Bloodlines — and reconciliation

This plays into big R reconciliation, but is much more about a more personal one. Around fifty years ago my brother’s family split — no point blaming anyone. Ian and Aileen married very young in 1955, and ten years saw that marriage fall apart. Except for one quite amusing accidental meeting at the Cecil Hotel in Cronulla in 1978, I never saw or heard from Aileen again. That is, until this year. Ian, I should remind you, passed away in 2017 in Tasmania. Ian and Aileen’s four children are still alive and there are new generations scattered around Australia, many of whom I have never met except lately on the Internet.

Here I am in a colourised copy of a low quality photo from 1955 taken on the front verandah of our house in Vermont Street Sutherland. It is the day of Ian and Aileen’s wedding. I see l-r my Aunt Fay Christison, my mother, a mystery woman, and myself. The mystery woman is a member of Aileen’s family — perhaps her mother. I don’t remember. But hold that thought. The bloodlines in the title refer to Aileen’s family.

I mentioned that Aileen (who now lives on the NSW South Coast) and I have been in touch. This occurred through Maree, her youngest daughter who I made Facebook contact with during the last summer of bushfires, which badly affected that part of the coast where they both live. On Maree’s FB I saw a lovely painting — I had no idea Aileen was such an artist. Next thing I knew I was offered the painting. In August it arrived and I have marked the occasion with my profile picture on FB. Aileen says the painting comes with part of her soul.

Today Christine, another daughter, and her husband are meeting up with Aileen at her South Coast home. I was invited, but as I said yesterday on FB:

Sadly I won’t be there — and reviewing my state of age and general energy levels have made the right call, but I will certainly be there in spirit.

To have been invited is a great continuation of a reconciliation that you may see represented on this Facebook page at the very top. It is the most pleasing family-related thing this year — and look at the wonderful painting I got from it! Not to mention renewed and new communication — in some instances after very many years. 

So I am posting this on the day instead. And raising a glass of red later on!

Now to one who “liked” that comment — a family member I have not actually met: Mia.

Aside from clearly being much better looking than her great-uncle, she has had an interesting life and career. She is a daughter of Jeff, Ian and Aileen’s oldest son, who lives in Queensland. Her Linkedin describes her as an Indigenous Participation Program Leader.


Bungaree c.1775-1830

There are many available sources on Bungaree. This site gathers some together in a manner relevant to this post, because it is back to him and his family that Mia’s, Jeff’s and Aileen’s bloodlines go — and presumably the mystery woman in that 1955 photo.

Jeff’s brother Warren back in 2006 wrote an account of Bungaree and the bloodlines for me. It is Family stories 4 — A Guringai Family Story — Warren Whitfield. He had already participated in an exhibition at the State Library of NSW celebrating the great navigator Matthew Flinders. Bungaree sailed with Flinders on that circumnavigation in 1801, and with Philip Parker King on the “Mermaid” in 1818.


See More on my link to Flinders and Bungaree. Missing from the page Warren wrote for me in 2006 was a good photo of Bungaree’s grand-daughter, Charlotte Ashby — “The daughter of Sophy Bungaree and James Webb Born in Gosford 1824-5. Married convict Joseph Ashby at Kincumber 1845. Charged with stealing in ~ 1869 attended court in Sydney after walking from Gosford. Found not guilty and then walked back to Gosford. Lived until the age of 89 and buried in Brady’s Gully, Gosford.” That note by Warren accompanied the portrait of Charlotte below, taken — at a guess from the style — in the 1880s.

It has now been added to the page Warren wrote for me, and he says there could be more in the pipeline.

So that is Aileen’s great-grandmother, I believe. The bloodlines are unambiguous. The lineage back to the family of Bungaree is well established.

But history (believe it or not) does not stand still, and I have become aware that there are issues nowadays about the Guringai name, particularly raised by Robert Syron and Luke Russell. I don’t see that affecting the Bungaree family story, but it may affect the naming of groups. I see the Barani website says: “Bungaree was from the Garigal clan at Broken Bay and moved to the Sydney area.” I became aware of these developments when I carefully read the Wikitree page on Bungaree.

Not quite as clear as Aileen’s Bungaree connection is the story my Shellharbour family: see How indigenous are you? and my 2011 post Family history and mystery–the Indigenous connection.

My great-grandmother, Henrietta Bursell/Bursill

Bloodlines. The true story of Australia. Reconciliation.

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