The Not Just Ned exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia features objects which help to tell a story of Irish settlement in Australia.
To the Irish, Australia offered regular work, good food and, above all, opportunity. Historians argue over how quickly the Irish were able to rise through the different social and economic levels of colonial society, In Australia they could own land and the Irish settled across the colony. Some helped to open up and develop remote pastoral and mining regions.
Featured here are the stories of writer Mary Durack and her pioneering family, pastoralist Samuel Pratt Winter, explorer Robert O'Hara Burke, rebel turned politician Charles Gavan Duffy, the Sisters of St John of God, settler brothers John and Robert William von Stieglitz, colonial governor the Earl of Belmore and anthropologist Daisy Bates.
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Daisy Bates, 1934
Daisy Bates conversing with the Duke of Gloucester, 1934, at Ooldea. State Library of South Australia.
Contact: Daisy Bates
Daisy O'Dwyer, a young Catholic domestic servant from County Tipperary, arrived in Townsville, Queensland, in 1884. She died in Adelaide in 1951, by then better known as Daisy Bates, famous in the English-speaking world through her widely read writings about Indigenous Australians.
Bates held views and attitudes now seen as quite unacceptable. In her book, The Passing of the Aborigines, published in 1938, she made false claims about the widespread existence of Aboriginal cannibalism. People of part-Aboriginal descent she dismissed, often in extreme language, as worthless. But Bates did record an immense amount of Aboriginal culture, and these records are now invaluable.
Despite living in a tent in the desert, Bates always maintained a formal appearance. As a royalist, deeply committed to the British Empire, she hosted a number of royal visitors to the Nullarbor, in whose honour she organised Aboriginal performances and demonstrations. In 1934 — the year of the Duke of Gloucester's visit — Buckingham Palace made her a Companion of the British Empire (CBE).
Sharing the widely held belief that Aboriginal people were dying out, Daisy Bates was determined to document their cultural traditions by recording their vocabularies, legends and ceremonies. She also collected material culture, such as decorated weapons. This spearthrower was collected by Bates from Aboriginal visitors to her Ooldea camp in the 1920s–30s.