The Argus at KellyGang 19/10/1881 (9)

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Further complaints were made that the Superintendent and matron were neglectful, that medical comforts and necessary clothing were not supplied to the sick, that they were not allowed to keep milch cows, and that their station, which, in the words of William, king of the Yarra Yarra tribe, was "given them by Sir Henry Barkly in the name of the Queen," was being mismanaged. At 2 o'clock the whole population of the village was mustered, and it was found that there were at present on the station 90 men, women, and children. Of these only 30 were pure blacks, comprising 13 men, 10 women, 3 boys, and 4 girls. The remainder were half castes, quadroons and octoroons - several almost pure white - and comprised 11 men 13 women, 4 young women, 12 girls from 4 to 10 years of age, 13 boys, and 7 children in arms. The members of the board then held a sitting in the school house, and took the following statements - Tommy Mickey, chief of the Croken River tribe, said, - I am married, and have got three children. We cannot get on with the present manager. We do not get enough to eat. We are often short of flour and sugar, and get no meat. As to milk, I only get half a cupful in the morning for the baby. No vegetables are grown on the station. We have now no butter or cheese. All this has come about since Mr Green left. We buy meat with our own earnings from the butchers in the township. I am £5 in debt to the butcher. We do not get enough bedding or enough material for underclothing. We get one blanket for each family once a year. We get no sheets or pillow cases. I get once a year one flannel, two shirts, one pair trousers, and one pair boots. My wife gets one gown, one petticoat and one chemise, and one pair of boots. The cloth is supplied, and she makes her dresses herself. We get no towels, window blinds, quilts, candles, or kerosene. When women are poorly they get no extras. William Barrak, chief of the Yarra tribe, said, - When my wife was dying in July last Mr Strickland sent her soup with grease and maggots in it. She could not drink it be- cause it was so fat. Mr Strickland never prayed with her, but Mr Green came and did that. Afterwards my boy fell sick. Got two passes for the coach to take him to Melbourne Hospital . Got no money or letter for the hospital or to Captain Page. Had no food on the way. Nobody met us at the coach office. Bourke street , so my boy and I walked to Mrs Bon's house in Kew . He died soon afterwards. I am not able to work and earn wages, so I get Government meat as well as other rations. I get very little meat, however, and am often short of rations. Bobby has to give some of his. I went once with a complaint to the Chief Secretary, and Mr Strickland punished me for doing that by stopping my meat for a time.

Thos Harris, working overseer, said - I keep the time for the blacks. They are supposed to work eight hours a day, and to get 3.d per hour. If the weather is bad they cannot work, and don t get pay. Bobby Wandon used to be stock rider but he was knocked off that duty 18 months ago by order of Captain Page, secretary of the Board of Management. There are now more trespassing cattle on the station than cattle of the station. The construction of a mile and a half of fencing would protect the run on the village side and we would then be able to keep plenty of cattle and sheep and to fatten them for killing. Neither Captain Page nor Mr Strickland have ever been over the run. If I got authority to construct fences I could make the station self supporting. If I make any suggestions to Mr Strickland be says I want to take the reins out of his hands. Over twelve months ago I made a beginning to fence in the Healesville side of the run, but Captain Page came up and stopped me. Mr Strickland has no sympathy with the blacks he never visits them at their work, and passes them without speaking. He never makes a general inspection.

Mrs Dean, the schoolmistress said her husband, who was on leave of absence, had been ordered by Captain Page not to make any reports against Mr Strickland, and supported the complaints of the blacks.  

The four half caste young women said they worked in the superintendent s house, and complained that they received no wages...

The Rev F P Strickland, the superintendent, was examined for a short time. He said his duties were to take charge of stores and to issue them according to a scale furnished by the board of management. The reason why the station was not fenced in was because the Royal Commission, of 1877 strongly recommended that it should be abandoned. ..  

Mrs Bon -That was the board of management, not the Royal Commission.

Mr Strickland continued -Thought the rations suppled were ample. All who wanted milk, sago, rice, or such things, got them for the asking. Never refused any man a milch cow. (Owing to the lateness of the hour, the visitors postponed his further exanimation.).  

In reply to Mr Dow, the blacks, who were all present, said they did not want to leave the station, as it was their home. Mr Dow then informed them that they certainly would not be shifted from Coranderrk.

The visitors returned that night to Healesville, and yesterday to Melbourne .

[Note the Argus continued to report on Coranderrk, see National Library of Australia's web site]


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