Sandstone rock shelters on the Mountain and stone artefacts are visible reminders of the South East Tribe, one of nine tribes of Tasmanian Aborigines at the time of European settlement. Their country ranged from Storm Bay and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel (including Bruny Island) to South Cape, New Norfolk and the Huon Valley.
Within the tribe there were seven to nine bands or kinship units of 40 to 50 people. For the Muwinina people, the area around present day Hobart was their country. They called the mountain kunanyi, a name that has been revived by Aborigines today.
The coastline of this country was rich with shellfish, and the land with birds and wallabies. The Muwinina used fire as a method to clear vegetation, and hunt wildlife. French expeditions in the late 18th Century reported extensive burning in the foothills of the Wellington Range by Aboriginal people.
Soon after the observations of the French explorers, Wooraddy, a member of the Nuennone band from Bruny Island told Aboriginal conciliator George Augustus Robinson that:
when the first people settle they cut down the trees, built houses, dug the ground and planted; that by and by more ships came, then at last plenty of ships; that the natives went to the mountains, went and looked at what the white people did, went and told other natives and they came and looked also.
The mountains from which they watched the activity may have been the mountains we now call the Wellington Range.
Today a high concentration of Aboriginal sites on the Derwent estuary has been identified, with occasional sites inland. Very few methodical surveys have been conducted in the hills around Hobart, and no systematic research has been undertaken in Wellington Park. Stone artefacts have been found in the foothills of the mountain. All archaeological items are protected and of enormous significance to the Aboriginal community. It is a serious offence to remove artefacts without a permit under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 and offenders will be prosecuted.
The South West Platform at the Pinnacle introduces the significance of the area for Aboriginal people prior to European settlement, and for the contemporary Aboriginal community. A key contributor to the panels on the platform, Greg Lehman, has also written extensively on the relationships between the Aboriginal community and sense of place. Read the Welcome to Country offered by Greg to attendees of the Making Sense of Place Conference (2006).
Publications are listed for further information on Tasmanian Aborigines, the tragic impacts of European settlement and current relationships with the area.
- The Aboriginal Tasmanians, Lyndall Ryan, 1996
- Draft Wellington Park, Values, Use and Management Inventory, 1996
- The mountain: a people’s perspective, Emily Stoddart, 2004
- Wellington Park Recreation Map, 2014