In 1836 a 17 yo boy left Scotland bound for Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land…
“Fired by his pioneer spirit” and tales of opportunity, he traveled north to explore the Port Phillip district. Two years later, he set out with a group of others — and many sheep — to search for new squatting lands. He settled in the region of what we now call Ballarat, around a lake we now call Wendouree.
In 1846 John Robinson was born to Queen Mary Robinson, a respected elder of the Wadawurrung, whose Country ranges over 10,000 square kilometers to the west of Melbourne, Australia.
John lived until 1919 and rests at Warrnambool, where recent research dates human activity as potentially ranging back 80,000–120,000 years.
John is also the Wadawurrung apical ancestor.
Members of the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Corporation today trace their ancestry back to this one person, who was born 10 years after my great-great-great Grandfather left his home, on a journey that would steal theirs.
Today is National Sorry Day in Australia, and National Reconciliation Week begins tomorrow. Sorrow is important, and so is awareness of how stories like these overlap and obscure uncomfortable truths.
Australia has a long way to go. I hope that truth-telling like this might contribute to this in some small way, at least for my family, who’ve been raised to elevate the first story of our ancestor and remain relatively ignorant of the second.