Brisbane’s colonial history was remembered on Saturday, June 16, when Aboriginal Elders and reconciliation supporters completed the annual Boundary to Boundary Street Walk.

Also known as the Defying Boundaries Walk, this free annual event recognises the boundaries of exclusion from the settlement of Brisbane that were enforced on Indigenous people at twilight during the 19th century.

As one supporter put it in her post to social media, we were “a big Brisbane mob” who had come together to walk the “old boundaries to advocate for understanding and to remember past injustices”.

The Defying Boundaries Reconciliation Walk. . . During the last decades of the nineteenth century Australias First Nations Peoples were increasingly marginalised on their own lands. Although they were allowed into Brisbane town during the day, they had, since the early 1850s, been the targets of a consequential curfew, which was enforced after 4pm and on Sundays. Today, with a big Brisbane mob, I walked these old boundaries to advocate for understanding and to remember past injustices place on my people. This boy always stepping on my dam shoes. @reconciliationaus @recqueensland #indigenous #firstnations #aboriginal #koori #dontkeephistoryamystery #learnsharegrow #reconciliation #reconciliationaustralia #meandmyson #teachthemyoung

A post shared by K I R R I L Y (@dorothy_swaggle) on

Reconciliation Queensland’s Aunty Heather Castledine said more than 100 people participated in the walk from St James College on Boundary Street, Spring Hill, through to Boundary Street, West End, culminating in a community event at Bunyapa Park.

National Reconciliation Week

“Don’t keep history a mystery was the theme for National Reconciliation Week and this year we encouraged Brisbane residents to take the opportunity to discover more about their city’s past,” Aunty Heather said.

“Local Elders joined us on the walk and recounted stories about the area that have been handed down from generation to generation,” she said.

The police-escorted walk passed through the city centre to Reddacliff Place, where supporters posed for a group photo, and then went across Victoria Bridge towards Melbourne Street and down to Thomas street, crossing Boundary Street in South Brisbane.

Support for the walk came from many quarters, including St James College Principal Jerry Crooks who welcomed everyone to the College and congratulated them on their positive contribution to reconciliation.

Also present was Queensland Senator and Greens candidate for the seat of Brisbane Andrew Bartlett, who took his turn leading the walk through the city carrying the Aboriginal flag.

A sausage sizzle, staffed by Variety volunteers, greeted supporters when they arrived in Bunyapa Park. There was also an opportunity to browse items for sale at the numerous arts and craft stalls set up around the park.

Local media rallies to the cause

“We are very grateful for the support we received from 98.9FM and Quest Community Newspapers,” Aunty Heather said.

“Owned by the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association, our local radio station 98.9FM generously provided community service announcements and material support on the day of the event. I’d also like to thank reporter Andrea McLeod for helping us to publicise this event in the City North News and City South News,” she said.

The Boundary Streets used to define the outer city limits and, although Aboriginal people were allowed to enter the city during the day, they had to exit it by 4:00pm Monday to Saturday, and were barred entry entirely on Sundays.

Brisbane’s exclusion zone was described in detail in the New South Wales Gazette, dated 5 May 1846, as follows:

‘Commencing on the Brisbane River at the mouth of a small gully opposite Kangaroo Point, and bounded on the north by a line bearing west 91 chains 50 links; on the west by a line being 40 chains west from the centre of the Windmill, bearing south 45 chains 70 links to the Brisbane River, prolonged across that river, and thence south 60 chains; on the south by a line bearing east 140 chains; on the east by a line bearing north 49 chains 10 links to the Brisbane River, by that river upwards to the termination of the road running through Kangaroo Point, and thence by a straight line across the Brisbane River to the point of commencement.’

According to historian Dr Rosalind Kidd, in her report Aboriginal History at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Site, a traveller of the time recounted how ‘the mounted troopers used to ride about cracking stock whips to notify the Aboriginals to get out’.