Seminar - Reinterpreting a bit of Cape York History: Denial and its consequences

Join us in person at the ANU, or via zoom. Please note there is a new webinar link to register with.

This presentation will be based on a 2021 paper published is the Historic Records of Australian Science journal A re-examination of William Hann’s Northern Expedition of 1872 to Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, written by Peter Taylor and Nicole Huxley.

Both speaker have a personal connection to the expedition, with great grandparents who participated. Through a combination of oral history and written accounts, Peter and Nicole have provided a different perspective of this expedition.  Nicole’s great, great grandfather was Jerry the Indigenous guide on the expedition and Peter’s great grandfather was the appointed geologist on the expedition.

This collaboration discusses the poor leadership and angst associated with this expedition, as well as the suppression of scientific findings and silencing of the role Indigenous knowledge played in this expedition.  The legacy of these silences prevails to this day and still impacts on the Girramay and Gudjala people of North Queensland (not to mention other groups on Cape York Peninsula).   


About the speakers

Peter Taylor is a former strategic policy advisor with a long record of leadership and policy innovation in the natural resources sector. This includes thirty years’ experience facilitating Indigenous land and sea management policy outcomes within both the Australian Government and Indigenous organisations. Reform of national conservation policies relating to multiple use protected areas in both the marine and terrestrial sectors has also been a significant feature of Peter’s work within Government. Peter is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University’s Fenner School for Environment and Society. He continues to pursue these issues through the University. In addition, he is also Vice President of the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, a partnership providing wildlife recovery programs, research, tours and other conservation services to selected ACT Parks. Peter is based in Canberra.

Nicole Huxley is a highly respected Gudjala woman through her great great grandmother Topsy Hann and Jerry a Girramay man (precise heritage is yet to be confirmed through further research).   She is living in North Queensland and has a long history of fighting for recognition of her people (in the general Burdekin Region of North Queensland). She is well known for her work helping to restore independent operation and management of Indigenous organisations. Nicole is deeply committed to restoring cultural identity and respect of her people including the re-telling of history to better reflect the struggles they have had in acquiring land rights. This also includes promoting truth telling about the murders and massacres in North Queensland and how the denial of this history still impacts on communities. She is currently Manager of the Jumbun organisation helping them to build independence and a strong voice for their small community. Nicole and her family have also been actively trying to promote greater recognition of the role that her great great grandfather played in the 1872 William Hann expedition.