Gendered landscapes: the politics and processes of inquiry and of negotiating interests in land

Sandy Toussaint, Myrna Tonkinson, David Trigger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It is 1789, one year after British colonisation began. Arthur Phillip, Governor of the British settlement of New South Wales, has befriended Bennelong, a local Aboriginal man whose name has since been etched into wider Australia’s social and physical history by the area which bears his name at Bennelong Point in Sydney. Less well-known is Bennelong’s wife, Barangaroo; she is pregnant. One day Bennelong approaches Governor Phillip and requests permission for his and Barangaroo’s child to be born at Government House. Such a request is based on Indigenous custom whereby the site of one’s birth becomes one of the ways in which an association to land is established. By giving birth at Government House, Barangaroo and Bennelong will, in accordance with their own beliefs and practices, provide their child with rights to an important piece of land, not only as a Dreaming site but also as a potential ‘increase site’, an area where British resources are thought to be plentiful. Governor Phillip, who has been incorporated into the kinship system by Bennelong and Barangaroo, refuses on perhaps well-meaning but naive grounds. In his view, Barangaroo will be better off giving birth at a nearby hospital away from Government House. Governor Phillip cannot agree to the request because he believes that 158Barangaroo will be more comfortable at the hospital. Archival records do not show where Barangaroo eventually gave birth but she is sighted some days later wandering the settlement with a newborn child in her arms (Grimshaw et al., 1994, pp. 9-11). © Peggy Brock 2001.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWords and Silences: Aboriginal women, politics and land
EditorsP. Brock
Place of PublicationSydney, New South Wales
PublisherAllen & Unwin
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)1 86448 947 2, 9781864489477
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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