Baiami and The Bible

By the 1820s and 1830s (some 50 years after European occupation) Indigenous Australians, particularly in areas outside the main towns, had worked out patterns of engagement with the European occupiers. This could involve working in timber cutting industries or working as stockmen on remote properties.

Another way of surviving for Indigenous Australians was by living on a Mission. This of course also had its negative side as missionaries usually wanted the Indigenous People to abandon their own culture and beliefs and be converted to Christianity

However this account of an early mission run by a Congregationalist Minister, Lancelot Threlkeld, demonstrates two things. The first is how, by mastering the language of the local people, in his case the Awabakal, he was able to gain insight into their culture. Secondly the Mission could be a force against the brutal treatment of Indigenous Australians by some in the society.

Originally published in Poiner G and Jack S Limits of Location: creating a colony, Sydney University Press, 2007

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Andrew Keese

Web designer, web developer and online marketing consultant. Co-owner of Silver Vine, a web design agency located in Melbourne and specialising in Squarespace.