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Wombeetch Puyuum Monument
Wombeetch Puyuum Monument

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

Monument marks the grave of Wombeetch Puyuun and is in memory of the aborigines of the district. 

James Dawson, local protector of Aborigines erected a 20 metre obelisk of grey granite to mark the place where he buried Wombeetch Puuyuun (locally known to Europeans as "Camperdown George") the last member of the local indigenous tribes.

Their numbers decreased rapidly after 1860 due to contact with settlers and their diseases. In 1882, Dawson returned from a trip home to Scotland to find that the last survivor, Wombeetch Puyuun, had died and was buried in boggy ground outside the Camperdown cemetery.  Dawson appealed for public support to finance a memorial in the cemetery proper, but very few supported him.

So at his own expense, he had a granite obelisk erected and carried his old friend`s remains in his arms to be reburied at its foot. The obelisk still stands in Camperdown cemetery today. Its two dates - 1840 and 1883 - mark the mere 43 years it took, after countless millennia of Aboriginal history, for European settlement to displace the Djargurd Wurrung from the Camperdown area.

The Memorial Obelisk to the extinct tribes of Aborigines of the Camperdown (Victoria) district was erected through the instrumentality of Mr. James Dawson, of Renny Hill. He ever took a deep interest in the welfare of the aborigines, and at the request of the Government consented to act as their local guardian for several years. Up to the period of his leaving for Scotland, some time ago, he saw to their comfort and protection. On his return last year he found the last of them dead and buried in the public cemetery of Camperdown. On visiting the cemetery, and outside the block of ground assigned to the interment of white people, a boggy, scrubby spot was pointed out to him as the burying ground of the aborigines, and a hole, wherein the hind legs of a horse got bogged, as the grave of Wombeetch Puyuun, alias "Camperdown George," a harmless old man always thankful for a sixpence or a dram. He was so shocked on seeing the spot in which the last of the original owners of that fine country had been buried like a dog by a so-called Christian community that he determined to take steps to remove, if possible, a blot from the occupiers of the country of which the aboriginals had been dispossessed, by raising an obelisk to their memory. In furtherance of this, he laid the proposal before the public in an article in the local journal ; and he also distributed circulars to all the leading land occupiers of the Camperdown district who held estates, at one time the hunting grounds of the local tribe. The response, however, was disappointing. Mr. Dawson, however, nothing daunted, prepared a sketch of an obelisk, and at once submitted it to Mr. Nash, sculptor, of Geelong, who undertook the work, and erected it, greatly to his credit and the satisfaction of the subscribers and the general public. It cost nearly £185, and stands on the central plot of the cemetery.

It is up it is upwards of 20 feet in height, and formed of grey granite. It is a very conspicuous object, and greatly admired. In order that facts might be consistent with the inscription, Mr. Dawson made a formal application to the Attorney General and received his permission to have the body of "Old George" removed from the "bog-hole" and placed in a space at the base of the obelisk and he performed that duty with his own hand.
Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW), 12 December 1885.

Location

Address:Cemetery Road, Camperdown Cemetery, Camperdown, 3260
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.217854
Long: 143.116915
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Indigenous
Monument Designer:Mr. Nash (Geelong)

Dedication

Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1885
Front Inscription

1840

1883

In Memory Of 
The
ABORIGINES
Of This District.

Here Lies The Body Of The Chief
WOMBEETCH PUYUUN
And Last Of The Local Tribes

Source: MA,RUMV
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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