Summer evening, Sturt Street Ballarat
Last Tuesday evening the Ballarat Historical Society and the Ballarat branch of the National Trust had a little walk and quiz, up and down Sturt Street. We had to find the details that would reveal the stories of the buildings along three blocks of Sturt Street. It was fun and tricky and I still haven't located the Sennitt's icecream advertisement.
Looking closely, up, down and around, revealed some other stories built into the street.
This building was once home to the Australian Native's Association. These particular natives were not indigenous people, they were locally-born British-Australians. The people who worked for Federation and built the unions that fought for safe and fair working conditions and wages.
And here is the spot where the Australian Workers Union began.
Unions are deeply unfashionable at the moment. Does anyone remember the musical Reedy River, full of union songs and bush ballads, which I was brought up on? I can still sing every one of those songs! The music for the Ballad of Ninety-One (1891 Queensland shearer's strike) is here if you want a rousing song.
Of course Federation also marked the legal establishment of the White Australia Policy, enthusiastically sought by the unions, and which caused Yin's family, among many others, a lot of pain and difficulty.
Then at the end of the walk I had a good look again at this.
This recent acknowledgement of the original owners of country is opposite the Ballarat Town Hall. Nowadays the Ballarat Town Hall flies the Australian flag, the Eureka flag and the red, black and gold flag of the first people of this country.
When I look at the list of land of the local Wada Wurrung clans I see the Wada Wurrung bulag of the Barrabool Hills. That's where the farm my family took up in the 1850s was. Along with many other families from the cramped towns of England, they came over to farm in the new colony of Victoria.
It's been five years since the nation apologised to it's first people. We've still got to follow up 'Sorry' with a constitutional acknowledgement, and last week Parliament began the legal process.