Friday, August 14, 2009

Tyreelore - Island Wife

"Tye.ree.lore - Tasmanian name for the women held in slavery by the sealers." G.A. Robinson, 1830.

Robinson - the man who tramped Tasmania on a 'Friendly Mission' to relocate the Van Diemonians somewhere, anywhere to get them away from the Black Line - did not like the Bass Strait sealers.
Here are some of his reasons, embedded into the fates of five women. Try speaking their names out loud, they are lovely to roll off the tongue.* (Sall) Nth of Bruny Island. Abducted by Baker, a man of colour. Now with William Cooper, a sealer. At Kangaroo Island (S.A.) Sister to Trugernana.

Drum.mer.ner.loo.ner (Jumbo) Age c19. Nth of boobyalla River(??Little Swanport) Removed from her country when a child by James Munro, who has cohabited with her ever since. Said to have aborted a half-caste by beating on her belly.

Mee.tone.yer.nan.yer (Dumpe) Age 20. nth of Tomahawk River (Waterhouse Point) Abducted by George Briggs. Later escaped and returned to her tribe. Again taken, this time by Tucker. Has a husband among the blacks. She has killed several children since she has been with the sealers. (Walya) Nth of Mersey River. Abducted by sealers but later rejoined her tribe (escaped). Responsible for many outrages in the settled districts. Later joined the sealers again.~

Woreth.male.yer.pood.yer Age c23. Nth of Piper River. Abducted by James Everitt*, by whom she was murdered on Woody Island. Everitt was by then a member of Thompson's boat and after the murder Thompson lent him Wot.te.cow.wid.yer.

*Makerlede was most likely one of the Van Diemonian women who came to Albany in 1826 and kept going to Mauritius, via Amsterdam Island.
~Walya was famous for leading a guerilla band of Van Diemonians in warfare against the European invaders. Story has it, she was abducted by sealers and learned very quickly how to hate and how to shoot. Note how close her name is to 'Island Wife'.
*James Everitt was living on Breaksea Island, Albany in 1826. He was involved in shootings and abductions there as well.

It's not easy to remain objective about the sealers, when I read the names of the women ...

pp. 1017 - 1020, The Friendly Mission, the Tasmanian Journals and Papers of George Augustus Robinson, edited by N.J.B. Plomley, 1966.


  1. The mystery of cruelty, huh? And, the strength of women.

    A bull seal climbed out of the Derwent river this week and made its way up the road toward the Cadbury factory. A confused and hungry reincarnated sealer, I like to think...paying for his crimes against humanity.

    Thanks for your post. Good to keep this history alive.

  2. Ha! Maybe he just wanted some chocolate! Cheers Sontag

  3. Yes, dificult to remain objective.
    Good piece, thanks Sarah.

  4. Sarah, I missed this post....this is so interesting and so bloody compelling emotionally and visually for me. There are SO many questions I want answered. I think you are doing something valuable here in sharing this stuff. As you say, when people have names it changes everything.