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Caring for wybalenna homestead


The historic wybalenna homestead on Flinders Island has been given a facelift, thanks to a combined effort between Aboriginal trainee rangers, field officers and the Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania (ALCT).

Trainee ranger Tony Burgess provided the following report.

“From 1803 onward, mainland Tasmanian Aboriginal people experienced considerable harassment from white settlers. In 1830, Governor Arthur, aided by George Augustus Robinson, tried to ensure Tasmanian Aborigines survived by exiling them to the Furneaux islands. Several settlement sites were tried before Wybalenna, meaning Blackman’s Houses, on Flinders Island was chosen in 1833.”  (From Flinders Council)

The Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania (ALCT) manages wybalenna. In 2011 a report was completed by Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) building works supervisor Phil Wicks, on works required at the homestead.

The PWS has an ongoing relationship with the ALCT, providing the trainees with the opportunity to work on country. This relationship has been in place since 2010 with trainees experiencing different types of works at locations including larapuna, wukalina and wybalenna.

ALCT and PWS aboriginal trainee rangers organised the wybalenna work program to be held from 31 March 31 to 4 April 4.  Eight PWS staff were involved, along with Clyde Mansell, Graeme Gardner from the ALCT, Rocky Sainty, Indigenous Land Management officer, Aboriginal Heritage Council and PWS general manager Peter Mooney.

We thought it would be a great idea to involve other PWS staff around the region to join them to share their journey so they get a better understanding of what happens when we get together as a group and work on country and working from a cultural heritage point of view, which is a little different from conservation management.

On this trip, Ted Bugg from St Helens and Jane Hutchinson from Tamar Field Centre joined the crew. With Ted’s experience with working with heritage assets and Jane’s experience in furniture making, we thought they would bring a great deal of knowledge to the project.

Over the week the team worked on fixing the homestead, replacing damaged bricks with new bricks that had been shipped from Port Arthur, then white-washing the outside of the building. It was a very successful trip with a great deal achieved. We achieved a lot more then we had originally anticipated, including clearing out the inside of the house.

It is an ongoing project, with the next trip being planned for later in the year.

Caring for wybalenna homestead

The working party at wybalenna, from left, Shannon Mansell, Jess Digney, Tony Burgess, Ted Bugg, Mark Donald, Clyde Mansell, Greg Medcraft, Jane Hutchinson and Rocky Sainty.

Caring for wybalenna homestead

Brickwork at wybalenna showing the effects of weather and time.

Caring for wybalenna homestead

Fresh white wash is applied to the brick walls.

Caring for wybalenna homestead

Mark Donald on barbecue duties.