In the 1860s Presbyterians set up a mission on the Avon River near Lake Wellington, Victoria, Australia. The area was known as  Ramahyuck, populated by the Gunaikurnai people. The missionaries set about  encouraging the Gunaikurnai to give up their freedom and culture for (as the Europeans saw it) protection, food and Christianity. The process was authoritarian and did not allow any tribal customs or ceremonies. Today all that remains of the mission is the Ramahyuck Cemetery, but a sense of what was can be had by exploring the Bataluk Cultural Trail.


In the early 1860s the Moravian missionary, Frederick Hagenauer established a mission station on the Avon River near Lake Wellington.

Hagenauer named the mission Ramahyuck; Ramah: Hebrew for ‘home’ and yuck: Aboriginal for ‘our’.

At Ramahyuck the Gunaikurnai gave up their freedom and culture for (as the Europeans saw it) protection, food and Christianity. Hagenauer was hardworking and authoritarian and did not allow any tribal customs or ceremonies.

The 1886 Aborigines Protection Act required Aboriginal people of mixed parentage and who were under 35 to leave missions and reserves. This included the Gippsland mission stations of Ramahyuck and Lake Tyers.

The Half-Caste Act was a crude attempt at assimilation in the expectation that within a generation or two Aboriginal people would merge into ‘mainstream’ Australia, being unrecognisably Aboriginal. It was an attempt to remove Aboriginal people from their families and to destroy their connections. Its effect was to push ‘half-castes’ into an environment without the advantage of extended family resources or skills. The Half-Caste Act caused much social distress, split families, exiled children, disrupted marriages and forced ‘full-blood’ people to leave long established homes for the sake of staying with children and grandchildren.


Between 1863 and 1900, around 29 buildings were built at the mission station. The Aboriginal Protection Act  resulted in a rapid decline in population. From 1905 to 1908 when Ramahyuck was closed, the original people of this mission were moved, some by force, to the Lake Tyers Mission. At present only the cemetery is left at Ramahyuck.

SOURCE: Bataluk Cultural Trail


About the missionaries

Griffith University has a web page detailing the motivation and conduct or the then Victorian Government & missionaries towards the First Nation People. 

The Bataluk Cultural Trail, located in eastern Victoria, designed to introduce visitors to the life and culture of the people of Gunaikurnai, a native of the Gippsland region. One of its 12 sites is the Friendly Abyginal Mission Funeral, whose history speaks of the impact of colonialism on the past and present of the Gunaikurnai people.

In 1863, the Abyigine Friendly Mission was founded by the Presbyterian Mission Committee, on the banks of the River Avon, near Lake Wellington on Gippsland. The word Friendlyyuck consists of the Hebrew word Friendly which means “Samuel’s house” and the word Gunaikurnai yuck which means “mother” or “alone.” Friedrich August Hagenauer, a Moravian missionary, oversees the settlement, which houses people from the country of Gunaikurnai.

The mission was arranged in the form of a hollow box, with Aboriginal houses on the north side and official mission buildings on the other side. This plan was also followed at other mission stations on Lake Tyers, Ebenezer and Lake Condah.


Source: Instant News PK