The Romance of the Bunya Tree’, The Queensland Naturalist, 11.1, January 1939, 9–10.

43 Stamer, W., Recollections of a Life of Adventure (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1866) Vol. 2, 4647.

44 Tyrwhitt, W., The New Chum in the Queensland Bush (Oxford: J. Vincent, 1888 [?]) 107.

45 James, S., Submerged History, 3334; Copland, Richards and Walker, Historical Overview, 21–22.

46 Olssen, L., The Bunya Mountains, typescript, 3, OM89-6/d, Oxley Memorial Library, Brisbane; ‘The Bunya Mountains’, NPA News, 7.

47 North, M., August 1880 quoted in ed. Vellacott, H., Some Recollections of a Happy Life. Marianne North in Australia and New Zealand (Melbourne: Edward Arnold Australia, 1986) 1819.

48 James, S., Submerged History, 3637.

49 Copland, Richards and Walker, Historical Overview, 58; see also Evans, R., ‘White Citizenship; Nationhood and Race at Federation’, Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 2.2, May 2002, 184–85.

50 Sanderson, D. G., ‘Queensland's Bunya Mountains’, Walkabout, August 1953, 28.

51 James, S., Submerged History, 3742.

52 Kirkhove, Concise Aboriginal History, 60, 7071; New South Wales Government Gazette, 19 April 1842; Huth, Bunya Pine, 4–5.

53 S. Simpson to Colonial Secretary, 6 May 1843 in Langevad, Simpson Letterbook, 6.

54 Hodgkinson, C., Australia from Port MaQuarie to Morton Bay with Descriptions of the Natives ... (London: T. and W. Boone, 1845), 112.

55 Copland, Richards and Walker, Historical Overview, 2223.

56 Kirkhove, Concise History, 60; Huth, Bunya Pine, 9; James, Submerged History, 13.

57 Marsh, M. H., A Letter to the Colonists of Queensland, (Salisbury: Bennett, 1859) 15.

58 Moreton Bay Courier, 17 September 1859.

59 Bennie, J. C., The Bunya Mountains. Their early history to the present day, nd., 247 ms. in possession of author.

60 Ibid, 3.

61 Kirkhove, Great Bunya Festival, 6; Huth, Bunya Pine, 8; McMahon, J.J., ‘Nature's Gift. The Lure of Bunya Mountains’, Brisbane Courier, 27 February 1932.

62 Harris, G., Reminiscences of my Early Day at Ipswich, Ms, 3, 6 and 10; Brown, E., Cooloola Coast. Noosa to Fraser Island (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2000) 135–36.

63 Webb, L., ‘The Rape of the Forests’ in Marshall, A.J. ed., The Great Extermination. A guide to Anglo-Australian Cupidity, Wickedness and Waste (London: William Heinneman, 1966) 165.

64 Kerridge, J., Maryborough to G. Randall, January 1885 in A Few Letters from Queensland Farmers and Others (London: Lake and Sison, 1893), 9.

65 Huth, Bunya Pine, 8; Petrie, C.C., Reminiscences, 15, 254; Mabberley, ‘Bidwell,32.

66 Eipper, Account of a Journey, 27 March 1843, 152.

67 W.S.C., ‘A Ride in Queensland’, Dublin University Magazine 81 January (1873): 113119; R. Ramsey in Darling Downs Gazette, 11 December 1869; Eipper, Account of a Journey, 19 March 1843, 147; A. Meston in Toowoomba Chronicle, 1 April 1920.

68 Brisbane Courier, 18 June 1883.

69 Chisholm, Bunya Range Excursion, 205.

70 Brisbane Courier, 18 June 1883.

71 North, M., Recollections of a Happy Life, being the autobiography of Marianne North (London: Macmillan, 1892), 111–12.

72 Ibid, 115–25.

73 Brisbane Courier, 18 June 1883.

74 Thorpe, B., Colonial Queensland. Perspectives on a frontier society (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996) 161–62; Meston, ‘Bunya Mountains’, 1892; Bennie, Bunya Mountains, 13.

75 Waterson, D. B., A Biographical Register of the Queensland Parliament 1860-1929 (Canberra: ANU Press, 1972), 144; Evans et.al., Race Relations, 59, 63; Evans, Fighting Words, 206; H. Reynolds, An Indelible Stain. The Question of Genocide in Australia's History (Ringwood: Viking 2001), 106–07.

76 Evans et al. , Race Relations, xxii-xxiii; R. Evans, ‘Queensland's First Aboriginal Reserve. Part 2: The Failure of Reform’, Queensland Heritage, 2.5 November (1971): 711.

77 Waterson, Biographical Register, 129–30; Queensland Parliamentary Debates, xxx.2, 1880, 666.

78 Barrett, C., Sunlit Land: Wanderings in Queensland (London: Cassell, 1947) 41; Chisholm, ‘Bunya Range Excursion,’ 208.

79 Bennie, Bunya Mountains, 14.

80 Meston, , ‘Bunya Mountains,1892; Queenslander, 16 July 1892; Bennie, Bunya Mountains, 1415.

81 Bennie, Bunya Mountains, 1516.

82 Smith, W., ‘A Holiday Trip to the Bunya Mountains’, Brisbane Courier, 26 March 1913; Chisholm, A.H., ‘The Beautiful Bunyas’, Sydney Mail, 19 November 1919.

83 Hutton, D. Connors, L., A History of the Australian Environmental Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 33 and 53.

84 Bunya Mountains’, 1986, 8; Huth, Bunya Pine, 9; Jarrott, J.K., History of the Bunya Mountains National Park, (National Parks Association of Queensland, 1995), 1529.

85 Barrett, Sunlit Land, 4546.

86 Senior, W., Near and Far. An Angler's Sketches of Home Sport and Colonial Life (London: Sampson Low, 1888), 277; Brown, Cooloola Coast, 142167.

87 Hill, W., ‘Colonial Timber’, Logan Witness, 11 October 1879; James, Submerged History, 5 and 39.

88 Bunya Mountains, 1986, 8.

89 James, Submerged History, 4044; Winterbotham, L.P., Some Native Customs and Beliefs of the Jinibara Tribe ..., Typescript, Queensland University Anthropology Museum; Gaiarbau and L.P. Winterbotham, ‘The Gaiarbau Story’ in ed. G. Langavad, Some Original Views Around Kilcoy. Book 1: The Aboriginal Perspective (Brisbane: Archaeology Branch, 1983); Hurley, ‘Feasts’, 37.

90 J. Lynn, Barambah to J.W. Bleakley, 10 March 1931; J.W. Bleakley to W.P. Semple, 14 March 1931; W.P. Semple to J.W. Bleakly, 21 March 1931. Chief Protector of Aborigines Office, A/58 in-letter 699 of 1931, Queensland State Archives.

91 Meston, ‘Bunya Mountains’, 1892; Meston, A., Geographic History of Queensland (Brisbane: Edmund Gregory, 1895), 80, 82 and 84; A. Meston, ‘Gone Wild’, Daily Mail, 30 July 1923 and ‘Wild White Men’, The World's News, 27 October 1923; C. Moynihan, The Feast of the Bunyas. An Aboriginal Ballad, (Brisbane: Gordon and Gotch, 1901); H. Van Houtte, In search of Australia's identity: Cornelius Moynihan's The Feast of the Bunyas ..., unpublished paper, Griffith University, June 2002; Petrie, Reminiscences, 11–28; G. Essex Evans, ‘Garden of Australia’, 1899 in Jarrott, Bunya Mountains, 13.

92 Meston, , ‘Mestonian Flashes,12.

Against the Grain. Colonialism and the Demise of the Bunya Gatherings, 1839 – 1939

  • Raymond Evans

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