By Raffaello CARBONI, Translated and Annotated by Tony PAGLIARO, Jim Crow Press Daylesford 1993, ISBN 0646153595, 1st Published 1872.
This is one of those books that would have never seen the light of day if it
wasn't due to one of those fortuitous events that makes life interesting.
Tony Pagliaro an academic from the Italian department at Latrobe University
in Melbourne discovered a copy of Raffaello Carboni's book 'Gilburnia' on a
Rome street stall in 1990. Raffaello Carboni is well known for his
participation in the Eureka rebellion at Ballarat and his written account of
that rebellion. Although it was known that he had published another book
about his experiences in Australia in 1853-1855 'Gilburna', this book had
been thought to have been lost.
Tony Pagliaro's discovery of this work on a Rome street stall and his
subsequent translation and publication of this work in 1993 has thrown new
light on those forgotten people in the Eureka story the indigenous
inhabitants of the land. After a failed bout of digging for gold at Bendigo
in 1853, Carboni become a shepherd for one of the local landholders. In
late 1853, he made contact with the Tarrang Aborigines near the Victorian
town of Maldon. It's unclear whether he camped with them or next to them
but their plight touched his heart.
'Gilburnia' a text written in prose was meant to be "a mimed theatrical
spectacle with musical accompaniment".
Carboni has in 801 lines of verse been able in 1855 (He wrote this book
while in prison in Melbourne awaiting trial for High Treason) to tell the
story of Aboriginal dispossession and the effect their loss of land and
freedom had on them. He compares the materialistic lifestyle of the miners,
casting the leader of the miners Gruno as one of the pantheon of villains
the Aboriginals had to contend with, with the Aboriginal's non-materialistic
lifestyle. Carboni a keen observer highlights how the British dispossessed
the Aboriginals and used the British law to justify their destruction of
Australia's indigenous inhabitants.
'Gilburnia' is a fascinating insight into a period of Australian history
that is often dismissed, ignored and accepted by mainstream culture because
we're told from the Prime Minister down, you can't judge the past by the
standards of the present.
'Gilburnia' shows that human rights are universal and timeless. Raffaelo
Carboni wrote about indigenous Australians as human beings and as a refugee
himself, sympathised with their plight. A subtext within 'Gilburnia'
examines the role of women both in indigenous and European culture. In both
cases Carboni makes the point that ultimately they are seen and treated as
little more than chattels. Interestingly the principal character in
Carboni's play _Gilburnia' the daughter of the leader of the Tarrang
Aborigines challenges this proposition.
'Gilburnia' has never been performed as a theatrical ballet. As we approach
the 150th anniversary of the Eureka rebellion, it's time that this
forwarding looking and incisive theatrical production saw the light of day.
I'd like to thank my wife Ellen for giving me this book. 'Gilbunia' is
available from The BOOKSHELF, 116 BRIDGE RD, RICHMOND 3121, MELBOURNE,
AUSTRALIA. Tel:(03) 94282011.
P.S. Interestingly Carboni has incorporated some words from the original
indigenous language in this book.
Publisher: Jim Crow Press, P.O. Box 276, Daylesford 3460, AUSTRALIA,
Tel/Fax: (053) 487510