Simon Wonga

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Simon Wonga (1824-1874) ngurungaeta and son of Billibellary, was an elder of the Wurundjeri indigenous people who lived in the Melbourne area of Australia. He was resolute that his people would survive the 'onslaught' of white men.

In 1840 Simon Wonga injured his foot in the Dandenongs. Billibellary searched for him, and when found carried him to a homestead where he was transported back to Melbourne by dray to be cared for and have his wound dressed for a period of two months by Assistant Protector William Thomas and wife Susannah.[1]

He became ngurungaeta or headman of the Wurundjeri people in 1851.[2]

In February 1859 some Wurundjeri elders, led by Simon Wonga (aged 35) and brother Tommy Munnering (aged 24) petitioned Protector William Thomas to secure land for the Taungurong at the junction of the Acheron and Goulburn rivers.

"I bring my friends Goulburn Blacks, they want a block of land in their country where they may sit down plant corn potatoes etc etc, and work like white man." he told Thomas[2]

Initial representations to the Victorian Government were positive, however the intervention of the most powerful squatter in Victoria, Hugh Glass, resulted in their removal to a colder site, Mohican Station, which was not suitable for agricultural land and had to be abandoned. Finally in March 1863 the Kulin suggested a traditional camping site located at Coranderrk, near Healesville and requested ownership of this land. Access to the land was provided, though importantly not granted as freehold.[3][4]

The Melbourne suburb of Wonga Park and Wonga Road are named after him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Isabel Ellender and Peter Christiansen, pp32-33 People of the Merri Merri. The Wurundjeri in Colonial Days, Merri Creek Management Committee, 2001 ISBN 0-9577728-0-7
  2. ^ a b State Library of Victoria, Simon Wonga, Accessed November 4, 2008
  3. ^ Isabel Ellender and Peter Christiansen, pp112 People of the Merri Merri. The Wurundjeri in Colonial Days, Merri Creek Management Committee, 2001 ISBN 0-9577728-0-7
  4. ^ Richard Broome, pp123-125, Aboriginal Victorians: A History Since 1800, Allen & Unwin, 2005, ISBN 1-74114-569-4, ISBN 978-1-74114-569-4