The Story of Bonrabare (Little Dick)

The Story of Bonrabare (Little Dick) (c1810 – post-1840) Bonrabare was known to the officials in the Brisbane Water area prior to his capture for crimes committed in 1834. In April 1831, the magistrate recorded that Little Dick lived in the district of Brisbane Water. It was known that in 1835 Bonrabare was about 25 years old and had a wife and two sons. Bonrabare, “Monkey” and “Charley Myrtle” were apprehended in early 1835 and sent to Sydney Gaol. Bonrabare was tried in Sydney. He and several other Aborigines were arraigned for burglary in the dwelling of Mr Alfred Hill Jaques of Brisbane Water and taking there from tea, sugar, beef and sundry wearing apparel. Rev Threlkeld acted as interpreter and Messrs Therry and Poole acted as their Advocates. The trial was held before Justice Burton on 11 February 1835. Defendants were: Little Dick, Whip-em-up, Monkey, Charley Muscle, Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong Jemmy, and Tom Jones. Jaques gave the principal evidence. He said that three groups of Aborigines joined together throwing stones and a spear, he presented his fowling piece (small gun) at them, and the spear hit Rust, a convict. Jaques stated he thought there were about 60 Aborigines in the first group and around 20 to 30 joined later. Witnesses said identification was difficult because the men were sometimes called by the place where they were born, and sometimes by the place where they reside, they looked alike and had changed since the time of events. Notwithstanding, Whip-em-up, Monkey, Currinbong Jemmy and Tom Jones were found guilty.

Little Dick, Charley Muscle, Little Freeman, Leggamy and Major were found not guilty. Bonrabare (Little Dick) appeared in another trial on the same day. This time he was convicted of burglary in the dwelling of J Bloodsworth of Duralong, Brisbane Water and “putting in fear” William Barden. Little Dick was found guilty of stealing sugar, tea, gunpowder, two waistcoats, two shirts, one jacket and flour or soap. He received a sentence of death recorded, which usually meant a sentence of transportation for life. The convicted Aborigines were confined on Goat Island in Sydney Harbour where they cut stone and received some education in English and Christian Religion. After completing his sentence, Bonrabare returned to Brisbane Water. His name appears on the Return of Aboriginal Natives taken in May 1840. (Blair, 2003, 57-58).