Naughty Mr Dixon

Dixon4

The leader of the invasion of Kombumerri Country was surveyor, Robert Dixon.

 

Naughty Mr Dixon didn’t

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follow instructions

 

Naughty Mr Dixon sold

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official information, leaker.

 

Naughty Mr leakin Dixon led

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the southbound invasion

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Naughty Mr Dixon had a leakin’ spirit of

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Insubordi-leakin’-nation.

 

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Naughty Mr Dixon is not my scapegoat.

Naughty Mr Dixon is not my scapegoat.

 

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Thinking of you

gesture flag3

Influenced by the images of men on Manus Island who are seeking protection, I put together this flag.

It is influenced by the gesture of the men detained on Manus Island.

gesture flag5

I have not had the gesture explained to me, but the crossed wrists suggest to me imprisonment, while the overall shape suggests a house or shelter.

It is influenced by the international code of signals.

gf2

One of the signal flags is a white ‘X’ on a blue flag. This flag is sometimes used as the letter ‘M’. It can also be used to communicate the message ‘I am stopped’.

It is influenced by the Australian flag in two ways.

photo 5(6)

The Australian flag contains a white X on a blue background. That is the St Andrews Cross within the Union Jack.

The Australian flag contains 5 stars which represent the Southern Cross.

gf1

A story told by Oodgeroo alerted me to the notion that the Southern Cross belongs with two other stars.

Oodgeroo told a story about Mirabooka, in which the ‘pointers’ were the eyes of a Custodian (my word), whose hands and feet are understood as the bright stars of what we call ‘The Southern Cross’.  In the shadow of the Australian flag, this story of Mirabooka moves me.  It also led me to an appreciation that even European navigation is guided by the relationship between the pointers and the cross.  There are at least 2 stars missing from our current flag.

gesture flag4

My flag is a reflection on being Australian, including a simultaneous attentiveness to Traditional Owners as well as people seeking protection.

There are some people who belong with us who are missing from our Australian shores.  They are on Manus Island.  They are on Nauru.

 

 

#invasionday 2018

invasionday 2018

Where are we? Minjin. When are we meeting next? 4 April

The name of our place was drummed into us this morning.  The name of this place is Minjin (as I heard it today).

We are getting together again on 4th April  in relation to large gatherings on Kombumerri Country

Here is a name, which may help us to recognise how the invasion of the Kombumerri Country sits in our own language today.    (This website contains the vocabulary which will help us understand that invasion…https://www.getsetforthegames.com/road-impacts.)  I will try to explain this before we meet again on the 4th of April, as I get set for the games.

Dixon4

The leader of the invasion of Kombumerri Country was surveyor, Robert Dixon.

Here is a short account of the build-up to the invasion south from Quandamooka, Turrabul and Jaggera Country into the Kombumerri Country in 1839 and 1840.

‘By 1839, pressure from prospective settlers had persuaded the governor of NSW, Sir George Gipps, of the need to open up for settlement the area around and beyond Moreton Bay. Before he could authorize such a move, Gipps needed a detailed map of the whole area produced by professional survey methods. Any surveys already done were either of small discrete parts of the district or had been carried out mainly by people unskilled in surveying and using crude instruments. The best available map was that of Cunningham but even this had some serious defects. No attempt at mapping by triangulation had yet been made.

In January 1839 Robert Dixon, an experienced and able surveyor whose skills were not being actively employed in Sydney, offered to survey the Moreton Bay district on a contract basis. This offer was accepted with some alacrity, though on quite strict conditions, by the governor. Dixon was given two assistants, Stapylton and Warner. He was also allocated 21 convicts and enough equipment to outfit 3 survey teams, including a flat-bottomed ‘sealing’ boat and several horses as well as supplies and stores needed for camping and maintenance. The party sailed from Sydney on 29 April 1839 in the paddlesteamer Sophia Jane and arrived at Brisbane Town in May.’

(by Roma Draper’s ‘Pioneering Surveyors in Moreton Bay’, pp. 112, 113 in Brisbane:, Squatters, Settlers and Surveyors’, published in 2000 by Brisbane History Group)

The GENIE in the robot

bnw-charlotte1

Here are 3 distinct journeys, visiting Brisbane’s street signs.  In these journeys, passengers talk to each other about the worlds in the words they see flash by their windows.

Language

The street map is a dictionary, and every street sign in Brisbane needs some kind of ‘interpretive plaque’, which could be regularly updated as we grow in knowledge, experience and wisdom as a population.

The first part of the journey seeks to identify the cast of characters and events on the street signs and invites the question ‘what verbs activate the nouns, which label our streets?’

The second part of the journey recognizes that the names on the street signs may be better understood in relationship with each other, rather than one-by-one.  We will consider the ways we join place names together in our day-to-day life.

Story

This journey will be a physical inspection of James Burnett’s ‘Limits of the town of Brisbane’, of 1844.

That old line is more commonly spoken of as ‘Boundary Street, these days.

We will consider the street signs we pass using 3 interpretive frameworks, which are active in our city at the moment.

  1. ‘Discovery’ (with Sir Joseph Banks)
  2. ‘The Progress of Civilisation’ (on Brisbane City Hall and Railway Bridge)
  3. ‘Resist.  Revive.  De-colonise.’  (from Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy)

Poetry and song

What was the ‘play list’ that the people named on Brisbane’s street signs carried around the world?

Homer. Chaucer. Milton. Scott. Tennyson. Burns.

Regimental music, folk songs, Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

How do these songs and poems sound to us in 2017?

In what form do we hear them now?

This route goes looking for the places that give us an insight into the 19th century colonial play list that shaped Brisbane.

Common

The following reflection is based on the 1785 testimony of Sir Joseph Banks, as documented in ‘A second report from the Committee of Enquiry into Transportation’. The document records a series of questions, and the responses of Sir Joseph Banks.

 

In my networks, I hear the phrase ‘stolen wealth’ at least as often as I hear the word ‘commonwealth’ when I speak to people face-to-face.  In the media, I only hear the words ‘commonwealth’, and this is usually in relation to Commonwealth of Australia or the Commonwealth Games.  I am thinking about common wealth, stolen wealth, and Commonwealth.

I think that Sir Joseph Banks’ pre-1788 imagination still thrives in Australia.

PART I – COMMON

INTRODUCTION

It being in the contemplation of this committee to suggest such places as may be most proper to send the whole or part –// -//-//  of the convicts now under sentence of transportation so they would be glad to know where in your voyage with Captain Cook it occurred to you that there were any places in the new discovered islands to which persons of such description might be sent in a situation where they might be able by labour to support themselves.

Banks:  I have no doubt that the soil of many parts of the Eastern coast of New South Wales between the latitudes of 30 and 40 is sufficiently fertile to support a considerable number of Europeans who would cultivate it in the ordinary modes used in England.

Is any spot there better adapted to that purpose than another according to your observation?

Banks:  Botany Bay is the only part of that country which I have actually visited and I am confident that is in every respect adapted to the purpose.

 

COMMON COAST

Is the coast in general or the particular part you have mentioned much inhabited?
Banks: There are very few inhabitants

 

COMMON FEAR

Are they of a peaceable or hostile disposition?
Banks: Though they seemed inclined to hostilities they did not appear at all to be feared. We never saw more than 30 or 40 together.

 

COMMON OWNERSHIP

Do you apprehend in case it was resolved to send convicts there any district of the country might be obtained by cession or purchase?
Banks: There was no probability while we were there of obtaining anything by cession or purchase as there was nothing we could offer that they would take except provisions and those we wanted ourselves.

 

COMMON LANGUAGE,  COMMON GOVERNMENT

Have you any idea of the nature of the government under which they lived?
Banks: None whatever, nor of their language.

 

COMMON FISH

Does the coast abound with fish and is it easily to be taken?
Banks: Yes, particularly by sting rays of a great size which are very good food and which were easily caught at high water by being struck with a boat hook or rigging.

 

COMMON BIRDS , COMMON ANIMALS

Did you see any animals or birds?
Banks: I saw no quadrupeds likely to be useful for food but vast abundance of parrots, quails and other birds which we eat – no wild beasts.

 

COMMON SOIL 

What is the soil?
Banks: Every where that I saw consisted either of swampy ground or light sandy mould – there were some very large trees and every where vast quantities of grass

 

COMMON TIMBER

Did the timber appear fit for building?
Banks: It appeared to me to be fit for all the purposes of house building and ship building.

 

COMMON STONE

Was there any stone proper for building?
Banks: I saw stone lying in beds but never having broke it or cut it I cannot speak as to the quality of it.

 

COMMON MOUNTAINS

Did the country seem to rise into high land gradually or was it mountainous.
Banks: It rises very gradually – there are not any high mountains within sight.

 

COMMON RIVERS

Did you see any rivers?
Banks: No – there were some brooks of fresh water which we found good and watered with it.

 

COMMON TRANSPORT

Had the natives any canoes or vessels of any other construction?
Banks: I saw none but canoes made of bark; the largest barely capable of carrying two men.

 

COMMON GRASS

Is it possible that European cattle would live and breed there?
Banks: From the quantity of grass there is every reason to believe they would thrive.

 

COMMON SOIL

Is the soil adapted to the cultivation of European corn and pulse?
Banks: I have no doubt both from the soil and climate they would thrive there.

 

COMMON WOMEN

Supposing 500 convicts were to be established in that place would it be easy to obtain for them a supply of women?
Banks: I have no doubt that they might be obtained from the south sea islands at no other expense than the charge of fetching them.

 

COMMON WEALTH

Do you think that 500 men being put on shore there would meet with that obstruction from the natives which might prevent their settling there?
Banks: Certainly not – from the experience I have had of the natives of another part of the same coast I am inclined to believe they would speedily abandon the country to the new comers.

 

COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE

Were the natives armed and in what manners?
Banks: They were armed with spears headed with fish bones but none of them we saw in Botany Bay appeared at all formidable.

 

BRITISH COMMONWEALTH 

Do you know any place you think preferable to this for the purpose of sending convicts to it?
Banks: From the fertility of the soil the timid disposition of the inhabitants and the climate being so analogous to that of Europe I give this place the preference to all that I have seen.

(Banks)Withdrew.

 

PART II – STOLEN 

STOLEN COAST

Is the coast in general or the particular part you have mentioned much inhabited?
Banks: There are very few inhabitants

 

STOLEN FEAR

Common Fear

Are they of a peaceable or hostile disposition? Banks: Though they seemed inclined to hostilities they did not appear at all to be feared. We never saw more than 30 or 40 together.

 

STOLEN OWNERSHIP

 

purchase

Do you apprehend in case it was resolved to send convicts there any district of the country might be obtained by cession or purchase?
Banks:  There was no probability while we were there of obtaining anything by cession or purchase as there was nothing we could offer that they would take except provisions and those we wanted ourselves.

 

STOLEN LANGUAGE,  STOLEN GOVERNMENT

common language

Have you any idea of the nature of the government under which they lived? Banks: None whatever, nor of their language.

 

STOLEN FISH

Common fish

Does the coast abound with fish and is it easily to be taken? Banks: Yes, particularly by sting rays of a great size which are very good food and which were easily caught at high water by being struck with a boat hook or rigging.

 

STOLEN BIRDS , STOLEN ANIMALS

Birds

Did you see any animals or birds? Banks: I saw no quadrupeds likely to be useful for food but vast abundance of parrots, quails and other birds which we eat – no wild beasts.

 

STOLEN SOIL 

cattle

What is the soil? Banks: Every where that I saw consisted either of swampy ground or light sandy mould – there were some very large trees and every where vast quantities of grass

 

 

STOLEN TIMBER

timber

Did the timber appear fit for building? Banks: It appeared to me to be fit for all the purposes of house building and ship building.

 

STOLEN STONE

Stone

Was there any stone proper for building? Banks: I saw stone lying in beds but never having broke it or cut it I cannot speak as to the quality of it.

 

STOLEN MOUNTAINS

mountains

Did the country seem to rise into high land gradually or was it mountainous. Banks: It rises very gradually – there are not any high mountains within sight.

 

STOLEN RIVERS

River1

Did you see any rivers? Banks: No – there were some brooks of fresh water which we found good and watered with it.

 

 

STOLEN TRANSPORT 

Boats1

Had the natives any canoes or vessels of any other construction? Banks: I saw none but canoes made of bark; the largest barely capable of carrying two men.

 

STOLEN GRASS 

grass

Is it possible that European cattle would live and breed there? Banks: From the quantity of grass there is every reason to believe they would thrive.

 

STOLEN SOIL

Soil

Is the soil adapted to the cultivation of European corn and pulse? Banks: I have no doubt both from the soil and climate they would thrive there.

 

STOLEN WOMEN

women

Supposing 500 convicts were to be established in that place would it be easy to obtain for them a supply of women? Banks: I have no doubt that they might be obtained from the south sea islands at no other expense than the charge of fetching them.

 

 

STOLEN WEALTH

abandon

Do you think that 500 men being put on shore there would meet with that obstruction from the natives which might prevent their settling there? Banks: Certainly not – from the experience I have had of the natives of another part of the same coast I am inclined to believe they would speedily abandon the country to the new comers.

 

STOLEN WEALTH DEFENCE 

defense

Were the natives armed and in what manners? Banks: They were armed with spears headed with fish bones but none of them we saw in Botany Bay appeared at all formidable.

 

BRITISH STOLEN WEALTH

Convicts

Do you know any place you think preferable to this for the purpose of sending convicts to it? Banks: From the fertility of the soil the timid disposition of the inhabitants and the climate being so analogous to that of Europe I give this place the preference to all that I have seen.

 

(Sir Joseph Banks)Withdrew.

 

[1] This is my transcription of a photograph of a handwritten transcript of the Testimony of Sir Joseph Banks to Committee questions.  It was presented in a book by Jonathan King called ‘In the beginning – the story of the creation of Australia from the original writings.’  (pp 51-62)

 

Resist. Revive. Decolonise. Traffic Reports

The new (2017) view from my window

The new view from my window (Gone within days)

 

There is a new street sign outside my window.  It says, ‘DECOLONISE’.

Thanks to this sign, I have started listening to the traffic report through a template developed by the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy – ‘Resist.  Revive.  Decolonise.’

To begin with, I am grouping place names in Brisbane into 3 different categories – resist, revive, and decolonise.  This is my starting point for exploring this template.  I hope that the overlapping nature of the categories as initially defined below highlight and affirm the integrated nature of this three-word template.  I recognize that this template was not developed for this purpose.  However, I think that this application might be a useful way to explore its richness and implication, while keeping it front and centre as I go about daily life, attentive the signs and language around me.

Category 1 – Resist

Category 1 highlights personal focal points in resistance.  It includes individuals or families.  It might also include names directly attributable to an individual, such as the name of a family home or estate.

The city of Brisbane is shaped by social, political and economic contests.  The notion of ‘resistance’ urges us to perceive the characters who have shaped Brisbane in the context of these contests.  Who and what did they resist?  Who resisted this character?  What was their role or posture in relation to resistance to the colonization of Aboriginal Land and the dispossession of the First Nations?

Category 2 – Revive

Category 2 highlights culture.  It includes names generally referred to as ‘Aboriginal words’ as well as place names whose meaning has been forgotten and neglected over time.  I also include references to natural water courses (e.g. Creek St) in this category.

As mentioned in other articles in this blog (e.g. Speech tools and the letter ‘S’), I do not like the phrase ‘Aboriginal words’. This phrase suggests that these words on signposts are merely objects in a Colony’s dusty collection.  One simple aspect of revival is to recognize the multitude of languages spoken in Australia over millennia.  These languages have names, and it is time that we acknowledge their names in our own 21st century English.  In the absence of those names, there is merit in acknowledging the loss of this knowledge.

In ‘revive’, I am not advocating that we rush to ‘knowing’ what words ‘mean’.  I am affirming the revival of languages within (their own and interacting) cultures in the 21st century.  Revive asserts the essential role of the custodians of culture in shaping cultural exchange and interaction.  Place names which are referred to as ‘Aboriginal words’, beg questions about multi-lingual capability, both in relation to the naming of the place, and in 21st century Brisbane.   In the 21st century, it is clear that access to living language requires both sensitivity and access to culture.  A street map becoming a dictionary might have nothing to do with revival.

Category 3 – Decolonise

Category 3 highlights collective colonial action and shared colonial consciousness.  It includes social, sentimental, artistic, technological, industrial, infrastructure, military, momentous and political references. It includes frequent references to foreign places.   Words like North, South, East, West, Old and New feature in this category, as they demonstrate orientations to specifically colonial reference points.

#resistrevivedecolonise @gettrafficQLD

Here are 3 traffic reports which illustrate the template at work.

Toowong, slow traffic inbound, Western Freeway at Frederick St

becomes

Revive.  Decolonise.  Resist.

Revive/Toowong – language, culture

Decolonise/West  – colonial reference point that defines ‘west’.

Resist/Frederick – absent royal family.

MacKenzie, slow traffic inbound, Mt Gravatt-Capalaba Rd at Gateway Motorway

becomes

Resist. Resist. Revive. Decolonise.

Resist/MacKenzie –  local businessman and global trader

Resist/Gravatt – face-to-face military administrator

Revive/Capalaba –  language, culture

Decolonise/Gateway – Bjelke-Petersen era business enterprise/infrastructure project

East Brisbane, slow traffic inbound, Wynnum Rd at Lytton Rd

becomes

Decolonise. Resist. Revive. Resist

Decolonise/East – colonial reference point that defines East

Resist/Brisbane – absent military administrator

Revive/Wynnum – language, culture

Resist/Lytton – absent representative of Queen Victoria

Traffic reports unleash a series of clusters of place names, usually in groups of 3.  Here are the place names from one morning’s traffic report (@gettrafficQLD)

Boondal Gateway Bruce

Beenleigh M1 Holder

Carseldine Gympie Beams

Mango Anzac Bruce

Deagon Gateway Deagon

Berinba Beaudesert Logan

Bardon Jubilee Frederick

Tarragindi Gaza Pacific

Jindalee 17 Mile Centenary

Everton South Pine Old Northern

Darra Ipswich Centenary

Drewvale Lindsay Beaudesert

Willowbank Cunningham Rosewood

Mitchelton Samford Osbourne

Toowong Western Frederick

Chandler Cleveland Moreton

Mackenzie Gravatt Capalaba Gateway

East Brisbane Wynnum Lytton

Kelvin Grove ICB Kelvin Grove

Red Waterworks Windsor

Stafford Shand Appleby

Boondal Sandgate Bicentennial

Auchenflower Land Coronation

Kenmore Kenmore Moggill

When I consider the above traffic report through the lens of resist, revive, decolonise, it looks like this:

Revive decolonise.  Resist!

Decolonise! Decolonise resist.

Resist! Revive resist.

Decolonise! Decolonise resist.

 

Resist! Decolonise resist.

Revive! Decolonise resist.

Decolonise!  Decolonise resist.

Resist, resist, decolonise.

 

Decolonise, decolonise decolonise

Decolonise decolonise decolonise

Revive, decolonise, decolonise

Resist, resist decolonise

 

Decolonise, resist, decolonise

Resist, revive, decolonise

Revive, decolonise, resist

Resist. Resist. Resist.

 

Resist, resist, revive, de-colonise

Decolonise resist, revive, resist

Decolonise decolonise decolonise

Decolonise decolonise decolonise

 

Decolonise resist, resist

Revive, decolonise decolonise

Resist resist decolonise

Decolonise, decolonise, revive.

Even though there are only 3 words in this poetic structure, every word has a different meaning based on how it was conceived in the traffic report.  Here’s looking forward to a fresh view of the streets and their use…