State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 76 Spring 2005


Jane Lydon
‘Watched over by the indefatigable Moravian missionaries’:
Colonialism and Photography at Ebenezer and Ramahyuck

‘We are very pleased to mention that almost all of the stations are under the direction of German missionaries. Positioned in Ramahyuck are Missionaries Hagenauer and Kramer, in Lake Tyers is Missionary Hallier, in Ebenezer Missionary Spieseke and in Coranderrk Missionary Stähle.’1
As Historians of Australian photography have noted in passing, Aboriginal people were an enduring source of interest from the time of the medium's antipodean inception in 1846. The link between photography and colonialism was especially strong in Port Phillip, where the new technique was introduced toward the end of the first decade of invasion, which had begun in 1835. At this time, the Indigenous peoples of Victoria were still relatively visible within the landscape, living within a clearly distinct cultural tradition, and for this reason some of the earliest images of Australian Aboriginal people were produced here.2 However, the scale and efficiency of pastoral settlement saw dreadful disruption to Indigenous society within twenty years, leading the colonial administration to attempt to institutionalize Indigenous people within six Christian farming villages from around 1860. This paper provides an overview of some of the ways in which a powerful visual language was created to define and manage Victoria's Aboriginal people, in the form of photographs taken at these places.

Location plan showing reserves. Gary Swinton, Monash University.

Of particular interest is the role of the Moravian church in the colonisation of the Port Phillip District, initially through its privileged status during the inception of Victoria's Aboriginal reserve system. Here I focus upon images in the La Trobe Picture Collection produced at Victoria's two Moravian-run Aboriginal missions: Ebenezer, near Dimboola, in the state's north-west, and Ramahyuck, in Gippsland, in the south-east. Ebenezer, where the Moravians had early and unprecedented success in converting an Aboriginal person to Christianity, and then the model Ramahyuck, constituted object lessons that justified the church's subsequent influence in Aboriginal administration, contributing to the peculiarly strong link between church and state that characterised Victoria's Aboriginal policy. Where missionaries initially argued for Aboriginal peoples’ shared humanity, their religious program was gradually subsumed into the secular interests of the colonial administration, facilitating its increasingly repressive regime over the century's last decades.
The visual archive configures changing ideas about Aboriginality, intersecting systematically with public debates and showing how themes such as the ‘dying race’ were popularized through the authority, accessibility and impact of photographic imagery. Mission-era photography communicated a range of ideas about Victoria's Aboriginal people in their intended absence from mainstream society. In a general sense, the Moravian Church and other evangelists helped during its early years to give the reserve system meaning within a humanitarian, pre-modern, discourse of redemption, in which photographs became testimony to transformation, or evoked the biblical analogy of the ‘promised land’. Later, missionaries drew upon widespread perceptions that the race was disappearing – underwritten by assimilation of the so-called ‘half-castes’ – to frame the dwindling reserve populations as refuges, where a grateful remnant was spending its last days. Aspects of the Moravian Church's internal community organization, such as segregation according to sex, age and marital status (the ‘choir system’), symbolizing the family of man, became central visual themes. Crucially, the Moravian superintendent Friedrich Hagenauer was rigorous in his determination to ensure segregation from colonial society, a central principle of missionisation which became difficult to uphold following the development of tourism during the 1870s. This tenet, however, co-existed with a long Moravian tradition of maintaining the Church's good reputation through judicious self-representation. Crudely put, the archive is structured by two opposing currents within colonial society, as white curiosity and a desire to see Aboriginal people battled with a managerial determination to control or deflect this interest.3

‘the enlightened missionary’

The global expansion of the Moravian Church, a Protestant evangelical denomination, was impelled by its central belief that it was chosen by God to spread his message throughout the world. By the mid-eighteenth century, it had influenced the course of English protestant evangelicalism, and by its end the new British missionary societies modelled themselves upon the Moravian example.4 In Australia, the Moravians were assigned a particularly privileged role in official attempts to protect the Aboriginal people of the Port Phillip District. From the early 1830s various attempts had been made to persuade the Moravian Church to establish a mission to the natives of New Holland, but perhaps the key factor in their eventual acceptance at Port Phillip was the
influential presence of Superintendent Charles Joseph La Trobe, a member of the British Moravian Church's most prominent family. His grandfather Benjamin and then his father Christian Ignatius had been leaders of the church, and at this time his brother Peter was its secretary, coordinating all Moravian missions in British territory. La Trobe had even set aside land at Lake Boga in readiness for use for the Indigenous population, and in 1848 it was decided to commence work in the colony. Robert Kenny has recently suggested that the arrival of the Moravians just as the Protectorate was abandoned was no coincidence, La Trobe making this decision in the expectation of the implementation of what he considered to be a far more effective strategy for Indigenous outreach.5 The Moravians' long experience of establishing missions in far-flung parts of the globe was also reassuring to the foreign governments whose protection they required. Their British-sponsored Labrador mission, for example, had shown the British that they were a useful colonizing tool, assisting by pacifying the Indigenous population, potentially providing a docile labour force and opening up the land to economic opportunities.6

Nathaniel Pepper. Engraving, from Robert Brough Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria: with notes relating to the habits of the natives of other parts of Australia and Tasmania, Vol 1, 1878, pp. 9–10. SLTF 572.9945 SM9A

At the time the Moravians established their Lake Boga mission, a long-running debate continued to be waged about the capacity of Aboriginal people to be ‘civilised’. Early attempts in New South Wales had ended in failure, from the colonists' perspective.7 The Moravians' first attempt was abandoned, too, seeming to confirm the pessimistic view. However, they did not accept defeat once God had shown them his will: Spieseke and Friedrich Hagenauer were sent to re-establish themselves, this time at a site near Lake Hindmarsh, in north-western Victoria, which they called Ebenezer.
For the Central Board for the Protection of the Aborigines (the Board), established the following year, Ebenezer was the model for their program of creating settled Aboriginal farming villages. In 1861 the Board's first report noted with approbation that the new Wimmera station was
watched over by the indefatigable Moravian Missionaries, who have there taken up their abode among the blacks… Not to speak of the religious impressions produced by these teachers the moral effect of having pious and devoted men to watch over the interests of the Aborigines is so great, that every endeavor should be made to foster and encourage the self-denying efforts of the enlightened missionary.8
Nathaniel Pepper offered the first glorious proof that Aboriginal people were capable of conversion, and following his baptism in August 1860 he became a celebrity in evangelical circles, representing a giant milestone for missionaries. As the Board noted, the Moravian mission ‘afford[ed] an example from which most useful lessons can be drawn […] One of the young men under [Spieseke's] care, who lately visited Melbourne, showed by his conduct and conversation that the Aborigines under favourable circumstances are capable of acquiring the habits of civilization.’9 A portrait engraving of Pepper was circulated in popular and scientific contexts to the end of the century.10 Serious, with neatly brushed hair and wearing a suit, he was a powerful symbol of the converted heathen.

The first decade: a shared humanity

Hence the Moravians played a crucial role in developing the institutional framework that mediated Aboriginal peoples' lives for the rest of the century. Using the newly-established Aboriginal reserves such as Ebenezer and Ramahyuck as evidence, the humanitarian lobby – Christian evangelical supporters of the missions – argued for the essential humanity and teachability of their flock, seeking to prove their progress toward ‘civilisation’ in opposition to those who argued for their fundamental difference on racial grounds. This narrative of transformation was central to the missionary project, marking the survival of a pre-modern notion of the ‘heathen’ as Other, defined by a lack that could be remedied. This relatively inclusive conception contrasted with the new evolutionary attitude toward other peoples, now understood in spatial and hierarchical terms as

W.H. Harrison, engraver [from a photograph by C. Walter], Ramahyuck, Aboriginal Mission Station, Lake Wellington, Gippsland. Illustrated Australian News. Engraving. IAN 4/1/1869, page 5. La Trobe Picture Collection.

essentialised representatives of races, assigned to rungs on a ladder.11 Professional photographer Charles Walter's images of Victoria's Aboriginal reserves during this decade were the first to exhibit these new ‘civilising experiments’ to an urban audience via commercial albums and the colony's illustrated newspapers. Framed by humanitarian rhetoric, Walter's 1865–66 Aboriginal views of Coranderrk, near Melbourne, express a sympathetic curiosity, emphasizing the newly-imposed order created within these settlements, and their manager's attainments in converting Aboriginal people to Christianity.12
In 1868 Walter headed into Gippsland, then of great popular interest due to its inaccessibility and the recent discovery of gold, producing nine images of Aboriginal life around the two Gippsland stations: Ramahyuck, established under Hagenauer in 1863, and Lake Tyers, established under Anglican John Bulmer, in 1861.13 The commercial use he made of these explains how the new Gippsland missions were viewed by contemporaries, turned into engravings within illustrated newspaper articles such as ‘Ramahyuck, Aboriginal Mission Station, Lake Wellington, Gippsland’. The central theme of this contribution, probably co-authored by Hagenauer, was progress, and success in converting Aboriginal people to Christianity, describing the changes wrought by evangelism and providing a detailed list of the converted that echoed Ebenezer's triumph, furnishing doubting readers with evidence of the mission's achievements.14
At this time it was a widespread European assumption that a person's inner state was observable through her or his outer form, and it followed that photography captured this truth. By mid-century the medium had become a privileged discourse within western society, its mechanical and physical reflection of the world seemingly able to classify human variation factually and completely.15 As the editor of the Moravian Missionsblatt, the church's monthly German-language periodical, wrote of the Aboriginal ‘heathen’ in 1878, ‘it is a confirmed fact, that education, and above all Christian education, exerts substantial influence on the outward appearance of a person, composure, and facial features, so that one can assume that by the converted Blacks this effect has also already well occurred.’16 The image was a witness to this miracle, proving that these changes were not superficial (or ‘a case of “Plenty tucker, plenty hallelujah”’)
‘Let the reader once more look to the above picture, or what is still better, let him visit the place and see with his own eyes. Let him see the church, the schoolhouse, and all the other buildings; let him see the fences, gardens and other improvements, or even the general bearing of the natives in front of the place’.17
Walter's image revealed an orderly settlement arranged around a central green, and prominently, the church and schoolhouse. It testified that the order, productivity, and regular routine of worship and learning were indeed as described, easily appropriated within a humanitarian framework that emphasized transformation and redemption.
The use of biblical analogy performed the same function, drawing the Indigenous people into familiar terrain: as Hagenauer wrote back to the Moravian leadership at the time of Ramahyuck's establishment, ‘This is a most important period of my missionary service, as the poor homeless people are about to proceed with such joyful hearts to the long-promised land’.18 Here he referred to the story of Exodus, where God's promise to Abraham of refuge for his people was

Charles Walter, photographer. Church Service, Lake Wellington Aboriginal Mission. Albumen silver photograph. H96.160/1614. La Trobe Picture Collection.

Charles Walter, photographer. Native Camp Near Wellington. Albumen silver photograph. H96 160/1615. La Trobe Picture Collection.

fulfilled after Moses led the oppressed Israelites out of Egypt, through a period of exile spent wandering in the desert, finally to Canaan.19 This was already a central narrative structure for the Moravian church, whose early followers had undergone great persecution. Several contemporary observers, sympathetic to the plight of the Indigenous people dispossessed of their land, drew this analogy – for example, in 1859 William Thomas, Protector of the Aborigines, described the Taungerong as they ‘wended their way to their Goshen’, their first land grant at the Acheron run, and it became a central theme in representations of Coranderrk during the 1860s. It was a story told by Aboriginal people themselves and was of such significance that they re-enacted it for Walter's camera in 1865–66 to produce both ‘Setting off for the Acheron’ and its logical sequel ‘Giving Thanks’.20 In his 1868 views of Ramahyuck and Lake Tyers Walter adopted this same ‘giving thanks’ structure: ‘Church Service, Lake Wellington Aboriginal Mission’ and ‘Open air service, Lake Tyers’.
Here the biblical metaphor is reinforced by the trope of family, emphasizing the pious, orderly congregation's organization according to gender, age and marital status. Known as the ‘Choir system’, this was a central tenet of the Moravian Church and the living embodiment of their ideal of Christians living together in fellowship. This image witnesses conversion through showing the mission community as family, with the preacher as patriarch, governing and instructing his children. Naturalising hierarchy within unity, this device constructed an apparently natural and non-violent relationship between the Aboriginal people, and especially between the Aborigines and their manager, justifying missionary governance. In these early images we see Ramahyuck as a statement of the missionaries' hard-won achievements, a representation consistent with the long term strategy of the Moravian Church, which since the mid-eighteenth century had contributed to its good name by documenting its missionary success. With the support of an ‘evangelical network’, this genre of self-promotion was designed to reassure foreign governments, demonstrate the outcomes of their work, and assist with fund-raising, as well as catering to a popular taste for accounts of travel and exploration.21
A more ethnographic interest in Aboriginal tradition was framed by appreciation of the idyllic Gippsland Lakes landscape – a pleasure expressed from the region's first ‘exploration’ by whites during the early 1840s.22 In one sense, this emphasis could accent the overall progress made by missionaries through narrative juxtaposition with the apparent savagery of the older people. One newspaper feature, for example, explained that Walter's ‘Native Camp Near Wellington’ represented ‘the residence of the chief of the natives… known under the name of King Jamie, and his wife under that of Queen Lillie’ who asserted ‘their native dignity in refusing to live in any of the huts provided for natives at the station’. Yet the text went on to reassure the reader that ‘Although still adhering to old habits in regard to residence, King Jamie and his wife attend the religious services whenever they are at the station…. Jamie is remarkable for his influence over the blacks, and many quarrels are settled by him.’23

Segregation vs. assimilation

By 1875 Moravians had taken up prominent positions within the colony's Aboriginal administration, as the Australian Lutheran German-language magazine proudly proclaimed: ‘We
are very pleased to mention that almost all of the stations are under the direction of German missionaries. Positioned in Ramahyuck are Missionaries Hagenauer and Kramer, in Lake Tyers is Missionary Hallier, in Ebenezer Missionary Spieseke and in Coranderrk Missionary Stähle.’24 In a foreign British colony, a sense of commonality with other German immigrants, especially Lutherans, emerges from the Moravians' reports home; although Germany was not formally unified until 1871, already by mid-century the German states were economically and to an extent culturally united. After the 1869 Land Grant Act the Wimmera in particular attracted many German immigrants, which gave the Moravians stationed at Ebenezer great comfort:
‘when they turn up in great numbers to buy their needs our neighbouring town, Dimboola, gives the impression of being a German town… One can receive a warm and heartfelt handshake here as in dear Germany and they don't neglect to offer us urgent invitations to visit them.’25
In the evangelical sphere the Moravians also maintained a distinct identity, although their exemplary program prompted strong support from other Christian denominations such as the Church of England, with whom they worked closely. The 1877 Royal Commission considered Ramahyuck the most successful of the missions, for example, and that year its school ranked first in the state.26 The insistence of its manager Hagenauer on mediating between the residents and wider society shaped the way the station was represented from its beginning, and his influence was expressed in key aspects of the resulting visual record. Around 1875 Sale photographer Frederick Cornell (1833–1890) visited the station, entering ‘Aboriginal Mission Station at Ramahyuck, Lake Wellington’, in the Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition, preparatory to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876.27 This elaborate collage comprises thirty-three photographs: a central view of the station according to the frontal formula familiar from Walter's earlier views, dominated by images of the orderly church, school and neatly fenced houses, and surrounded by a mosaic of portraits of the residents.28 The residents are dressed neatly, even impeccably, standing or seated against an indoor studio. None are identified, standing simply for their race. This uniform parade appeared to bear out all the missionaries' claims, their seeming Europeanisation in the form of these visual and material signs of civilization serving as evidence for order and progress.
But the missionaries' agenda began to be overtaken by secular interests, marked by a reversal of the official policy of segregation, and the adoption of assimilationism during the 1880s. This was an intensely political decade, and contradictory ideas about Aboriginality were mobilised by these different agendas.29 Against a background of developing social evolutionist thinking, observers increasingly distinguished between the so-called ‘half caste’ and ‘full blood’ Aboriginal people, placing the latter on the lowest rung of the human ladder. By defining only the so-called ‘full bloods’ as authentically Aboriginal, and worthy of state support, the Board adopted a policy of ‘absorption’ under the 1886 Aborigines Protection Law Amendment Bill, effectively forcing so-called ‘half castes’ to leave the station and to make their way without resources in white society.30 This policy was also linked to a shift in Board administration toward, authoritarianism over the last decades of the century, attempting to quell Aboriginal demands for rights to work, security of tenure, adequate pay and rations.31

Frederick Cornell, photographer. Aboriginal Mission Station at Ramahyuck, Lake Wellington. Albumen silver photograph. H87.16/11. La Trobe Picture Collection.

The principle of segregation was central to the missionary enterprise, underscored by the Moravians' experience at their first Australian mission at Lake Boga, where failure was attributed to the pernicious influence of white neighbours poisoning the minds of the local Aboriginal people.32 The Board had always followed this rule, and as it became increasingly concerned about its control over the Aboriginal inmates, it blamed ‘the visits of holiday-makers, who all take, no doubt, a very kindly interest in the Aboriginal stations, but nevertheless interfere most unfavourably with the discipline of these establishments.’33 The managers of the Gippsland stations were especially liable to this problem: the region's embodiment of picturesque beauty stimulated the development of tourism, especially after 1878 when the railway was extended to Sale, enabling cheap combined rail and steamer excursions to the lakes. During Easter of that year, 700 excursionists arrived in Sale, of whom 120 travelled by steamer to Cunninghame (Lakes Entrance). In 1879 the steamer Kangaroo was running regular excursions from Sale to Ramahyuck, Durham's Hotel ran trips from Cunninghame to Lake Tyers and both missions had become tourist destinations, featuring in illustrated newspapers and in local tourist guides.34 Photographer Nicholas Caire even made these eager vacationers the subject of one of his photographs around 1886.
Hagenauer, manager of Ramahyuck, had from its inception attempted to isolate his orderly regimented community, although he was sensitive to status and welcomed many influential church and government representatives throughout the station's life: he ‘did not object to respectable ladies and gentlemen visiting the place’.35 For example, in February 1880 he wrote angrily to Captain Page of the Board that the Bairnsdale steamer arrived every Sunday, bringing a ‘great number of people, most of the larrican [sic] kind’, who annoyed the residents so that they ‘locked their cottages and [went] into the bush to avoid the insults of those visitors’. He complained that
the language of some of these people is of the most disgusting kind, that the Black woman [sic] are approached in a manner which is an outrage to their feelings, that the homes of the natives are entered rudely and that neither gardens nor buildings are safe from the entrance of some, and at the same time to ask for brandy and to put all manner of evil and real blasphemish [sic] notions into the minds of the natives and go even so far just to begin with their games, as if the place was a place of public resort and the day a common weekday, etc.
Large placards were erected and notices placed in newspapers, stating that the ‘Aboriginal Reserves are set aside for the use of the Aborigines alone and not as public recreation reserves’.36 However, visitors insisted upon access to these government-funded institutions: for example, one ‘taxpayer’ asserted his ‘perfect right to see those whom we are taxed to keep… and judge as to the quality of the work going on.’37 Perhaps for this reason as well as its success in implementing its new assimilation policy, Board procedures were tacitly relaxed around the mid-1880s, and at Coranderrk and Lake Tyers, two of the most popular tourist destinations, managers adopted a cautious procedure of sanctioned visits on request.38 But Hagenauer continued to turn back groups of holiday-makers – such as that which attempted to arrive via the Ethel Jackson in January 1886.39 Hence Ramahyuck was portrayed less often than Lake Tyers, and the nature of its representation tended to conform to the framework created by Hagenauer.

Governor Loch's visit

Hagenauer was acutely aware of the value of influential visitors, however, and he pursued the traditional Moravian policy of maintaining the church's good name. He initiated the visitors' book system in 1878 to record the mission's impressive array of prominent visitors from around the world – such as the Vice-regal visit of Governor Loch and his party in 1885. This tour of Gippsland caused great local excitement, and a handsome photograph album was presented to Lady Loch – acquired by the La Trobe Picture Collection in 1986 – and comprising a series of 100 albumen prints taken by Cornell, including his 1870s views of Ramahyuck.40 At Ramahyuck the party was shown the productive crops of hops and maize – although as usual, the reporter contrasted this scene of order and plenty with the conflict and savagery that had preceded it. An engraving portrayed the moment that an address of welcome was presented by a young Aboriginal man to the Governor, referring ‘in simple and touching terms to the fact that their race was fast expiring, and concluded by expressing gratitude to the Government for the many evidences it had given of the desire to ameliorate the condition of the aborigines’ [sic].41 The textual framing of the image reinforces the idea that this isolated remnant of the race was living out its days in Christian resignation, showing the Aboriginal man with head bowed in a pose of submission before the party of whites standing raised above him on a platform. This account also suggests that Hagenauer, in staging the event, had himself adopted this narrative, telling what was by now the dominant popular story about his charges – the docile flock, redeemed from savagery but doomed to disappear before the superior white race, was nevertheless thankful for the benevolence that allowed them to spend their last days in Christian comfort. While Hagenauer still awaits his biographer, the evidence indicates his growing authoritarianism over the years, and adaptation to the racial thinking of the day.

‘One of the last haunts of the aboriginal, and the home of the lyre-bird’

European perceptions of the Gippsland reserves pivoted upon their setting as archetype of the picturesque, showing Aboriginal people still living traditionally, and conflating them with the natural environment. The lakes tourism industry supported a wide range of local photographers, such as Howard Decimus Bulmer (son of Lake Tyers manager John Bulmer), William Backell Gibbs and Theodore Bloch, and Frederick Cornell, many of whom included images of Ramahyuck and Lake Tyers within a wider range of subjects. Visiting the missions was an addition to a holiday chiefly designed to take in the beauty of the lakes, and visitors were mostly interested in seeing landscapes and rustic human pursuits such as fishing and small-scale farming.42 Some left a record of their interest in ‘the grand scenery and a little native life’ in the Gippsland stations' visitors books, and like Walter's earlier views, many images of Gippsland Aboriginal people express interest in traditional Aboriginal culture.43 There was a perception of Gippsland Aboriginal people as the ‘last of the race’. In 1882, for example, a local guidebook writer described how
after a couple of hours pleasant drive through the bush, the famous Lake Tyers suddenly burst in view. It is one of the last haunts of the aboriginal, and the home of the Iyre-bird. It was a fine summer morning, and the lake as it stretched before us in one varying mass of light, presented a scene of panoramic loveliness… He cheered our drooping spirits by pointing to the black gins [sic] poling
their rafts about the lake for fish […] It is impossible to convey a true impression of the tranquil beauty of the scene upon which we now entered.44

Vice-regal visit to Ramahyuck Aboriginal Station – Presentation of the Address of Welcome to the Governor’ Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers. Wood engraving. IAN 6/1/1886/1) La Trobe Picture Collection.

Rare and shy, like the lyre bird, it appeared natural for the country's Aboriginal people to end their days amid the pristine vistas of the lakes. Providing a visual counterpart to these accounts, and following what was by now a long tradition, many photographers, such as Nicholas Caire, produced idyllic scenes of serene waters and wooded slopes, often with Aboriginal people fishing – such as ‘Native Bark Canoes’.45 Placing traditional Aboriginal culture simultaneously within the natural sphere and in the past, allowed settlers to oppose it to modernity, civilization and the future, underlining the inevitability of their eventual disappearance.
A complementary enjoyment could be gained from the changes made by European settlement. Hop cultivation became a particularly appealing theme at this time, representing an archetype of rural picturesqueness, and evoking a sense of nostalgia for the pre-industrial, European lifestyle it recalled.46 Tourists were encouraged to visit the hop-fields at Ramahyuck, and the Aboriginal pickers were seen to add a note of pleasing exoticism to the scene; it was noted of an engraving of Frederick Cornell's photograph of Alfred Howitt's hop-harvest in 1872 that

Nicholas Caire, photographer. Native Bark Canoes. Albumen silver photograph. H27475. La Trobe Picture Collection.

Hop picking by Australian Aborigines. Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers. Wood engraving. IAN 10/09/72/201. La Trobe Picture Collection.

Of all rural scenes, perhaps that of hop picking is the very prettiest […] a fresh element of the picturesque has been introduced by the employment of aboriginal labour, and our Gipps Land friends certainly deserve credit for this entirely new development of ‘native industry’.47
Settlers’ nostalgia for home, combined with their own experience of the colony's rapid growth, gave a particular local inflection to a larger modernist consciousness of loss amid a fast-changing world, as observers lamented the destruction of the natural environment and the rustic order.48 For colonists, Melbourne's astonishing growth invoked a sense of dizzying change, as industry and progress flourished in what some colonists still remembered to have been a pristine wilderness peopled by ‘savages’, and a vision of agrarian stability was advanced against the uncertainty and fluctuations of gold-seeking, praising the moral value of the small farmer embedded in a fixed social hierarchy.49 The popular notion of Aboriginal life on the lakes, combining a European agrarian ideal with traditional skills such as fishing, and involving above all a closeness to nature, assumed the form of an idyll, a charming scene of rural peace. However, as critics of the rustic idyll have often pointed out, its apparent peace and plenty were a fantasy of the disenchanted modern viewer, signifying a rural stability which had in fact long been disrupted by urbanisation and industrialisation.50 Such scenes also worked to disguise the dispossession of the Indigenous people, constructing a fantasy which located the Aboriginal subjects in a country retreat, secluded from the present and its conflicts, a last refuge for a doomed race.


Ebenezer, on the other side of the state and relatively remote from white settlement, inspired a much smaller archive of public images. In contrast with Hagenauer's growing influence, Ebenezer's first manager Spieseke fell out with the Board in 1868, which undermined his administrative sway. A campaign by the residents to increase the size of its reserve from 1869–1874 was fruitless, resulting in the community's marginal economic status.51 In comparison with the more closely-controlled Coranderrk and Ramahyuck, Aboriginal people in this region were more mobile and widely dispersed, moving on and off the station for work with relative ease.52 Unlike the more accessible stations, no mainstream newspaper features appeared during the 1860s or early 1870s, although the Christian press took an interest due to its status as the first successful Victorian mission.53 Such accounts reproduced the familiar emphasis on redemption and progress achieved.
It was not until 1882 that an article appeared in the popular press, illustrated by the familiar frontal view of the earlier humanitarian formula, focusing on the church, the mission-house, and neat rows of fenced cottages.54 This, however, was framed by a more pessimistic commentary, explaining that ‘The aboriginals have dwindled down to about 90 all told; the majority of this number are half-castes, and some of the children are almost pure white.’55 As Board control over the reserves tightened, representations stressed the order and neatness of their domain. Artist Samuel Hartley Roberts painted three watercolours in the Wimmera in 1885, including views of the mission's two most impressive public buildings – the limestone church and the mission-house – first port of call for visitors and centre of the settlement's administration.56 Roberts exaggerated the order, lushness and spatial discipline of the station, increasing the slope of the hill (in actuality barely perceptible) and removing any untidiness to conform with his notion of the picturesque, while small capering figures impart a jejune air. This disciplined vision contrasts with the few group

Samuel Hartley Roberts, artist. Moravian Mission House, Blacks Station, Dimboola, Feb 19, 1885. Watercolour. H93.456/2. La Trobe Picture Collection.

photographs of the residents taken over the years, usually in front of the church. Although they are clearly a well-dressed and Christian community, the formality of ranking characteristic of Walter's earlier ‘giving thanks’ is lacking.57

Missionary collections: class distinctions

The missionaries' vision of Aboriginal people was also fundamentally shaped by notions of class, revealing an underlying contradiction between their affirmation of a shared humanity, and their need to assert authority over their charges. Where colonists imagined a future for Aboriginal people, it was as a landless class of labourers and domestic servants.58 European racial discourse developed interdependently with categories of gender and class as basic aspects of Western modernity, and these axes of social difference were central to attempts to transform the Aboriginal residents of the missions.59 Such distinctions emerge with clarity from portraits of the reserve communities, reflecting the prevailing link between appearance and status.

The Whitehead collection

Most images taken at Ebenezer are now privately held, such as the album belonging to descendants of missionary Paul Bogisch, who managed the station between 1877 and his death in 1902, and his wife Amelie. This family treasure contains mostly portraits of Bogisch family members and their German connections. On a single page within the album, four carte de visites produced around the 1870s, show residents standing or seated before their homes. None are identified, although an unknown, plainly dressed, serious-looking woman captioned ‘organist’, forms a particularly strong contrast with the portrait of Frieda Bogisch, the missionary's daughter. We know a lot about Frieda (b.1878-d.1937), the Bogisch’ first daughter, extensively documented by her descendants in images and genealogies. She was sent to Germany for education in 1888 before returning to Ebenezer and marrying a local man. On her return she was photographed at Herbert's Studio, Stawell, reclining in an informal pose, wearing a sophisticated costume that includes jewellery, an elaborate hat and a posy. The contrast between these images – each reflecting contemporary ideas of the proper condition of their female subjects, reveals how views of racial difference were also inflected by notions of gender and class, defining the place of each young woman in the social hierarchy: the privileged, Europe-educated missionary's daughter is portrayed here with various material signs of civilization and leisure, while the plainly-dressed Aboriginal woman stands as an anonymous exemplar of her race.

The Hagenauer Collection

Friedrich and Louisa Hagenauer also made their own record of Ramahyuck through their personal collection of photographs, thirty-three donated to the La Trobe Picture collection in 1969 – including fourteen of the mission. Included are several portraits of Aboriginal people, and two of the Hagenaueers themselves, late in life. This series reflects how they saw themselves and their role, and what they wanted to remember – such as the vice-regal visit to Ramahyuck in 1886, as well as their connections with the upper levels of colonial society; it expresses their perception of the events and people that were of importance. Several show Aboriginal family groups, such as

Album page, four carte-de-visite views of Ebenezer. Whitehead Family Album, Private Collection.


Herbert's Studio, Stawell, photographers. Portrait of Frieda Bogisch, Whitehead Family Album, Private Collection.

McKinnon and Taylor Family, 1894.60 These portraits indicate the missionaries' nostalgic relationship with the subjects – interestingly, most are taken during the 1890s when the station population was restricted to the ‘full blooded’ people, and when the Board's authority was greatest: perhaps this peaceful period (for the missionaries) provided their most pleasant memories.


The ‘indefatigable Moravian Missionaries' imposed their view of the ideal Christian farming village upon the new reserves, a vision that also helped shape Victorian Aboriginal policy; images of the indigenous subjects moved through public and private, official and popular contexts to form a complex and mutable visual language. During their first decade, the reserves were argued to be places of redemption and progress, narratives expressed visually through stereotypes such as the frontal panorama that emphasized specific elements of the station ‘machinery’. The humanitarian view was, however, displaced during the 1870s by the widespread dissemination of notions of biological difference, enabling the Board to implement an assimilation policy that fractured the

Tom Humphrey, photographer. Rev. Friedrich Hagenauer and Mrs [Louise] Hagenauer. Gelatin silver paris panel. c.1908. H31885. La Trobe Picture Collection.

reserve communities and enabled ever-tighter control of the dwindling remnant. Hagenauer's enforcement of the principle of segregation at Ramahyuck structured the archive as a record of docile residents leading a disciplined life in Christian resignation – an orderly discourse that overlaps with popular tourist representations of Lake Tyers, stressing the region's natural beauty and its nostalgic significance as idyllic refuge. At Ebenezer, relatively remote from colonial settlement, less strictly governed, and often struggling to survive economically, fewer images were produced, and although these conform to managers' Christian ideals, they lack the overt discipline characteristic of Ramahyuck. In the missionaries' private collections, the fundamental contradictions of colonialism emerge, revealing their struggle both to redeem yet also to infantilise and control their subjects; their program of uplift was undermined by a secular need to maintain Aboriginal people at the bottom of the social hierarchy. For the Moravians in particular, occupying a respected and distinctive place within the colony's religious affairs, this visual language offered a means of communicating across cultural lines to assert their success, and to tell white viewers how to understand Victoria's Aboriginal people.


A study of the representation of the Moravian missions was the basis of a Creative Fellowship I held at the State Library of Victoria between 2003 and 2004. I thank La Trobe Librarian Dianne Reilly for her great kindness during this time, as well as Shane Carmody, Des Cowley, Madeleine Say, Olga Tsara, Mary Lewis, Jock Murphy and fellow-Fellows Robin Annear, Sue Gore, Bill Garner, Delia Falconer and Peter Lyssiotis. I also thank Alan Burns of Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative, the Wotjobaluk Traditional Land Council, Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation, and John Whitehead, for their interest and support. Thanks also to two anonymous reviewers and to John Barnes for his careful editing.


The Editor, Australischer Christenbote [Australian Lutheran German language journal] 1875, p. 7. Translated by Felicity Jensz, ‘The Moravian-Run Ebenezer Mission Station in North-Western Victoria: A German Perspective’. M.A. Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1999, p. 85.


This article builds upon a more detailed account of the visual discourse concerning Victoria's Aboriginal reserves provided in Jane Lydon, Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians, Durham, Duke University Press, 2005.


In the La Trobe Picture Collection there are around one hundred images of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Coranderrk was the closest reserve to Melbourne, and with the largest population: from its establishment in 1863, its accessibility facilitated visits from local and international scientists, journalists, politicians, tourists and anyone else interested in seeing Aboriginal people at first hand; in addition, the Coranderrk residents’ political campaign to prevent the station being closed down during the 1870s and 1880s focused public attention on the station, prompting a range of widely-circulated representations. Lake Tyers was even more popular, represented by 241 images – attributable both to its location in the heart of the picturesque Gippsland Lakes district where it was a must-see tourist destination, as well as to its longevity. By contrast, only around forty images survive from Ramahyuck, also located in the Gippsland Lakes, and this includes a discrete collection of fourteen compiled by the Hagenauers. Of the remotest stations, only two images appear to depict Lake Condah, Framlingham is represented by a postcard of a river and bridge (although a remarkable oil painting, ‘Tower Hill, Victoria’, was painted by manager Daniel Clarke in 1867), and around six come from Ebenezer, including Percy Leason's portrait of Robert Kinnear.


J.C.S. Mason, The Moravian Church and the Missionary Awakening in England 1760–1800, Suffolk, The Royal Historical Society, The Boydell Press, 2001, p. 16.


For background to the Moravians’ earliest Australian enterprise, see Robert Kenny, ‘La Trobe, Lake Boga and the “Enemy of Souls”: The First Moravian Mission in Australia’, La Trobe Journal, No. 71, 2003, pp. 97–113. See also John Mason, ‘Benjamin and Christian Ignatius La Trobe in the Moravian Church’, La Trobe Journal, No. 71, 2003, pp. 17–27.


Mason, The Moravian Church, pp. 34, 41.


For example, see John Harris, One Blood: 200 years of Aboriginal encounter with Christianity: a story of hope, Sutherland, N.S.W., Albatross Books, 1990, pp. 152–5; John Ferry, ‘The Failure of New South Wales Missions to the Aborigines before 1845’, Aboriginal History 3(1), 1979, pp. 25–36; Barry Bridges, ‘Aboriginal Education in Eastern Australia (NSW) 1788–1855’, Australian Journal of Education, 12, 3, 1968. pp. 228–29.


First Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1861, p. 5, and see Appendix 1, p. 23; Second Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1862, p. 5; comments by the Bishop of Melbourne, “‘Missionary Success Among the Aboriginals”: a sermon and reading to Christians’, Melbourne, Wm. Goodhugh and Co., 1860.


Third Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1864, p. 6; Thirteenth Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1877, p. 5.


For example, Robert Brough Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria: with notes relating to the habits of the natives of other parts of Australia and Tasmania, Vol I, 1878, pp. 9–10. Brough Smyth's source for this image is unknown; Tanjil, Our Guide to the Gippsland Lakes and rivers Melbourne, 1886, pp. 36–37, uses almost identical terms.


For discussion of the modernist evolutionary sense of space, time, and otherness see Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object, New York, Columbia University Press, 1983. For discussion of missionary narratives of conversion, see Nicholas Thomas, ‘Colonial Conversions: difference, hierarchy, and history in early twentieth-century evangelical propaganda’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34, 1992, pp. 366–95.


For more detailed exploration of this process, see Jane Lydon, ‘The experimental 1860s: Charles Walter's images of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, Victoria’, Aboriginal History, 26, 2003, pp. 78–130; Lydon, Eye Contact.


Linden Gillbank, ‘Charles Walter: Collector of Images and Plants in East Gippsland’, Gippsland Heritage Journal 13, 1992, pp. 3–10. Walter's images were also seen to have some scientific interest, circulated by his botanical patron Baron Von Mueller through an international network, including the Russian Society of Amateurs of Natural Sciences: MS 1285, Box 2, Item 1, G. Barrett, Russian Resources for Australian Aboriginal Studies: A Report, with special emphasis on the Leningrad and Moscow Collections, Aiatsis Report 82/26, 1982, pp. 14–21; Ms 1285, Box 2, Item 6, G. Barrett, Russian Contributions to Victorian Aboriginal Studies, 1863–1913, Aiatsis Report L95/4918, 1995, pp. 10–15.


Illustrated Australian News (IAN), 4 January 1869, p. 5.


Jennifer Green-Lewis, Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1996.


The Editor, Missionsblatt 1878, p. 7 (a monthly German periodical published in Herrnhut). Translated by Felicity Jensz, ‘The Moravian-Run Ebenezer Mission Station in North-Western Victoria: A German Perspective’. M.A. Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1999, p. 147.


IAN, 4 January 1869, p. 5.


Periodical Accounts Relating to the Missions of the Church of the United Brethren, 25, 1864, p. 135.


Genesis xlv, 10, Exodus viii.22, ix.26, and see B. Metzger and M. Coogan, eds, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 619–20.


‘The Yarra Tribe Starting for the Acheron 1862’, p. 5, album ‘Australian Aborigines Under Civilisation’, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. (H13881/14): see Lydon, ‘The experimental 1860s’.


Mason, The Moravian Church, pp. 64–68. S. O'Brien, ‘A Transatlantic Community of Saints: The Great Awakening and the First Evangelical network, 1735–1755’, American Historical review, 91, 4, 1986, p. 831; D. Schattschneider, ‘William Carey, modern missions, and the Moravian influence’ International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 22, 1, 1998, pp. 8–11.


For example through Nicholas Chevalier's 1866 paintings of Lake Wellington for a portfolio of chromolithographs of Gippsland scenery: The State Library's 1866 ‘Lake Wellington, Gippsland’ shows a tranquil lake with a small boat drawn up at the water's edge and a small bundle on the shore; and see Joan Kerr, (ed.) The Dictionary of Australian Artists: Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 147–49.


IAN 15/4/1869, p. 116; see also IAN 7/8/1869, IAN 22/4/1871.


Australischer Christenbote, 1875, p. 7.


Missionsblatt, 1877, p. 5, 169.


Periodical Accounts, 30, 1877, pp. 172–73.


Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 (Melbourne 1875): Official Record. Melbourne: McCarron, Bird, 1875, 232, no. 3442, cited in Tim Bonyhady, Australian Colonial Paintings in the Australian National Gallery, Melbourne, Australian National Gallery, 1986, p. 136. Although Dow states that Hagenauer commissioned this series in 1877, she does not cite any sources for this claim: Coral Dow, “‘In Search of the Picturesque”: Aborigines and Tourists in 19th Century Gippsland’ Tourism, Culture and Communication, 2, 200, pp. 111–22. Cornell lived at Sale 1875–1891: Deborah Squires, Linda Barraclough and Helen Clothier, Gippsland in Focus: A Directory of Photographers to 1950, 1990. (H87.16/11)


The second, ‘Ramahyuck Mission Station’ (H87.16/12) was taken at a different time, to judge by the leafless trees and bare grass.


Diane Barwick, Rebellion at Coranderrk, Canberra, Aboriginal History Monograph No. 5, 1998. Lydon, Eye Contact.


For discussion, see M.F. Christie, Aborigines in colonial Victoria, 1835–86, Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1979; John Chesterman and Brian Galligan, Citizens Without Rights: Aborigines and Australian citizenship, Cambridge; Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1997; Diane Barwick ‘Coranderrk and Cumeroogunga: Pioneers and Policy’ in T. Epstein and D. Penny, eds., Opportunity and Response. Case Studies in Economic Development, C. Hurst and Co., London, 1972, pp. 11–68.


Patricia Grimshaw and Elizabeth Nelson, ‘Empire, “the Civilising Mission” and Indigenous Christian Women in Colonial Victoria’, Australian Feminist Studies, Special Issue on Comparative History, 16, 36, 2001, pp. 295–309.


Bill Edwards, Moravian Aboriginal Missions in Australia 1850–1919, Uniting Church Historical Society (S.A.), Adelaide, 1999.


Fourteenth Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1878. For Board policy see for example First Report of the Central Board Appointed to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines in the Colony of Victoria, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1861, p. 11; Coranderrk Aboriginal Station. Report of the Board Appointed to Enquire into and Report Upon the Condition and Management of the Aboriginal Station at Coranderrk, John Ferres, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1882, pp. 120–21.


The Australasian Sketcher, 1 September 1877, 16 March 1878, 14 February 1880, J. Howie's Tourist's and Sportsman's Guide to the Gippsland Lakes and surrounding country, Melbourne, M.L. Hutchison, 1881.


Evidence of Hagenauer, Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, p. 47. See also the evidence of Edward Curr, p. 121.


VPRS 3991, Unit 1138/80, Item R3189, Public Records Office of Victoria.


Gippsland Times, 3 February 1892, cited in Dow, “‘In search of the picturesque”, 111–122. Coranderrk's manager Strickland, argued one tax-payer, as a ‘man in a public capacity’, ‘should be prepared to answer, and answer with civility… If you go to a railway station and ask a porter a question and he answers uncivilly, you would report him; and Mr Strickland was in the same position as any other public servant’: Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, pp. 109–11.


Tourists' Guide to Healesville District, ‘Coranderrk’, Tan Family photocopy, c. 1885; Companion Guide to Healesville, Blacks' Spur, Narbethong and Marysville. With sixty-five illustrations, The Atlas Press, Melbourne, 1904.


O.S. Green, The Gippsland Lakes, Rigby, Adelaide, 1978, p. 22.


H87.16/11. Cornell had also exhibited 36 photos of Gippsland scenery as a group in the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition: ‘Cornell, F. Sale. 505–540 “Group of 36 views Gippsland scenery” in class XII Photographic Proofs and Apparatus’, 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition (Catalogue) p. 305, cited in Kerr, Dictionary of Australian Artists, p. 174. The tour was reported in Gippsland Times, Friday, 25 December, 1885 p.3.


IAN, 6/1/1886 page 1.


Dow, “‘In search of the picturesque”’, p. 2.


MS 9556. Ramahyuck Visitors Book 1878–1906; MS 11934. Lake Tyers Visitors Book 1878–1909. Both La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria.


‘Lake Tyers by Lyre Bird’, in Tanjil, Our Trip to Gippsland Lakes and Rivers, with new tourist's map, in colours. Melbourne, M.L. Hutchinson, 1882, pp. 39–41.


As early as the 1840s George Henry Haydon provided an illustration, ‘Night Fishing on the Lakes in Gipps Land’, in Five Year's Experience in Australia Felix, London, Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1846, pp. 43–44. For Caire's work, see for example, Anne Pitkethly and Don Pitkethly, ‘N.J. Caire Gippsland Views 1876–1905’, Gippsland Heritage Journal 10, 1993, pp. 11–20. See Dow, “‘In search of the picturesque”’, for detailed analysis of Caire's work on the lakes


IAN, 31 March 1886.


IAN, 8 August 1872, pp. 201–02.


C. Wood, Paradise Lost: Paintings of English Country Life and Landscape 1850–1914, Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1988; C. Payne, Toil and Plenty: Images of the Agricultural Landscape in England, 1780–1890, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 27–28.


David Goodman, Gold Seeking: Victoria and California in the 1850s, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 1994, pp. 105–48; Graeme Davison, The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1978, pp. 105–48


George Eliot ‘The Natural History of German Life’, Westminster Review, 1856; reprinted in T. Pinney, ed., Essays of George Eliot, London, 1963, p. 269; Raymond Williams, The Country and the City, Oxford University Press, 1973.


Ted Ryan, ‘Wergaia Worlds: A study of Indigenous/European Cultural Contact in the Mallee Region of north-west Victoria, 1870–1910’, Honours Thesis, Department of History, La Trobe University, 1999, pp. 29–35.


Jan Penney, Victorian Honorary Correspondent Supply Depots: Final Report, Unpublished Report to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, 1997, p. 12, 24, 26.


See for example, The Australian Messenger, October 1860, V, pp. 232–233; Melbourne Christian Times, letter signed Robert Gillespie, MLA. for Buninyong, 2 June 1860.


‘Mission Station, Dimboola.’ Wood engraving. IAN, 22 March 1882, p. 36. Reproduced in Kenny, ‘La Trobe, Lake Boga and the “Enemy of Souls”’, p.109.


In a familiar trope contrasting the transformations wrought by the station – depicted as neatly fenced cottages, church and Mission-house – to its primitive antecedents: IAN, 22 March 1882, p.36; and see ‘Native Sketches’, Australasian Sketcher, 15 March 1879, p. 205.


‘Moravian Church, Dimboola, Feb 19, 1885’ (H93.456/1) and ‘Moravian Mission House Blacks Station, Dimboola, Feb 19, 85’ (H93.456/2). Samuel Hartley Roberts wrote a book, Drawing copies of ornament based on the plant forms of Australia, Melbourne, Artisans School, 1879, cited in E. Hanks 1982 Australian Art and Artists to 1950: a bibliography based on the holdings of the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Library Council of Victoria, p. 299, but I have been unable to find any further reference to his activities.


See for example group photograph, pencilled on reverse ‘Photograph 1892’: MSB 498. Schooling, C.W. Extracts from periodical accounts relating to the Missions of the Church of the United Brethren, c.1975. La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria. Ted Ryan identifies the subjects as Mrs Cameron, Mrs Fenton and baby, Henry Fenton, Mrs Coombs and baby, Teddy Fenton, King Bob, Teddy Dwyer, Fisher Marks, Charlie Napier, Pelham Cameron, Archie Pepper, Mrs Pepper with George in pram and Nellie, Tommy Fenton, Archie Cameron, Mrs Kennedy and Rose, Richard Kennedy and baby Everard, Jack Kennedy, Lance Kennedy, Murray Kennedy, Walter Kennedy, Sarah Kennedy, Clare Kennedy, Lily Kennedy, Albert and Jackey Coombs, Ella Kinnear: Ryan, Wergaia Worlds.


Henry Reynolds, ‘Aborigines and European Social Hierarchy’, Aboriginal History, 7, 2, 1983, pp. 124–33.


See, for example, Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York, Routledge, 1995; Frederick Cooper and Ann Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997.


Also, a young Aboriginal boy named as Addie Murray (Glenny), 1895, six children named as the Conolly family 1895 (by G.R.A.Glenny), ‘Bobby Brown’, Haines Cameron (Glenny), Christina and Phillip Pepper 1896 (Glenny), Mena, Lydia and Martha Cameron c.1893, The Hood Family, seated elderly Aboriginal man, Barak throwing boomerang with axe. An interesting exception is a group of men, women and children in traditional dress by H.P.Hislop – it is most unlikely that the Aboriginal residents of the Victorian missions would undress for the camera: they are probably rather from Hagenauer's trip to Mapoon in 1885 to oversee the Moravian mission there.