Freedom Fighters - Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener


Portrait of Tunnerminnerwait by Thomas Bock between 1831 and 1835.

Tunnerminnerwait was born on Robbins Island in Tasmania in 1812, the son of Keeghernewboyheenner. He was also known as Peevay, Jack of Cape Grim and Tunninerpareway.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener were the first two men executed in Melbourne on 20th January 1842. They were indigenous freedom fighters who took up arms against the colonisers and paid the ultimate price for taking up arms to defend themselves against the invasion of their lands and the genocide of their people.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were among 16 Tasmanian Aborigines who were brought to Melbourne in 1839 by the protector of Aborigines, George Robinson, to "civilise" the Victorian Aborigines. In late 1841, the two men and three women, stole two guns and waged a six-week guerilla-style campaign in the Dandenongs and on the Mornington Peninsula, burning stations and killing two sealers. They were charged with murder and tried in Melbourne. Their defence counsel was Redmond Barry, who questioned the legal basis of British authority over Aborigines.

The women were acquitted and the men found guilty, although the jury made a plea for clemency on account of the "peculiar circumstances". Judge Willis ignored the request and the men were hanged in front of 5000 people — a quarter of Victoria's white population — from gallows erected on a small rise near what is now the corner of Bowen and Franklin streets. Their bodies are buried under where the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne
are now situated.


This portrait of Maulboyheener was done by Thomas Bock between 1831 and 1835.

Maulboyheener was also known as Robert Smallboy, Jemmy, Timmy, Tinney Jimmy, Robert of Ben Lomond and Bob, and came from an inland Tasmanian tribe from the Ben Lomond highlands.

2009 Commemoration video and report

Lord GlenelgLetter from Port Phillip Association to Lord Glenelg transcript

Hobart Town
27th June 1835
My Lord

We have the honor of enclosing a copy of a report made by Mr Batman to His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Arthur, detailing the result of an expedition conducted at our joint expence to Port Philip on the South western extremity of New Holland for the purpose of effecting a concilliatory intercourse with the native Tribes in that part of the country and afterwards of purchasing from the chiefs upon equitable principles a portion of the Territory for pastoral and agricultural purposes.

We are fully persuaded that the perusal of the report will clearly demonstrate that our intercourse has been established by our means which permitted the most happy and philanthropic results, and that the portion of the country granted to Mr Batman as our representative has been obtained upon terms more equitable and just to the aboriginal possessors of the soil that any which the history of British plantations can produce.

We have not contented ourselves with merely purchasing the land in the first instance, but we have reserved to the Chiefs an annual Tribute payable for ever of the value of at least £200. By means of this annual Tribute the friendly intercourse with the natives must of necessity be kept up, and will lead to gradual civilization.

This tract of country is some hundred miles beyond the jurisdiction of New South Wales, but within the imaginary line leading from the Australian Bight to the Gulph of Carpentaria, and which defines the limits of Australia, - we might therefore have contented ourselves with this treaty with the Aboriginal Tribes and quietly have taken a possession of the land without any official notice either to the British or Colonial Governments, but in the first instance we were desirous of communicating the happy results which has attended the intercourse with the natives, and in the next place of at once apprizing His Majesty's Government of the nature of Grants which have been obtained, and the terms under which the land had been granted because we feel confident that having obtained from the Chiefs of the Tribe, who are in fact the owners of the soil, a Title based upon equitable principles, the Crown will under your Lordships advice relinquish any legal or constructive right to the land in question, Expecially as the very destruction of our Title would be taking away from the natives the Tribute which is thus secured to them for ever.

We therefore with confidence appeal to your Lordship to advise the Crown to grant to us such rights as the Crown may be advised that it possesses to the tract of Land in question upon such equitble principles as your Lordship may consider the justice of the case requires.
We have the honor to be
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient humble servants.
J.H Wedge, John Sinclair, Anthony Cotterell, W.G. Sams, Henry Arthur, Michael Connolly, C. Swanston, J.T. Gellibrand, John Batman, Thomas Bannister, John Collicott, J & W Robertson

Batmania (Melbourne)

John Batman's associates hatched a plan to expand sheep and cattle herds across Bass Strait. But how to do it? The governments in Hobart, Sydney and London must be persuaded.

The plan needed three main elements: a plausible legal basis, economic viability with no cost to government and a civilising mission towards the Aboriginal people.

The Deed was the model.

Recorded details from National Museum of Australia
Batmania Flash version


Lest we Forget


Ken Fletcher was a strong campaigner for indigenous rights. A man of principle, he worked all his life to ensure everyone, not just a few, shared the commonwealth. He has died after a long battle with a chronic respiratory illness.

Ken is the man you may have noticed at the last few Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemorations pulling along his oxygen bottle behind him as he joined the Commemoration.

Ken Fletcher was a man who always put the community’s good before his own good. He arranged to have his body donated to the University of Melbourne Medical School just before he died.

Rest in Peace Ken, you will always be remembered.

Peprinted from: Anachist Age Weekly Review - No 960

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