Monday, 22 October 2007

Forty-one names

1849 is the first date on the board and 1888 the last. In between the 1860s, 70s and 80s predominate. The board hangs from the wall in the historical society, gold lettered and shiny varnished. On the left are names of settlers who arrived in those years. On the right are the names of direct descendants still living in the Rosewood Scrub in 1988, the year of Australia’s Bicentenary. These are names I recognise from daily life, people who can so clearly trace back their families to their arrival in Queensland. These are names of people who did not move on once they arrived in the Scrub. They picked a place and stayed there and their descendants have not moved far.

One hundred or so years isn’t much in the context of European history, or of Aboriginal stewardship of the land, but it is impressive in the context of the fluidity of Australian European settlement. Even today, people move for work, for personal reasons, for lifestyle. Ideas about the ownership of land, one’s place in the world and being part of a community don’t always figure into people’s decision-making processes. Perhaps they didn’t for these people either. Perhaps they just never had a good reason to move.

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