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Theme 7 - The Impacts of Colonisation

This section explores the impacts of colonisation in the Port Phillip area over the twenty years from first contact in 1835. This exploration is from both the Aboriginal and settler perspectives, with Jim Poulter drawing heavily on his own family’s oral history.

Themes of both conflict and accommodation are recounted
and show how a true Australian identity began to emerge
from this period.


  1. Is the toenail of Saint Thomas a Totem?

  2. Jagga-Jagga has a federal electorate named after him and two local Parishes, Jika-Jika and Bundoora are named after his sons, but did you know his story?

  3. Were most settlers hostile, benign or indifferent to Aboriginal people?

  4. What is the origin of the saying to ‘Keep your ear to the ground’?

AH 7.1

How Bunjil got promoted to God

Bunjil, the eagle, is nowadays wrongly seen as the Aboriginal version of God. The issue is analysed from an Aboriginal viewpoint to show that the eagle was seen as God’s totem.

AH 7.2

Jagga-Jagga’s war of resistance

An almost mythical figure in the early colonial period and feared by all men, Jagga-Jagga waged an economic war against settlers who committed crimes against Aboriginal people.

AH 7.3

Billibelleri - an astute leader in testing times

As supreme Kulin leader from 1836 to 1846, Billibelleri guided his people through the turbulent early colonial period and proved himself to be an astute and courageous diplomat.

AH 7.4

Two starkly different types of colonist

The first colonist to arrive In the Manningham area, Major Charles Newman was violently antagonistic to Aboriginal people, but his first employee, John Chivers, was totally different.

AH 7.5

Understanding a different mindset

When John Chivers began talking to his new Aboriginal friends and learnt their language, he found new perspectives and an appreciation of their culture.

AH 7.6

The legendary Jimmy Dawson

A contemporary of John Chivers, Jimmy Dawson settled at neighbouring Warrandyte. He too learnt the local language and achieved fame as an advocate for Aboriginal people.   

AH 7.7

Growing up in frontier times

The two sons of John Chivers, Tom and Willie, grew up immersed in Aboriginal culture and spoke the language fluently. The oral history they have handed down remains a rich source of information.

AH 7.8

Finding Lanky Manton

The name of Tom Chivers’ lifelong Aboriginal friend was not handed down but finally after years of research, all the pieces of the puzzle came together and Lanky Manton was finally identified.

AH 7.9

Lanky Manton - the last initiated man in Victoria

After finally identifying Lanky Manton as Tom Chivers’ lifelong friend, Lanky was in 2018 successfully nominated to the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll.

AH 7.10

Strange old Uncle Willie

Tom Chivers’ older brother, Willie, absorbed many Aboriginal traits in his lifetime and was a figure of awe and fascination to Tom’s children and grandchildren.

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