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The traditional owners

The North Fitzroy Community Garden Group acknowledges the Wurundjeri-Willam people of the Kulin nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which Rushall Garden stands and we pay our respects to their leaders past, present and emerging.

The Wurundjeri-Willam people were custodians of  the land along the Merri Creek and all of what is now the City of Yarra, as well as much of the Yarra River valley and other adjacent areas. Their connection to this land goes back many tens of thousands of years. They probably first came into contact with European settlers in the early 1800’s but their encounter with John Batman in 1835 was a watershed moment.

Batman met with with a group of eight Kulin Ngurungaet (head clans- men) somewhere on the banks of the Merri Creek near the present site of Rushall Station. He presented them with a document that would give him access to, and use of all their lands in exchange for various goods, detailed below in an extract from this document.

that the said John Batman his heirs and assigns may occupy and possess the said tract of Land and place thereon Sheep and Cattle Yielding and delivering to us and our heirs or successors the yearly Rent or Tribute of One Hundred Pair of Blankets, One Hundred Knives, One Hundred Tomahawks, Fifty Suits of Clothing Fifty Looking glasses, Fifty Pair Scissors and Five Tons Flour

 

 

 

 

 

The complete transcript of the document can be found here.

Batman’s treaty with the aborigines at Merri Creek, 6th June 1835, John Wesley Burtt, picture collection, State Library of Victoria, Accession Number H92.196

A painting from 1888 by the artist John Wesley Burtt depicts this event. The associated annotated sketch suggests that the hill in the background is Ruckers Hill, which would place the signing of the so called ‘treaty’ in the area near Rushall Station.

Batman’s treaty with the Aborigines at Merri Creek, 6th June 1835 – [Key to painting], John Wesley Burtt, picture collection, State Library of Victoria, Accession Number H2335

 

 

Rushall Garden therefore lies very close to a site of  great signifiance for the traditional Wurundjeri-Willam owners – a site that marks the formal dispossesion of their land – land that was, as indigenous people say, ‘stolen, never ceded’. It is our responsibilty to respect and care for the land on which our garden stands as did the traditional custodians.

Further information about the aboriginal heritage of the area can be found at the City of Yarra Aboringinal History of Yarra website.

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