Informed the natives of the operations carrying on against the blacks, and the whole of them was in tears throughout the whole of the day.
Journal of George Augustus Robinson, 26 November 1830
Next day we all reached Bothwell, where we joined the line which extended to the sea coast from the westward – all the parties before we joined had been driving the natives towards the centre, some 3500 men being placed along the line each 320 yards apart – it was astonishing to see the mannerism by which the settlers had turned out with their own servants leaving their homes for an indefinite time. There are not many left now who can recollect the trying occasion.
Henry James Emmett (NLA MS 3311)
Black War ~ Van Diemen’s Land CSO 7578 is a site created for transcripts of the manuscript series: CSO 1/7578/316-332. The original records consist of 1 metre of original bound correspondence held in the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO), Hobart. These are viewable at TAHO on microfilm reel numbers: z1825 – z1830 and are not (yet) online. These records date from 1824-1836, the period of leadership of Lieutenant George Arthur, the 12th Governor of Van Diemen’s Land: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/arthur-sir-george-1721
Tasmania is constructed from the precepts of the Black War, a period of cross cultural conflict initiated by British official occupation from 1803 that intensified by the 1820s, resulting in the Government managed Black Line campaign of 7 Oct – 24 Nov 1830 that culminated in a purported 3500 armed ‘settlers’ and military, supported by £30,000 of Government expenditure, attempting to militarily force, over a period of six weeks, Aboriginal people remaining at large in the ‘settled districts’ onto the Tasman Peninsula. Although this campaign logistically failed, it is believed that it led to the surrender of the remaining openly adversarial Aboriginal people and resulted in their subsequent exile to Flinders Island, located off north eastern Tasmania. See http://www.linc.tas.gov.au/?a=24356 for a listing of original, archival material held in TAHO relating to Tasmanian Aboriginal people and history.
Unknown artist, Governor Arthur’s Proclamation to the Aboriginal People, c.1830, oil on huon pine board; 36 x 22.8 cm, National Library of Australia, PIC R7247 LOC MS SR Cabinet 3/9, image #: nla.pic-an2291826, http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview/?pi=nla.pic-an2291826&fullrecord=yes
The wood panel above is one of a rare set of unknown original number produced in c.1830. There are seven publicly known surviving panels – held in the collections of:
- The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania
- The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania
- The National Library of Australia, Canberra
- The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
- The Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
- The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge University, Boston, United States
- Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
These panels were the result of a recommendation to Lieutenant Governor George Arthur by Van Diemen’s Land Government Surveyor George Frankland in 1829. Frankland corresponded with Arthur about charcoal drawings he had seen in Aboriginal huts in the interior. He suggested pictographs be created, and they were – on timber, (probably) nailed to trees, and designed to communicate with Tasmanian Aboriginal people about British equality of justice, whether black or white, when other means of concluding the ‘Black War’ appeared to be failing. (Ref: Letter from Frankland to Arthur, 4 February 1829, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (TAHO), LSD 17/1. Information sourced from useful and fascinating articles by Dr. Penny Edmonds: http://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/vol_5_no_2/papers/the_proclamation_cup_#Endnotes%201-20. And also: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14443058.2011.562227#preview)
TAHO online (website) provides this official Map of the Black Line military campaign,Van Diemen’s Land, 1830 http://stors.tas.gov.au/AUTAS001139593537
Field plan of movements of the military: No. 9: Military operations against the aboriginal inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land / G. Frankland, surveyor general. “Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 23rd Sepr. 1831”. 1: 390 000
This site, Black War ~ Van Diemen’s Land CSO 7578, is initially a holding place for transcriptions of CSO* 1/316-322/7578 that will eventually enable exploration of cross cultural relations in frontier Van Diemen’s Land based on these sixteen volumes of colonial records. *CSO refers to the Colonial Secretary’s Office. Tasmania was called Van Diemen’s Land by Europeans until the cessation of convict transportation from Britain and its empire in 1853 – when the name Tasmania was officially adopted. In addition to this site providing a transcription of CSO 7578 vols 316-332 other selected transcribed documents from the same period of Governor Arthur’s office, are included from the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney (indicated by reference: SLNSW) and from the NLA (National Library of Australia, Canberra).
These documents predominately consist of correspondence to the Governor’s office by British “settlers” in Van Diemen’s Land between 1824 – 1836 requesting assistance from the Government in removing local Aboriginal people from “their lands”. They report in vivid and difficult detail the frontier violence that marked the lives, memories and subsequent relationships between Tasmanians, black and white.