I’ve been quietly scoping the landscape near the mouth of the Inman River during our early morning poodle walks along the Encounter Bay beach. I’m looking for traditional aboriginal sites to photograph as memorial sites. The pattern of British colonisation in South Australia deprived the Ngarrindjeri of access to their food and resources when they were removed from their lands and placed in missions such as Raukkan or fringe camps on the edges of towns like Meningie and Victor Harbor. Their historical presence as traditional owners is now marked by an absence in much of the landscape around Victor Harbor.
There is a cairn erected in Kent Reserve (i.e. on the western side of the Inman River) that commemorates one of the last camping grounds of the Ramindjeri tribe of aborigines, who were a local group or clan of the Ngarrindjeri nation, who lived around Lower Murray, Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina and the Corrong. My understanding is the Ngarrindjeri form an Aboriginal nation of eighteen language groups who inhabit the extensive coastal Kurangk region that includes the Fleurieu Peninsula. Their lands and waters extended 30 kilometres up the River Murray from Lake Alexandrina, the length of the Corrong and along the coastal area to Encounter Bay. Their caring for country has seen them develop a Sea Country plan in 2006.
Ramindjeri land is the most westerly of the Ngarrindjeri, covering the area around Encounter Bay including Victor Harbor and Port Elliot. Kent Reserve was originally a traditional camping ground of the Ramindjeri people. Apparently, there is also an Aboriginal site described as an archaeological/burial site that is situated near the mouth of the Inman River, on the eastern side of the river. I’ve never seen it.
The river mouth of the Inman River was realigned by the Victor Harbor Council to protect the BeachFront Holiday Park in 1997. This picture is of a section of the old, meandering river channel behind the beach and east of the caravan park. What is left of the channel is infill and a swamp/wetland. We are looking west to the location of last known campsite of the Ramindjeri.
To the east, between the old Inman River channel and the beach lies the Ramindjeri burial site. There is no indication where it is.My best guess is that the site is the sandhills:
The only the pre-colonial and colonial history can be photographed now is photographing the absence. Finding the relevant sites is going to be a problem. How, for instance, do I discover that part of Victor Harbor township where the Ramindjeri’s last fringe camps were? The Victor Harbor Council’s heritage trail, which aims too promote a greater understanding the Ramindjeri/Ngarrindjeri cultural heritage, as well an understanding of the history of white settlement, says nothing about this aspect of the history of the traditonal owners.
What happened to the Ramindjeri people when their fringe camps where pulled down?