On December 31st 1788, a middle aged Aboriginal
man named Arabanoo was kidnapped by European
settlers in Manly
. This was the first time that white man had captured an Aboriginal person. Arabanoo was described as being 'about thirty years old, not tall but robustly made
' and also very agitated
-- which is no surprise seeing he had been kidnapped!
He was taken to Governor Phillip's home, where attempts were made to communicate with him. It was hoped that he could become a vital link between the Aboriginal people and white settlers. Over time he was given the nickname 'Manly', after his place of capture. While living at Governor Phillip's house, he was shown various pictures as an attempt to communicate. He knew what images represented people, and when shown a picture of her royal highness the Duchess of Cumberland he called out 'woman', a word in which he was taught to call the female convicts.
Arabanoo was horrified with some aspects of European culture. The Aboriginal people had never used such brutal forms of criminal punishment. Before white man had set foot on Australian soil, diseases such as smallpox, measles, chicken pox, influenza and tuberculosis were unheard of. The absence of disease among Aboriginal people meant that their immune systems were weak. When white people settled in Sydney Cove they brought along with them germs and disease, which resulted in many Aboriginal people dying in epidemics of these diseases.
When two sick Aboriginal children called Nabaree and Abaroo fell sick to smallpox, he nursed them back to good health. However Arabanoo caught the disease himself and died on 18th May, 1789. He had taught the white settlers many things about Aboriginal culture and helped the two cultures understand each other better.