Robinson and Gellibrand's travels through Victoria.
A Journey through the Western District
The Aboriginal communities of the western district of Victoria exemplify the tenacity and vitality of Aboriginal people throughout Victoria. From the arrival of the British in 1834, western district Aboriginal communities have been subjected to widespread disruption of their lives and levels of repression which have required tremendous strength to overcome.
Attempts to dispossess Aboriginal people of life, land and culture occurred through the processes of direct 'frontier' violence. Restrictive controls were also imposed by the reserves and mission system. A variety of legislation attempted to erase Aboriginal communities through the destruction of collective and individual identities.
The Aboriginal communities of the western district today are responsible for the custodianship of important cultural sites such as Bunjil's Shelter in the Black Ranges. They also administer Brambuk Living Cultural Centre in the Gariwerd/Grampians National Park. Additionally, keeping places, cultural centres and Aboriginal co-operatives located throughout the western district provide a focus for the continued articulation of Indigenous culture in Victoria.
The significance of the survival of Aboriginal communities today can only be fully appreciated through an understanding of the history of the frontier violence. There was an open attempt to exterminate Aboriginal people from the landscape in order that the mythology of terra nullius might become a reality.
George Augustus Robinson was appointed the first Chief Protector for Aborigines in the Port Phillip District in 1839. During his ten years as Chief Protector he 'made over 20 expeditions into the four districts of the Aboriginal Protectorate', (Ian D. Clark, p. v.).
Travelling through the western district between March 21 and August 14, 1841, Robinson documented many atrocities committed against Aboriginal people. He wrote 'this would not be allowed in civilized society'.
Aboriginal people resisted these actions and endured.
All of the entries here are taken from Ian D. Clark, The Journals of George Augustus Robinson, Chief Protector Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate, Volume Two: 1 October 1840-31 August 1841. Or Ian D. Clark, Scars in the Landscape: A Register of Massacre Sites in Western Victoria, 1803 - 1859.