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1880 – 1948 | The Protection Era

By the late 1800s the island families were forced to leave their island homes and most moved to the Old Township on the western end of CBIs. The outsiders had arrived to take up Government leases on the island homes. This is the third dispossession and displacement of Aboriginal people in Tasmania.


Bishop Montgomery made regular visits to CBI and instead if listening to the people’s wishes for communal ownership of land and muttonbird rookeries he proposed individual leases (Ryan p187).


The islanders formed an Islander Association which initiated a series of petitions to the Government. But Montgomery nor the schoolteacher would tolerate any independence by the islanders (Ryan p190).


Muttonbird rookeries were leased to ‘outsiders’. (Ryan p191).


The desire was to be independent and that the promise made in 1831 be honoured. (Ryan p192).


Following Montgomery’s recommendations that the islanders should be ‘strictly governed,’ the Government enacted the CBIs Reserve Act and established the Cape Barren Island Halfcaste Reserve became law on 6 December 1912.. People’s lives were controlled and their movements on and off the reserve were monitored. Self Determination was abolished.

From this time on relations soured between authority and the islanders – there was no trust on either side. (Ryan p.189-90).


Aunty Ida West was born this year. Aunty Ida was a respected Elder and she wrote her memoirs in 1984 Pride  Against Prejudice


Aunty Molly Mallet was born this year (read Ryan p 300 and a para on p 301). Aunty Molly was also a respected Elder and she wrote her memoirs in 2001 My Past Their Future. She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters for her outstanding work in Aboriginal Education and Child welfare. Also awarded a AM.


The islanders report their desire to remain on CBIs to the Attorney-General, A.W. Burbury. (Ryan p 198)


Birdsall and Tindale’s study included CBIs (read Ryan p302). From this time onward families started to leave the island for the mainland Tasmania and Victoria. Many had already moved to live on nearby Flinders Island.


The government expectation from this time was for the Islander problem to disappear and that most islanders would move to the suburbs and become ‘absorbed into the white population’. When once the policy was for separation for fear they would pollute white society.