A China post I have had on hold

So glad this precious insight into China’s history from 1949 — a very personal perspective — is still online! He passed away last year at the age of 98. He saw and experienced some of the best and worst in 40 years of Chinese history. I found his autobiography A Single Tear very moving, and really better than Jung Chang’s more famous Wild Swans. In my own book From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (Longman 1995) I dealt with both books.

A mere taste: NOTE I suspect that Yenying University may be Yanjing University* in Beijing, and Kuangjo is Guangzhou.

INT: What was it then that made you decide to leave a successful academic career or potentially a successful academic career [in America] and return to China in 1951:
WN: Well, in 1951, I returned China, to accept a teaching appointment at Yenching University. I was urged to come home and take a post vacated by a departing American professor, because of the Korean War. But the reason I accepted it was not so simple. In my background there was always this desire to see strong and prosperous China, also a free and democratic China, coming to being. Now the Communists seemed to be doing that all my friends and relatives in China urged me to come home and not become a White Russian in the States. [Clears throat], ever since my childhood or boyhood, China was subjected to the perennial humiliation of being invaded by the Japanese and other foreign powers. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas but we always commemorated the national humiliation days. So in other words, we were probably, to put simply, very nationalistic. So now is a time to do something for my nation and my people.
INT: And when you returned to China, how did people regard you, how did people look at you, as somebody who had lived for some years in the United States?
WN: When I first returned to China, the Yenying University, it in general was a mission, American missionary college. So in that environment I didn’t feel too much pressure. As a matter fact, when I first landed in Kuanjo , I was welcomed by the government, you know, feted and… escorted to different sites, they probably had bought my train ticket. but not long after I returned to Yenying University, I began to discover there was a rising anti-American hysteria, especially because Yenying was an American college, American missionary college.

* See Christian Universities in China.

Such a terrible time.

Now to the present.

You have met Canada-based American Cyrus Janssen before. This video is an hour long. His guest is an Australian expat journalist in China, Harry “Hazza” Harding. This young man was born in Ipswich in 1990 at the time Pauline Hanson was running a fish shop there! From his own account of himself he is an interesting character, a product of an Ipswich Anglican school which taught Chinese. (Did Pauline know?)

He is now a media presenter and a singer in Guangzhou China.The opinions expressed are those of the participants, but I have certainly heard worse! Some will conclude instantly that Hazza is not to be trusted for objectivity — but I suggest you listen and make your own judgements about what he says.Writing before I have seen it all, I have to say I find at the moment Chinese official statements about “reasons” for what is happening — that we are dumping wine, barley and so on — about as believable as Mike Pompeo’s pronouncements about China a while back!

But let’s see what Hazza says. I am approaching it as a sceptic though. (LATER: He did not address the issue in detail.) I still say the whole “trade war” scenario was after all started by the Orange Disaster!

PS: Having watched it through, I suggest you do too. There is much there that makes sense, much more sense than the too common Cold War lines such discussion too often goes on. Such discussion misses the Chineseness of China, which, for all the rotten results that imposed Marxism has certainly been guilty of, has a habit of coming very much to the fore — even when, as at the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Party tried to stamp it out.

This is not friendly to the present government in China, but allowing for that, the factual content is pretty good — and it can be taken to support my contention about Chineseness bouncing back:

“But when Chairman Mao died 10 years later, the Cultural Revolution and the assault on history died with him. It was time for China to go back to the beginning.

“After the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government, people, desperately want a new ideology, because Mao’s philosophy or thought has caused so much damage to the country, to the people. So Confucianism came in conveniently, to fill the gap,” says Wang Tao. “And the Duke of Zhou has also regained his popularity, and a lot of people now talk about the Duke of Zhou, the ancestral worship, or the old order cosmos mandate of heaven, in much more favourable way now. And I think it does reflect the change of the society.”

So the Duke of Zhou and Confucius are back on their pedestals. Politically fashionable again.

Found after composing this post:

The year that was — 12 — August: 3

Yes, the third one from a blog-active month! Today family, with one really significant entry marking a big change in my immediate family almost 60 years on from the break-up of my brother’s family. Then a quick noting of three family history posts I recommend you check out.

Bird flies in at last

Posted on  by Neil

This bird:


That painting of a Palm Cockatoo is by my sister-in-law Aileen.

There is quite a back story to this painting. First you have to understand that my brother Ian and Aileen married in 1955 when I was 12. Their marriage lasted for around ten years, producing four children, two now in Queensland and two in NSW. And lots of the next generation all over the place — some I have only discovered through Facebook quite recently.

I did not see Aileen, with one exception at the Cecil Hotel in Cronulla in 1978-9, after the marriage ended — so that’s over FIFTY years! In the past couple of months I have spoken to her on the phone. She lives around 100 kilometres further down the NSW south coast and was affected by the summer bushfires of 2019-20. Contact arose when her youngest, Maree, got in touch — through Facebook.

In due course Maree posted this image on her feed:


I praised it, and next thing I knew Aileen was asking me if I would like to have it. Well, what would you have said? There was a mix-up over my address and the package was returned to Aileen by Australia Post. We sorted that and the package was delivered to the local post office last Friday — but not to Wollongong Post Office. Instead it went to Keiraville, a nearby suburb just north of West Wollongong, but not on my usual bus routes. Then came the rain! So it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to Keiraville to collect.


Had coffee with the package — much bigger than I expected! And the coffee was a nostalgia trip in itself because they source from the excellent The Coffee Roaster which back in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills days was my coffee shop of choice, being in the same complex I lived in!  So I think I will be returning to Keiraville shops which is, as you can see above, charming. “The Village”, they call it.

019march 016a

March 2009: where Coffee Roaster used to be! Memories!

I caught the 10 bus to Wollongong — there being just one other passenger, a lady who had been living in Keiraville for 58 years! One more joined us on the way. I was masked, and social distancing was not a problem. What a scenic, wandering route the 10 takes!


Lunch at City Diggers, where on Facebook I shared the day’s doings.


So now I am at Diggers — well fed with an odd but tasty dish of curried sausage and jasmine rice!

The #10 bus from Keiraville to Wollongong proved to be very scenic. In this photo I am in the Keiraville coffee shop with the Mystery Package — collected at last. Let’s just say it is from someone I hadn’t seen or spoken to since 1978-9 — and that in Cronulla at the Cecil Hotel. I suspect we are all getting far too old to be hanging on to past issues. And this is a gift I am glad to have. More later perhaps.

It’s bigger than I expected though so that limits today’s shopping.


What is in the Mystery Package. I am still at Diggers and about to go, but decided not to leave you in suspense. Thanks to my niece Maree I can share an image of quite a wonderful painting by my (former) sister-in-law Aileen, who quite literally until very recently I had not spoken to since 1978-9. I won’t bother you with the details, except to say none of it was really anyone’s fault. Aileen is now 81. I think we have both decided life is very very short….

But what a painting!

That painting, whatever, is bloody good!

So thanks to Facebook the painting has overnight been seen in New York, California, India — and one LIKE in particular was rather nice. Here is why:


61 Auburn Street, Sutherland 1946 or early 1947

Left to right: Me, my sister Jeanette (1940-1952),  my cousin Helen, my mother. The figure far left is my older brother Ian.

On Facebook I wrote: “I have mentioned this to Maree, but you may as well all know. One of the Facebook friends who has liked this post, Louise D., aside from being a Professor at Macquarie University, lives in the Auburn Street Sutherland house that was Ian’s and my childhood home! How is that for closing the circle, or something.”

Some family history posts — extracts…

Bound for Botany Bay — 200 years on

Posted on  by Neil

…it is likely Jacob’s crime was horse stealing. He did get a life sentence. In 2015 I posted:

He had a life sentence; until recently we didn’t know what crime he committed, his record being one of those lost by fire in Ireland much later on. However, a few years ago came this information:

Jacob was convicted of horse stealing 1820 and there is a report in The Belfast News Letter of Friday the 4th Aug 1820, no. 8084; page 4, column 3. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang but was sent to Australia…

For much more on the voyage of “Isabella” see Fascinated still by (family) history and here.

Now we approach 1825 when a most significant event in the history of my family occurred: the arrival of the immigrant ship “Thames”, departed Cork on 14 November 1825 reaching Sydney via Cape Horn on 11 April 1826. There was loss of life during that voyage, including members of the Whitfield family, not least, it seems, Mary (Gowrie), Jacob’s wife. In November 1823 Jacob had petitioned Governor Brisbane to have his wife and six children join him in the colony. For detail see my posts Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” (2014), Stray stories of family and Australiana — 2 (2014), William and his tribe… (2014)….

More convict stories

Posted on  by Neil

There was a bit of a clue to our background in my grandfather’s name: Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield. He tended to suppress the highly Irish “Sweeney” bit. So who was Daniel Sweeney?

Well the truth is he was another convict, having arrived before my ancestor Jacob.

Alias: Sweeny     Religion:  Age on arrival: 20
Marital status:
Calling/trade: Labourer
Born: 1799        Native place: Bandon Cork Co
Tried: 1818      Cork Co          Sentence: 7     Former convictions:
Ship: Daphne (1819)

That convict Jacob again

Posted on  by Neil

… The person to whom Jacob is assigned, Henry Kable, a convict himself. is very well known in our early colonial history.

Jacob’s ticket-of-leave: so my “bicentennial” was July, not August!


The year that was — 6 — June: 1

Dear me, a dilemma! So many posts, the 2010s retro series finished on 24 June, and my home WiFi enabled more posting! So I will select two now, and two more next time. Do visit the June 2020 archive. There is lots of music!

Bruce Pascoe — refreshing

Posted on  by Neil

I posted just now on Facebook, and augment that post with some relevant videos.


You may recall Wollongong Library posted me a copy of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu not long ago. It happens to be a large print edition, but even more significant is that it is the 2nd Edition (2018) which does include some new material.

I am not going to write a lengthy review, simply because I am not qualified to do so. There are so many out there already, many favourable, some sceptical, and the book has generated more than its fair share of hostility, most of it from the usual suspects from Bolt to “Quadrant”.

I am definitely not on the side of the usual suspects. I find it a refreshing, exciting addition to our knowledge of Australian history, even if perhaps at some points over-excited. I do strongly recommend it.

I should also add that debate about Bruce Pascoe’s ancestry or ethnicity is totally irrelevant.

As he says at the end of Chapter 2: “You can read other theories of Aboriginal culture, spirituality and economy in New Age texts, or the books of over-enthusiastic researchers, but often they make guesses to bridge the gaps in knowledge. Too often, they ascribe all sorts of mystical wisdom to their subjects, but their earnest romanticism is unnecessary, as the observations of the first explorers and settlers provides an enormous body of material. In this book, I am drawing on only a small sample of what is available to any Australian with a computer mouse or a library card. The reason I have provided so many examples, however, is to emphasise the depth of the available material and the desperate need for a revision of our history.”

See also Taking sides over ‘Dark Emu’ — How the history wars avoid debate and reason.

But all this attacking and leaping and defending doesn’t do much to resolve the issues. And there are issues. Dark Emu rests on a foundational truth: that the European explorers saw things (and, from within their own worldview, wrote them down) that the first settlers (and the institutions that supported them) didn’t want known (because they were busy expanding the colonial frontier, which necessarily meant acting illegally), and that subsequent settlers couldn’t see (because those things were no longer in evidence). Had Dark Emu merely made this point by quoting explorers’ journals, the right’s attack would have no force.

But throughout Dark Emu, Pascoe regularly exaggerates and embellishes. One example: he quotes Thomas Mitchell’s description of large, circular, chimneyed huts Mitchell observed near Mount Arapiles, in western Victoria, on July 26, 1836, but leaves out the words “which were of a very different construction from those of the aborigines in general”. Pascoe adds his own commentary: Mitchell “recorded his astonishment at the size of the villages”; he “counts the houses, and estimates a population of over one thousand”; and “the evidence is everywhere that they have used the place for a very long time”. But in his own journal, Mitchell doesn’t express astonishment, he doesn’t count and he doesn’t estimate a population size. Nor does he present any evidence that would support a conclusion about longevity of residence. Granville Stapylton, Mitchell’s second-in-command, recorded seeing one hut “capable of containing at least 40 persons and of very superior construction” on July 26. Pascoe includes this, but not the rest of Stapylton’s sentence: “and appearantly the work of A White Man it is A known fact that A runaway Convict has been for years amongst these tribes.” That could be a reference to the well-known escapee William Buckley (who was found by John Batman the previous July), or it could be a racist myth. The point is that Pascoe simply left it out.

By themselves, examples like these split hairs. But they’re all the way through Dark Emu….My observations here will no doubt be seized upon with glee by Bolt, O’Brien and co as further proof of their accusations against Pascoe. It may even be seized upon by those instinctively defending Pascoe’s reputation as evidence that I’ve gone to the dark side. None of these reactions would be helpful, though they would reflect the way we conduct public debate now…. Social media generates and supports echo chambers, and so has dramatically accelerated the process of value-based identity formation attempted in earlier times by various groups and collectives on all sides of politics. Instead of persuasion and deliberation – core democratic values – the pursuit of righteous ideological rigidity favours shamings, takedowns and outright abuse….

Do read that whole essay.  It too discounts the attacks on Pascoe’s ethnicity and goes on: “For all its problems, Dark Emu is not merely weathering the attacks. It charged back up the nonfiction bestsellers’ list and has occupied the number 3 spot for the past fortnight.”

I am glad of that. And here is the man himself.

I add this one because it lightens the mood, but ends on a serious point about the study of Australian history today.

Recalled from the turn of the century: chuffed!

Posted on  by Neil

On Facebook recently I posted some items from my English and ESL blog archives.

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL site

“A great resource for all students and teachers…” — Frances M., English Teachers Association Bulletin Board, Mar 25, 2005. (NOTE: corrected link, but if you go there you will find the site referred to by its pre-retirement name and on its old Tripod.com address! The particular page that so impressed Frances M is now here.)

Of the first one I posted I said: “I just reread this for the first time in years, and aside from fond memories of Sydney High and Bob Li — he is second from the right in this photo from 20 years ago — it cheers me up to recall that I may after all have done some good through my teaching career!”


Here is that post:

Multiculturalism — Bob’s story

In senior years students used to come voluntarily to the ESL staff if they felt their English may be costing them marks. Let one of 2000’s Year 12 students speak for himself on this, but it should be added that all his teachers assisted him achieve his goal–to study Medicine at the University of New South Wales:

Wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year (and later the Chinese New Year). Hope you have a great holiday!

Thank you tons for teaching me 2 years of English, which enabled me to achieve the top 10% of the state: something I thought unrealistic before.

I still have all these 12/20 and 13/20 poetry essays from early year 11 in my folder… and also the 15/20 ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Richard III’ essays from the yr11 yearly exam. I still keep the 16/20, 17/20 ‘Empire of the Sun’, ‘Robert Gray’ essays from yr12 assessments, and also the 19/20 ‘Satire’ essay from the trial HSC. And of course, the ESL practice essays which scored 18/20 and 19/20 marked by you over the internet. And now, the record of achievement which says 91-100% percentile band in English.

It was indeed a solid progress, and I thank you again for teaching me, Sir!

The ex-student whose letter of thanks I just quoted is Bob Li (2000). In his email giving permission to quote him he said:

Of course you can quote me in the High Notes! I hope more and more students come to ESL and benefit from it just as I did. English is a headache for so many students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Continuous practice from year 7 is a great way to minimise (or even eliminate) the tremendous difficulty they are likely to experience in the HSC.

It is worth quoting the autobiographical piece Bob wrote as part of an ESL test at the beginning of Year 11 1999:

I’ve only been to Australia for six years, but my personal opinion about Australia has changed quite dramatically.

I still remember how I wanted to go back to China when I first came. I felt that everything had changed. Life here in Australia is so different. The streets are so quiet I could hardly see anybody. I’ve always liked to live in a crowded city like Shanghai, where I could see people everywhere doing all sorts of activities. Language is probably the biggest problem that I have faced. I couldn’t understand anything in English. School was disastrous, as I was always sitting in the corner waiting for the bell. I remember I always got scared when people talked to me. I felt very lonely in this totally unknown world.

My thought of going back to China started to calm as years went by. I started getting fluent in English, made a lot of friends here. I started to like Australia. Today I love Australia. I want to stay in Australia forever. I’m very used
to the life here and I love it.

My first goal for the future is to get an excellent result in the HSC. Hopefully I could get into Dentistry or Medicine and have success in my future. I think I will have my future life in Australia, and I wouldn’t get used to life in China.

In another email Bob had this to say:

Just to share something with you. I’ve been practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu in Melbourne in the last month, and I founded it very very beneficial. It not only helps my self-defence and fitness, but also increases my physical and mental awareness, reflexes and confidence. Kung Fu is really a beautiful art, practicing it transcends to a higher mental and physical level.

Just in case if you haven’t heard of Wing Chun, it’s a style of Kung Fu derived from the Southern Shaolin Temple. Usually it takes 15 to 20 years to develop an efficient martial artist in Shaolin, which was a rather long time. So some 250 years ago, the 5 grandmasters discussed their techniques, by choosing the most efficient techniques from each style, they formulated the new training program which takes only 5 to 7 years to develop a Kung Fu master. It was named “Wing Chun” and represented “hope for the future”.

Here’s the Philosophy of Wing Chun that I’d like to share with you.

  • One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
  • One who excels in fighting is never aroused in anger;
  • One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issues;
  • One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.
  • This is the virtue of non-contention and matching the sublimity of heaven. “The practitioner should meditate on these principles and make peace through the study of Kung Fu – a way of life.”

I found it very rewarding, so I think I’ll continue to train… hope uni work doesn’t prevent me from doing it.

Asian Pride

I have seen such a slogan from time to time. Bob is a good example of healthy pride. As the last letter shows, he is finding much to learn from his Chinese background. At the same time, he is as comfortable as can be with other aspects of Australian society. In him the problem of identity seems to have been solved.

There are some for whom things may not be so harmonious. For them, perhaps, Asian Pride may be in opposition to people or aspects of cultures other than their own, rather than a healthy balance. At extremes it may even become exclusive and racist. I have to say that, even so, Asian Pride is better than Asian Shame!

The rest of us must make sure that no-one is ashamed of who he is. That is the core problem of racism–we build ourselves up at the expense of others, making others feel ashamed or inferior–or angry. This is bad for the community as a whole, as we all have to get along.

That was published in the SBHS newsletter and led to a rather amazing dialogue, too long to paste here: see A debate on race.

Next on Facebook:

Multiculturalism — Student lives

Experiencing cultural change through the eyes of young Australians who have been students of Sydney Boys High. The texts are not corrected, but may be slightly edited. These stories were gathered between 1998 and 2000 as part of my testing of student writing, but parallel stories occur still, over and over again.

Boy aged 12: in Australia 7 years

What happened to me when I was little would take pages to write, so I will just tell you one of the main point when I was little. Our family immigrated to Australia except for my father because he had to work in Hong Kong so we would have money but my father would visit us every 3-4 months and would stay for about a month in Australia. Every time when he leaves Australia I would cry for a very long time.

Now I’m 12 and whenever my father is going back to Hong Kong there isn’t a tear but I feel a bit sad. Also, now I’m 12 I have made it into Sydney Boys High and it is a very good school but I have to wake up very early.

In the future I would like to have a good HSC mark so I can get in to a good university and make alot of money after university. In this piece of paper is all about my life.

Boy aged 12: In Australia 2.5 years

Five years ago, I was a dull boy in China. Everything was just fine. I went to School in the morning and Slept in the evening. When I found out that I was going to Australia I had mixed reactions. My first thought was Yes I finally had my Childhood dream come true to travel in an aeroplane. Also I got to see dad for the first time in my life. When I was only a year old he came to Australia but I thought wait a minute I’m going to have to leave my friend.The thought hit me. I was confused.

Now here I am in Australia. I just got into Sydney Boys High. Our family is now prospering along very well. My study is improving gradually. I really think my future would be fantastic.

Growing up to be an adult is a time of tense learning and important decision-making. In the portion of life that I’ve got left I wish I could receive a worthwhile job and a reasonable pay. I wish to through my work benifit both to community and the country. If I have achieved these things then when I die I will look back and think that was a job well done.

Boy aged 12: in Australia 4 years.

It wasn’t a great year, but that is common in most school years. I think it was then that my parents had the strange notion to emigrate from Israel. I do indeed remember them discussing the move, I remember not being too happy about it at first. I did not want to leave in the least bit because I didn’t want to leave my friends behind, but eventually I realised that it was a wise decision. Approximately then I started watching the news and learnt that a war was raging between Israel and Iraq. And when my father went to serve in the army, as all Israely men have to, I realised that I would nothing more than to leave.

My life now is much better than before, I can state that quite clearly. I have become quite accustomed to the english language and the Australian way of life. It did seem strange to me at first but now I do not mind it. Over the last few years I have made a lot of friends and I consider my life now very good.

In the future my life should improve and I plan on gaining more friends in this new school. I expect succeed in my academics as well as my physical education and sport.

X*** aged 12: In Australia 6 years.

Hello! My name is X*** and I will write in this paragraph about an incident that happened nine years ago. When I was still in Shanghai, something almost fatal happened. It was a hot and stuffy night and some of my grandparent’s friends came. While they were talking, I climbed onto the window sill of a bay window. It was much cooler sitting on the window sill.

What I didn’t know was that the window was opened. So when I rocked a bit too hard, my upper body was dangling out of a 12 storey high apartment! Luckily, my grandmother saw me and grabbed me just before I fell out of the window and made a mess on the road. So, as you can see, I had a very frightening past…


Shanghai 1995

Boy–aged 15–in Australia 3.5 years.

5 years ago I was in Shanghai, China. I went to my local comprehensive primary school which was a alright school. In school learn mainly Math, Chinese and Biology. But we also used to do secoundary subjects like Art & crafts and music. The school was fairly small compared to the Public schools in Australia, but we had fun. In school every subject was very compatative and stressful. In school sport was not one of main componants. Every once in a while we play table tennis or soccer.

… In the next five years I want to go to America and Major in Music and Computer Engineering in “Julian University”. Julian University* I heard was a good school for musicans. might even get a Doctorate in Music. When I’m a bit older, I wish to join the Venia Philharmonic Orchestra. That is my vision of the future. I might even say I might marry a very good looking
super model, but I don’t think that will happen.

He means The Juilliard School.

YouTube delivers some Wollongong treasures

The algorithm has been doling out some Illawarra treats in the past few days. Here are a few.

Learn more about where I live — The Gong, Dharawal Country!

Lake Illawarra is south of Wollongong, north of Shellharbour where my father was born. Dad knew the lake well, probably knew the Masseys. When I returned to Wollongong in 2010 one of the first regulars I spoke to at the City Diggers Club was an old lady — I suspect no longer with us — who always made a point in telling me she was a Massey, but that meant little to me at the time. Too late now for the questions I should have asked!

City Council Presentation:

A Wollongong University student presentation:

Covers the changing CBD before and during my time here….

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.