Letters to the editor

LETTERS: Send letters to the editor to billie.harrison@fairfaxmedia.com.au.
LETTERS: Send letters to the editor to billie.harrison@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Truth in reconciliation

There needs to be Truth in Reconciliation if there is to be any monument recognising the “massacre” at Waterloo Bay.

The report of the attack by Aborigines on Thomas Horn’s stores hut is reported by the Protector of Aborigines in the South Australian, July 24, 1849 page 4, and Police Commissioner’s Report South Australia Register, August 18, 1849 pages 3 and 4. The report of the trial of the Aborigines involved in the raid on Horn’s stores appears in Adelaide Observer, September 29, 1849 page 3.

In the Port Lincoln Times, October 30, 1936, J. D. Somerville’s series of ‘Early Days Of Eyre Peninsula’ report, the following particulars are from the original depositions taken at Port Lincoln; records of these depositions are now filed in the Supreme Court archives.

John Hamp was murdered on 23 June 1848.

In the South Australian, September 11, 1849 page 2, Supreme Court Criminal Sittings, lists those involved in the murders and raids on the west coast.

In the South Australian, September 28, 1849 page 2 is the court case of the wilful murder of John Hamp. Reading this will be seen that John Hamp’s head was never severed from his body.

As most of the events happened in 1849 and the Protector of Aborigines and Police Commissioner were in the area, you can read their reports in the newspapers of 1849 in Trove.

In the South Australian Register, July 28 1849 page 4 from the Government Resident of Port Lincoln is the report of the poisoning of Aborigines with arsenic laced flour. A group of seven Aborigines were given the flour by Aborigines who had raided the hut of Patrick Dwyer. Five died. Report of the Police Commissioner is in the South Australian Register, August 18, 1849 page 3 and 4. The report of the Protector of Aborigines is in the South Australian, November 6, 1849 page 4.

John Chipp Hamp told the story of the ‘head in the camp oven’ and the ‘Elliston Massacre’ and everyone embellished it, they were there, or knew someone who was there, and the stories had a life of their own. 

John Chipp Hamp would be having a good laugh about the whole thing.

Perhaps Dr Haines or the Wirangu can report where Aborigines camped in the area, and trace their settlement of the area. 

There are no reports of that large a group of Aborigines camping in any one area for anymore that a few days.

It seems Dr Haines has accepted that a party led by Thomas Horn was responsible for the ‘massacre’ but he is not willing to go against the fable and say that there wasn’t the number of 200 Aborigines killed. 

He seems able to accept the account of the affray, without accepting that the numbers are impossible. Why then say that Thomas Horn led the party and that a ‘massacre’ may mean as little as one person being killed?

While the Elliston council – with chairman, councillor Callaghan, saying there needs to be closure –  has invited the Wirangu representatives for an informal meeting, the council seems unwilling to hold a public meeting with the ratepayers of the council, with Dr Haines and the Wirangu present. 

This needs to be done for any reconciliation to take place. It needs to be acknowledged that there were murders of Aborigines and settlers.

Perhaps the memorial needs the simple and powerful words “We Remember” on it. That way everyone can remember whatever version of events occurred.

There needs to be truth in reconciliation.


Port Kenny

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