Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Round the history blogs 7 - a bit of everything

In the limited work I have done on New England's Aboriginal languages, I find that I have to continually and consciously avoid the trap of thinking of languages as though they were a single identity, English is English, German is German, Anaiwan is Anaiwan. This way of thinking is a modern construct.

A review in the Economist of Ruth H Sanders' German: Biography of a Language (Oxford University Press) is a good reminder. German as German is quite recent. The language was in fact something of a soup, a container of very different languages.

In Melbourne Day? 30 August, the Resident Judge of Port Philip looks at various attempts by Melbournians to establish a a day to celebrate the city. Now, apparently, they have settled on 30 August as Melbourne Day. Apparently Separation Day on 1 July to celebrate the separation of Victoria from New South Wales in 1851 was Victoria’s first day of commemoration, but it faded away quickly in the face of the gold rushes.

If and when New England gets self-government, I imagine that this day would be more popular as a state celebration. After all, we have been trying for so long. It is now over 150 years since the first attempt to carve out part of Northern NSW into a new colony, 95 years since the first twentieth century outbreak of separatist agitation at Grafton, 43 years since the defeat of the New England new state plebiscite. And here we are still trying!

I guess that this makes us the oldest political movement in Australia! Sure boundaries have changed, as has the concept of the North. The name New England to describe the whole area is quite recent, only 79 years! I am not sure what I make of all this, but it is interesting.

CLIOPATRIA: A Group Blog remains an useful and indeed entertaining source of information on things historical. It posts daily links to matters of interest. As one example, Brett Holman's Elsewhere: Post-blogging 1940 looks at various attempts to live blog aspects of the second world war.

On Gordon Smith's Old news from Armidale and New England, Horrible murder at Hillgrove Mines restarts the presses on a pretty gruesome 1888 murder case. It's interesting watching the trivia, and sometimes not so trivia, of past local news roll across the screen. It's actually not a bad way of getting a feel for the past.  I quote:

While a party of men were out opossum shooting on Thursday night (26th January) they discovered the dead body of a man. The corpse was found in a very peculiar place. The man’s throat was cut from ear to ear, and his skull battered in. The sight was a most ghastly one. The body had on blucher boots, half worn out; colonial tweed trousers; regatta, or print, shirt; flannel drawers and under-shirt ; diagonal coat. He was apparently an aged man – over 50 years old.

I suppose the thing that struck me most here was the fact that he was an aged man - over 50! Made me feel ancient. Then, too, I wondered about the description of the clothing. I don't actually know what blucher boots are. I must look it up. 

Finally, Australian Policy and History has some interesting new articles. I am not going to comment on them here, however, because I want to pick up several in another context.     

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