Monday, November 15, 2010

1988 Ten Dollar Note

This note was issued by the Reserve Bank of Australia to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers. Designs on the note celebrate the variety of cultures within the country. One side depicts the ship HMS Supply and a group of people against a view of the early British settlement at Sydney Cove. The other side of the note portrays elements of Aboriginal culture, including ancient rock painting, an Aboriginal youth and a ceremonial Morning Star Pole.

Background patterns are taken from designs specially commissioned from Aboriginal artists. The note is also unusual because it is not made of paper. There had been earlier experiments with plastic notes, in Haiti and the Isle of Man, but this Australian note is printed on a polymer material developed after many years of research. All Australian notes are now made of polymer.

The Reserve Bank of Australia was involved in a dispute with a north eastern Arnhem Land artist named Terry Yumbulul who argued the RBA used an unauthorised reproduction the “Morning Star Pole” on the 1988 commemorative ten dollar bank note. The “Morning Star” ceremony is a very important ceremony, and the pole plays an important role in the ceremony. Mr. Yumbulul complained that his permission had not been obtained to reproduce the pole on the bank note with the result that he believed that the importance of the pole had been diminished by an inappropriate reproduction.

There was a resolution between Mr. Yumbulul and the Reserve Bank, which unfortunately for him did not involve the Bank conceding to Mr. Yumbulul’s claim for damages in relation to the bank note. But it still involved a gesture of recognition by the Reserve Bank towards Mr. Yumbulul and the payment of some money.

The bank note has historical value as evidence of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations and the recognition of the cultural diversity that had evolved in the Australian community up to that time. The bank note is evidence of the Australian Government openly embracing multiculturalism and attempts to reflect a modern nation, as evidenced in the imagery and language on a new technology and currency.

The bank note represents a time when the Australian nation had to come to terms with its British penal beginnings and the dispossession of the Aboriginal people, the White Australia policy of the late nineteenth and the twentieth century and the multiculturalism that had evolved from the waves of mass migration after World War Two.

The Bicentennary in 1988 is a time when the Australian community appears to be at ease with the multiple layers and the many voices of their history and were engaged in celebrating this cultural diversity and recognising the Aboriginal past. The bank note represents a coming of age that officially acknowledges these themes on a medium that is handled by millions of people daily.

European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia

The European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia

The Australian Government's culture portal has some very good informationa nd sources relating to all aspects of Australian society and culture. The page on contact history is paricularly good.   

The Draught Instructions For Governor Phillip, 25 April 1787

 The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney had an exhibition called Objects Through Time... One of the exhibits was the document that Governor Phillip was given instructing him how to found the colony of New South Wales.

The Draught Instructions for Governor Phillip is the first official communication concerning the occupation and settlement of Australia. It empowers Captain Arthur Phillip to establish the first British Colony in Australia and to make grants of land and issue regulations for the Colony. They comprise a type of founding ‘Constitution’ for the new Colony. 

 Objects Through Time...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Watkin Tench

Leiutenant-General Watkin Tench (6 October 1758 – 7 May 1833) was a British Marine officer who is best known for publishing two books describing his experiences in the First Fleet which established the first settlement in Australia in 1788. His two accounts, "Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay" and "Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson" provide a fascinating and entertaining account of the arrival and first four years of the colony. Little is known of Tench apart from what he writes in his three books and his service record.

Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson

The Port Jackson Painter

The following site has a collection of paintings completed between 1788 and 1797. They show the first settlement at Sydney Cove and the life of the aboriginal people of the area. What do they tell us about aboriginals in the Sydney area?

The Natural History Museum