Wallati retires to Moon Island at the entrance to Lake Macquarie

1840s Wallati retires to Moon Island at the entrance to Lake Macquarie where local Aborigines understand his speech. Rev Threlkeld observes that Wallatu’s language is part of a larger language family comprising Darkinjung, Awabakal and Wonnarua dialects. Of Wallati, Threlkeld observed shortly after his death:“This very individual, Wullati, or as the white folk used to call him, Wollaje…lived near to our establishment, he was esteemed highly by the tribes and in an increasing ratio as they were nigh or more distant from this individual. No doubt he formed the delightful subject of the evening Soirees, and also of their midnight dreams. He favoured me several times with his company, and perhaps thought it an honor when he made proposals to me for the matrimonial alliance with one of the members of my family, much to the amusement of us all. He was a very old, thin, small headed, bald man, of a most cheerful disposition, with a smile always on his countenance, except in the presence of strangers; and whenever he came to our tribe, his company was much enjoyed, an evening feast was provided, and the choicest tit-bits were set before the toothless guest. Oft were his gibes wont to set their table, on the green grass, in a roar of laughter, and their festive board, generally the bark of a tree, was enlivened before it ended in the midnight hour with his song and dance, assisted with his own voice and Musical accompaniment of two sticks, beating time to the divine inspiration of the sacred muse. The following song composed by Wullati, translated and published, some years ago by Mrs E.H. Dunlop, is an excellent specimen of the Poetry of the Aborigines, and ought not to be lost, though the Poet…is no more. (Waugh, Waugh’s Australian Almanac, 1858, 70-72; O’Leary, “Giving the Indigenous a Voice”, 2009, 91)