Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Telling tales

School gates and occasions where cups of tea are served are often good spots for gathering information. Tales told at these locations are often of the gossipy sort – who is running around with whom; whose children are up to what; why local houses are for sale; which social function or fundraiser is going to be a failure and why; the best spot to buy hay or children’s toys. The conversations can be convoluted and full of pitfalls for the ignorant newcomer. Hint: never ever say anything bad about anyone as there is sure to be a distant relative of their’s in the group.

Sometimes gems of history float to the surface on such gossipy occasions. Reading over a local historian’s outline of aboriginal settlement in the Rosewood Scrub, I was reminded of a playgroup meeting a few years ago. One mum was talking about her mother-in-law’s memories of going to Rosewood by wagon as a child with her family to get supplies. They would use the track over Tallegalla and return home warily least supplies be lifted from the wagon. I do not know if thefts ever took place or if the fear of theft was the motivation for wariness.

According to my correspondent, the primary Aboriginal camping spot was on Black Snake Creek east of Berlin’s Road. This is very close to the Tallegalla road and such proximity might well be enough to raise local fears. Early settlers in Tallegalla also had tales of hearing Aboriginal ceremonies at Kunkala and Cabanda.

A more sobering tale told by the same mother was that a blacksmith at Lowood had memories of the leisure activity of the apprentice blacksmiths being chasing and shooting Aboriginal youth in the scrub outside of town.

Today, little evidence exists of pre-settler scrub history other than some artefacts and tales. Other than brief mention of pre-European settlement, local written histories gloss over the transition from migratory land use to migrant settlers. There must however have been a significant period of overlap and tension over land use. By 1840 white squatters were in firm possession of the land. Would the Jaeckels even have encountered any of the original owners of the land?

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