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Reflections, Inspirations and Perceptions : Wadjemup – Black Prison White Playground


Rottnest Island Museum – Rottnest, Western Australia, Australia


Reflections, Inspirations and Perceptions (Post#4) : Wadjemup – Black Prison White Playground

Photos of the day are all about the thoughts behind “Wadjemup – Black Prison White Playground” that I was able to read when visiting the Rottnest Island Museum. It’s been a while since my last post that tackles my thoughts and opinions about something. While looking at photos that I can publish that related to Rottnest Island, I found photos that shows a heart breaking reality about it. This somewhat reminds me when I visited Center for Civil and Human Rights museum in Atlanta which made me cry while exploring it.  And reading the texts and notes again breaks my heart. The dark history contradicts the beauty of the island. These photos are part of Rottnest Island Tour October 2016.

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Western Australia … jails its Indigenous population at a higher rate per capita than any other country in the world

— Amy McQuire 2011

This really a disturbing information that I discovered about Western Australia history.

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… we have in Western Australia a king-sized problem in this respect. Until the community solves that problem it is useless to expect that it will not be reflected in an institution such as Fremantle Prison

— Royal Commission into the Treatment of Aboriginal Prisoners at Fremantle Prison, 1973

Another notes that support that indeed there were issue on treating aboriginals in the prison.

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Come read the loneliness and confusion
On the walls of this cell of seven by eleven
Yeah, okay, I’ll be honest: I ain’t no saint.
But then again, I wasn’t born in Heaven.

– Okay, Let’s Be Honest by Robert Walker, Inside Black Australia: an anthology of Aboriginal poetry 1988.

They didn’t have to be cruel by beating us or anything else,
it’s just the isolation. I think that was the pain. The pain was the isolation … I can see prison as more of a mental strain than anything else. More mentally. It sort of broke people

— Aboriginal Prisoner 1980

Discovering the thoughts of the aboriginal prisoners that time who experienced reality and brutality of prison in Rottnest are more eye-opener than any other historical facts that are published at that time.

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At eight o’clock the first two of the condemned made their appearance on the scaffold, yelling and moving, the ropes were adjusted about their neck, the caps drawn over their features – when one of the poor fellows spoke loudly to his companion. “M…..are you dead?” “No, not yet” replied M…

–The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times

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Chains in the northern, not the southern, portion of this state are fixed to the necks instead of the wrist of the nation prisoners … Children from 14 to 16 years of age are neck-chained

Both photos above showcasing how the colony brutalized the native people of the land, a heart breaking history.

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Rottnest … is called the “Black Man’s Grave”, and may not after all be such a delightful spot in which to pass an idle hour as one might fancy. It is indeed a place of painful memories

Herald 29 May 1875

This thought about the island made me realized that it was not perfect because of its past history but the people today should be able to be thankful to the aboriginals to have such wonderful island, its because of them that is why we have a place to get relax and appreciate the beauty of nature in a more comfortable and relaxing way.

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The prisoners will sit down and weep most bitterly, particularly old men, or those who have left wives and children on the main … they seem most intensely alive to their lost Freedom, and lamentably bewail their captivity.

–Description of male Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest Island in 1842 Government Gazette, 11 February 1842

This is historical reality that we understand that native people whatever their color and culture is, must be respected specifically this time, aboriginal and non-aboriginal people must have equal rights in our world today.

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Midgegooroo, on seeing that preparations were making to punish him, yelled and struggled most violently to escape … in fewer than five minutes he was pinioned and blindfolded, and bound to the other door of the jail … they then fired and Midgegooroo fell …

–The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal 25 May 1833

A cruel reality that honestly, I cannot imagine and do not want to think of. But learning this historical facts must influence the people right now that all people have rights to live not only according to laws of the land but according to the culture that they have. We have to respect that all people have their own ways of living, as long as we do not take away the rights of others.

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This is not the place to grow up from being a teenager to becoming a man

–Aboriginal prisoner, End of the Road documentary, 1991

Reading these notes about the life of the aboriginal prisoners in Rottnest Island made me felt uneasy as these were historical facts. The beauty that surrounds the island contradicts its past and that is true, but it was not bad to appreciate the island of its serenity, for me, we just have to remember and be thankful that the aboriginals made a huge contribution to the island why now it is so charming, a contradicting tranquility that it offers in our time that does not exist when the island was still a prison land.

Notes :
Photo : history, facts, thoughts, Wadjemup – Black Prison White Playground
Location : Rottnest Island WA, Australia
Transportation :
1. Join Day Tours from Perth where different options are available or
2. Take cruise to the island with your own or rented boat
Official Website : Rottnest Island

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About DBA Mountaineer (881 Articles)
An IT Professional who is in love to travel to learn more about our world, like natures a lot specially mountains.

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