Dr Philip Jones, South Australian Museum
Tuesday, 16th August 2022
This event is fully booked or has passed.
Aboriginal people along the route of the Overland Telegraph Line responded in diverse ways to the Line’s construction and operation. These responses ranged from hostility to curiosity; the trespass on their country and the alienation of key water sources for the use of the eleven repeater stations led to violence in several documented instances and was probably more widespread. Aboriginal people quickly saw the Line construction parties, and the Line itself, as a ready source of new commodities and materials - particularly metal and cloth, which were entirely new to inland groups.
This was certainly a factor in several raids on the Line’s construction parties, and was a key factor in the concerted attack on Barrow Creek telegraph station in 1874. Gradually though, the telegraph stations began to represent safe ground for Aboriginal people facing dispossession and occasional violence as pastoralism expanded across their lands. I will trace this history, focusing upon the group of telegraph station staff centred on F.J. Gillen at Alice Springs, who built sufficient trust with the Arrernte people to begin his remarkable, collaborative research into Aboriginal society, religion and mythology. From the 1890s station staff and Aboriginal natural history collectors also collaborated to record fundamental data about Central Australian zoology.
This event has now passed, however a recording is available below.
Date and Time
Tue, 16 Aug 2022
12:30 - 13:30 AEST