Grandpa Pencil's
Australian Colonial
Intelligence

15

Sydney Aborigines Past and Present: 1880
(The Aborigines of Australia are a doomed race.)

Sydney Aborigines past and present is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News, May, 1880

Found occupying one of the lowest stages of savage life when the shores of New South Wales became familiar with the presence of the white man, their contact with civilization appears to have destroyed every possibility of their acquiring habitats of self-reliance, or of preserving them from the debasing follies and vices which have effected such disastrous results among the 'children of the wild' in other countries.

In a recent lecture on 'The Aborigines of New South Wales', the Rev. J. B. Gribble, of Warangeeda Mission, Murrumbidge River, contrasted the present condition of the blacks, after years of intercourse with white Christians, with what it was in their primitive state.

Then they were a free race with ample tribal territories over which they could wander undisturbed.

Their hunter craft and knowledge of the habitats and resorts of game enabled them to obtain each day sufficient for the day's need.

Indeed they lived in plenty.

Their tribal customs and laws bound all the members of a tribe together in friendship, and they possessed a spirit of mutual assistance.

The feeling of clanship was strong. The rules relating to courtship and marriage prevented the intermarriage of those of near degrees and morality was well maintained.

But now their camps were scenes of abject misery.

The settlers' guns and the settlers' dogs had harassed and destroyed their game, and semi-starvation was their lot.

The poison of grog-shop had destroyed their natural acuteness, and the most horrible and loathsome diseases had spread from the vicious habits of the whites.

The children in the camps were seldom black, but half-caste; sometimes, almost pure white.

The black and half-caste girls, ruined by the white man and cast adrift, were forsaken by the black men - their natural protectors -who went off by themselves, or sought work among the stations, leaving the poor women a prey to the lawless waifs and strays of our civilization.

The lecturer drew a thrilling picture of one camp recently visited by him, in which were eleven women and girls thus abandoned, with scarcely a rag to cover them, and not a morsel of food in their possession.

Their only hope of a supply being that two young lads had gone out to try to knock down a stray bird or two.

Reference was made to the neglect of the blacks by the churches and Government, and instances were given of manifest cruelty and injustice by those in authority: the apathy of the police in the manner of supply of intoxicants: the delay often occurring in the distribution of one blanket - our only return for all we have taken from them - rendering that small boon almost negatory.



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