Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemorative Event

Bass Coast Reconciliation Network – News Release

The Bass Coast Reconciliation Network extends an invitation to the community to come together to commemorate the lives of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, two Tasmanian Aboriginal men who were tragically hanged in Melbourne in 1842.

This annual event serves as a solemn remembrance and acknowledgment of the injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during colonisation.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were convicted for the alleged murder of two whale hunters in the Western Port area and subsequently became the first individuals publicly hanged in Melbourne. Originally labelled ‘bloodthirsty outlaws,’ they are now rightfully recognized as freedom fighters who resisted colonial occupation.

The commemorative event will take place at Wonthaggi’s Wishart Reserve on Saturday, 20 January 2024 between 10am-12pm. The ceremony will offer an opportunity for the community to gather and honour the memory of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, and will include a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, guest speakers, and a collective remembrance. All community members are welcome to attend.

Mary Mutsaers, a representative of the Bass Coast/South Gippsland Reconciliation Group said, “The Bass Coast/South Gippsland Reconciliation Group is honoured to be part of the 2024 Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner commemoration. From a small beginning, this moving commemoration has grown into an annual event attended by over 200 people. By gathering together, we acknowledge our commitment to truth-telling and justice for all.”

Uncle Anthony Egan, Elder Bunurong, shared poignant reflections on the historical injustice, “Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first people to be hanged by the Government in the District of Port Phillip in 1842. This injustice of wrongful treatment toward our Aboriginal Clansman leading to their deaths was abhorrent. Such complexity of the times; these freedom fighters were doing what all did, which was to protect the Peoples of our Nations. We, therefore, honour and pay respect to them on the 20th January each year and acknowledge all who suffered. Now with ancestors in peace.”

Kate Adams, a representative of the Bass Coast Reconciliation Network, highlighted the network’s commitment to creating a culturally safe space, “The Bass Coast Reconciliation Network is proud to support this annual event. We want to provide a culturally safe space for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the broader community to come together to acknowledge and remember this horrific act in our State’s history. Truth-telling is an important step towards reconciliation, and this is an opportunity for non-Indigenous people to listen, learn, and reflect.”

The Bass Coast Reconciliation Network comprises members from various organisations, including Westernport Water, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Bass Coast Shire Council, Bass Coast Health, Myli – My Community Library, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, South Gippsland Water, Bunurong Land Council, Bass Coast South Gippsland Reconciliation Group, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community members. The collaborative efforts of these organisations and community aim to acknowledge and celebrate this important date of historical significance.

To learn more about Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner and their significant role in our history, visit www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-melbourne/melbourne-profile/aboriginal-culture/Pages/tunnerminnerwait-and-maulboyheener.aspx


For additional information about the Bass Coast Reconciliation Network, please visit www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/reconciliation.

Bass Coast Reconciliation Network member logos



Media enquiries to Manager Communications and Engagement on 1300 720 711 or email: communications@westernportwater.com.au