With the Best Will in the World: the Demise of the Gampignal on the AA Company's Estate at Port Stephens
Aboriginal History Journal
European settlement of Australia was to change for all time the traditional life of its indigenous people. Whilst the more violent incidents should not be forgotten, European contact with the Aboriginal people was not always marked by conflict and ill intentions.1 Some, in the nineteenth century, saw Australia as a new land, recently raised from the sea. This accounted for there being so much sandy soil and for the flora, fauna and indigenous people, none of which had yet developed into the
... eloped into the higher orders of the north.2 England was judged to hold to the great and magnanimous principle of planting a colony in the most remote region of the world, in order to civilize the natives and make that country beneficial to mankind.3 These views were common to educated English gentlemen such as those dispatched to govern the giant London-based enterprise, the Australian Agricultural (AA) Company. This paper explores the record of black-white relations in one region of New South Wales, the area between Port Stephens and the Manning River that was granted to and under the control of the A A Company.4 What follows is not intended as a balanced research paper. It is a series of quotations from the records of the Company's officers, especially Robert Dawson,3 and other contemporaries. Incidents may have occurred which were not reported to those who are quoted here, but there is no reason to suppose that the records lie. With the possible exception of James Macarthur, whose aim was to discredit Dawson, these were men and women of probity. D am aris B a irsto w is an h istorical arch aeologist in p riva te p ra c tic e in Sydney; 3 7 G rasm ere Road, Crem orne, 2090. In the course o f research into European settlement of Port Stephens, NSW, the author found forgotten and unpublished contemporary records o f the Gampignal people.