Aborigines, disease and land hunger in the Brisbane Waters region

Aborigines, disease and land hunger in the Brisbane Waters region. Charlewal and Dick guide an unnamed “excursionist” – a seeming land speculator – to Brisbane Waters. The party meets a group of Aboriginal people near Terrigal who are recovering from a terrible sickness. While all the survivors have to varying degrees suffered from the illness, one man tells that he is still “murri budgel” or very sick. The rest are young and plump. The visitor publishes his account of his travels with Charlewal and Dick, and his effusive evaluation of Brisbane Waters: “certainly there never was a lake that presented so many eligible sites for building on…the inexhaustible body of sea shells, offer a valuable manure for generations to come. It is difficult to believe the common opinion that these shells have been deposited by former natives, because it implies a populousness which the present state of the blacks would hardly warrant. We added to the heap, by prevailing on our blacks, Charlewal and Dick, to dive for mud oysters, and when roasted at the bush fire, they were excellent”. News of the visitor’s presence spreads far and wide. Before long, many Aboriginal men and women from “neighbouring tribes” gather around him. While some come from Wollembi, others walk longer distances. They ask for “bacco”, possibly in exchange for the resources he has taken (“Journal of an Excursion to Brisbane Water”, The Australian, 20 December 1826, with courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).