F for First People

Thanks to Melinda Reed for writing this post for the A-Z challenge. These words are adapted from articles in Pitt Water Chronicles Vol 1 and Vol 3 published by the Sorell Historical Society.   Blue links will take you to websites for further information.

Sign at Blue Lagoon area

The first people of the land and coastline we now know as Sorell Municipality were the Mumirimina people of the Oyster Bay nation, who lived here for 2000 generations until dispossessed of their home.

Thick forests and grassy plains provided an abundance of animals to hunt, shells and kelp gathered from the ocean beaches, river reeds and other foods collected along the river banks. Women made reed and kelp baskets and collected ochre to decorate hair, faces and bodies. Necklaces were made of wallaby sinews and ochre, or strips of fur or of shells strung on sinews or string made from reeds. Deep spiritual beliefs and an enduring culture evolved over 40,000 years.

Then in 1642 Oyster Bay people watched Tasman’s ships, and in 1772 encountered French ships and explorers who killed one Aboriginal man. In 1803 life changed drastically with the arrival of the British and the rapid colonisation of the south east.

In 1809 Mumirimina man John Shinall (Shiney, Aboriginal name unknown) was born in the Carlton area, living a tribal life with his family until land grants in that area from 1812, then lived with a settler family and later worked as a farm labourer.

Between 1815 and 1819 an Aboriginal ‘mob’ traversed between Risdon and Pitt Water in the summer and retired to the east coast in winter, including a camp at Sweetwater Hills at Penna.

On 9 December 1826, fourteen Oyster Bay Aborigines were believed killed and nine others, including Kickerterpoller, were captured and lodged in the Sorell gaol.

In 1828 Governor Arthur declared martial law against the Aboriginal people and in December 1830 Sorell settlers took part in the Black Line.

In the 1830s George Robinson documented the Oyster Bay word tipina, the name for what is now Midway Point. It is the only recorded Aboriginal place name in the Sorell area.

On his death in 1839, John Shinall was mutilated and his severed head preserved in alcohol; eventually returned from Dublin University to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in 1990.

Today, in commemorating 200 years since the naming of Sorell township, we respectfully acknowledge this always was and always will be Aboriginal land. The ancient stewardship of the land and coastline continues in the unique culture of the Palawa/Pakana (Tasmanian Aboriginal people), one of the world’s oldest living cultures.

Image source: Owned by Melinda Reed, author of this post