The struggle for rights 1850 - 1901
Robinson and Gellibrand's travels through Victoria.
J.T. Gellibrand and William Buckley
February 1st, 1836
January, 1836 Joseph Gellibrand arrived in Westernport Bay from Hobart.
His subsequent journey on foot to the Port Phillip settlement, documented
in his diary, highlights the point that were it not for Gellibrands reliance
on, and respect for Aboriginal people's knowledge and use of land he would
have had great difficulty completing the trip. (On several occasions, after
running out of water, Gellibrand followed Aboriginal walking trails that
led him to campsites and waterholes).
took a week. By the time that Gellibrand arrived at the mouth of the Yarra
River he could barely 'hobble' on his blistered feet. He was able to reach
the settlement only after 'a boat manned with Blacks came down the river',
picked Gellibrand up and 'proceeded with us to the settlement'.
reliance on, and assistance provided by Aboriginal people extracted a
level of respect:
Natives are a fine race of men… they are strong and athletic, very intelligent
and quick in their perceptions…the women and especially the young ones
are particularly modest in their behaviour and also in their dress… from
the general appearance of the country I am persuaded that they must exert
themselves considerably in obtaining subsistence.'
(from Letters from Victorian Pioneers, Thomas Francis
Bride, Heinemann, Melbourne)
of Aboriginal people, such as those made by Gellibrand highlight an important
point that some early 'settlers' had a far greater respect for Aboriginal
people than is sometimes recognised today. Gellibrand's observations also
record the generosity shown to him by Aboriginal people.