They’re proud members of the resistance who have come to negotiate an end to Tasmania’s Black War – a period of violent conflict between British colonialists and Aboriginal people.
Over the next hour, we follow their path towards Old Government House on the city’s first Indigenous tour, Takara Nipaluna – Walking Hobart. Nunami, a passionate young Palawa historian and activist, has personal connections to many of the stories she shares. Outside the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, she points out a plaque dedicated to her great-great-great grandmother, Fanny Cochrane Smith, who recorded Aboriginal songs on wax cylinders in the 1800s.
Native plants in the museum’s garden give a hint of what the area looked like before colonization. Nunami reveals that the pig face plant has edible leaves that can also soothe insect bites, while Lomandra, which tastes like celery, was used for basket weaving. She points towards the River Derwent, which was abundant with abalone and mussels that Aboriginal people used to eat, leading to piles of middens on the shoreline – collections of shell and bone that formed over thousands of years. “In some of the fancy restaurants in Salamanca, you can see shells between the bricks in the walls,” she says.
Developed with the help of playwright Sarah Hamilton, the tour includes stories of a military sweep of the island to find and remove Aboriginal people, early settlers who traded in Aboriginal body parts, and brave resistance fighters and warriors.
Nunami herself is caught between two worlds – her Aboriginal father was adopted from the Northern Territory by white parents and raised in Hobart. Her grandfather was governor of Tasmania, so she grew up playing in colonial buildings, as well as attending activist rallies with her mum, who was the first Indigenous person to become a lawyer in Tasmania.
At Franklin Square, Nunami’s hurt is most evident as she stands with her back to a statue that immortalizes former premier William Crowther, who mutilated the bodies of Aboriginal people. The park is also home to the Two Islands sculpture by Aboriginal artist Nigel Helyer, which draws together histories of European settler and Aboriginal cultures in the form of two symbolic vessels – Sir John Franklin’s ship, the HMS Erebus, and a traditional bark canoe.
“Our people have overcome and achieved so much,” Nunami says, as the tour ends. “There is no end to this story. It will always continue.”
NEED TO KNOW
- Takara Nipaluna – Walking Hobart is the latest offering from Welcome to Country, a not-for-profit marketplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences and products.
- The 90-minute tour follows a 1.4km course from Mathers Place, with 15 stops along the way.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com