My great, great, great, great grandfather, Edward Micklethwaite Curr, was a squatter on the Murray River in the 1840s. He squatted on Yorta Yorta land that became the subject of the celebrated Land Rights case that the aboriginal people lost because the high court ruled that they ‘lacked continuous attachment to the land’.
This was not true. The lower and high courts relied to some extent on my grandfather’s account of the smallpox that ravaged the tribes in the Murray region near Echuca. It was this they claimed that broke the Yorta Yorta connection to country. The judges were supported in this ruling by testimony from a Yorta Yorta elder.
I am thankful to Bangerang tribesman, Stephen Atkinson for reviving my interest in this history lost to so many Blackfellas and whitefellas where Sovereignty was never ceded! Here is what my great grandfather actually wrote.
A Visit to the Moira in Company
with the Police
AFTER THE RETURN of my brother and myself from the Moira, we set to work to make preparations for occupying a block of country in that locality. Whilst so engaged, however, the solitude of Tongala was broken in upon by the arrival of several troopers, headed by the officer in charge of the native mounted police.
The detachment, rather a larger one than Usual, consisted, besides the officer, of four blacks and four white troopers. Such a visitation from the outer world, as a matter of course, somewhat fluttered us Volscians in Corioli. The station hands all turned out to gaze on the strange men and horses, as if such a sight had never met their eyes before, and bestowed on the removal of cloaks unslinging of carbines, watering of chargers, &c., their undivided attention; whilst the uniformity practised in such matters by the troopers, and their systematic clockwork-like mode of managing matters which Civilians are apt to look on as trifles, did not fail to elicit, sotto voce, uncomplimentary remarks from some of my men, to whom such methodical ways brought back unpleasant reminiscences of prison days.
The officer, who accompanied me to my hut .after he had seen his men disposed of, carelessly unbuckled his sabre and pitched it and his foraging cap on to the sofa, and taking a chair, amused me a good deal as he rattled out, in the most dégagé manner, that he had received instructions “to put himself at the head of his present force, apprehend all troublesome Blacks, and restore quiet to the disaffected district; that a reinforcement m the person of Corporal Rolfe, a non-commissioned officer in whom he placed the greatest confidence, was momentarily expected; that his fellows were all of the night sort, specially trained indeed by himself; and that the service was thoroughly
… read more at A visit to Moira with police