History research

In recent months, the Miranda Must Go campaign has been contacted by a number of residents from the Hanging Rock/Macedon Ranges region who wish to learn and share more information about our past and how dispossession has affected the area’s Aboriginal people.

There are number of local histories written about the Macedon Ranges, but few have focussed on the specific experiences of Aboriginal people and the impact colonisation has had on local tribal groups. One exception is a 2001 honours thesis by Kyneton teacher and historian Rachel Moait (née Tanner) which details her research into the Gunung Willam Balluk clan of the Macedon Ranges and also observes that there has been a lack of attention to Aboriginal histories in the area. Rachel’s thesis is widely circulated amongst local residents who want to know more about the region’s history.

Recently, Rachel contacted Amy Spiers through the Miranda Must Go campaign to say she is interested in undertaking further historical research on the Macedon Ranges in order to provide more resources for local people and schools. Rachel wants to encourage people to contact her if they would like to help. Particularly what would be most helpful is if people can suggest sources and provide access to records, like settler diaries and journals, that may offer further insight into the early period of colonisation and provide information about the local Aboriginal tribal groups and their contact with settlers.

Rachel is wishing to connect with other local historians, residents and Aboriginal groups who are working to learn more about the area’s history. If you have any leads that might help her research efforts or would like to connect with her, email Rachel (rachtann@yahoo.com.au) or Miranda Must Go (mirandamustgo@gmail.com).

Last week Rachel and Amy visited Skelsmergh in Carlsruhe (near Kyneton) on the invitation of current resident Steve Marriott. Steve explained that Skelsmergh is located on land that Charles Ebden occupied in 1837, becoming the first pastoralist to settle in the Port Phillip District north of the Great Dividing Range. Steve speculates that Ebden chose to settle the area as he was attracted to the deep waterholes in the Campaspe River in this location, which he believes were also significant to the local Aboriginal people. He is consulting with land councils and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to learn more about the significance of the area for Aboriginal people.

Steve also shared information, drawn from J. O. Randell’s squatter histories of the Campaspe and Coliban districts, that indicates Ebden and other early settlers of the Carlsruhe area were hostile towards Aboriginal people. In Scars in the LandscapeIan Clark notes that Ebden and his employees had reportedly participated in massacres of Dja Dja Wurrung people.

Below is a picture looking across Skelsmergh and Carlsruhe towards Hanging Rock. You can see Hanging Rock in the centre of the horizon between the poplar trees.

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