Wiradjuri Warrior, Windradyne.
By Michelle Keefe.
I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the Wiradjuri people, whose traditional and ancient land Albury occupies.
Near 200 years ago, this land area as we know it would have been far from the fast-lane life we tend to lead today. Transport, mobile communication, and IT in those days were considered to be nonsense talk, just your imagination running wild, the elders would say.
Imagine how the people of that time and this land would have lived. Simply. Simple living off the land, holding true to their traditional ways of life, handed down from generation to generation for centuries. Now imagine, living that life, passed down by your forefathers and having to literally turn your back on all what you believed in, for a stranger. Choices we now may take for granted.
The year 1815 would bring Wiradjuri Warrior, Windradyne and two of his fellow warriors an encounter with Governor Lachlan Macquarie at Bathurst.
At this meeting, Windradyne exchanged gifts with Governor Macquaire. In exchange for a tomahawk and a piece of yellow cloth, Windradyne presented Governor Macquarie with a traditional hand-made possum fur cloak.
Together, a verbal understanding of the people of Wiradjuri Mob and the British Colonists was to begin. Macquarie was then replaced in 1820 by Sir Thomas Brisbane.
Windradyne would lead his Wiradjuri people in the largest military war on Australian soil, The Bathurst War. A bloody and horrendous war between the native people of this land, the Wiradjuri Mob and the British Empire. Beginning in the early 1820s (1821-1823), nearly ten years since the meeting and gift exchange between Windradyne and Governor Macquarie, lives too great in number were stolen.
The Guraarr Yanaay (great journey) of the 400 Wiradjrui warriors led by Windradyne would begin the end of the bloody war. A trek more than160km over the Blue Mountains to Sydney in hope of a Makarrata (treaty). Using Koori trails unknown to the British, Windradyne and his warriors arrived in Parramatta on the 18th of December 1827.
Outnumbered by the Wiradjuri by over 1:60, Governor Brisbane had no choice but to hear Windradyne plea. Days of negotiation resulted in a Makarrata (treaty) that was finally agreed upon. After Governor replacements, officially the Parramatta Treaty was in effect, but in reality it became a worthless piece of paper for the next 100 years.
The late 1870s brought the loss of virtually all Wiradjuri land. Pastoralist s occupied the proud Wiradjuri people’s land and the people of the land were then removed into reserves. Once numbered well over half a million, by the time nationalisation of Australia in 1901 research finds only 50,000 Wiradjuri Koori’s remained.
Windradyne died in 1835 at Bathurst hospital. He died a respected figure both amongst the colonial as well as his own, a true unsung hero.