Daily Archives: July 28, 2008

Position, position, position

Today’s real estate agents really can’t hold a candle to those of the 1840s.  Not only did they offer champagne lunches at THEIR auctions, but their literary and biblical effusions really do put modern billboards and advertisements to shame.

But they rarely mention the fact that perhaps the sunlit rolling plains and luxuriant growth might have been occupied by Aboriginal people previously.  Notwithstanding John Batman’s countermanded attempt at a treaty, the official policy promulgated by Governor Bourke at the time stated that aboriginal people could not sell or assign land, nor could an individual person acquire it, other than through distribution by the Crown.  Indeed, there was little acknowledgement that aboriginal people had even been on a particular piece of land. However, I did find this advertisement in the Port Phillip Herald of January that surprised me.  It’s for allotment 16, block 28 in Lonsdale Street (now part of the inner-city grid of Melbourne)

Who is there remembering Melbourne in her infancy…who knew Lonsdale-street as it was, so lately the quambi of the savage, would imagine that a period almost imperceptible would exhibit the same Lonsdale-street as the centre of the white-man’s comfort, as the spot to which all love to congregate, yet such is the fact, Lonsdale-street once the centre of savage orgies, with nought to break the silence of the forest, but the wild yell of the Australian Cannible, sheltered by his Mia Mia alike from the heat of summer and the chill of winter, now exhibits all the most fastidious could desire…

I have no idea what a ‘quambi’ is- wait- yes I do!  ‘My baby name’ website gives the meaning as Aboriginal for ‘shelter’ should you decide to name your baby boy Quambi, which is, after all the site’s 50584th most popular baby name.  But how appealing- the memory of ‘savage orgies’ in the location, and the ‘wild yell of the ‘Australian Cannible (sic)’. As they say, position, position, position…