A little bit of history

Our old buildings are not old by world standards.

Fremantle, or “Freo” as the locals call it, has some buildings dating from the early days of white settlement. This is still a busy market, and a great place to buy fruit and vegetables. The sweetest, juiciest mangoes I have ever tasted were from here. It is an interesting town to visit for a few days. It is very near Perth. There are some great old pubs,which are crowded every night on weekends.

The Quarantine Station buildings lie empty today. Old buildings in Australia are not very old. Most countries have much older buildings- churches, temples,or government buildings.

Aboriginal people, or First People- did not need fixed buildings, because they were nomadic and had no reason to build lasting monuments.

During the Gold Rush,Melbourne used to keep new arrivals separate from everyone else, when disease-filled ships arrived after a long trip from England. The most famous ship was probably the Ticonderoga, which arrived here from Liverpool in 1852. There were over 800 people on board, and many were suffering from life-threatening diseases. They were quarantined in these buildings, and many died.

However, today only a few graves remain. Most have been swept into the sea, or moved to the cemetery at nearby Sorrento. A building that has a sad history. Nevertheless, there is a walking track from here, along a beautiful, largely unspoilt coastline.

Today, Australia struggles to give First People their place in the nation. Many still live in isolated communities. Eye and ear diseases are common, and we have not yet worked out a good way to offer education to large numbers of children living a long way from our big cities.

These photographs taken by Alistair McNaughton show a little of the sadness and hope of the people who were often tricked and mistreated by the English in the past. Today First Peoples are over represented in our prisons. The government has said “Sorry”, but many First People have not yet found a way to live well today. Money is not the answer, but what is?

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