Aboriginal Australian man and woman in canoe on Lake Tyers, Gippsland, Victoria, Charles Rudd (photographer), 1892-1902Contributors
This photograph shows culturally sensitive material. Permission to publish must be sought from the collection holder, the State Library of Victoria.Copyright
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Aboriginal people could make canoes very quickly. But to do so required specific technical knowledge.
And it wasn’t just the making that was important. The ability to steer and navigate canoes, understanding the rivers and the currents, and confidence in and on the water, were all valuable skills in the 1800s.
Alfred Howitt, who conducted geological research in Gippsland in 1875, described in his journal how he depended on Aboriginal guides to construct and pilot vessels for ferrying the exploration team across rivers, and how they delivered vital stores and provisions to forward positions. He wrote effusively of their efficiency and inventiveness.
This photograph depicts an Aboriginal man and woman in a canoe on Lake Tyers, in Gippsland. It was taken towards the end of the 19th century, probably between 1890 and 1901.
The canoe is the tied end style or ‘Gippsland style’ of bark canoe.
The Lake Tyers Mission was founded in the 1860s for the Gunai/Kurnai people of South Eastern Victoria. By the time this photograph was taken, Aboriginal people from around Victoria were moving or being moved to Lake Tyers.