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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Aborigines of the Hastings Valley: more Thomas Dick photographs discovered

The ABC's 7.30 Report carried an interesting story on the discovery of more of Thomas Dick's Aboriginal photographs.

Thomas Dick (here, here) was a Port Macquarie oyster farmer and pioneer photographer who took a series of photos of Aboriginal life on the Hastings over 14 years in the early decades of the twentieth century.

The photos were posed, but Dick knew and was trusted by the Aboriginal people. On all I know, they present an authentic picture.

Thomas Dick was drowned in 1927. Sadly, the knowledge he collected died with him. He had intended to write up the stories that he had been told by the elders, but that was not to be. There was one aspect of the 7.30 Report that made me uncomfortable, and that was the suggestion that he was ostracised because of his interest in the Aboriginal people. That doesn't quite fit with a man who was  secretary to the Port Macquarie Show Society, secretary of the Regatta Club. secretary of the Church of England Parochial Council, and an alderman on the Port Macquarie Council

I will write up his story properly later. For the moment, I just wanted to record the discovery.

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