Black Post White
- Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place
- Lennie Hayes
- Catherine Larkins
- Frances Harrison
- Elaine Terrick
- Vincent Lamberti
We, the Elders of the East Gippsland region, Gunai/Kurnai country, recall our memories of recent times. Here, in Black Post White, we share our first hand experiences of post white settlement, along with the memories of other individuals from the East Gippsland community.
The ‘bush’ was always home to the traditional owners of this land, however during post-white settlement most of the traditional Aboriginal lands have been occupied by colonisers.
Aboriginal Clan boundaries were ignored as colonisers massacred some and forced others from our homelands into the Missions. This brutal shift shattered tribal law and forced new settlements to be created as a means of survival. Families from different Aboriginal Clans were moved to the Lake Tyers Mission, whilst others moved to the fringes of Lakes Entrance, Orbost and surrounding communities. We were forced to share campsites and made to live on or off the Mission depending on the colour of our skin.
Those living off the Mission made their bush homes where they could, and as best they could. Families struggled to live on these sites for many decades, until some housing became available in the 1970’s. Many of the families who were moved to East Gippsland from different geographical areas have stayed in our region and are now long-term residents in Gunai/Kurnai country.
The ‘bush camps’ around Lakes Entrance, Orbost and Lake Tyers such as Harrison’s Track, Red Bluff and Newmerella have become important historical sites for many people in our community. As well as the bush camps, other campsites were established on the fringes of farms owned by early settlers.
The farms were often owned by Italian immigrants who also experienced racism and consequently had empathy for us. The Italian farmers provided a safe haven in exchange for labour to pick beans and peas.
In more recent times, our co-existence with colonisers has resulted in some remarkable stories of sharing and reconciliation.