Truggernanna, a native from southern Van Dieman’s Land (later named Tasmania), was married to Woureddy. Who was she? We knew very little about the Aboringinal people so the exhibit, ningina tunapri (meaning ”to give knowledge and understanding”) in the Tasmania Museum & Art Gallery, was an informative glimpse.
The exhibit displayed the rich arts and crafts of a people badly mistreated by the newly arrived Europeans who settled on the island. By the time the portrait of Truggernanna was painted, most of the island’s Aboringinal people had died.
Another display in the Museum featured old movie footage of the last thylacine, pacing around a small cage.
Thylacines lived in Tasmania but were seen as pests. A bounty was paid for each animal, and in short order, they had been hunted to extinction. The last thylacine (pictured in the video) died in 1936.
Rarely do we visit museum exhibits that leave an impact so heartfelt as the moving story of the Aboringinal people of Tasmania nor do we see an extinction story in film of a species, the thylacine, affecting us so immediately.
We had spent so much time on these exhibits that we had to return a second day to see the rest of the galleries.
The most interesting exhibits in the Museum were little known to us – the Aboriginal people, thylacines, and Tasmania’s close connection to the Subantarctic islands and Antarctica.
To our surprise, on a visit a few days later to the Royal Botanical Gardens, we discovered the Subantarctic Plant House. We put on our jackets and went inside that frigid house to see the little display of plants that grow on Macquarie Island.
The theme of destruction and interference by Europeans continued in the Subantarctic displays. Huge populations of marine animals and birds were killed on these islands resulting in extinction or near extinction of many species.
These were all sad stories, and we can only hope that the telling will be guiding lessons for future generations to make wiser choices.