At Scarborough Boat
Harbour, we're ambivalent about Matty F. That's partly because of what we see to the N across Deception Bay: Bribie Island.
On the plus side, for one there's the chain of learning
: Jimmy Cook taught navigation
to Billy Bligh who taught navigation
to Matty F.
For two, there's the chart history
. I and may others have seen Matty's charts
on which he had marked Jimmy C's work
and then done his own surveying and hydrography. Most impressive.
For three, there's Matty's log of his work
in Moreton Bay. He was accurate and respectful and, for instance, recorded that on what we today call Bribie Island he saw and entered "houses" built and used by the indigenes and he saw and recorded (and perhaps stole) fishing
nets that he assessed as up to the quality of the best nets made in Europe
That's at a time when most other whitepfellas were ignoring the evidence of aboriginal agriculture, aquaculture, landscape modification and so on, denying that indigenes built anything more than a temporary humpy, all for the purpose of denying land rights and dehumanising indigenous Australians so that acts of genocide against them were 'excusable' and 'inevitable'.
On the negative side is what happened at what he called "Skirmish Point" on Bribie Island (today's charts
have a Skirmish Point, but it is not where Matty had his skirmish with the locals - that most likely happened at the location now called Bongaree, named after the indigenous man who worked with Matty).
What caused the Skirmish?
Matty records it in his logbook.
He went ashore, armed and with companions (including Bongaree) wearing a cabbage tree hat. It was not the fashion of the day among the Bribie locals to wear a cabbage tree hat. So one local man pointed at Matty and laughed.
Matty's response, recorded in his log, was to shoot the man dead!
Eventually most if not all of the people of that nation were killed. Not by Matty, but by other whitepfellas.
A few people still living claim their ancestors were part of that original nation.
There are a few bits of the landscape modification still visible. One suburb on the Redcliffe peninsula is called Kippa Ring after the bora ring, still visible, in which youth learned to be men
and from which they graduated as men
(that's why it is called Kippa ring: a kippa was a youth about to graduate as a man; sort of equivalent to an apprentice or a university student). On the mainland side of Pumicestone Passage
there's at least one other bora ring still extant.
Most of the highways around, from Gympie Road (part of Highway 1) running north from Brisbane
, the Anzac Avenue running from Highway 1 into the Redcliffe peninsula, and much of the roadway running from Highway 1 to the bridge over the Pumicestone Passage
, run on the alignment of aboriginal trading paths that were there before Matty arrived.
For that matter, Matty anchored somewhere off today's Bongaree, put a longboat down and had his crew row a way up Pumicestone Passage, into a creek, and then followed aboriginal trading paths to the Glasshouse Mountains. And they even climbed some way up one of the Glasshouse Mts.
So you can see why we're all conflicted about Matty F.
The land always was, always will be, aboriginal land. Pay the rent, whitepfella.