Seven years after King Billy’s death, Truganinni stood alone, arguably the most important living relic of her Tasmanian race. She would walk the streets of Hobart Town, resembling Queen Victoria in her voluminous skirts and headdress. She quite enjoyed the curiosity and finger pointing wherever she went. And she could go anywhere.
Towards the end, she appeared to bear no malice towards her race’s persecutors. Growing stoutish, she smoked a pipe and enjoyed a daily jug of beer. But she began to grow ill and as her death loomed, so did the memories of what happened to King Billy’s body.
On 8 May 1876, at the approximate age of 73, Truganinni died. She is said to have cried out, ‘Don’t let them cut me up. Bury me behind the mountains.’
Only hours after the news, body-snatchers in the Royal Society of Tasmania started to bark for her body, as they had successfully done regarding King Billy. The government fought toe and nail politically to fight them off. Did it matter to the old girl?
No, she was off regally floating across the Dreamtime skies of Australia, raising hell with her beloved Nanna, on their Shag Magnet anyway. By then the mission on Flinders Island of Act 1, and McKay’s house in Hobart Town in Act 3, were the least she wanted to put a bomb under...
Bill Reed is a novelist, playwright and short-story writer. He has worked as editor and journalist both in Australia and overseas, and has won national competitions for drama and for long and short fiction.