Truganini
The haunting story of the extraordinary Aboriginal woman behind the myth of 'the last Tasmanian Aborigine'.'At last, a book to give Truganini the proper attention she deserves.' - Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator of Oceania, The British MuseumCassandra Pybus' ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, just off the coast of south-east Tasmania, throughout the 1850s and 1860s. As a child, Cassandra didn't know this woman was Truganini, and that she was walking over the country of her clan, the Nuenonne, of whom she was the last.The name of Truganini is vaguely familiar to most Australians as 'the last of her race'. She has become an international icon for a monumental tragedy: the extinction of the original people of Tasmania within her lifetime. For nearly seven decades she lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than most human imaginations could conjure. She is a hugely significant figure in Australian history and we should know about how she lived, not simply that she died. Her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Now Cassandra has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini's extraordinary story.A lively, intelligent, sensual young woman, Truganini managed to survive the devastating decade of the 1820s when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished. Taken away from Bruny Island in 1830, she spent five years on a journey around Tasmania, across rugged highland and through barely penetrable forests, with the self-styled missionary George Augustus Robinson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into exile on Flinders Island. She managed to avoid a long incarceration on Flinders Island when Robinson took her to Victoria where she was implicated in the murder of two white men. Acquitted of murder, she was returned to Tasmania where she lived for another thirty-five years. Her story is both inspiring and heart-wrenching, and it is told in full in this book for the first time.‘For the first time a biographer who treats her with the insight and empathy she deserves. The result is a book of unquestionable national importance.’—Professor Henry Reynolds, University of Tasmania

Truganini Details

TitleTruganini
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherAllen Unwin
ISBN-139781760529222
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Cultural, Australia, Biography

Truganini Review

  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    Inspired by her ancestors connection to the woman known as the last Tasmanian Aborigine, Truganini by Cassandra Pybus, is a stunning historical biography.Born around 1812 on Bruny Island, Truganini survived the capture, forced relocation, attempted assimilation and sanctioned extermination of the First Nations population of Tasmania, before dying in 1876. Drawing on a number of historical sources, including personal journals, oral histories, government records, and newspaper archives, Pybus Inspired by her ancestors connection to the woman known as the ‘last Tasmanian Aborigine’, Truganini by Cassandra Pybus, is a stunning historical biography.Born around 1812 on Bruny Island, Truganini survived the capture, forced relocation, attempted assimilation and sanctioned extermination of the First Nations population of Tasmania, before dying in 1876. Drawing on a number of historical sources, including personal journals, oral histories, government records, and newspaper archives, Pybus pieces together the story of Truganini’s extraordinary life.Placed under the ‘protection’ of Christian missionary George Robinson as a teenager she was induced to behave as his emissary/guide aiding in his self-appointed task to ‘save’ the indigenous peoples, by leading them Into exile. She was to spend more than a decade with Robinson, accompanying him to ‘New Holland’, before fleeing his patronage, only to be accused of murder and be sent into exile on Flinders Island, and later Oyster Cove. Even in death she was denied self-determination, her wish to be cremated and her ashes spread over the D'Entrecasteaux Channel ignored for over a hundred years.Honestly I have no words to communicate the deep sorrow I feel for the fate of Truganini and all of the indigenous peoples. This harrowing narrative reveals a spirited and courageous woman who suffered unimaginable losses - the annihilation of her country, her culture, her kin, and her identity. Pybus’s account is rendered with honesty and empathy, shedding light on the shameful history Australia is yet to reconcile.Profound, poignant, and perceptive, Truganini should be required reading for all Australian’s to aid in our understanding of, and acknowledgement of, our past.
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  • Natty
    January 1, 1970
    4 StarsTo Ms Pybus,Wow oh wow!!!! For me, the name 'Truganini' was something I had heard in passing but knew nothing about the person behind the name, until I read your book. Unfortunately Australian history is still very limited in the voices and perspectives on offer, slowly more and more are becoming available to reach and more importantly educate. What I loved about this book was how you told a story with the facts, and not just give us the facts in a dry manner like so many non-fiction 4 StarsTo Ms Pybus,Wow oh wow!!!! For me, the name 'Truganini' was something I had heard in passing but knew nothing about the person behind the name, until I read your book. Unfortunately Australian history is still very limited in the voices and perspectives on offer, slowly more and more are becoming available to reach and more importantly educate. What I loved about this book was how you told a story with the facts, and not just give us the facts in a dry manner like so many non-fiction texts...it's why I normally struggle with the non-fiction texts.. Which in itself is a little funny seeing I am at uni studying history as one of my specialisations for my degree...lol all those texts are extremely dry... While I have known some of the struggles and impacts of our First Nations People has from white colonies, Truganini's story was at so many times brutal and at times I wished there was just one normal white person who would show common sense and a heart - of course I had put it through the filter of what I know today and where humanity has developed from then to today... my heart sank many times throughout your text.The biggest heartache was learning that they were organisations who would steal deceased Indigenous bodies for 'research', including digging up Truganini from a secret location and putting her on display for years and years... I was horrified and couldn't believe it to be...yet I remember seeing Tutankhamun's body in a Museum when I was in primary school and that was only like 15 years ago... so should I really be surprised?! I was elated to read that after years on display she was cremated and her ashes laid out at her 'country'.. that provided joy. And thank you Allen & Unwin for a reviewer's copy in exchange for an honest review... And Thank you, Ms Pybus for unraveling another voice for all of us to hear, listen and be educated from...I am keen to see what other voices you can uncover for us...From a history nerd in the making,Natty
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  • Joselle Griffin
    January 1, 1970
    A very very sad and necessary journey to read. I love that this book attempts to tell the story of Truganini by piecing together the stories told about the men Robinson spent more time writing about. The factual narrative of the sexual exploitation of the women and the murder and destruction of the traditional owners of Tasmania somehow emphasises and makes the terror even more poignant. Pybus emphasises Truganini being a complete warrior woman who had to survive and tried to make her own A very very sad and necessary journey to read. I love that this book attempts to tell the story of Truganini by piecing together the stories told about the men Robinson spent more time writing about. The factual narrative of the sexual exploitation of the women and the murder and destruction of the traditional owners of Tasmania somehow emphasises and makes the terror even more poignant. Pybus emphasises Truganini being a complete warrior woman who had to survive and tried to make her own decisions where she could, while still being caught in a virtual apocalypse of her known world.Definitely a must read.
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  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    January 1, 1970
    The life of this woman, Truganini, frames the story of the dispossession and destruction of the original people of Tasmania.When I was a child, growing up in Tasmania, I was told that Truganini had been the last Tasmanian Aborigine. There was no discussion, then, about how or why. Simply an assertion, presented as fact. I made it to adulthood before questioning this.Cassandra Pybuss family had a connection to Truganini: their land grants on Bruny Island were country that once belonged to ‘The life of this woman, Truganini, frames the story of the dispossession and destruction of the original people of Tasmania.’When I was a child, growing up in Tasmania, I was told that Truganini had been the last Tasmanian Aborigine. There was no discussion, then, about ‘how’ or ‘why’. Simply an assertion, presented as fact. I made it to adulthood before questioning this.Cassandra Pybus’s family had a connection to Truganini: their land grants on Bruny Island were country that once belonged to Truganini’s Nuenonne clan. This connection has provided Ms Pybus with a source of inspiration for this book.Truganini was born around 1812 (as we measure time) on Bruny Island. She died in 1876. And in between? How did she live? Truganini was born as part of a traditional community, which was then displaced, dispossessed and frequently diseased by British colonisers. How did Truganini survive?In 1830, Truganini was taken from Bruny Island and then spent five years journeying around Tasmania with George Augustus Robinson, as he collected Aboriginal people for their tragic exile to Flinders Island. Robinson then took Truganini to Port Phillip, where she and four others were implicated in the murder of two white men. In 1842 acquitted of the charges, she was returned to Flinders Island. In 1847, Truganini (and forty-six others) were sent to a new settlement at Oyster Bay.In this book, Ms Pybus draws on original eye-witness accounts, including George Robinson’s journal, to provide more detail of Truganini’s life. Imagine: a young woman, suffering from venereal disease (which had probably rendered her infertile) being used by Europeans to try to trap her own people into exile. Imagine: a young woman, losing every connection she had to people and place, being confined and required to adopt (at least some) European habits. And when she died, it took nearly one hundred years for her remains to be cremated and scattered according to her wishes.This is a confronting read, especially for those of us descended from nineteenth century European settlers. We cannot change the past, but we can acknowledge it.Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    The account of the atrocious way in which the colonials systematically forced the Aboriginal people in Tasmania off their land, and in the end caused their extermination, is hard to read; it makes me feel ashamed and angry in turn. In particular Truganini's story is heartbreaking as she is used by the so called 'Protector' of the Aboriginals, George Robinson, in his misguided program to assimilate her people.Pybus' well researched and historical narrative of how Truganini was ripped from her The account of the atrocious way in which the colonials systematically forced the Aboriginal people in Tasmania off their land, and in the end caused their extermination, is hard to read; it makes me feel ashamed and angry in turn. In particular Truganini's story is heartbreaking as she is used by the so called 'Protector' of the Aboriginals, George Robinson, in his misguided program to assimilate her people.Pybus' well researched and historical narrative of how Truganini was ripped from her land, people and culture is poignant as Pybus' own ancestors played a large part in this.I can't say I enjoyed this book, but am glad I read it and think everyone should know the true story of how Truganini lived.Thanks to Allen and Unwin for this ARC.
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  • Marlz Henry
    January 1, 1970
    For some, there may be some familiarity associated with Truganini, who has been referred to the 'the last of her race' of Aboriginal people in Tasmania. Cassandra Pybus tragic account of Truganinis life and death left raw emotion of a life unimaginable. So heart-wrenching to be physically and emotionally extracted from history and culture, and watch others be extinguished from that very life and history. To know that this story occurred in Australias history is mortifying, a thousand times over. For some, there may be some familiarity associated with Truganini, who has been referred to the 'the last of her race' of Aboriginal people in Tasmania. Cassandra Pybus’ tragic account of Truganini’s life and death left raw emotion of a life unimaginable. So heart-wrenching to be physically and emotionally extracted from history and culture, and watch others be extinguished from that very life and history. To know that this story occurred in Australia’s history is mortifying, a thousand times over. Pybus captured the torture and trauma of Truganini as her past was ripped away from her, again and again, over years and years. So many times she was physically close to Nuenonne country, with chances to reconnect to land and culture blocked. The sadness and ostracization of Aboriginal people, and Truganini’s life was not lost in this book. The colonisers wanted assimilation, and the rejection of the Dreamtime and acceptance of an English and Christian way of life: when the Aboriginal people attempted to live within white communities, they were again rejected, discriminated against, cast out, and abandoned by those who moved them there.Cassandra Pybus captured the irresponsible and unaccountable behaviour and thinking of the British colonial people, who disassociated themselves from the actions they were inflicting in removing and exterminating the original people of Tasmania. The use of Truganini as a pawn and bait in George Robinson’s ‘process’ of exiling Aboriginal people within the expeditions across and around Tasmania’s most inhospitable wilderness was for no other reason than to capture and remove them all, never to protect them, never to learn about their culture, retain their connection to the land or keep them safe from harm. Pybus’ own connection to Truganini was through her own kin; her great-great-grandfather was given a free land grant of over a thousand hectares of Nuenonne country. The original inhabitants, including Truganini, were ripped from their connection to Nuenonne, never to prosper from its secrets, strength and lifeblood. This book should be a compulsory road for all: this history, this sadness and this atrocity is with me forever. This was an outstanding, if not tragic and distressful, read. Thank you Allen and Unwin for the ARC. Thank you, Cassandra Pybus for returning a voice to Truganini.
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  • Gill Auld
    January 1, 1970
    Thankyou Allen&Unwin for a wonderfully interesting and sometimes disturbing read.This is the story of the life of the last aboriginal woman in Tasmania.Truganini, born around 1812 was the last woman of the Nueonne clan at her death, and her life was a difficult one. Born to Manganerer she had witnessed her mother's killing and the abduction of her sisters.George Augustus Robinson was appointed by Governor George Arthur to be in charge of consiliation and civilisation after the Governor had Thankyou Allen&Unwin for a wonderfully interesting and sometimes disturbing read.This is the story of the life of the last aboriginal woman in Tasmania.Truganini, born around 1812 was the last woman of the Nueonne clan at her death, and her life was a difficult one. Born to Manganerer she had witnessed her mother's killing and the abduction of her sisters.George Augustus Robinson was appointed by Governor George Arthur to be in charge of consiliation and civilisation after the Governor had received grievances from the aboriginals regarding the abduction of their women and decimaation of their food sources. The Governor had previously declared martial law in 1828.In 1829 Robinson found Truganini living with woodcutters across the channel from Bruny Island. From all accounts a lovely young woman, he judged about 16-17 years old.He returned her to her father at Bruny Island where he had been given a 500acre land grant. This began her connection with him in assisting him to capture and relocate the aboriginal peoples.He tried to instruct these people in Christianity and to give up their natural ways of life, food gathering and hunting. Their identity was being stolen from them.Truganini like all the women was an expert swimmer and adept at gathering seafood and loved the natural habitat of her land.Robinson used her navigational ability and knowledge of Tasmania and she, with others in her clan often accompanied him on his mission to capture and relocate the aboriginal people, many still living in dense, isolated pockets.To write a comprehensive review would be difficult but there were many disturbing details of the often remote and inhospitable Islands these people were banished to. The conditions were terrible and there was often little food and shelter. Flinder's Isaland was one such Island.The characters were strong, resilient and interesting.I was really interesed to read of King Billy as I recall mention of him and always thought he was a fictional character.This is a book where you need to refer to a map to get an idea of distances and where exclusion occured. Truganini by Cassandra Pybus was certainly a great read.
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  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    I would like to thank Cassandra Pybus and Allen and Unwin for the ARC of Truganini, Journey through the Apocalypse.This is a historical account of Truganini whose people enjoyed an idealistic lifestyle on Tasmania's east coast until the European invasion. George Robinson the Protector of Aboriginals was tasked with the removal of Tasmanian Aboriginal people to the Furneaux Group. Cassandra Pybus has researched the material meticulously using Robinsons journals and other sources. Truganini I would like to thank Cassandra Pybus and Allen and Unwin for the ARC of Truganini, Journey through the Apocalypse.This is a historical account of Truganini whose people enjoyed an idealistic lifestyle on Tasmania's east coast until the European invasion. George Robinson the “Protector of Aboriginals” was tasked with the removal of Tasmanian Aboriginal people to the Furneaux Group. Cassandra Pybus has researched the material meticulously using Robinson’s journals and other sources. Truganini assists Robinson as he attempts to relocate the original population; she was a courageous and spirited character who saves Robinson's life on a number of occasions. This is a distressing account, Robinson the less than benevolent missionary is motivated by monetary gain and fame. He uses false promises and trinkets to win trust and persuade the original land owners. The people suffered horrendous conditions and a decimating mortality rate when forced from their traditional lands. This was genocide.This book would be an excellent addition to school reading lists in Australia; this history was not disseminated when I studied Australian history.The stunning cover photograph by Peter Dombrovskis recently exhibited at GOMA certainly is a perfect choice.I’ve added Raven Road to my reading list.
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  • Janelle
    January 1, 1970
    This book is described as heart wrenching on the cover and it truly is a difficult book to read but it should be read. So much to take in, for example: The arguments over the skeletons of aborigines by the Royal Society and college of surgeons in London and the lengths they would go to obtain them is outrageous.Cassandra Pybus says it all in the afterword:the deeper truth is every Australian who is not a member of the First Nations is a beneficiary of stolen country, brutal dispossession, This book is described as “heart wrenching “ on the cover and it truly is a difficult book to read but it should be read. So much to take in, for example: The arguments over the skeletons of aborigines by the Royal Society and college of surgeons in London and the lengths they would go to obtain them is outrageous.Cassandra Pybus says it all in the afterword:“the deeper truth is every Australian who is not a member of the First Nations is a beneficiary of stolen country, brutal dispossession, institutionalised racial discrimination and callous indifference. The expropriation of the territory of a generous people, and the devastating frontier war and dispersal that followed, is Australia’s true foundation story, not the voyage of Captain Cook or the arrival of the First Fleet.”
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  • Deb
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book exhausting to read and frequently put it down, only to pick it up again. It is heart breaking, shocking, tragic and inspiring.Cassandtra Pybus has used eye witness accounts to put together the story of Truganini, who was the last of her race, dying in 1876. Truganini managed to survive the 1820s, when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but wiped out. For five years she traveled with George Augustus Robson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into I found this book exhausting to read and frequently put it down, only to pick it up again. It is heart breaking, shocking, tragic and inspiring.Cassandtra Pybus has used eye witness accounts to put together the story of Truganini, who was the last of her race, dying in 1876. Truganini managed to survive the 1820s, when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but wiped out. For five years she traveled with George Augustus Robson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into exile on Flinders Island. The book well written giving you a good appreciation of what Truganini's life was like and where she lived and how she interacted with friends, family and her country. It is a deeply disturbing book, that will not be forgotten. A must read for Australians.
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  • Caroline Poole
    January 1, 1970
    Its very difficult to review a book that describes the horror that befell the original inhabitants of Australia. This book follows the life of Truganini, an amazing woman who lived through unimaginable trauma and difficulties which can only educate the reader into some understanding of the plight of the original Australians. So many amazing people who endured catastrophic destruction of their world.......SORRY!The published book I assume will include maps and photos as well as the timeline, It’s very difficult to review a book that describes the horror that befell the original inhabitants of Australia. This book follows the life of Truganini, an amazing woman who lived through unimaginable trauma and difficulties which can only educate the reader into some understanding of the plight of the original Australians. So many amazing people who endured catastrophic destruction of their world.......SORRY!The published book I assume will include maps and photos as well as the timeline, biographies and sources, a truly valuable piece of our history.
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  • Kate thebooklover
    January 1, 1970
    I hope that this story is shared in schools, as a Tasmanian I am ashamed to say even though I knew her name I wasnt fully aware of her story. Cassandra Pybus has done a wonderful job in telling the story of Truganini and events in Australias past.Thank you Allen and Unwin for kindly gifting me a copy of this book. I hope that this story is shared in schools, as a Tasmanian I am ashamed to say even though I knew her name I wasn’t fully aware of her story. Cassandra Pybus has done a wonderful job in telling the story of Truganini and events in Australia’s past.Thank you Allen and Unwin for kindly gifting me a copy of this book.
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  • Jason McCracken
    January 1, 1970
    An Important story but I found the writing a little stale, maybe because it was pretty much just a rewritten diary. The author butting in with her own obvious woke opinions on how bad the white man leading the aboriginals didnt really help either. Of course the white man was bad you fucking idiot! Anyway..... Truganini herself is more of a secondary character for the first half of the book and she spends most of her time running away, whinging about her sore legs and sleeping with any white man An Important story but I found the writing a little stale, maybe because it was pretty much just a rewritten diary. The author butting in with her own obvious “woke” opinions on how bad the white man leading the aboriginals didn’t really help either. Of course the white man was bad you fucking idiot! Anyway..... Truganini herself is more of a secondary character for the first half of the book and she spends most of her time running away, whinging about her sore legs and sleeping with any white man willing to offer a cup of sugar. It’s all very sad.I found the plight of the locals very frustrating as I wanted to like the Aboriginals but they constantly sabotaged their own existence by putting tribal squabbles and greed ahead of what should’ve been an obviously greater enemy in the white invader. The treatment of their women as nothing more than property and punching bags probably didn’t help either.
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