The tragic history of Wybalenna holds great sadness for Aboriginal Tasmanians, and when it was handed back in 1999, Lillian Wheatley was overwhelmed with emotions. "Up until then, I'd only camped there. We knew what it was, but there was no real connection up until then," she said. "It was really spooky being there again. It's an awful place. You feel the sadness when you're there. "But we were proud that we achieved this, we were staunch about it. It's about respecting the people." In 1833, the site on the west coast of Flinders Island was chosen to house the remaining 57 Aboriginal people removed from their traditional lands in Tasmania following the "black line" campaign. Despite being promised they could later return to their homes, it never eventuated. The few who survived Wybalenna were sent to a neglected camp at Oyster Cove. Ms Wheatley grew up nearby in the north of Flinders Island, gaining her Aboriginality from her mother before later discovering her fisherman father also had Aboriginal lineage. The island's population was actually larger than today, and she came from a huge family - both parents came from families of 13. It was a difficult childhood where racism was an every day fact of life. Segregation was rife on the island. Aboriginal people could not drink in the bar, and eventually had a separate room - the "snake pit" or "bull pit" - provided. TASMANIAN ELDER STORIES: Wybalenna always had a strong pull, but it took immense struggle to bring it back into Aboriginal hands. "When we took it over, the racism erupted on the island," Ms Wheatley said. "Farmers thought Wybalenna should be with them, they thought things had changed now, that we didn't need it." Ms Wheatley decided to live nearby after it was handed back. The racial tension was impossible to ignore. Her children, aged 6 and 7 at the time, even experienced it firsthand. "It was NAIDOC Week so we dressed the kids in Aboriginal colours and sent them to school. The bus driver refused to drive my children to school," she said. When pegs were put in the ground to honour those who had died at the site, an unknown person took them away and destroyed them. "It was a racist incident, but we still don't know to this day who did it," Ms Wheatley said. She eventually left the island to spend four years in Western Australia and some time in Victoria. Upon her return, she noticed that attitudes had started to change. Flinders Island started to become more of a haven for artists and sea changers, but racist attitudes persisted among a minority. Ms Wheatley doesn't stand for it, though, having endured it throughout her younger years. "If there were any issues, I wouldn't back down from it at all, most people are aware of that I think!" she laughed. "I've been a staunch one on the island." Related: How George Augustus Robinson's journals are key to reviving palawa kani Ms Wheatley's passion for cultural understanding drew her towards her ultimate calling in life: passing this down to the younger generations. She regularly holds cultural education sessions for children on Flinders Island, including visits to Wybalenna. "Children are open to learning and listening," Ms Wheatley said. "They don't have opinions yet, and I think that's the only way to really change attitudes: through children." They also have a plan for children to help revegetate Wybalenna. "I'm going to put it right back into the children's hands," Ms Wheatley said. While giving children an understanding of Aboriginal culture is important, she believes a wider recognition of Tasmania's troubled history is crucial to the state achieving genuine reconciliation. But at the moment, it's still some way off. "You're never going to change anything without acknowledging that this has happened and you do move on - there's no blame - this happened a long time ago, I don't blame anyone here today, it's acknowledgment and acceptance of the true history," Ms Wheatley said. Wybalenna: Flinders Island Aboriginal Association pushes for control of historic site "Then we can move on." She looks to other parts of Tasmania where convict history is celebrated, but acknowledgment of Aboriginal history is non-existent. It may be at the very opposite end of the state, but Port Arthur is a prime example. "We talk about Port Arthur as a historical part of Tasmania - have a look at Wybalenna. That is the very basis of our history, not Port Arthur," Ms Wheatley said. "Everyone should know the story of Wybalenna. They should know the truth of what happened, no sugar coating. "It's about understanding, so people have an understanding of what our ancestors went through, and how that's generational."