Matt Busby Andrews tells of Christian missions that offered Aboriginal people safety and self-determination.
Maloga is an exceptional story because of its political outworking, but there’s loads of Christian missions that had overwhelmingly positive outcomes. Just down the road is probably the greatest one of all, which is called Coranderrk; it’s in Healesville, which is north Melbourne today. That was an Aboriginal mission run by Aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri, so we’re talking about famous people like William Barak, who also negotiated directly with Premiers and Heads of Department. They owned their land; they developed their land; they had their own land council; and they developed not just agriculture but agricultural products. Would you believe Australia’s first commercially viable hops for the beer industry actually came from Coranderrk?
And they had a fantastic friendship – a real friendship – with a man called John Green, who was a Presbyterian Minister. And a number of very godly Christian families, there’s a Swiss Reformed family who lived nearby – who really just wanted to offer friendship and love and what else you do for a good neighbour. They also were betrayed, sadly, by the Victorian Government, who gave into greedy land developers and had their land resumed by force. And the idea was, it was better for Aboriginal people because they needed to move into the towns and they needed to assimilate.
That’s just one story. But Warangesda is a great story; that’s nearby to Maloga. Maloga was, by no means, the first mission. Lancelot Threlkeld, by Lake Macquarie, had set up a mission very early on. And there’s one in Wellington set up by, would you believe, the Busby family – that’s another story. Then we have this amazing man, Gribble, who not only confronted white abusers in Western Australia, then went right around the other side of the country to set up a mission – which is still thriving today, Yarrabah. It’s an Anglican mission where indigenous people in that area actively admire the great Anglicans, like James Noble, of the past and have great respect for the people who set up that mission.
I love the story of Angela Noble, James Noble’s wife, who was a particularly good shot, and this was very important when you’re setting up an agricultural-based mission. And she was in charge of shooting whitefellas who may encroach on the property to steal any of their cattle.