Inspired by our report on the campaign to rename Hutton Street in Kyneton due to its namesake’s links to an Indigenous massacre in 1839, Woodend artist Dr Ray Hearn created a collage to acknowledge this history.
In recognition of Reconciliation Week 2021, Hearn shared his work with us.
“The collage deals with the Campaspe Downs massacre of 1839 involving Charles Hutton, news that had come to light after I read about concerns regarding the naming of Hutton Street in Kyneton,” Hearn said.
“It turns out that Hutton was the first ‘settler’ to take up land in central Victoria, coming down from the colony of NSW and following the trail of the explorer Major Mitchell only two years earlier.
“To the Dja Dja Wurrung, the Campaspe River was ‘Yalka’, or dry leaves. To Mitchell it was all terra nullius – empty land – and two years later Hutton arrived unwanted to fill it.”
Hearn asked what was now to be done?
“Should we change the street name? Of course not. Rename the river perhaps though,” he said.
“I was taught in school and afterwards (as we all were) that the Aboriginals were but primitive heathen wanderers who eked out a simple miserable existence. Savages.
“I was fed humbug not just at school but for most of my adult life.”
Hearn said his first response was that we needed to know more about Aboriginal life.
“The Dja Dja Wurrung had been here for 45,000 years or more before Hutton arrived,” he said.
“We need to honour and respect the First Australians, to be interested and to show it.
“It would be wonderful to see them being treated with amazement and respect and for us to know more, not less, about them because they truly are a remarkable people.”
2021 marks 20 years of Reconciliation Australia and almost three decades of Australia’s formal reconciliation process.