Slowly his eyes opened. A blur of colour swept his senses. There was no
pain - no feeling at all really. Though he knew he was badly injured,
there was no resistance. His time had come, and acceptance was the only
Now the great southern ocean grasped his soul, and swept it away....
are few stories left - at least few stories of the creation period
which can be told. It was only twenty years after the Krinkes arrived
that the last of the original inhabitants, the Peramangk disappeared.
Diseases of various kinds took many of them; perhaps most. Others moved
onto established missions or to other regions where slivers of their
Records of their life-style and customs are scarce
- let alone stories of a ceremonial nature.
And what of the mythical ancestors who were responsible for the creation
of the outcrop now known as Mount Barker......'Womma Mu Kurta'
- the Mountain on the Plain? What kind of colossal beasts/humans had
the land at its conception will perhaps never be known - but the
stories are there. They are locked in craggy sandstone faces which
the sun-washed green undulations below. They entwine in twisted,
gnarled she-oaks, crying with the wind. They lie breathless and
still in the
deepest of wooded copses. They wing the blackness of infinity in
pin-points of light.
They are there.
Strange that the 'Krinke' whose name it now loosely carries,
Collet Barker, was one who would have certainly taken notes, learned
across the country with them - as he had done at Raffles Bay,
in the far north of this vast land, when commandant there. And
he had cried
at the funeral of his friend Taragon when in charge of the
King George's Sound settlement in Western Australia. Stranger still
sighting Womma Mu Kurta from his vantage on Mount Lofty, and
travelling to and
swimming across the Murray Mouth, Barker was to die from the
spears of the Ngarrindjerri, in retaliation for attacks by Kangaroo
Island sealers on the Coorong dwellers.
The known stories are all of
|Red Ochre Cove
There were funeral platforms here. Wooden structures above the
ground, built to support the deceased. Fires smoked below
them, tended by
mourners for many weeks, until the skin could be peeled
from the body, revealing
white flesh beneath. The state of 'Krinke.' From here spirits
of the dead drifted like smoke to the heavens, crossed
to Kangaroo Island, and locked their souls into the night skies. It is
the home of the
bird, the sighting of which foretells certain death. It
is the land of the Peramangk. Now the stripped bones are collected,
and carried to the deep sandy walls of an ancient creek,
some miles away. Carefully arranged into a bundle, they are secreted
the sand. A
more respectful passing than that of Barker's.......
Collet Barker shared more than stories, expeditions, friendship and
the discovery of land - he shared the pain
which was about
to be visited
on the original inhabitants. He shared the misunderstandings,
present and forth-coming which brought about such mishaps.
He shared the
triumph of savagery over innocence.
How I would love
to see the face of Collet Barker. His compatriot, Charles Sturt, was
well recorded in paintings,
but of Barker,
there appears to
be no known image. I picture him sitting on the ground
somewhere, sharing stories with the Ngarrindjerri,
who mistook him for
an enemy, and with
the Peramangk, whose mountain was taken in his name.
More on Collet Barker...
Mount Barker Summit