Aboriginal stories come to life in historical book

‘Hidden in Plain View’, written by Paul Irish, is a historical account of the Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney and brings a poorly understood period of history and ignored stories back into view.

Throughout the book, there are several South Coast Aboriginal identities mentioned.

Emma, the Queen of La Perouse

Emma Timbery (c.1842–1916) was a shellworker born at Liverpool, NSW. She was the daughter of farmer Hubert Walden and his wife Betsy, an Aboriginal woman. 

Emma married Illawarra man George Timbery in 1864 and together they had 11 children.

The Timberys lived at La Perouse, where Emma became an accomplished shell basket maker.

Emma worked closely with missionaries at the La Perouse Aboriginal settlement and in 1894 the La Perouse Aborigines' Christian Endeavour Society was formed. Emma became its vice-president and through their shared work, she and missionary Retta Dixon (1878-1956) formed a friendship. 

The two women often travelled together visiting Aboriginal settlements. 

In 1899 they walked from La Perouse to the Shoalhaven, where they were reportedly well received, most likely due to Emma’s strong community connections. 

Emma was a respected matriarch in the La Perouse community and became known as Queen Timbery.

Johnny Baswick (1820-1880)

Also known as Bankie, Johnny Baswick lived in the Vaucluse area with his wife Rachael, their three children and others. He is said to be from the coast south of Port Jackson or Botany and spent time between coastal Sydney and the Shoalhaven. His son Freddie attended the Provisional School of North Huskisson and New Bristol in the early 1870s.

Thomas Potallick

A prominent Shoalhaven man, Thomas Potallick lived in the Domain and died there in the 1850s. 

Ellen Davies and Hugh Anderson

Together with three children, Ellen Davies and Hugh Anderson moved to the corner of a farm at Kangaroo Valley in 1889 where they established a settlement and school with Frank Foster.

Historical Aboriginal Exhibition

This Is Where They Travelled’ is an exhibition about the history of Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney and the South Coast. 

An official launch by Dr Paul Irish and researchers from the La Perouse Aboriginal community will commence from 2pm, August 20 at Nowra Museum.

The exhibition runs until September 23. Open weekends 1 – 4pm. Entry is free.


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