Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Climbing the hill that flanks the valley last year, I found an interpretive sign created by neighbours who live on the other side of the hill. It gave an insight into the original inhabitants, the malakerdee band. My own reading found that they had lived on the eastern shore of the Derwent River and following a dispute with a tribe on the east coast of Tasmania had relocated to the Huon Valley.
The past year has seen the adoption of some aboriginal place names in Tasmania and these are represented in dual signage that incorporates both the original and colonial names. Hobart's iconic mountain now sports its original name kunanyi as well as Mount Wellington. One of the dual signs sits atop Vince's Saddle and since its erection the kununyi has been repeatedly struck out with black spray paint. I have been impressed to see how quickly the paint is removed and kunanyi restored, but someone feels pretty threatened by kunanyi, to keep blotting it out.
My first instinct was to counter this by blotting out Mount Wellington, especially given that Wellington never stepped foot in Tasmania but thankfully came up with another idea. I love a good sign and so I decided to acknowledge the original inhabitants of the valley with a sign on the front gate. I hope that it is seen as a sign of interest and respect for the original culture. If you get a chance to find out who originally lived in your part of the world then consider making a sign to spread the word.
It makes me wonder whether any descendants of the malakerdee band have survived to these times. I will be making some enquiries.