explorers

Explorers' Monument

The Explorers' Monument is a monument located on The Esplanade in Fremantle, Western Australia. It is approximately six metres high, and consists of a head and shoulders statue of Maitland Brown, sitting on granite pedestals on a granite base inset with plaques honouring three explorers, Frederick Panter, James Harding and William Goldwyer. The monument was commissioned by C. J. Brockman, and the statue of Brown was sculpted by Pietro Porcelli. Lady Forrest unveiled the work in February 1913. Due to controversy about its presentation of settler/Aboriginal disputes it was altered in the 1990s.

Panter, Harding and Goldwyer were killed by Aboriginal people in 1864, while exploring in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When the men failed to return, Brown was commissioned to lead the La Grange expedition, which searched for the whereabouts of the missing men. Brown's search party found the men dead, having been speared to death, two of them evidently in their sleep. Shortly afterwards, a number of Aborigines were killed by Brown's party in a highly controversial incident that was reported by Brown as a battle brought on by an Aboriginal ambush, but which has often since been characterised as a punitive massacre of Aborigines by white settlers.

One of the original plaques on the pedestal reads as follows:

THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY
C. J. BROCKMAN
as a fellow bush wanderer's tribute to the memory of
PANTER, HARDING and GOLDWYER
earliest explorers after Grey and Gregory of this
"Terra Incognita"',attacked at night by treachorous natives
were murdered at Boole Boola near Le Grange Bay
on the 13 NOVEMBER 1864.
also as an appreciative token of remembrance of
MAITLAND BROWN
one of the pioneer pastoralists and premier politicians of this
state,intrepid leader of the government search and punitive
party. His remains together with the sad relics of the ill
fated three recovered at great risk and danger from lone
wilds repose under a public monument in the East Perth Cemetery
"LEST WE FORGET"

The Aboriginal communities have long held that the Explorer's Monument was a racist work that presented a biased interpretation of the events at La Grange. In 1994, an attempt was made to redress this perceived bias by placing an additional plaque on the monument. The new plaque commemorates all Aboriginal people who died "during the invasion of their country", and reads as follows:

THIS PLAQUE WAS ERECTED BY PEOPLE WHO FOUND THE MONUMENT BEFORE YOU OFFENSIVE.
THE MONUMENT DESCRIBED THE EVENTS AT La GRANGE FROM ONE PERSPECTIVE ONLY:
THE VIEWPOINT OF THE WHITE 'SETTLERS'
no mention is made of the right of aboriginal people to defend their land or of the
history of provocation which led to the explorers' death.
the 'punitive party' mentioned here ended in the deaths of somewhere around twenty aboriginal people
the whites were well armed and equipped and none of their party was killed or wounded.
this plaque is in memory of the aboriginal people killed at la grange. it also commemorates all
other aboriginal people who died during the invasion of their country
LEST WE FORGET MAPA JARRIYA-NYALAKU

Gallery

See also

References

  • Scates, Bruce (1989). A Monument to Murder: Celebrating the Conquest of Aboriginal Australia in Layman, Lenore and Tom Stannage (eds), Celebrations in Western Australian History (Studies in Western Australian History X), University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia.

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