Speech by Maroochy Baramba – Tom Petrie Memorial


Mayor Alan Sutherland, Mary-Anne O’Neill MP – Member for Kallangur, Mrs Janice Hall – great grand-daughter of Tom Petrie, distinguished guests and fellow Australians.

I stand here before you as the representative of the Turrbal People – the original inhabitants of the North Pine area. My other Turrbal Elders are unable to be here with us this morning but they have asked me to convey their apologies as well as wish you well at this gathering.

This is a very special occasion. Special to the Turrbal People because it marks the first time that we have come face-to-face formally with descendant/s of Thomas Petrie – a man whose accounts and experience of living with my ancestors in Brisbane, from the 1830s, remain one of the most invaluable sources of information about life in the Moreton Bay penal colony. I trust that Mrs Hall will shortly be given you all a detailed account of her great grandfather’s life in the Moreton Bay penal settlement hence I will not be going over that aspect.

One of the events that took place in Queensland’s history, of which little is known about today in the broader community, was the <em><strong>Qld. Legislative Assembly’s Report from the Select Committee of the Native Police Force together with the Proceedings of the Committee and Minutes of Evidence</strong></em> in 1861. Tom Petrie actually appeared before this Inquiry. He was then aged 30 years. When questioned about the whereabouts of the “Old Brisbane Tribe”, Mr Petrie replied that “he only knew of five people left out of the people that he grew up with”. Some other observers at the time argue that the Turrbal People were extinct (e.g. Capt Coley)

One of those that survived was Kulkarawa – my great great grandmother. Petrie (Constance) in fact wrote about Kulkarawa in Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Qld. (at pp. 18-28). Grannie Kitty (as we call her), fled into the bushes (with some of her relatives) during a raid at Barrambin (today known as Victoria Park) in the late 1840s. These raids (which, in my view, were deliberately aimed at destabilizing and undermining our pre­existing system) were sometimes undertaken by the Native Police and Surveyors who were paving the way for the new settlement in Brisbane. Grannie Kitty and others later found refuge at Kenilworth Homestead. I am a direct descendant of the few Turrbal People that survived the adverse impact of European settlement in Brisbane from the 1820s onward. Whilst the Turrbal experience was rather ugly, brutal and devastating, some humanitarians emerged around that time. They include people such as William Duncan and Isaac Moore. In spite of our harsh historical experience, the relatively few remaining Turrbal people bear no grudges. Rather, today, we continue to practice our customs and traditions proudly within our ancestral homeland.

Let me conclude by thanking the organizers of this event in inviting us to partake in this important and historic occasion. By all accounts, Tom Petrie related well to my ancestors and this is evident in the fact that my ancestors invited him to participate in some sacred ceremonies. He respected and abided by our traditional laws and customs at a time of deep and widespread hostility toward my ancestors in Brisbane. He sought the permission and approval of Dalaipi before acquiring a piece of land at Murrumba in 1859. Contrast Tom Petrie’s approach to that of the then State Govt of Qld which, upon being proclaimed a separate state (from the Colony of NSW) in 1859, began to sell various parcels of land in Brisbane. And by 1861, many of our places of cultural significance had been sold off around Spring Hill and elsewhere. We must remember that the permission and consent of my ancestors were never sought in this whole process. In this regard, we, the Turrbal People, intend to honour Tom Petrie, William Duncan and Isaac Moore, in due course, for their contributions to humanity and race    relations in the early days of the State of Queensland.

Thank you all for listening.

Maroochy Barambah
Songwoman &amp; law-woman
26 August 2010

8 comments to Speech by Maroochy Baramba – Tom Petrie Memorial

  • Lachlan Dudley

    Hello :)

    My name is Lachlan and I am a third year unviersity student at Griffith University. I am currently doing a project concerning the history of Teneriffe. I was wondering if it would be possible to talk to an Indigenous member of the Turrbal in order to better understand the history of this area pre-European contact. The interview will be short and will not take up to much time and could be done by email. My email is lachlandudley@hotmail.com or you can contact me by mobile on 0434636525.

    Thanking you kindly,

    From Lachlan :)!

  • Les E. Smith

    To whome it may concern, I have recently taken an interest in the history of Tom Petrie and would like to know more. I would also like an educational tour through the Kurbingaibah site at Boardman rd.
    It would also be of great interest to me to find a course on Aboriginal culture as there are none available at Redcliffe Tafe . Can you help me or guide me to someone who can. Les Smith Redcliffe.

  • Christine Dewar

    Hi Great to see your site & learn more about the true history of Brisbane. I was looking to see who the aboriginal peoples were for the Burbank area of Tingalpa creek where I grew up. I knew the Jagera people have made a claim but I had heard there was some dispute regarding their claim. I am sorry for the history that happened with the Brisbane settlement. I am not indigenous but it burns to know what my ancestors did to the local people.

    Thank you for your site, always wonderful to learn.
    Christine (currently Mt Gravatt)

  • Hi Iam a international student from PNG studying community Service Work at Southbank Tafe I would like to know who are the traditional land owners of land were Carindale is now situated.

    I am most interested to know it would also help with my assignment.

    Thank you

    Ori Pala

  • nabia songco

    Hi! I’m a student and I’m doing my research about the traditional owners of Brisbane, particularly in Wilston Area. I was wondering if it would be possible to get in touch with an Indigenous member of the Turrbal clan. My email is nabia_songco@yahoo.com or you can contact me by mobile-0416027190.

    Thank you.

    Nabia (Wilston)

  • jim harkins

    Can you tell me, please, whether the proposed book “The Surviving Turrbal” was ever published? And if so, is it still available?
    Thank you.

  • Ray Pini

    Thanks for keeping the spirirt and stories of the Turrbal nation alive,
    I recently met Dr. Eve Fesl regarding the Gubbi Gubbi tribe –
    she has written many great illustrated poems.
    Thanks pleasw keep the stories coming … Thank-you Ray Pini

  • Ray Pini

    Thanks for keeping the spirirt and stories of the Turrbal nation alive,
    I recently met Dr. Eve Fesl regarding the Gubbi Gubbi tribe –
    she has written many great illustrated poems.
    Thanks pleasw keep the stories coming … Thank-you Ray Pini

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