I came across the transcripts, or “minutes of evidence”, of the 1881 Inquiry into the Coranderrk Aboriginal reserve 11 years ago. I stumbled upon them while studying in the archives at the University of Melbourne, doing preliminary research for a PhD in history. As I worked my way through the 141-page transcript over the summer I became captivated by the voices it contains. I became deeply inspired by the Coranderrk people, black and white, and the collaboration they had forged 150 years ago, which still strikes me as one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever encountered.
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