Truganini (1812-1876)

 

Truganini, sometimes called Queen Truganini, was born circa 1812 on Bruny Island, south of today’s Hobart, and separated from the Tasmanian mainland by the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. She was a daughter of Mangana, Chief of the Bruny Island people. Her name was the word her tribe used to describe the grey saltbush Atriplex cinerea. Before she was eighteen, her mother had been killed by whalers, her first fiance died while saving her from abduction, and in 1828, her two sisters, Lowhenunhue and Maggerleede, were abducted and taken to Kangaroo Island, off South Australia, and sold as slaves. She married Woorrady, although he died when she was still in her twenties.When Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1824, he
implemented two policies to deal with the growing conflict between settlers and the Aborigines. First, bounties were awarded for the capture of Aboriginal adults and children, and secondly Arthur tried to establish friendly relations to lure the aborigines into camps. He started his campaign on Bruny Island where there had been fewer hostilities than in other parts of Tasmania. In 1830, George Augustus Robinson, the Protector of Aborigines, moved Truganini and Woorrady to Flinders Island with about one hundred others, the last surviving Tasmanian Aborigines. The stated aim of isolation was to save them but many of the group died from influenza and other diseases. Truganini became a guide and interpreter for Robinson, helping him with a settlement for mainland aborigines at Port Phillip in 1838. After about two years of living in and around Melbourne they became outlaws, stealing from settlers around Dandenong before heading to Bass River and then Cape Paterson where members of their outlaw group murdered two whalers, then shot and injured other settlers around the area. A long pursuit followed and those responsible for the murders were captured , sent for trial hanged in Melbourne. A gunshot wound to Truganini’s head was treated by Doctor Hugh Anderson of Bass River and she and her party were sent to Melbourne for trial. Truganini was sent back to Flinders Island. In 1856, the few surviving Tasmanian Aborigines on Flinders Island, including Truganini were moved to a settlement at Oyster Cove, south of Hobart. By 1873, Truganini was the sole survivor of the Oyster Cove group, and was again moved to Hobart. By 1869 she and William Lanney were the only full bloods alive. The mutilation of Lanney’s body after his death in March led Truganini to tell the Rev. H. D.Atkinson, “I know that when I die the Museum wants my body” She was correct. Truganini died three years later, having requested that her ashes be scattered in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. She was, however, buried at the former Female Factory at Cascades, a suburb of Hobart. Within two years, her skeleton was exhumed by the Royal Society of Tasmania and later placed on display. Only in April 1976, approaching the centenary of her death, were her remains finally cremated and scattered according
to her wishes. In 1997 the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, returned Truganini’s necklace and bracelet to Tasmania. Hair and skin were found in the collection of the Royal College of
Surgeons of England in 2002, and returned to Tasmania for burial.

 

 

 

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