[content warning: this story contains descriptions of colonial violence and sexual abuse]
Kalungku Kauwa-Paitya Wintira was a Kaurna woman belonging to the Patpa Miyurna (the southern Kaurna clan) and her country was Yarnkalyilla, Patpangga on the
Fleurieu Peninsula. She was born at Manungga in the Yankalilla region in South Australia around 1817.
In 1823, aged about six years old, Kalungku was kidnapped at
Rapid Bay by British sealers James Allan, William Johnson and two Aboriginal men. Kalungku recalled the kidnapping:
the blackfellows came sneaking and laid hold of my hand; the other girl ran away. The white man put a rope around my neck like a dog, tied up my hands.
They then took her to
Kangaroo Island where she lived for some time. They named her ‘Sarah’. Life with the whalers and sealers on Kangaroo Island was harsh. She witnessed violence and sexual assault on the Aboriginal women and violence on the Aboriginal men. Kalungku recalled these brutal events:
They cut them with broad sealer’s knives, they cut a piece of flesh off a woman's buttock, and cut off a boy's ear. The boy died in consequence of his wounds.
In 1829, sealers William Johnson & Harry Wally tied Kalungku up and forced her on board the schooner ‘Henry’ owned by John Griffith. She was taken to the Islands in the
Bass Strait where Johnson sold her to William Dutton, who was a crew member on the Henry. In July 1829, Kalungku was taken to Portland Bay where Dutton set up a whaling station. During her time at Portland, William Dutton physically and sexually assaulted her and in 1830 Kalungku had a daughter with Dutton called Sophia. In 1831, Dutton abandoned Kalungku in Portland and went to Tasmania, where he met Renaninghe Kotaternner, a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman. In 1834, William Dutton returned to Portland with Renaninghe and the Henty Brothers to set up a whaling station.
In 1832, on
Julia Percy Island near Portland, Kaungku had a second child, Johnny Franklin, whose father was an Aboriginal sealer from Sydney. Later, Kalungku was taken to ‘ Woody Island’, now named Anderson Island, off Flinders Island, Tasmania. There, she lived with ‘Abyssinia Jack’, presumably an African American sealer, two European whalers, three mainland Aboriginal women and five of their children, until 1837.
In 1836, William Dutton and Abyssinia Jack visited
Woody Island. Dutton took Kalungku’s child Sophia to live with John Griffith’s family in Launceston, Tasmania.
In June 1837, Kalungku left the sealers and took refuge at Wybalenna Aboriginal Mission on
Flinders Island. The Christian mission was established by George Augustus Robinson in 1834, during the Tasmanian Wars, for the purpose of removing Aboriginal people off Tasmania.
Kalungku was taken into domestic service by George Robinson, who changed her name from ‘Sarah’ to ‘Charlotte’. During this time she became good friends with Truganini. In January 1838, Charles Robinson (the son of George Robinson) recorded her biography and 80 words in Kaurna language.
In February 1839, George Robinson took Kalungku, her seven year old son Johnny Franklin, and 13 Tasmanian Aboriginal people, to
Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, to act as language interpreters between Robinson and Victorian Aboriginal people. By November, Robinson realised that they spoke different languages and he requested to the Government that he be relieved of them. He gave Kalungku's son Johnny Franklin to a family of colonisers in Melbourne.
In June 1840, Kalungku and Truganini escaped from George Robinson. Robinson’s son, Charles Robinson, went searching for them and found them living with European shepherds at
Point Nepean. Charles Robinson tried to force them back to the land his father occupied, but they escaped again. In August, he searched again for the two women but only found Truganini.
In September 1841, five
Tasmanian Aboriginal people led an eight-week campaign of armed raids against Victorian colonisers from the Dandenong to Western Port. In the raids they injured four men and two whalers were killed near Western Port.
In November the military and Native police captured and arrested them. Two men, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, were hanged in
Melbourne and three women, Truganini, Planobeena and Pyterruner, were sent back to Tasmania. Although Kalungku’s whereabouts were unknown at the time, it is possible that she participated in the raids and evaded capture.
In 1842, Kalungku was reported to be still in
Melbourne, to stay close to her son. Kalungku returned to working as a domestic servant for George Augustus Robinson and after he left for England she went to live with his daughter Maria Allen (Robinson) on Clarke Island in the Bass Strait until 14 July 1849. She left for River Forth in Tasmania to be united after 13 years with her daughter Sophia Frances Lee (Dutton). The Lees moved to Launceston in 1852. Kalungku died on the 17th of May 1854 and was buried as ‘Charlotte Robinson’.
Dooley, G & Clode, 2018, The First Wave: Exploring early coastal contact history in South Australia, Chapter Exile: Kalungku, ‘Emma’, and the sealers of the southern coast, Wakefield Press, Kent Town.
Amery, Rob, 1996, Kaurna in Tasmania: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Journal of Aboriginal History ANU, Canberra