University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Indigenous sites and mobilities: connected struggles in the long nineteenth century

posted on 2023-06-09, 18:15 authored by Alan LesterAlan Lester, Zoë Laidlaw
In 1854, William Westgarth was sent by the Government of Victoria to investigate the causes of the Eureka Revolt, an armed rebellion by gold prospectors resisting governmental regulation and taxation. As he approached the goldfields along the Loddon Valley, Westgarth came across a community that he had not expected to encounter. Establishing camp one evening, he ‘met … with a man of [the Djadja Wurrung] tribe who spoke English well’. He ‘had been trained here [and] had afterwards settled in the neighbourhood … [he] had married a wife of his own people, built himself a hut… and lived somewhat like ourselves, by his daily labour’. This man demonstrated the resilience of Aboriginal people in the face of an overwhelming invasion, first of pastoralists and then of prospectors over the previous two decades. His presence surprised Westgarth, who had assumed that Aboriginal people had effectively disappeared from the landscape of the Victorian gold-fields. The Djadja Wurrung man was called Beernbarmin, and he went on to inform the commissioner of many interesting particulars of his countrymen. He remembered when the first white man came to this part of the country, about seventeen or eighteen years ago … He was, at the time, a young boy of about eight years of age, and his tribe numbered, according to his estimate, more than 500 of all ages; they were now, he said, reduced to about sixty. He spoke of some great assemblage of black tribes that was shortly to take place in this vicinity at which he expected 600 or 700 Aborigines — the gatherings from far and wide.


Publication status

  • Published


Palgrave Macmillan

Page range




Book title

Indigenous communities and settler colonialism: land holding, loss and survival in an interconnected world

Place of publication





Cambridge imperial and post-colonial studies series

Department affiliated with

  • Geography Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Alan Lester, Zoë Laidlaw

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected