The following passage is the text chosen by the Wirangu for a monument on the clifftops in the Elliston district.
“This monument commemorates an incident, referred to by the traditional owners of this land as “The Massacre of Waterloo Bay”. A large number of Aboriginal people were killed near this site in May 1849 by a party of settlers. Waterloo Bay is a significant site in the history of frontier conflict between traditional owners and settlers, often resulting in the destruction of traditional family life. This memorial promotes a new spirit of reconciliation, helping to forge a renewed and healing sense of community through tolerance and understanding.”
“This monument commemorates an incident, referred to by the traditional owners of this land as ‘The Massacre of Waterloo Bay’” – Waterloo Bay was not named Waterloo Bay until 1865.
“A large number of Aboriginal people were killed near this site in May 1849” – The only incident recorded with this specific date is of Thomas Cooper Horn, ‘one of his huts was ransacked on May 27, 1849 after an employee, James Brown, and hut keeper David Allen walked away without offering any resistance. Horn set off with some of his men in pursuit and soon caught up with the culprits, who threw spears at them as they approached. A few shot from Horn’s gun caused them to flee, dividing into two parties, the pursuers following one of the groups to the sea. The natives disappeared over the cliff and Horn jumped down the rocks after them. A spear narrowly missed him, and he and his party opened fire. In the affray two natives were killed and another later died of wounds. Five were taken into custody and held until Corporal Gerharty arrived and took them to Port Lincoln to face trial. As a result of the trial the natives were acquitted. (Tjeringa chapter four, page 17).
“...by a party of settlers.” – The West Coast was divided up into pastoral runs and was sparsely populated with shepherd huts at this time. Settlers didn’t start farming until the late 1860’s early 1870’s.
“Waterloo Bay is a significant site in the history of frontier conflict between traditional owners and settlers, often resulting in the destruction of traditional family life.” Waterloo Bay, named in 1865, is the area within the two points Wellington and Wellesley – this area is predominately sandhill with small cliff areas either side.
I would like to see a more inclusive and reconciliatory text be chosen for the monument: “This monument commemorates the conflicts between the two cultures where many Aboriginal people were killed in this district, resulting in the destruction of traditional family life. This memorial promotes a new spirit of reconciliation, helping to forge a renewed and healing sense of community through tolerance and understanding.”
The depths of disrespect
Over the last year the community and district council have shown respect to a family in the district by renaming a road to Oats Road.
This shows appreciation for the efforts put in by Albert Oats and his family Bill, Laura and Trevor near Charoba and Stan Oats and his family north east of Penong.
All have put in a substantial amount of community work over the last 80 years.
But somebody has shown extreme disrespect by removing a newly erected ‘Oats Road’ sign.
May the person responsible lay awake at night pondering just how she or he were brought up and maybe reconsider the disrespect they show. I am sure their parents would be embarrassed by their actions.
- All submissions must include an address and contact number. (The address and phone number are not for publication.) Letters must carry the writer’s name for publication.The editor reserves the right to edit letters and not to publish them.