Monday, 12 March 2012

Tullamareena and Tullamarine

Recently I visited the historic homestead at Woodlands, home to retired champion race horses.

I was telling my family today what a great place it is to visit, and explaining that it's just beside Tullamarine Airport.

One family member wondered where the name Tullamarine came from. We thought it probably came from a local indigenous language, and it seems it did. eMelbourne says:
Located between Melbourne Airport (formerly called Tullamarine Airport) and Gladstone Park, Tullamarine was a predominantly agricultural township until the 1950s. It now includes both residential and industrial areas, and major manufacturers include Schweppes Cottees, Honda and Caterpillar Australia. Tullamarine is thought to derive its name from Tullamareena, the name of a Wurundjeri boy noted by George Langhorne.
It's news to me that our airport isn't called Tullamarine any more! I wonder when that changed?

I also wondered who that boy was. What brought him to the notice of the invading Europeans?

Wikipedia refers to him as 'a senior man of the Wurundjeri', and notes that at the time he was thought to be 'a steady, industrious man'. In 1838 he was arrested for sheep-stealing and imprisoned. In making his escape, with two other indigenous men, he burned down the gaol.
William Lonsdale, the first Police magistrate of Melbourne wrote in a letter to the colonial secretary on 26 April 1838:
...I was at first apprehensive that some of the blacks had set the gaol on fire...for the purpose of liberating the three who were confined, but to ascertain what I could on this point, I went as soon as I was satisfied that the stores and prisoners were temporarily disposed of after their being taken from the buildings, into the different camps of blacks, of which there were three in the neighbourhood... Describing how the gaol was set fire to, he says that the other black who was confined with him got a long piece of reed which he thrust through an opening in the partition between the place where he was confined in and the guard room, and after lighting the reed by the guard's candle he drew it back and set fire to the thatch roof. The two blacks got off but one was afterwards retaken, viz. Jin Jin. This affair is much to be regretted, keeping up as it undoubtedly will the public alarm and agitation regarding the blacks.
Apparently Tullamareena was later recaptured, sent for trial to Sydney and released without conviction when it became apparent he could not understand English.

He was set free more than 700 kilometres from home. To me that seems to have been cruel and unfair. I hope he found his way back to his own country.

Like all too many Australians, I know little about the history of our own country, so I'm happy that thinking about a familiar word in a different way has opened my eyes just a little to the indigenous history of this area.

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