Aboriginal Identities of Early Melbourne

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These identities below are derived from our Melbourne Aboriginal Tour. They played significant roles in Kulin and early Melbourne society around the time of settlement as recorded by Indigenous people, Protectors, officials and early settlers.  By the act of remembrance we acknowledge their importance and contributions. More information can be found from our book ‘Melbourne Dreaming. A Guide to important places past and present’ found in most bookshops and libraries.

We pay our respects to the traditional owners and elders of Melbourne, past and present, whose lands we occupy today. In all things – Respect!

MEN

1. Benbow
Benbow was an arweet or leader of the Boon Wurrung of Melbourne in the Werribee area. He was a highly respected member of the Native Police and an advocate for his people,

Benbow

Benbow

protesting to the Governor at the taking over of his country. When John Batman’s young son drowned at the Yarra Falls he located the body. 

2. Derrimut 1810c – 1864
Derrimut was a leader of the Boon wurrung clan of Melbourne. He saved the settlers from attack on the settlement in 1838 by

Derrimut

telling John Fawkner of the planned assault. He bitterly complained about the loss of his land to the settlers in later years. He is buried in Carlton Cemetery with a tombstone acknowledging his contribution. 

3. William Barak
William Barak was a boy at the signing of the Melbourne treaty with John Batman in 1835. He became the respected advocate leader of the Corranderrk Mission, a great artist and civil rights campaigner for his people. Member of the Native Police. A building in Swanston Street bear his giant image.

4. Billibilleri
Billibilleri was a paramount chief of the Wurundjeri, respected by black and white leaders. He worked with William Thomas the Assistant Protector to get the best outcome for his people in difficult times. He was a custodian of the famous Mount William Quarry and its prized greenstone axes. Thomas wrote: he stands foremost… as ever having been the white man’s friend – generous, frank, and determined as he was. …. I consulted this chief who had often protected my life. Died 10th of August 1846.

Thomas ‘Grandfather’ James
An Indian of Brahmin caste and born in 1859, he was a Tamil Indian who married Ada Cooper, sister of William Cooper. James

Aboriginal Cricket Team

Aboriginal Cricket Team

became a teacher, healer, and spiritual guide for the people of Maloga Mission. He taught and brought forth a crop of political activists who consistently challenged institutionalised racism.

5. William Buckley (1780-1856)
William Buckley, the ‘wild white man’, was an escaped convict from Sorrento in 1803. He lived with the Aboriginals in Victoria for 32 years. This huge six foot seven inches man walked out of the bush at Indented Heads to meet the new settlers in 1835. He then became a translator for John Batman’s party.

6. Warrora or John Pigeon
John Pigeon was one of the seven Aboriginals who accompanied John Batman on his treaty expedition to Indented Heads in May 1835. His conduct impressed the Kulin and assisted the treaty negotiations. He later lived in Batman’s home.

7. Johninbia or Tommy Crook
Tommy Crook was one of the seven Aboriginals who accompanied John Batman on his treaty expedition to Indented Heads in May 1835. The others included Bullett, Bungett, Old Bull, and Joe the Marine. He had assisted Batman in hunting the Aboriginals in Tasmania.

8. Nunupturne (Billy Langhorne)
A member of Villiers native police force, member of the 1838 expedition to Geelong to avenge the death of settlers, assisted in the capture of the Tasmanian rebels in Mornington. Member of the Native Police.

9. Jimmy Dunbar
One of the last known members of the Boonwurrung clan living in the Melbourne area. He lived at the Mordialloc Reserve by Mordialloc Creek with his wife Nancy until his death at the Alfred Hospital in the 1850s.

10. Winberry
Well known native of the Goulburn area, who was shot when resisting unlawful arrest by troops on the Merri Creek at Heidelberg in 1942. William Thomas, the Protector, praised him highly and viewed his shooting as murder.

11. Yonki Yonka
Boon Wurrrung man, abducted as a boy with a group of women by sealers about 1833 and taken to Preservation Island in Bass Strait. Escaped to Launceston, then travelled to Swan River, W.A.. to work, then returned to by ship via Adelaide to Port Phillip. Member of the Native Police.

12. Murrum Murrumbean (Mr Hill)
Headman of the Koonung-willam at Baccus Marsh, he was gaoled in Melbourne and Sydney for sheep killing in April 1838, later a member of the Native Police Force.  Described as ‘a fine powerful black of the greatest influence over the Yarra blacks…He was never addicted to drink, and endeavoured, with his cousin Billibellary, to stop this growing vice. Many and many times have the young men’s heads been split by these two worthy men; The vile whites made others drunk daily’. Died 16 October 1849.

Barak

Barak

 13. Pereuk (Poky Poky)
Westernport man who assisted in the capture of the Tasmanian rebels in Mornington. Member of the Native Police.

14. Yeaptune
Nephew of Billibilery, Daungwurrung, Formerly of the Goulburn area, his parents were killed in a conflict with over-landers so he came to live with his aunt – Billibillery’s wife. Member of the Native Police.

15. Culpendure
Son of Billibilery, known as Robin, Member of the Native Police.

Trugannini

Trugannini

16. Perpine (Mr McNoel)
Westernport man who assisted in the capture of the Tasmanian rebels in Mornington.. Member of the Native Police.

17. Nangollibel (John Bull or Captain Turnbull)
Leader of the Konung-willam of the Woiwurrung of the Mt Macedon area. Member of the Native Police.

18. Tomboko (Henry)
Member of the Konung-willam of the Woiwurrung of the Mt Macedon area.

19. Nerimbineck
Brother of Winberry. Winberry was a well known native of the Goulburn area who was shot resisting troops on the Merri Creek men in 1942. William Thomas, the Protector, praised him highly and protested his shooting. Member of the Native Police.

20. Polligary (Tommy), (Mr Murray)
Member of the Wathawurrung clan. Member of the Native Police.

21. Munmungina (Dr Bailey)
Member of the Native Police.

22. Giberuke
A Goulburn man living with the Woiwurrrung in Melbourne when the protectors arrived in 1839, Member of the Native Police.

23. Boro Boro, (George, Mr Walpole, )
Member of the Native Police.

24. Yammabook, know as Hawkseye or Charley,

Billibellary

Billibellary

Marinbulluck section of the Woiwurrung. Member of the Native Police.

25. Beruke or Gellibrand. Well known traditional owner at the time of settlement.

26. Simon Wonga, son of Billibilleri. With his cousin Barak, he established a successful mission at Corranderk.

WOMEN
Melbourne’s early historians were generally male and put far more importance on recording the history of men, despite women being the main economic support of the tribes. Today we are gradually collecting the history of women and this is a work in progress.

27.  Trugernanner 1812–1876
Often referred to as Truganinni, she had an adventurous life. She survived the’ black wars’ with white settlers in Tasmania and came to Melbourne with Protector George Robinson. She joined a Aboriginal rebel band in Westernport and was later wounded. She survived the trail for murder and was exiled back to Tasmania.

28. Nancy Dunbar
One of the last known members of the Boonwurrung clan living in the Melbourne area. She lived at the Mordialloc Reserve by Mordialloc Creek with her husband Jimmy Dunbar until her death in the 1850s.

29. Louisa Briggs 1830s -1923
A Boon Wurrung member, she was kidnapped by sealers and taken to islands in Bass Strait. She married a Tasmanian Aborigine, John Briggs, and returned to live as an influential elder and advocate at Corranderrk Mission and later Cummergungsa.

30. Susannah
In gratitude to the wife of William Thomas for nursing his sick son Simon Wonga, Billibellary named his new born daughter Susannah.

31. ‘Fanny’
A Tasmanian Aboriginal who accompanied Truganinni to Melbourne and with her joined an Aboriginal rebel band in Mornington Peninsula robbing and burning farmhouses. They were captured, the two men were hung and she was exiled back to Tasmania with Truganinni.

32. ‘Matilda’
She also accompanied Truganinni to Melbourne and with her joined an Aboriginal rebel band in Mornington Peninsula robbing and burning farmhouses. They were captured, the two men were hung and she was exiled back to Tasmania with Truganinni. She revealed that in about 1833 she had been used as ‘bait’ to entice a group of approximately eight Boon Wurrung women near Point Nepean into the hands of sealers who abducted them to Bass Strait Islands. Boon Wurrrung people today can trace ancestry to the kidnapped women.Jimmy dunbar

33. Nandergoroke.
The wife of clan leader Derrimut, she was kidnapped from the Point Nepean area in 1833 and lived with sealers on the Bass Strait Islands. Her descendants have returned to Melbourne to prominently reclaim their Boon wurrung heritage.

34. Dutigalla
Led Batmans Party to the meeting of chiefs which signed the Batman treaty

35. Kitty or Tallamungrook
Devoted partner of Benbow of the Yalukit willam clan, she died of grief after his death.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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