Triumph To Tragedy

The Victorian Acclimatisation Society was a society founded in 1861 charged with introducing plants and animals which would make the environment of the Victorian bush feel more like home, help them beautify their gardens, provide sport for hunters and ‘aggrandise’ the colony. But, above all, they wanted to introduce plants and animals that would make the land more economically productive.

VAS members had long been releasing Atlantic Salmon in Coranderrk (Badger Creek), and pheasants and guinea fowl and sundry other of their exotic imports in their near secret animal sanctuary at Gembrook as well as Axis Deer at Yering. VAS members had connived to be rid off Green to proceed with a plan which would see Coranderrk used instead as a breeding station for the ongoing release of the VAS’s acclimatized imports.

The neighbouring station owners, having learnt that a herd of the Acclimatisers’ deer had taken up residence on their land, had seen the five of them namely: David Mitchell, the father of future diva, Dame Nellie Melba, and Mr Gardiner, Mr Briber, Mr Wolf and Mr McNab, offer well known trackers William Barrack and his brother Jellybiook, good money to track and shoot them each a deer.

A request such as this coming from such highly esteemed neighbourhood land owners would have certainly allayed any qualms the two trackers might have had concerning the hunting of these strange creatures. Barrack and Jellybiook had taken up the offer and shot six deer and were handsomely rewarded for their trouble.

When the VAS learnt that six of their most precious deer had been shot by black fellows they were outraged to the extent that they were determined not to delay their plans to close Coranderrk and move its residents to some distant location. A decision was made to select a suitable new site for Coranderrk’s residents. This decision marked the end of all hope that the Kulin people even had of having a permanent future in their home country.

Due to the magnificent struggle put up by William Barrack and his fellow residents to stay put at Coranderrk, the VAS members were not able to close it immediately. However the VAS had decided to starve Coranderrk of funds and to appoint a succession of highly inappropriate managers who were instructed to further run the station into the ground.

tragedy