SURROUNDED by a white picket fence, the graves of George Furber and his son-in-law Joseph Wilmshurst stand weathered and grey in the grounds of the original Maryborough township.
Their story is well known among historians in the community.
Mr Furber was one of the region’s first settlers and was regularly in conflict with the Butchulla people whose land he had taken.
An axe was thrown at him by one of the Butchulla people during a dispute over flour rations and he was later accused of killing three Aboriginal people in the period after the event.
Of course, there are no gravesites marking their final resting place.
Their stories remain unknown.
Furber and his son- in-law Joseph Wilmshurst were in turn killed in December, 1855, while sawing timber next to Tinana Creek, with the members of a nearby Butchulla camp blamed for the killings.
In the newspaper report at the time, Mr Furber, himself a suspected murderer, was described in glowing terms, temperate, active and intelligent.
It is just one chapter of Maryborough’s often dark settlement history that has been whitewashed, Butchulla elder Glen Miller believes.
He is just one voice calling for a monument to the built to the Butchulla lives lost during the settlement.
Mr Miller has long been an advocate for marking the darkest period of Maryborough’s history with a monument.
It would be monument that would remember the dark past while also celebrating the endurance of the Butchulla people.
But he believes that too many people are comfortable with the idea of the brave settler, holding on to the image of the steadfast pioneers who came with nothing and built the community.
Mr Miller said too few wanted to see the other side of settlement – the massacres committed against the original inhabitants of the land, the violence, disease and erasure of Aboriginal populations and identities.
“History belongs to the conqueror,” he said.
“A monument would certainly make us feel like finally someone’s recognised that we’re still here – that our people did fight to defend their country.
“It was their country and people came and took it off them.”
The horror of what happened to the Butchulla community during settlement can be summed up in just a few brief figures.
An estimated 2000 Aboriginal people lived on Fraser Island at the time it began to be occupied by settlers from 1849.
Within three decades, their numbers had dropped to around 300 to 400, a collapse that at the time was attributed to shootings by Australian native police and the effects of venereal disease and drink introduced by the settlers.
Mr Miller said the values of the Butchulla people were in conflict with those of the settlers immediately.
He said while settlers came motivated by possible personal gain, for Aboriginal people, survival of the group was more important than anything else.
The animals the settlers brought with them were on Butchulla country and there wherefore considered fair game, Mr Miller said.
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