Jacksons Track – An Aboriginal story

In 1937, Daryl Tonkin and his older brother Harry bought 550 acres of Gippsland farmland and regrowth forest on the flat to the west of Jindivick.

A Kurnai man, Stuart Hood (Pop) and his family came to work for the Tonkin brothers and because there was plenty of work, good water and firewood other members of the Kurnai family came and set up camp on Jacksons Track too.

For over two decades Daryl and the Aboriginal community lived in relative peace. Daryl married tribally to Euphemia Mullett and decendants still live in the area today.

But by the late 1950s, changes were taking place in the rural economy and legislation.

The residents at the Jacksons Track camp were given a week to leave, with the promise of new homes with all amenities in local towns. These promises were not fulfilled and in fact most of the residents were moved to the fringe of Drouin to an area they called “The Highway Camp” and began to suffer ill health.

Life on Jacksons Track was not easy but the inhabitants were able to live in relative freedom and bring up their children in a healthy and caring environment. Its destruction was not an isolated event but part of a long history of dispossessions and betrayal of Aboriginal peoples throughout Australia.

The story of Daryl Tonkin has been preserved in the book Jackson’s Track: Memoir of a Dreamtime Place, which is a much loved Australian classic.