Townsville — tropical Queensland

I have a cousin, Julie, in Townsville. She posted on Facebook that she is safe. On the floods there see Townsville flooding forces hundreds to evacuate, leaves police clinging to trees after dam gates fully opened.

Julie has posted quite a few photos. These two — not taken by Julie — highlight another danger from floods in that part of Australia.

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More on my link to Flinders and Bungaree

By marriage, not directly — but directly in the case of my nephew Warren. See the previous post, where I mentioned that he would be posting some pics on Facebook. Here are some of them:

Warren at Yarralumla with then Governor-General Michael Jeffery. See Placenames Australia December 2004 (pdf).

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Warren with partner Leonie and NSW Governor Marie Bashir. Relates to the 2004 story mentioned in the previous post.

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The Matthew Flinders the Ultimate Voyage exhibition was presented at the State Library of New South Wales from 1 October 2001 to 13 January 2002 and then toured nationally. Warren had a part in it. I attended; it was very good.

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Matthew Flinders rediscovered

Recently we had this interesting story, as told here by London blogger Stephen Liddell.

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Matthew Flinders

Over the weekend I had a fascinating conversation with my nephew Warren who lives in Cooktown. It can be summed up in a comment he wrote on a Facebook post by a grand-nephew in Adelaide, Mitchell, whom I have never actually met.

I don’t know if you are aware or not, but you are a direct descendant of the Guringai nation through your father and directly descended from King Bungaree who circumnavigated Australia on the Investigator with Mathew Flinders and later again with Philip Parker King on the Mermaid. King Bungaree was the first individual to be called an Australian and the first Aboriginal person to be given a gorget. Your ancestral land extends from north head in Sydney to Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle. The Prime Minister’s residence is on our ancestral land. Our ancestors were the Broken Bay Clan. I have photos, birth and marriage records and blanket lists as well as other records all relating to our history and much more. Mate you are indigenous to this country.

See also my post How indigenous are you? and Warren’s own 2006 version at Family stories 4 — A Guringai Family Story. In the weekend conversation Warren confirmed that Sophy Bungaree — Warren’s direct ancestor on his mother’s side — was the daughter of Bungaree, as stated here.

Bungaree pictured in red colonial coat with black and gold details for hand-drawn portrait.

Do read Keith Vincent Smith, Bungaree. See also Bungaree was the first Australian to circumnavigate the continent, but he’s less well known than Matthew Flinders. Circumnavigated Australia TWICE in fact, which Flinders never did — or of course, James Cook, despite the impression left recently by our Prime Minister.

Not detracting at all from the achievements of Flinders — or Cook. On Flinders see Flinders Memorial.

Another topic in my conversation with Warren concerned the earlier (1804) version of Flinders’s famous map. This is the later version (1814):

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See this 2004 news story The chart that put Australia on the map:

At 11.30am today in the Parkes Room of Parliament House, the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, will present a chart to the president of the Legislative Council, Dr Meredith Burgmann. The chart is singularly plain: a simple, if meticulous, pen and ink rendition of the continent we call home.

Yet behind today’s ceremony lies a fascinating tale of two men, separated by two centuries. The first is Matthew Flinders, the explorer and map-maker who died in 1814, aged just 40. The second is Bill Fairbanks, 66, a company secretary from Wahroonga. What the two share is obsession. Flinders – born in Lincolnshire on March 16, 1774 – was obsessed with becoming the first man to circumnavigate the continent (a mission he achieved on June 9, 1803 when his ship, Investigator, limped back into Sydney harbour).

As for Fairbanks, he is obsessed with reminding us that 2004 is the 200th anniversary of an emotional moment in our history, the first time the name “Australia” was ever used on a map….

Warren was at a presentation earlier in Canberra involving the Governor-General and three descendants of Flinders —  great-great-great granddaughters Martha, Rachel and Susannah.

Just spoke to Warren by phone. He may be sending me pics of that occasion.

In the Herald story State Librarian Paul Brunton noted:

Flinders began drawing his chart in the middle of 1804 after being imprisoned by the French on Mauritius on his way home to Britain.

The Englishman had arrived on the island the previous December, and had been promptly arrested as a spy. He spent the next 6 years detained on Mauritius, despite his eagerness to get back to London to share his discoveries with the world.

By August 1804, Flinders had completed his chart, the first time the continent that had been named New Holland or Terra Australis had ever been accurately depicted. Perhaps even more symbolically, he had clearly labelled his chart “Australia or Terra Australis” – the first time, literally, Australia had been put on the map.

Yet despite its emotional significance, says Brunton, the 1804 map has never achieved the public acclaim it deserves….

Australia Day at Mount Kembla — different!

So, as I said the other day, “This year I will be reprising a pleasant day at Mount Kembla with my cousin Helen and her husband Jim. See the 2016 version at Australia Day at Mount Kembla.” And do read that link too for a history of the pub — which may go back to the 1870s — and the connection to my grandfather, Tom Whitfield. And here, photo by Pieter Homburg, is the delightful pub.

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So we arrived at around 11.30, and soon were eating our lunch and chatting as one does with a cousin.  Some time around 12.30 something odd started happening. What seemed like hundreds of somewhat scary people in leathers arriving, and the roar of myriad Harley Davidsons! OMG — bikies! These are from video posted on Facebook of  Australia Day 2019 at Mount Kembla Pub!

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Yes indeed, there were lots of them — and not a woman in sight! But on closer inspection not all was as it seemed at first. In fact this was a gathering from as far away as Mildura of Longriders! Yes, lots of them: see Facebook:

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Read Biker Church: An unconventional house of God.

Helen, Jim and I did reflect on “judging books by their covers” — but we also left as the pub, which is not very big, was quite overcrowded! But not before we had finished lunch and chatted to a few of the bikers…

So Australia Day is coming up again…

And I am so over the recycling that happens every year — which is a cue of course to recycle myself!

2017 for example: Australia Day: I like it. And there I link to 2014: Anniversary Day/Survival Day

Some things are not new: Edward Palmer (1842-1899) was a conservative Queensland politician, squatter and public servant. In his Early Days in North Queensland (available from Project Gutenberg) he wrote:

The treatment of the native races has always been a difficult question. Whenever new districts were settled, the blacks had to move on to make room; the result was war between the races. The white race were the aggressors, as they were the invaders of the blacks’ hunting territory.

Yes, the INVASION word! But he went on to rationalise thus:

The pioneers cannot be condemned for taking the law into their own hands and defending themselves in the only way open to them, for the blacks own no law themselves but the law of might…. The vices and diseases of the white race have been far more fatal to the blacks than the rifles of the pioneers, more particularly when they were allowed about the towns, where they always exhibit the worst traits of their character, becoming miserable creatures, useless for any purpose, and an eyesore to everyone. Those employed on stations as stockriders and horse-hunters become very useful and clever at the business…

I don’t have a problem with recognising the 26 January 1788 event — can walk and chew gum at the same time! It is BOTH a solemn day of reflection AND a day to celebrate the achievements of all Australians. And as I said in 2014:

I was there that day and joined all these people in their march. 26 years ago on the 26th!

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26 January 1988 – image by the great Michael Riley

But none of us are going anywhere, are we?

There may be a time in the future when we have an opportunity to forge a new national day, free of the ambivalence that accompanies Australia Day. But for now, January 26 is it. Let’s use it as an occasion to celebrate our achievements and reflect on the things that we share as Australians.

Let’s also use it to ask whether our country is living up to the best of its traditions. In the words of one patriot, ”My country, right or wrong: if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

See also my 2012 post  There is a land where summer skies…  Some earlier Australia Day posts: 20072008 – 12008 – 22009 – 12009: 22009 – 320102011 – 12011 – 22011 – 32011 – 42011 – 52011 – 62011 – 7; the page series Being Australian2012 photo blog; 2013 – 12013 — 2.

This year I will be reprising a pleasant day at Mount Kembla with my cousin Helen and her husband Jim. See the 2016 version at Australia Day at Mount Kembla.