Walyer

Walyer (c 180031), north-west Aborigine. The arrival of Europeans in the north-west undermined traditional Aboriginal social and economic structures, generating a group of disparate Aborigines under the leadership of Walyer, a Tomeginer woman from Table Cape. After a rift with her tribe, Walyer, joined by her two brothers and two sisters, spent some time with sealers. On return to the mainland their proficiency in the use of firearms granted them inordinate power over the relatively defenceless Aboriginal families that still inhabited the coastal region. Walyer was joined by other displaced Aborigines, creating a band that ranged from Port Sorell to Cape Grim, raiding black and white alike, and according to Pevay killing Aborigines in the process. Captured by a sealer in 1830, Walyer, now called Mary Ann, was handed over to George Augustus Robinson and exiled to Gun Carriage Island, where she died. Some members of the Aboriginal community take a contrary view and see Walyer as a resistance leader.

Further reading: I McFarlane, 'Aboriginal society in north west Tasmania', PhD thesis, UT, 2002.

Ian McFarlane

[There are two entries on this topic, from two points of view.]