Aboriginal Victorians: A History since 1800 by Richard; with Jackomos, Alick Broome

By Richard; with Jackomos, Alick Broome

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53 In 1839 William Thomas witnessed other ceremonies. In one, some Daungwurrung women stole locks of hair from Woiwurrung young men, allegedly paralysing them. To save the men from death, all their bodily hair was shaved with a piece of glass, their bodies oiled with ochre and fat and the hair buried, in a procedure lasting almost four hours. 55 The Kulin’s most spectacular ritual appeared to Europeans simply as fighting. Early colonial accounts invariably describe fights between Aboriginal people, as they were dramatic and confirmed the image of Aboriginal ‘savagery’ in an entertainment-starved town.

Fawkner in turn was bound to the Boonwurrung. 31 The members of the Port Phillip Association assisted initial peacemaking. 32 While New South Wales’s Governor Bourke awaited orders from England about the illegal settlement of the Port Phillip District, he sent James Simpson, a magistrate, to settle the growing unruliness among the 177 settlers and the Aborigines. A town meeting in June 1836 agreed to form rules to establish law and order and pledged to protect the estimated 800 Aborigines in the area and to report aggressions by or against them.

39 Colonial dangers Some novelties were dangerous, notably alcohol. 40 There are no accounts of sensible use of alcohol by Aborigines—perhaps it was not thought worthy of reporting—but plenty about alcohol abuse. 41 Aboriginal use of alcohol at best led to some time in the stocks, and at worst caused deadly harm among those with little experience of and tolerance to its perils. 43 But there were always whites willing to supply Aboriginal people with alcohol for some favour or other. William Thomas even suspected the publican of the now-prestigious Melbourne Club of doing so.

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