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November 08th 2017 print

Roger Franklin

Race Theory at the Stawell Gift

In 1883, Aboriginal athlete Robert Kinnear chalked an easy win over a field of white rivals in the classic Victorian footrace. His victory was recorded in the press and views on athletics sought by reporters decades later. Yet today he is presented as a victim of racist oppression

belinda IIIn matters indigenous, proud Wotjobaluk woman Belinda Duarte (left) is something of a fixture on Victorian bodies and panels devoted to Aboriginal betterment. As her Wheeler Centre biography puts it

“Duarte holds a range of positions including as co-chair of Reconciliation Victoria, advisory board member of the Koori Youth Council, panel member of the Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel, director of Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, director of WasteAid, and member of the Victorian Regional Churchill Fellowship Committee.”

A gifted athlete in her day and woman of broad achievement since, some might view the video interview below and suspect that, where reconciliation is concerned, reconciling a family myth of racist oppression with the sanguine facts of a once-prominent ancestor’s life and achievements might be a good place to start. Thirty-nine seconds into the clip, Ms Duarte explains that one of the highlights of her younger life was competing in the women’s events at the Stawell Gift athletic carnival. The significance of that moment (emphasis added)

“One of the special experiences I had was competing at Stawell … it was special because my greatuncle was the first Aboriginal man to win the Stawell Gift and at that stage he wasn’t acknowledged as the winner …”

Ms Duarte’s greatuncle was Robert “Bobbie” Kinnear and the notion that he was denied the winner’s laurels is a far greater mystery than accounts of his triumph, which are very easy to find at the National Library online archive, Trove.

According to the Melbourne Sportsman of April 4, 1883, two days after the event,

The various races were closely contested, the fifteen placed men on Saturday in the 130 yards Easter Gift struggling stubbornly for the prizes, the winner turning up literally in a dark horse from the Mission Station near Dimboola, best known as Bobby Kinnear.

kinnear clip

 

 

 

 

 

 

kinnear portraitThe correspondent’s little joke about Robert Kinnear being “a dark horse” would not go down well today, but there is no denying he was accorded both the winner’s honour and a measure of local fame that endured until his death in 1935 at the age of 84. Indeed, he was so well known and respected that painter Percy Leason sought him to paint his portrait (right).

The Weekly Times obituary summarising a long and colourful life, with accounts of tribal war, attempted infanticide and the Gift victory, can be read here.

Far from being mistreated, Kinnear reminisced at the age of 70 in the Sporting Globe of the courtesy and respect shown him by the Stawell Athletics Club.  The Trove facsimile is barely legible in parts but this sentence is clear as day:

kinnear clip 11

Ms Duarte will no doubt be tickled pink to learn her great-uncle, far from being shunned, was honoured, respected and consulted well into his final years. Indeed, Robert Kinnear’s life, from the savagery of tribal life and his father’s attempt to kill him to memorialised athlete might prove useful in encouraging the young Aborigines she aims to save from suicide via her Culture is Life organisation to understand how white and black Australians are united by history, rather than divided.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online.

Comments [7]

  1. hwka says:

    Wonderful thing about the internet – these bs artists can be exposed by researchers as there is a remarkable amount of material preserved in microfiche and old newspaper records.
    Takes a lot of effort though – full marks once again to Roger Franklin.
    Of course the press are generally not at all interested in anything but black armband history.
    This further highlights the importance of reputable sources like Quadrant – and why I will always be a supporter.

  2. StephenD says:

    On first reading this article I assumed it must be satire. Belinda Duarte obviously has neither the name nor the appearance of a “Wotjobaluk woman”. Presumably she is not “Wotjobaluk” in any meaningful sense of the term, unless the “Wotjobaluk” were con artists.
    Thanks to Quadrant for continuing its invaluable role of exposing the Indigenous Victimhood industry.

  3. en passant says:

    This year the whole family down to the grand kids took the DNA Test (we really just wanted to be sure we got the right kids from the hospital all those years ago).
    Not only do I have a potential conflict of a dual nationality, I am truly a world citizen with nine ancestral DNA’s from across the globe. I don’t feel insulted any more when trolls call me a ‘mongerel’ …

    Three of the minor areas: Caucasus (5%), Italy (7%) and India (2%) are complete mysteries, though I could make a couple of wild guesses. My preference is to have an ancestor in Alexander’s Army (a ‘Man Who Would be King’ sort of fellow.)

    My point is that the percentage of genetics left in any ‘cultural warrior’ after 3-4 generations of inter-marriage is so diluted as to be meaningless – unless you can make a $$ out of it. My children never learned the foreign language of their mother – a case of discrimination and abuse by not wasting their time in perpetuating something of little use to them.

    Anyway, now that my Indian heritage has come to light I have adopted an Indian accent and now call myself Apu (after the Simpsons cartoon character). To add to my diversity as I seek a grant, I am adopting the 19th Gender Bender variation – because I can. I have no idea what it is, but it should get me paid quite handsomely for my views on a quango.

    • hwka says:

      I admit to making several attempts to broaden my DNA history.
      Sadly they were never consummated.
      That’s my story and I am sticking to it – particularly after that incident on Emirates where the aircraft was diverted to offload a certain husband and wife following a full-on punch-up on board.
      Seems wifey used sleeping hubbie’s index finger to unlock his mobile phone and discovered a pandora’s box of information.
      As I reflect on that I am declaring all the foregoing – save for the onboard incident – to be completely fictional.
      I have set my mobile phone to “factory default” but that is completely coincidental.

  4. Doubting Thomas says:

    You are evi, en passant. I like that in a person.

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      Evil, too.

      • en passant says:

        DT,
        Let me tell you about my brush with the Trump Dirt Dossier in the 1990′s

        I have worked in Moscow several times (totalling about a year), so can vouch that the following is true.

        I was in Moscow on business in the 1990′s. At breakfast one morning I was joined by an Australian couple who told the following story: She explained that this was a working second honeymoon as her hubby had spent a lot of time away over the years, but she had always stayed home to bring up the family (their kids just kept popping out 9-months after every long trip, though they never figured out why …).

        Alone in their hotel room she reminded him that on their wedding night they watched some TV, then shared a spa bath, drank champagne with a spiced chicken salad before retiring to bed.

        They poured the bath and were about to climb in when the doorbell rang. He answered and the concierge brought in a tray of spiced chicken salad and a bottle of French champagne – compliments of the Hotel.

        On seeing the shock on the couple’s faces he smiled and explained: “In the USA you watched TV before your bath, but in Moscow the TV watches you”.

        I asked them how was the rest of your night? “We ate the salad and drank the champagne then went to sleep” they said sadly.

        Too much TV and champagne can do that to you …

        So, would Trump have fallen for the honeytrap when he has a FIRST LADY, like Melania for a wife?

        Highly improbable, but let’s just impeach him anyway …

        Two examples, one fact, one fiction are are worth noting: Sukarno was given photos of his nocturnal gymnastics by the Russian Ambassador when he was in Moscow. It backfired as Sukarno copied and sent the explicit photos to his colleagues and other countries embassies with the boast that this showed what strong virile man he was!

        The fictional version is in the James Bond movie, “From Russia with Love”. In the final scene Connery is checking the secretly filmed bedroom performance He is cruising on a gondola in Venice. He throws the film overboard and comments to ‘Bianca’(?) “We can do better than that.”

        Maybe not, but never stop trying …