By Ian Clark, Toby Heydon
The Yarra Bend Park marks probably the most very important post-contact locations within the Melbourne metropolitan region, and is of significant value to Victorian Aboriginal humans, really the Wurundjeri Aboriginal group. At this website was once positioned the Merri Creek Aboriginal institution, the Merri Creek Protectorate Station, the local Police Corps Headquarters and linked Aboriginal burials.The position has extra value within the early 21st century, as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian handle the legacies of our touch past.
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Extra resources for A Bend in the Yarra: A History of the Merri Creek Protectorate Station and Merri Creek Aboriginal School, 1841-1851
Aside from his determination to follow Aboriginal people in his Protectorate district, Thomas provides no insight into why he established quarters at Merri Creek. By December 1841, Thomas recorded a large encampment on the Merri Creek, near its confluence with the Yarra River, including ‘most of the Woiwurrung, part of the Boonwurrung and ‘about 100 Goulburns’ (Thomas 1/3/1842 in VPRS 4410, Unit 3, Item 71). Towards the end of 1841 and for most of 1842, Thomas described his frustration at not being able to persuade Aboriginal people to settle at Narre Narre Warren.
Some Europeans also found that the camps could be places of sexual gratification, and such relationships between Europeans and Aboriginal people were not uncommon. Consumption of alcohol and sexual relations with Europeans in turn became sufficient reasons for not leaving the settlement, as townsfolk provided food, money and liquor in return for their labour. 23 However the emergence of a permanently settled, urbanised Indigenous community in Melbourne, enmeshed with its economy and society, was not a reality Protectorate and other government officials would condone.
He was far more proactive in his attempts at Europeanising Aboriginal people. Initially, he paid less attention to their culture, seeing his role as more to do with instilling in them a desire for things European. By 1839, the traditional economic life of Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung people had been seriously undermined by land dispossession, and Thomas understood this fact well. The provision of rations was, for Thomas, the central means by which he could influence them. Indeed he actively cultivated a provider-recipient relationship with them, based on exchange.
A Bend in the Yarra: A History of the Merri Creek Protectorate Station and Merri Creek Aboriginal School, 1841-1851 by Ian Clark, Toby Heydon