Dr Wayne Caldow, Melbourne, and Dr Peter Wheeler, Sale
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
PETER Gardner deserves credit for highlighting the conflict between the Kurnai and the Europeans in the 19th century.
As a community, we must acknowledge the reality of this violent past.
As a community, our decisions need to be wellinformed; the knowledge of our shared history needs to be founded on objective research, not pre-conceived ideas.
In the case of the Warrigal Creek massacre in 1843, Mr Gardner has relied on a story by ‘Gippslander’ as evidence to support his claims that Angus McMillan was both present and the leader of this atrocity.
This story needs to be seen in perspective.
It was written in 1925 for The Gap, a school children’s magazine.
It was written 82 years after the event, and is described by someone who was not there.
In his book Gippsland Massacres, Mr Gardner claims the story is “completely reliable”, but it is not a credible historical source.
The story was anonymous, unattributed and generic.
Most importantly, the ‘Gippslander’ story does not implicate McMillan in any way.
If this is Mr Gardner’s evidence against McMillan, then there is no evidence.
Unfortunately, in this case, Mr Gardner’s version of history is a construct of his own making; it is a hypothesis.
The role of the historian is to provide an objective historical narrative, not to speculate or cast moral judgement.
We would urge anyone with an interest in this issue to read the entire ‘Gippslander’ story in The Gap at the Sale library, and the version published on page five of the Gippsland Times on May 23, 1940, and come to your own conclusions.