A Bend in the Yarra: A History of the Merri Creek (Report: by Ian Clark, Toby Heydon

By Ian Clark, Toby Heydon

The Yarra Bend Park marks probably the most very important post-contact areas within the Melbourne metropolitan region, and is of serious importance to Victorian Aboriginal humans, really the Wurundjeri Aboriginal group. At this web site used to be situated the Merri Creek Aboriginal institution, the Merri Creek Protectorate Station, the local Police Corps Headquarters and linked Aboriginal burials.The position has extra value within the early 21st century, as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian deal with the legacies of our touch past.

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Additional resources for A Bend in the Yarra: A History of the Merri Creek (Report: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies)

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The location of the barrack buildings is unknown, except that it was near to Thomas’s Assistant Protector’s Quarters. While William Thomas was hopeful that Aboriginal people would build permanent houses at the station, there is no evidence to suggest they ever did. On one occasion, one Boonwurrung member of the Native Police Corps, Yonker Yonker, while in jail told Thomas he planned to construct his hut between the Assistant Protector’s Quarters and the Merri Creek Aboriginal School, but he did not get this chance, dying soon after leaving jail (Thomas 5/11/1847 in VPRS 4410 Item 93).

Some white traders, seeing a bargain, even provided firearms to encourage greater productivity. This was a cause of great consternation to Thomas, who received no assistance from Lonsdale’s constabulary to retrieve the guns (Thomas 29/2/1840 in VPRS 4410, Item 66). But inter-cultural relationships were not always, or solely economic. Some Europeans also found that the camps could be places of sexual gratification, and such relationships between Europeans and Aboriginal people were not uncommon.

What eventually influenced them to leave Melbourne was the increasing mortality rate in their community. On 30 December 1839, the Daungwurrung agreed to leave Melbourne the following day because they were afraid that if they remained they would all die. In March 1840, La Trobe ordered Robinson to notify his assistants that he prohibited Daungwurrung people from coming within 20 miles of the township (Robinson Jnl 11/3/1840). In part this was imposed to keep Aboriginal people from distant territories out of Melbourne.

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