A Short-lived Reserve
The Chief Aboriginal Protector, George Augustus Robinson fought to secure land for the Wurundjeri people, noting in his diary on May 3rd 1839:
‘Had a long conversation with surveyor Mr. Hoddle. Showed me a map of the county, marked off into allotments comprising I think fully 30 square miles and not a single reserve for the blacks except the mission which I have no wish to retain. I said if that or a similar map was exhibited to the people of England they would at once see the way the natives are treated. Their lands sold from them and no provision made for their maintenance, and this by the government who are bound to protect them.’
It took until 1852 for a 1908 acre Aboriginal Reserve to be formally set aside at Pound Bend. However, gold had been discovered at Warrandyte in 1851 and the Reserve’s future was doomed. The Wurundjeri knew this and decided to hold one last corroboree. The Aboriginal Protector William Thomas described the event held in March 1852 as follows:
‘They had not met for many years and wanted to have once more some corroboree together….and night after night for fourteen days they did indulge themselves.’
However after the corroboree some of the Wurundjeri decided to go on one last walkabout to Melbourne. Not having permission to leave the reserve they were arrested at Bulleen and sent to the Police Paddocks at Dandenong. Others continued to live on creek-side encampments or work on local stations, while others moved to the safety of the Upper Goulburn until land was reserved for them at Coranderrk in 1863. Pound Bend served as a ration station until closed in 1862.
Nillumbik Reconciliation Group, in partnership with Reconciliation Manningham, has erected plaques on two boundaries of the former reserve: at the confluences of Stony Creek and of Anderson Creek with the Yarra River. The plaques were unveiled on 23rd March 2014 during the Warrandyte Festival.
You can download a flyer with more information and directions to the sites here.
More extensive information on the plaques, historical notes on the Wurundjeri of the Yarra Valley, and sites of significance around Melbourne are included on a brochure that can be downloaded here.