I've started to research what happened to the Ramindjeri people, the traditional owners of the land, after the conquest of their lands and British settlement of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The settler history is a narrative of from pioneer port to seaside resort' and this narrative is premised on the the ‘great Australian silence’ in regard to Indigenous people and their history.
The research is for the second historical part of Fleurieuscapes project. The art historical context of the project is that Australian arts practice abandoned the landscape in the 1960’s at the end of Modernism, the last major figures being Williams, Nolan and Olsen as arts practice entered post modernity and deconstruction. Whilst there are notable exceptions (Storrier, Robinson etc.), landscape representation was left to Aboriginal peoples as Aboriginal painting emerged from the deserts of Central Australia.
The second part of the Fleuriescapes project looks at the significant historical sites of the Fleurieu Peninsula from the vantage point of the traditional owners (both the Ramindjeri and the Ngarrindjeri) in a post-colonial Australia. This history is one where many of the traditional people living on the Fleurieu Peninsula and along the Corrong were massacred. Those who survived had the power to govern their lives removed, as well as their connections to the land and the space, and as well as their language to articulate their view of what had happened to them.
The picture below is of the site of an old sealing/whaling station at Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor that preceded British settlement. The contact is circa 1830's, and one of the prime reason for the Europeans to make contact with aboriginal people was to seek women. Eventually, some of the Ramindjeri men and women worked as harpooners and whale spotters.
There was another sealing/whaling station at Granite Island in Victor Harbor Many of the Ramindjeri people succumbed to the small pox epidemic which swept the area in the 1830s and then to general disease. In 1872 the whaling industry, which had started on Kangaroo Island around 1806, and which produced whale oil and bones for export, closed down due to a lack of Southern Right whales.