Home Books OLD TUCKER MAN – Debbie Austin

OLD TUCKER MAN – Debbie Austin

For many thousands of years, Kirrae Whurrong men prided themselves on being able to provide game food for their families and communities from the 12 Apostles coastline to the lakes of the Volcanic Plains in what is now South Western Victoria.

When Europeans first arrived in Kirrae Whurrong Country, they found luscious grassland plains ideal for grazing by their newly arrived sheep and cattle. Never before had hooved animals tread upon the soft ground and never had the grasslands been eaten so intensely.

The new arrivals changed the Country very quickly. There were no longer kangaroos and emus for the Kirrae Whurrong men to hunt because their food had now been eaten by the new animals. Kirrae Whurrong women could not harvest the fruits and vegetables like Murrnong, which had grown upon the soft dirt plains, because the new animals hardened the ground with their hard hooves leaving many of the grassland plants unable to grow.

After a while, the Kirrae Whurrong people became very hungry. Some men hunted the new animals to feed their wives and children. This caused conflict and many Europeans reacted by attacking the Kirrae Whurrong.

As time went by, the surviving members of the Kirrae Whurrong were sent to an Aboriginal Mission. They were not allowed to do many activities, or even speak their Kirrae Whurrong language. But, the role of the Kirrae Whurrong men did not change. Like ‘Unc’ in ‘Old Tucker Man’, when they saw their family and community hungry, the men secretely hunted as they always had, to feed their children. Sometimes, that meant taking the risk of being caught and taken to jail.

 

- John Clarke.

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