‘Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner
Their names will be remembered.’
— “Freedom Fighters” by Les Thomas, singer-songwriter, storyteller and Stolen Generations Victorian descendent.
A moving ceremony to mark the 181st anniversary of the execution of freedom fighters Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner was held at the Standing by Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner monument on the corner of Victoria and Franklin Streets on January 20.
The two First Nations freedom fighters were the first men to be executed in Victoria in 1842 for having the audacity to resist the British colonisation of their lands and the destruction of their people and way of life.
Their hanging was watched by 5000 Melbournians at the newly-built Melbourne Gaol.
On Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Freedom Fighters Day, the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee holds a ceremony to honour the Indigenous men, women and children who were killed during colonisation for protecting their lands, families and culture practised for more than 40,000 years.
Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is based on the recognition that tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children died as a result of colonisation.
The executions were finally marked by the monument, near the entrance to the Old Melbourne Gaol, after a 12-year campaign led by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee.
Dr Joseph Toscano, convenor of the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee, asked people to promote the event as a spur for others to establish their own monuments to mark resistance fighters around the state and the country.
Les Thomas performed his song “Freedom Fighters” — honouring the pair and helping to bring their story to a broader audience.
After the commemoration, attendees walked silently from the execution site to Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner’s presumed last resting place of in Queen Victoria Markets, originally Melbourne’s second cemetery site.