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Monday, May 23, 2022

Bollart_Bourke Street and ANZAC Day

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This Country Has Never Been Ceded

Upper Esplanade St Kilda (Melbourne).

Photo by Cristina Ceddia 24th December 2017.

Note: The bollart attracted no media attention.

The bollard was one of many placed near the Palais Theatre and Luna Park as a direct reaction to the Bourke St Massacre 20th January 2017. By December that year some of the bollards in St Kilda had been decorated to protest the invasion of Australia by the colonisers. The founding of Melbourne 1835, ‘Batman’s Treaty’, ‘Bourke’s Proclamation 1835’, the ‘Bourke Street Massacre’, (ironically, a street named after Governor Bourke), led to the installation of bollards around Melbourne. First Nations peoples used some of the bollards, in a practice known as ‘bollart’[1] to protest Australia Day (2018). That year the nearby statue of Captain Cook was vandalised with pink paint on the eve of Australia Day “with the words “NO PRIDE” painted beneath his feet, along with a depiction of the Aboriginal Flag.”[2] This series of events led to the City of Port Phillip instigating a ‘Morning of Mourning’[3] to be held on Australia Day, acknowledging the grief of our First Nation’s People so that all Australian’s can come together and celebrate the day as one people.[4] The service held at the Albert Jacka[5] Memorial Garden, involves an Aboriginal Cleansing Ceremony, commenced in 2019, and is now in its third year.[6]

The bollard, a concrete block, was installed to protect particularly venerable pedestrians, from terrorism; it was commissioned by the Victorian Government under Premier Daniel Andrews (2017) and produced by australianbollards.com in the aftermath of a car attack that was ‘years in the making.’[7] A historical account, 1835 The Founding of Melbourne & the Conquest of Australia by James Boyce (2012), describes St Kilda in the opening chapters as “a short of temperate Kakadu (Flannery).”[8] The preface states, “In 1935 AN ILLEGAL SQUATTERS CAMP was established on the banks of the Yarra River. This brazen act would shape the history of Australia as much as would the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788,” p. XIII.[9] The bollard acknowledges, ‘this land (Australia) has never been ceded’ and depicts the Aboriginal Flag as a proclamation of Sovereignty.

The natural beauty of the Port Phillip district was not lost on the colony’s first lieutenant-governor, Charles La Trobe, who renamed the Kulin peoples land, known as ‘Euroe Yroke’, St Kilda. Although the bollard sits on Kulin Land the story of this monument is greater than that of a concrete buttress and the founding of Melbourne as it encompasses all of First Nation People’s collective grief. A statue of Captain James Cook sits at the top of Port Phillip Bay, a bay that he never visited; this misplaced monument, in recent years has been vandalised to mark the Indigenous occasion of ‘Invasion Day.’

“My approach to this issue is we need to change the day, not the date;” Dick Gross (former Mayor COPP).[10] The plan was to bring ‘everyone together to recognise a shared history’ and create ‘healing through Remembrance, Reflection and Recognition.’[11] The three R’s, capitalised, emphasises a reverence that is owed to our First Peoples, a reverence equal to, and not less than ANZAC Day. As a personal friend of Dick Gross, my beliefs on the matter of Australia Day a-line with his thoughtful approach. Dick, a self confessed show-off, uses an outrageous persona to attract attention to himself and the issues he wants to promote. Dick’s humanity is in his acknowledgement that we don’t always get things right. Another good friend, local activist, Debra Holland, who identifies as Indigenous, explained, ‘the date gives her Mob the opportunity to protest.’ Debra would like to see the day remain January 26, the day in 1788 when the First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove resulting in the raising the British Flag by Arthur Phillip. The irony of Port Phillip Bay, named in honour of Phillip, is like Cook he never came here. The vandalism of Cook’s monument and the decoration of the bollard as acts of activism, highlight the propaganda of Australia’s colonial past. The Statue is easily cleaned, more easily than the stain of Bourke’s Proclamation that produced generational trauma for a people whose humanity was not recognized. The events of January 26, 1788, and the founding of Melbourne 1835 are pitiably inseparable.

Bourke Street, the heart of the Hoddle Grid, is a symbol of the conquest of Australia by the ‘invaders.’ Reconciliation is at the heart of our First Nation’s People who ‘cannot’ celebrate Australia Day, on a contestable date, because the land was never ceded. The boundaries of the date, ‘that was years in the making,’ are blurred, blood stained and represent a Gallipoli moment in the narrative of our First People.

The City of Port Philip has a deep nostalgia for ‘the once as it was.’ This sentimental approach is driven by the natural beauty of ‘country’ that colonisation failed to destroy. “NGARGEE to NERM from Ancient Tree to Ancient Sea, St Kilda’s Special Indigenous Regeneration Projects”; “THE ONCE AS IT WAS”[12] is symbolic of this resilience.

This chain of events led the City of Port Phillip to implement a Morning of Mourning for our First Nations People that commenced on Australia Day 2019 and now has been running for three years.

https://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/about-the-council/council-meetings

Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross says the move is aimed at acknowledging mixed feelings about the national day.(ABC News: Rhiannon Shine)

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-17/port-phillip-council-to-hold-australia-day-morning-of-mourning/11610458

Bringing everyone together to recognise a shared history

https://haveyoursay.portphillip.vic.gov.au/morning-mourning-and-remembrance

Healing through Remembrance, Reflection and Recognition.

https://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/we-akon-dilinja

WHY? Bourke St Massacre 20th January 2017

Reference material:

Governor Bourke’s Proclamation (1835)

The document is a primary source; a copy is available in the New South Wales Government Gazette No 3 411.

Bourke, R. (1835) Proclamation. New South Wales Government Gazette, NSW.

Additional References

NGARGEE to NERM from Ancient Tree to Ancient Sea, St Kilda’s Special Indigenous Regeneration Projects.

THE ONCE AS IT WAS.

YALUKIT WILLIAM The River People of Port Phillip by Mwyer Eidelson

Publications, the City of Port Philip.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/03/melbournes-security-bollards-prettiedupanddubbedbollart > accessed 6 April 2022

[2] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/pink-paint-poured-on-captain-cook-s-statue-on-eve-of-australia-day-20180125-p4yyvg.html The Age, Pink paint poured on Captain Cook’s Statue on the eve of Australia Day by Joe Hinchliffe, January 25, 2018 – 10.23 am. >accessed 6 April 2022

[3] https://haveyoursay.portphillip.vic.gov.au/morning-mourning-and-remembrance > accessed 6 April 2022

[4] https://haveyoursay.portphillip.vic.gov.au/morning-mourning-and-remembrance > accessed 6 April 2022

[5] Albert Jacka https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Jacka > accessed 6 April 2022

[6] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-17/port-phillip-council-to-hold-australia-day-morning-of-mourning/11610458 > accessed 6 April 2022

[7]https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/bourke-street-tragedy-unravelled-in-minutes-but-was-years-in-the-making-20201119-p56g44.html > accessed 6 April 2022

[8] James Boyce (2012), 1835 The Founding of Melbourne & the Conquest of Australia, published by Black Inc., C.1 P.3

[9] James Boyce (2012), 1835 The Founding of Melbourne & the Conquest of Australia, published by Black Inc., Preface P.XIII

[10] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-17/port-phillip-council-to-hold-australia-day-morning-of-mourning/11610458 > accessed 6 April 2022

[11] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-17/port-phillip-council-to-hold-australia-day-morning-of-mourning/11610458

> accessed 6 April 2022

[12] Council Poster COPP. Journey some of the Cultural and Natural Landscapes of Traditional Nerm, Port Phillip. The Ancient Ancestral Estates of the Boonwurrung Yalukit William. Discover More www.skinc.com.au > accessed 6 April 2022

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