Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Uncle Graham Dillon OAM

This resource is related to the following Learning Area –

And responds to the following Enquiry Questions –

Q24.Historical timeline of settlement and events?
Q27.Historical timeline of settlement and events?

Resource transcript –

Way back in the early days around about, pardon me, 1848, timber industry was operating in New South Wales. But two young fellows came across from New South Wales, across the mountains. Timber men came across and they saw how prolific the cedar trees were, mountain ash and all of that. And, so, that was ultimately, the beginning of the timber industry which, incidentally, was the very first industry in the Gold Coast region. Timber. It altered, from there on… the whole economy of the Kombumerri was altered because with the timber industry came the boats, the paddle ship steamers, and my uncle worked on one of those, Frank Graham. He worked on the Maid of Sker which you’ll find at Nerang. So it altered the whole social structure and nature of the Kombumerri people when the timber industry kicked in and it just upset the whole economy. No good. It has never been the same since and the other interesting factor that occurred was when the native police were on the hunt all around South East Queensland. They were on the hunt for, to use the term, ‘Stray Blacks.’ That’s Aboriginals who were just wandering around and that’s part of the Aboriginal way. Moving from here, moving from there. And they would have been seen by the mainstream as wasters, not workers. And then the native police were issued orders to come down and hunt up any ‘stray blacks.’ And it’s ironical because when they did come down the first thing they said was, “Where are the Aboriginal kids?” They must have been told ahead of time that those Aboriginal girls, my mother and my aunties were there on the banks of the Ngarang-wal riverbank there because their father was Andrew Hamilton Graham who was the keeper of the buoys and the channels for the boats cause there was no roads. So everything was by water from Brisbane right down to the Gold Coast. What were they doing down there? Bringing the goods and chattels down for the timber men, including explosives and things like that. So that when they found out that they said, “aw,” the native police, they were asking, “Where are these little Aboriginal girls? The kids?” It probably would have been my grandfather who would have said, “They’ve gone!” But, in actual fact, what had happened is there was a dinghy there in the yard… Richard confirmed this, his grandmother was one of those three little girls. When they knew the police was coming… native police of course, cruel native police, very cruel. They turned the boat upside down but the kids underneath it and they probably put a tarp over it just before the police arrived. And, so, the police went searching everywhere and my grandmother, what happened to her? She was hidden up a tree. She didn’t fit underneath the dinghy but she was hidden up a tree. History from our people. The police, the native police, the cruel native police went back to Brisbane and said, “They’ve gone!” And, so, our lives were saved. I’m sitting here with others and working and living thanks to my mother and her two sisters. Their lives being saved underneath a dinghy and the native police missed out, away they went and so our lives, my mother’s lives, my aunties’ lives were saved.