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Title: Some Account of Kangaroo Hunting on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, 1840-1880, and the Evidence of Folksong
Contributor(s): McDonald, Barry (author)
Publication Date: 1995
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Abstract: It has been common practice amongst social historians to use the results of folksong research to illuminate certain areas of enquiry otherwise obscured by a lack of documentary evidence. Thus, to cite one well-known example, Russel Ward illustrated his construction of an Australian national 'character' with, inter alia, the texts of traditional songs. Similar use of folk material has been popular in Australian historiography throughout the twentieth century, although the nature of its role in the discourse has varied. The discussion presented here owes its initial stimulus to two folksongs - both concerning kangaroo hunting - collected from traditional singers on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. Each text described a different hunting method, and that fact, taken together with information that has come to light since their collection, suggested that further historical enquiry might reveal some pattern of development relating to the hunting of kangaroos in New England. As a corollary, it was hoped that the songs would thereby yield meaning at a deeper level generally than had previously been possible and they certainly add a unique dimension to my tentative historical survey, and form a convenient framework for discussion. As their immediate significance cannot properly be understood outside a social context, they will be presented with details of their collection. From subsequent analysis in the light of further historical, ethnographic and literary evidence, it will be argued that local European kangaroo hunting methods - perhaps adapted originally from Aboriginal models - changed over time, in response to certain historical trends. The first of the two songs I have given the working title of 'Dingo Flat'. The air and bulk of the text was provided by Jim Lowe (b.1896) of Backwater, near Guyra. Jim had remembered it from the singing of his second cousin Tom Lowe (b.1863), an Aboriginal stockman and horse-breaker, who had spent all his life on the eastern fall of the Tablelands.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Folklore, v.10, p. 108-132
Publisher: Australian Folklore Association
Place of Publication: Armidale, Australia
ISSN: 0819-0852
Field of Research (FOR): 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society
160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
190401 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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