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1818 sydneygazette

Aboriginal Feast Day:
Parramatta, 28 December 1818

This Country never presented a scene more interesting to philanthropy and the congenial feelings of Britons, than was exhibited at Parramatta on Monday last, the 28th ult. when, in pursuance of the invitation of HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, which appeared in the two last Gazettes, the Natives, or Aborigines of this Territory, assembled together to partake of the kindness and hospitality held out to them by Government.

Although the day was intensely warm, it was not altogether unfavourable for the occasion. — At eleven in the forenoon, HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, accompanied by the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, the Members of the Native Institution, and several other Gentlemen, entered the circle where these Children of Nature were seated. — Chairs were provided for the Chiefs of tribes (as on the former occasion), detached and advanced from the line of the grand circle, which not only distinguished them personally, but shewed the number or strength of their several Tribes, which were placed to the left of their respective Chieftains, and consisted of the families of each of them. The number thus assembled very far exceeds that of any former occasion, being nearly 300 persons, among whom were some tribes who had travelled from beyond the Blue Mountains to be present at this festival, & who were distinguishable from the natives on this side, by their hair being decorated with a number of white feathers, and the teeth of wild animals, suspended in rude festoons over their foreheads; their bodies and faces were also painted with red and white ochre, which rendered their appearance singularly wild and outré. There was, however, a degree of confidence in their manner which indicated a consciousness of security in the protection of European friendship — a circumstance, perhaps, the more to be wondered at, when it is considered that this was the first time that several of them had held any intercourse with white men, or had ever had an opportunity of seeing the advancing improvements of the interior settlements of this colony. — There were other tribes from the North and South, who had travelled a distance of upward of 100 miles.

Upon the whole, it affords a pleasing task to humanity to contemplate these symptoms of improvement, and approaches to civilization, in so wild and improvident a race; to behold so many various tribes assembled together on a social and friendly footing, and disposed to forego those rude and repulsive customs which interdict them from travelling over the allotted ranges of others, having in one view and as one general object the comfort and advantages inseparable from the protection of the British Government.

After HIS EXCELLENCY had conferred some badges of chieftainship, and of merit on the deserving, the more interesting part of the ceremony took place: This was the introduction of the children of the Native Institution into the circle, where they were shewn to their relatives and friends, and gave specimens of their progress in reading, writing, and drawing; this latter acquirement seemed to delight the elder natives beyond anything yet presented to them; which was manifested by bursts of loud laughter, leaping upwards, and other wild gesticulations, the spontaneous offerings of uncultivated nature.

When those ceremonies had passed over, the whole of the native party was regaled with roast beef and plum-pudding, and a fair proportion of exhilarating beverage.

On the GOVERNOR'S retiring from the circle, they with one accord, and from one impulse, rose and gave HIS EXCELLENCY three cheers, which they felt as the only mode of expressing their sense of his kindness to them, and gratefully to acknowledge the protection of the British Government.

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Sydney Gazette 2 January 1819 p.2c.

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