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Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner

About Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner

Many of us are familiar with the story of Ned Kelly, but far few have heard of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, who are incredibly significant figures in Melbourne’s early history.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner’s story reveals key aspects of Aboriginal history in Melbourne and beyond. These men were born in Tasmania and brought to Melbourne by George Augustus Robinson, ‘Protector of Aborigines’ to Melbourne in 1839. In 1842, they became the first people to be hanged in Melbourne after they were convicted for the murder of two whale-hunters in the Western Port area. Their execution was the biggest story of the day in the newspapers.

Their execution took place before the existence of Old Melbourne Gaol on Russell Street, which was being constructed at the time. Instead, they were publicly hanged on Franklin Street, behind the City Baths. They are now understood to be buried on the site of the Queen Victoria Market.

Their stories touch on the history of crime and publishment in early Melbourne; the establishment of Melbourne in its wider context of conflict over land, important legal questions debated at the time, the treatment of Aboriginal people in Tasmania, and the any historical and community links between Port Phillip and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

Their stories are central to an understanding of Melbourne’s past, present and future.

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Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner public artwork

Artist Brook Andrew, along with fellow artist Trent Walter, has been commissioned by City of Melbourne to develop a public artwork commemorating Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, the two Tasmanian men who were publicly hanged in Melbourne in 1842.

The artwork, Standing by Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner will be situated on a small reserve at the intersection of Victoria and Franklin Streets, in proximity to the site known to be where the two Tasmanian Aboriginal men were hanged.

Experimental and empowering, this artwork will invite those who live in or visit Melbourne to discover how this story informs our knowledge of Aboriginal history and contested stories of colonisation.

Find out more about this important historic chapter and the artwork by visiting Executed in Franklin Street, an exhibition at City Gallery.

Read about the public art in Melbourne.

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Historical account of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner

In 2012-13 a City of Melbourne research project began to investigate the potential for memorialisation of these two Aboriginal men. This came as the result of City of Melbourne’s commitment to this action in its Indigenous Heritage Action Plan.

The outcome of this research project is a booklet about Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner’s background and importance to Melbourne’s past and present, called 'Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner: The involvement of Aboriginal people from Tasmania in key events of early Melbourne'. Read the booklet:

Different forms of monuments

You can also read a discussion of appropriate forms of monuments or public commemorations of histories like this one that are complex, in Forms for Monuments to Complex Histories (PDF, 2.7MB).

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Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner