Who was Tarragindi Tasserone?

Tarragindi Tasserone

I’d always assumed Tarragindi was an Aboriginal name. However, the suburb was named after a South Sea Islander, Tarragindi Tasserone, originally from the Loyalty Islands. The story goes that he was kidnapped from there sometime in the late 19th century, escaped from his plantation, was taken in by Alfred Foote who found him sitting on the roadside. He worked for, and was a much-loved member of, the Foote family in Ipswich for about twenty-five years. He also worked, land clearing, for a time, for Mr and Mrs W.D. Grimes (maiden name Cribb) who were building a house and when they were discussing what to call the house Tarragindi suggested they call it, ‘Tarragindi’. The Footes, the Grimes and Tarra (as he was affectionately known) were all Salvation Army.

Foote family on holidays at Land's End, Southport, Queensland

The above photograph shows Tarragindi, in the back row, third from the end, at a Foote family gathering at Land's End, Southport, in 1905. According to oral history from Foote grand-daughters, during these holidays at Southport Tarra would row the family across to Main Beach. They remembered that he always had jelly beans in his pocket to give to the children who he would drive to school in a horse-drawn vehicle pulled by a horse called Charlie.

Tarra was one of the earliest members of the Army in Ipswich and over the years was a drummer, a door keeper and, for a long time, a standard bearer. Such was his prominence that his death, aged 63, on the 13th January, 1913, was covered in two separate articles by the Queensland Times. ‘Night after night he was seen bearing the flag at the head of the army as the soldiers marched along the streets of the city…’ Tarragindi is buried in the Ipswich General Cemetery along with members of the Foote and Cribb families. His final resting place is marked with a tombstone and is site 29 in the Ipswich Cemetery, Heritage Trail, booklet.

Tarragindi’s tombstone. Ipswich General Cemetery. Image courtesy of Ipswich City Council

Tarragindi’s tombstone. Ipswich General Cemetery. Image courtesy of Ipswich City Council

Kathleen Mary Fallon - John Oxley Library Fellow, State Library of Queensland

Kathleen Mary Fallon and Matthew Nagas are the 2013 recipients of the John Oxley Library Fellowship, SLQ. Their project is a documentation of Australian South Sea Islanders sites of significance from Tweed to the Torres Strait. Kathleen has, recently, been concentrating on the Brisbane/Ipswich area. There is a plethora of sites all the way up the coast which will be documented for the project.


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Further details on Tarragindi Tasserone can be found at Ipswich City Council website: http://www.ipswich.qld.gov.au/documents/heritage/tarra_gindi.pdf

I wonder what other places in Australia are named after an Australian South Sea Islander? Or is Tarragindi unique!