During 1829, Willoughy Bean reports to the Colonial Secretary that Chughi was not present at the time of distribution of “Rugs to the Natives”, although he was deserving of one. Chughi must have held some important position in the tribe as Bean designated him “Chief of the Broken Bay, Narara”. What is more, Bean reported that “Chief” Chughi and “Mullet, King of Wyong” were among the “Natives” who stated a month earlier in the Colonial Secretary’s Office that they had not received Rugs due to them. (Quarterly & Other Returns, 1826-1840, in Blair, 2003, 66).

This may have been one of the earliest delegations by Aboriginal leaders to colonial authorities seeking better treatment of their people.

Number of convicts working on new line of road to the north has reached 558. (Returns of the Colony)

1830c Birth of Mary Ann Bugg at Cooyal station, Her mother Charlotte is a Worimi or Biripai woman. Mary’s father is ex convict Jemmy Bugg who works as a shepherd for the Australian Agricultural Company near Stroud.

Free settlers are taking up much of the land in the Hunter Valley and the export of farm produce is considerable.

Aboriginal workers in the Wollombi District. Aboriginal people are working in fledgling agricultural and pastoral industries. Many are skilled in the “use of the sickle” in wheatfields during harvest time. (Maitland Mercury, 18 January 1854, compliments of Ian Webb, Maitland Historical Society; Cessnock Eagle, 28 October 1949, compliments Carl Toipo).

Others work hard on the cattle. This includes Yarrangadi Boney and Tallumberi Dick who muster cattle for James Milson on “Byora” station (now Milson’s Arm): “The dawn was breaking and everybody was astir. The blackboys, Yarrangadi Boney and Tallumberi Dick, had brought up the horses and were engaged in saddling them. The three Milsons…came into the yard where the men were awaiting orders. David Milson, who was in charge issued them…’Now Reagan…you with Mr John and the boys can go up to Narrone Creek, follow the ridge then start and bring them down…Later in the morning…the stockmen worked the mob down the steep sides of the gulliles…and drafted [them] into smaller yards for branding…As the day wore on and the cattle were drafted and counted it became evident that there was a serious shortage. David…set out towards ‘Big Yengo’ and John with one of the blacks rode up the Wattagan to ascertain what had become of the rest”. (WVPA, p40-41).

War veterans receive land grants along Wollombi Brook. MWPA, 91.

Peter Ogilvie obtains the term “Mt Yengo” from Aborigines in the upper Colo catchment. (Ford 398-406)

Early settlement is initially confined to the main valleys. They are all occupied by the 1830s. Between 1840 and 1870, settlement is extended into hill country. The lower Valley is characterised by smaller agricultural holdings and the drier upper regions by large pastoral estates. (courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society)

Former attorney-general of NSW, Saxe Bannister publishes his observations on Aborigines of NSW and events near the Hunter River:“Justice towards [Aborigines] on our part has never been thought of…English rules…render it exceedingly difficult to cause the law to be put in force against murderers and other heinous wrong-doers towards the natives; and when…conviction has been obtained, the government has sympathized too much with the oppressing class, and too little with the oppressed, to permit justice to have its course. About 1799 several white people committed a murder…near Windsor, on the Hawkesbury, and were convicted. The case however, was referred to England, and the culprits ultimately escaped the punishment due to crime. In 1812, a committee of the House of Commons…noticed the unequal dispensing of justice between white people and natives…In [1826] a black man was shot in cold blood at the stake by the soldiers upon Hunter’s River; and other outrages of a like nature in the same district were necessarily stimulated by the illegal proceedings of the Governor of the Colony. The administration of the law being then…taken out of the proper channel, the natural consequence was, the commission of the most cruel barbarities by inferior persons. The whole transactions relative to the military execution on Hunter’s River, in 1826, and the trial in 1827, of Lieut. Low, ought to be laid before Parliament…if all the…facts are correctly stated…they present…points of the greatest importance to every reflecting mind:- (1)That the natives have a keen sense of justice. (2) That if assured of justice being done by us, they will repress their dispositions to do it in their own way. (3) That by activity and firmness justice may be carried into effect. (4) That the partial influence of local white feelings prevents the execution of justice by us. (Bannister’s Humane Policy; or Justice to the Aborigines, London, 1830, Appendix 5, quoted in Blair, 2003, 131).

Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell works on a coherent map of the lower Hunter region. (Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society). He creates a new Counties map. Mitchell insists on detailed plotting of streams to form his own territorial boundaries, that of Land Parishes (Ford 394) He also instructs his surveyors to use Aboriginal place-names:“I will not suffer any surveyor to give to any river or place any other than the proper native names” and “the true natives’ (names) of all these mountains being of importance”.

Aboriginal trackers work with the Wollombi police through to the 1930s. One “alert and sagacious” Aboriginal tracker together with Magistrate of Wollombi David Dunlop, pursue the Tunnel Gang for several hours through ravines and over precipices on foot where horses can not go until about eight miles off the northern road all tracks fail. (The Australian, 3 September 1840) The local tracker and his family live in a house near the Wollombi Court until the 1930s (Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society)


December. Cambo at Segenhoe. Cambo reluctantly poses to be sketched during a visit by Sir Thomas Mitchell to the Page River region (Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 233-34).

The township of Wollombi is surveyed, with allotments offered for sale in 1833 By the early 1830s, most of Wollombi township is settled. Australia’s first soldiers settlement is established at Wollombi, with discharged members of the NSW regiments receiving (from 1830) grants of 100 acres along the Wollombi Brook. The main industry is timber getting. Wheat, butter, barley, beef, oats and wine is also produced. (Hoipo 2004:4).

Completion and opening to the public of the Great North Road. It reaches from Castle Hill to Wollombi (128 km north of Sydney) Route: Wiseman’s Ferry, St Albans, Laguna, and Wollombi. (Finch route). At Wollombi, road diverges to Singleton to north and Cessnock/Maitland to north east. Before the road commenced, only a few large land grants eg along Cockfighter’s Creek (lower Wollombi Brook) to John Blaxland etc. Wollombi becomes centre for farming community and for travellers on Great North Road. Vast number of historic Aboriginal sites in surrounding countryside which is thought to have been used as a ceremonial meeting place as people from hundreds of kilometres away visit the area and made their way to Mt Yengo, a place of great significance. Yengo is criss-crossed with Aboriginal routes used by many highland and coastal clans where reciprocal visits were often arranged to exploit seasonally abundant food. The Old Great North Road is an Aboriginal travelling route shown to surveyors by local people.

Laguna House (Inn) is constructed. MWPA, 91.

Threlkeld transfers to his own land grant from Governor Darling at Ebenezer (Toronto) on the western side of the lake which he names “Ebenezer” mission. In the next ten years he consolidates his work; with the assistance of tribal leader, Biraban he masters the dialect, acts as interpreter for Aborigines on trial in Sydney. The station became a show place and is visited by the United States Exploring Expedition (Gunson, ADB)

Boni and Wallatu. Aborigines from the Hawkesbury/Hunter ranges including Boni and Wallatu the composer journey to Tuggerah Lakes and Lake Macquarie to visit the mission. (Ford p332)


76 land grants totalling 22,000 acres for 67 settlers in Brisbane Water District. (Blair, 2000, 12).

Emery (“Lawyer”) of the Belmont Tribe in North Richmond is 36 years of age and has one wife. He is recorded on the Return of Aboriginal natives at Windsor in 1832, 1834, 1838 and 1841. (Brook, 1st edit, 58).

Death of King Bungaree, Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe.

1832c Jackey Jackey (who guides Edmund Kennedy to Cape York) is born in the Hunter Valley in the area later known as Muswellbrook. (Source: Australian Museum, 2014).

Darug child, Mary Thomas is born in the Black Town road camp at Freeman’s reach (different from Blacktown on Richmond Road); a 1832 birth certificate names a father as Henry Styles and mother as Mary Thomas. However, her Marriage certiicate 30 yrs later asserts  Maria Byrnes and Henry Thomas. ..... Freeman’s Reach is closely associated with Sackville Aboriginal Reserve. W229


Government surveyor, Felton Mathew, discovers John Grace’s limeburning activities and settlement, hitherto out of sight up Marra Marra Creek. His party records seeing five “miserable” abodes, log huts “covered with bark” which are “so utterly…secluded from all approach”. Deeds are later issued for the occupied land at Grace’s settlement on Marra Marra Creek. Sarah Wallace (Ferdinand) purchases three acres. Sarah is described as living much like a “traditional Aboriginal woman, fishing in a bark canoe with a shell hook on a line as had been used by Aborigines earlier”. (Ford, 2012, p5).

Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Hawkesbury/Lower Hunter districts during 1833 record 80 Aboriginal people: 4 of the “North Richmond Tribe residing at North Richmond, 18 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” [Macdonald River] residing at Lower Branch 27 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” residing at Mangrove Creek 31 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” residing at Wollombine (Summary of Blanket List returns, Jillian Barnes courtesy of Jim Kohen)

Blanket distribution lists (including Aboriginal and/or English names and ages) for 1833-1841 are:

Land is reserved for a village at Wollombi. MWPA, 91.

Winderboy alias “Billy Cootee” is recorded on the blanket list as a member of the Richmond and Kurrajong tribe at Richmond for 1833 (29yo), 1834 (30yo), 1837 (33yo), 1838 (34yo), 1839 (34yo) (Kohen 1986 Return of Aboriginal Natives 1832-1844).

Billy Kootee lived on the “Sackville Reserve” until the early 1900s and was buried with Bowen’s breastplate near Cattai which is across the river. By 1904 Kootee would have been about 100 yo. (Ford p84).

Visiting Magistrate to Brisbane Water, Jonathan Warner, reports to government the presence of more than sixty warriors from the Maitland-Black Creek area who had come to make “war on the Lake Macquarie tribe”. It is not known if this was the motive for their raids, but no “war” resulted and most “pillaging” was carried out on settlers of the area. (Turner & Blyton, The Aboriginals of Lake Macquarie, 1995, 36-37)

“Punitive expedition” in Wyong. 20 Aborigines are outlawed, 8 captured and some go to Cockatoo Island. (Bennett in Blair, 2000, 12).

Five years earlier (1828), a fighting force of forty members of “The Branch” natives from Richmond crossed the mountains north of the Colo River crossing to fight the “Kumnaroy blacks”. (Rev Ralph Mansfield in Ford p449).

Blanket list: Emery alias “Lawyer” recorded as member of the Richmond “tribe” at Richmond (36yo), 1834 (37yo), 1837 (40yo), 1838 (41 yo), 1839 (41yo). (Kohen in Ford p97). Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Hunter Valley during 1834 records 142 Aboriginal people: 70 of the “Merton Tribe” residing at Merton, 15 of the “Bungary Hill Tribe” at Falbrook, 31 of the “Patrick Plains Tribe”, and 26 of the “Glendon Tribe” at Merton. (Summary of Blanket List returns, in Lucas 47-48)

Black trackers (unnamed) guide a mounted party led by Magistrate Robert Scott of Glendon to capture convict escapees from Castle Forbes in the Singleton area. They help catch the “bushrangers” at Lambs Valley on 13 November 1833. One bushranger is mortally wounded, the other six are taken to Maitland Gaol awaiting transported to Sydney. (Hartley, Men of their Time, 76)

Aboriginal labour in fledgling wine industry. Aboriginal people are working as “pullers of maize” for winegrower, George Wyndham at Dalwood in the Hunter Valley. At this early stage, there are only 10 settlers on the Hunter River growing vines. George Wyndham was one of the first. James King of Irrawang on the Williams River was another. It is highly probable that once convict transportation ceased and cheap labour was less accessible, Aboriginal people would have worked more widely in the fledgling wine industry: clearing, hoeing, ploughing, staking and pruning the vines. As Irrawang was also involved in pottery manufacture from 1832, Aboriginal people quite possibly worked to produce glazed earthenware.

We do not know if the “Tom, ploughman” that George Wyndham paid for his labour during 1833 was Aboriginal or not. But we do know that whatever labour Wyndham did hire, was quite cheap. For one week’s hard labour, Wyndham paid Tom in tobacco, tea, sugar, flour, beef and five shillings. (Wyndham Diary notes, 21 June 1833 and 1 April 1833, SLNSW. Quoted in Driscoll, The Beginnings of the Wine Industry, 1969, 27-29).

“Our mob helped build Wyndham Estate, the winery, and my middle name is Wyndham”. (Gavi Duncan, descendent of William Bird (“Little Breeches”), see video galleries)


Repulsing the Kamilaroi. Blaxland observes graves near present day Broke in the Hunter Valley from “an affray” between the “Comleroy” (Kamilaroi) and “Wollombi” tribes where “four men and two women” of the former were “slain”. That same year, “not less than sixty” Aborigines are seen along the Great North Road painting their bodies “in a most fantastic manner with a substance that resembles pipe clay” preparing “to wage war”. One of the “Wollombi tribe” criticises a former naval officer, William Breton man for his inability to throw a spear which he had traded to him for tobacco”. (Ford 448).

Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Hawkesbury/Lower Hunter districts during 1834 record 58 Aboriginal people: 37 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” [Macdonald River] 2 of the “North Richmond Tribe" 7 of the “Mangrove Creek Tribe” 12 of the “Wollombine Tribe” (Summary of Blanket List returns, Jillian Barnes courtesy of Jim Kohen)

“King” Deniheny or Duimberry (Billy Green) is affiliated with the Richmond Tribe. He is 30 years old with one wife and son.

King Tom and Queen Maria welcome Governor to Segenoe. Aboriginal people participate in an official welcome arranged by landholder Potter Macqueen at Segenhoe on the occasion of a visit by Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of NSW. This includes “native chief of Segenhoe” who stands “with forty followers, painted in a most grotesque manner, carrying spears twelve and fourteen feet long and other instruments of war, and eight black boys, each holding a leash of kangaroo dogs…The evening ended with a corroboree”. Blanket returns for 1828-1829 list “King Tom as Chief of the tribe and his wife as Queen Maria”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1834 in Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 233-34).

1834c Bushranger John Macdonald and “Barraba blacks”. Ticket-of-leave man, John MacDonald is sent to Newcastle penal settlement. He escapes and by 1834 is a “bushranger” living with Aboriginal people up at Barraba in the Watagan Mountains. He is considered the best “bushman” in the country. He is shot dead that year in a raid on a farm in the Upper Hunter. Only months before, Jonathan Warner, then visiting Magistrate to Brisbane Water highlights to the governor that Macdonald has a very close relationship with the Barraba blacks: Warner’s “Bushranger Report” from Lake Macquarie of 30 August 1834 writes:

“I have the honor to state for the…Governor that when at Kurumbung on the 29th Inst, Moses Carroll, who resides there, brought before me Kitty, a black woman whom he found could give much information relating to MacDonald and his gang…[she] states that about fourteen days back she was at MacDonald’s farm and went into a small hut…There were four men there besides himself, she observed four horses…pistols, bayonets, ammunition... Pots & each man had a watch. There was also two [sacks] full of sugar and eight bags of flour, which they planted in the bush…they scarcely have any fire by day to provide smoak, and every night after sun down they all go to Cranky Jacks…[called by the Whites, Port Macquarie Jack, he lives on a farm…at Barraba…] MacDonald and his gang remain in a brush in which the hut is built, about…two or three [miles] from Cranky Jacks, at the time the black woman was at MacDonalds, a strange black not belonging to the Barraba tribe came towards the hut. McDonald prevented him, got a gun and said he would shoot him if he did not go away, but the Barraba black[s] he allows to be about him, some times the robbers take one of the horses at night and leave it [at] the blacks camp during the times they go for plunder… [Kitty] says they generally bring a load and then put it on the horses and carry it to their hut…one of the bushrangers asked her if she saw any white men and desired her not to tell Carroll, when she went to Kurumbung, as he would tell where they were, this woman also told me that the two men that got away from Constable Chitty (two escaped convicts had run away from him…while he was taking them back to Patricks Plains…) were with MacDonald (she knows them well as she was at Carroll’s hut when Chitty called there with them…) she also says that she was close to Mr Scott’s when MacDonald robbed there and gave me a very clear statement of the proceedings of the bushrangers…the Barraba blacks desired her not to tell the whites where MacDonald was, knowing that she generally resides at Kurumbung…[Macdonald] is an excellent bushman and so well acquainted with the bush and passes over the mountains about Barraba…he is very likely to remain there as long as he can supply himself with provisions and as he is so well acquainted with the Barraba blacks, they will do anything for him, as long as he feeds them, and even assist him to his attacks by an armed force…” (Source: Convict Trail Project – Great North Road: John Macdonald)

Threlkeld reports that groups of Aborigines are joining together in plundering expeditions, and are uniting with bushrangers: “Two young [Aboriginal] men who for months past have been supported at this establishment…were attacked by a party of Blacks consisting of about 30 males collected from Sydney, Brisbane Water, and the neighboring parts; The two with a female the wife of one…came up to our dwelling house, when the tribe immediately plundered our huts, threw their spears…After challenging my Son to fire they succeeded in carrying off provisions, blankets, and clothing, to a considerable amount…there exists a great probability of the coalition of the Bushrangers with the Blacks, being informed that there are…Squatters, in the vicinity of this Lake who receive the produce and have encouraged the Aborigines in their several predatory expeditions during the present year…” (Threlkeld’s 4th report, 7 Nov 1834, from Ebenezer on Lake Macquarie, in Blair, 2003, 29).

Aboriginal attacks within the Brisbane Water district on the European population are numerous and regularly reported in Sydney newspapers. One raid begins at “Kurinbong” (Cooranbong near Watagan Mountains) where Aborigines demand tea and flour. The same group then move to William Cape’s farm at Wyong (taking food and clothing) before returning to “Kurinbong” to rob Manning’s dairy (milk). A series of attacks on farmers and assigned convicts follow (taking poultry and livestock). (Turner & Blyton, 37). During October 1834, three groups totalling between 80 to 90 Aboriginal men – including one known as “Monkey” – throw stones and a spear while robbing Alfred Jacques house (R. v Monkey and others, Decisions of the Superior Courts of NSW). One week later, the Sydney Gazette reports that eleven Aborigines had attacked John Lynch’s home at Sugarloaf Creek and raped his servant girl. While these men carry guns, spears and waddies, there are many threats to settlers, but very few spearings and no deaths. (Blair, 2003, 30).

European resentment mounts and the mounted police are called in to help ‘solve the problem’. After Magistrate Warner unsuccessfully chases Brisbane Water Aborigines for several weeks, he writes to the Governor in October 1834 appealing for a party of mounted police to be sent to his district for about a month so that he can capture the ringleaders: “I trust His Excellency will be pleased to allow the mounted police and constables to remain at Brisbane Water about a month. I shall then have an opportunity of assisting them…to capture the blacks – but I am fearful we shall be obliged to shoot some of them as they will not stand when called to stop even when they are told that they will be shot if they run away. I committed one black on the 22nd…[a]t Brisbane Water for robbing Mr Manning’s hut at Tuggerah beach, many of the small settlers at Brisbane Water are so much alarmed at the approach of the natives as they collect in large tribes, that they are fearful to make the least resistance and allow them to rob them as they please even those who have arms” (Magistrate Warner reprinted in Turner & Blyton, 37, in Blair, 2003, 30)

With the military to hand, peace returns to the district. But when they are withdrawn at the end of 1834, the Aboriginal raids begin again. Warner draws up a list of 18 Aborigines from Wyong, Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Beach. Alexander L’Leay from the Colonial Secretary’s office, advertises their names in the Sydney Gazette on 20 December and the reward offered for their capture. Warner does not arrest any of them until early January. This advertisement read:

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY POUNDS REWARD Whereas the undermentioned Black NATIVES have been reported to the Government as ringleaders in various Robberies and other Outrages which have been recently committed in the District of Brisbane Water; Notice is hereby given that any person who shall apprehend or cause to be apprehended and lodged in any of His Majesty’s Gaols, the whole or either of these said Offenders shall receive a REWARD of TEN Pounds for each of them who shall be so secured: Molly Morgan, and Hobby, As Brothers and very bad characters

Little Jack Jack Jones, Tom Jones, and Jugo, Ditto Abrahams, and Paddy Ditto Young Dick Always carries a gun Big Jimmy, Speared a white man Whipunup Ditto Kurungbong Jimmy, Emu Bad character Monkey Ditto Nimbo Ditto Big Harry Ditto Little Dick Principal agent and messenger Old John Bad character, and father to Abrahams and Paddy (See picture: Source: Sydney Gazette, 20 December 1834, p4, column4).

A reward of forty pounds is also offered on 13 December 1834 for those responsible for the rape and robbery at the farm of John Lynch in the Hunter River District. The Colonial Secretary’s Office adverterises the names of these "Offenders" said Young Price; Charcoal’s Brother or Dickey Charcoal; Bill, or Miserable Billy; and Mickey; Jemmy Jackass; and Joe The Marine (Sydney Gazette, 13 Dec 1834, p4, col 6)

Conrad Marten’s painting “Brush Scene, Brisbane Water” gives an idea of the difficulty Europeans face in capturing Aboriginal fugitives.

The capture of Emu during early 1835 greatly disturbs Rev Threlkeld because of the way it is carried out. He complains to the Colonial Secretary: “On my return from Sydney [Threlkeld had been attending the trials of those Aborigines already caught] I informed the Blacks of the punishments which had taken place, and desired them to bring in all the Aborigines who had not received blankets, without fear of apprehension, assuring them…they would not be proceeded against. On the faith of my promise the messenger brought in upwards of sixty Blacks with a number of women and children...my overseer a Man of the name of Michael Riley…pretended friendship to a lady named Emu, for whom a reward is offered, attempted to seize him, he ran, the Overseer fired at him, and severely wounded him, he then tied him in my boat, compelled him to row, and then lodged him in Newcastle Jail. – I visited him [and] requested the irons to be removed, and he was received into the Jail Hospital…I protest against the whole conduct of the Overseer…taking advantage of the confidence reposed in me by the Aborigines and thus hazarding its destruction…I this day dismissed him from my service”. (Threlkeld’s Memoranda 22 May 1835, in Blair, 2003, 33).

It is uncertain whether Emu was charged with any offence or appeared before the courts. The search goes on … (Blair, 2003, 68)

Many of the Aborigines captured are tried before the Supreme Court in Sydney and receive a variety of sentences. Threlkeld, assisted by Biraban, is present. Biraban interprets for the court and tries to explain the customs of the Aboriginal clans to the judges. Threlkeld is one of only three interpreters regularly used by the courts. He interprets for the entire “Sydney District”. (The Australian, 19 May 1835, in Blair, 2003, 33).

With teams of Assistant Surveyors and their men, the Hawkesbury-Hunter ranges are surveyed for Major Mitchell’s map of 1834. After Singleton no-one tries to get a road to Bathurst over the northern Blue Mountains and the Colo River again. The Branch Natives in the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges are still living out in the ranges and ignored, when Mitchell’s surveyors came through. Mitchell’s surveyors hardly mention them in their reports. Mitchell’s insistence on conciseness means much history is lost.

16 Aborigines are confined in a local watch house after committing robberies against settlers in Brisbane Water District (Blair, 2000, 12).


By the middle of 1835 sixteen men are committed for trial for robberies at Wyong, Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie. The first captured are Little Dick, Monkey and Charley Myrtle. (Magistrates’ Bench Book 1, in Blair, 2003, 32). A trap is set to apprehend the others accused of robbery and still at large. Jack Jones, Jago and Nimbo and three others enter a hut wherein Constable Carroll and his assistants are concealed. Only three men are captured during a struggle. (Magistrates’ Bench Book 1, in Blair, 2003, 32). All three escape but are recaptured and sent for trial in Sydney. Other arrests follow. The sixteen committed for trial are (names assigned to them by administration): Boora Paddy; Charley Muscle; Hobbie; Jack Jones; Jago; Leg-o-me; Little Agrahams; Little Dick; Little Freeman Long Dick; Major; Monkey; Old John; Paddy; Tom Jones; Whip-em-up Three others – Molly Morgan, Nimbo and another Little Jack – are still wanted. (Brisbane Water, Ticket of Leave, Quarterly & Other Returns, 1826-1840; in Blair, 2003, 32).

An outbreak of measles in the Brisbane Water District is responsible for a number of Aboriginal deaths. (Threlkeld’s 5th Report in Blair, 2003, 43)

Return of Aboriginal Natives at Brisbane Water record a total of 40 men, 30 women, 4 boys and 2 girls, totalling 76 Aboriginal people. (Blair, 2003, 126)

100 blankets are sent to Invermein homestead for distribution to Aboriginal people. (Lucas, 35). 100 blankets are sent to Maitland and Wollombi for distribution to Aboriginal people (Lucas 35) 40 blankets are sent to Paterson. (Lucas 36)

Aboriginal People of Brisbane Water District and the Courts. While early colonial governors are instructed to conciliate and protect the natives, Aborigines held an unclear position before the courts. On the one hand they were entitled to the protections of the legal system, and on the other, because they did not believe in the Christian God, they could not take the oath and give evidence. Courts in which Aborigines from Brisbane Water District appeared had trouble deciding whether they should be treated as subjects of the Crown or foreign enemies who could be hunted in punitive raids and shot. By 1835, Judge Burton in the Supreme Court had identified impediments to equal and indiscriminative justice for Aboriginal people like Monkey. (Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, 1835; Blair, 2003, 34). Aborigines of Brisbane Water District could not give testimony, not press charges, juries were exclusively white, and mostly unsympathetic – even prejudicial -- towards them.

Prior to 1841, courts provided legal assistance to Aborigines accused of serious crimes if the need arose. Often this only occurred at the onset of the trial from among the members of the bar present in the court. This was the case for Charlie Muscle, Currinbong Jemmy, Leggamy, Little Dick, Little Freeman, Major, Monkey, Tom Jones and Whip-em-up before Judge Burton on 11 February 1835. (Burton, 25-35)

Their cases went for around six weeks and were often reported in the newspaper. Several were tried on numerous occasions for different offences. Many received a sentence of “death recorded”, meaning a formal sentence of death, without the intention of the sentence being carried out. Judges exercised discretion where they thought circumstances made the offender fit for Royal mercy. In reality, it usually meant a sentence of transportation for life. After the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemens Land objected to their presence, they were confined on Goat Island in Sydney Harbour. As an act of mercy, the Governor commuted the sentence to two years labour. Here they cut stone, were taught English and given religious instruction. Threlkeld remained in Sydney to attend the court cases, visited the men in gaol and visited at least six of the Aborigines confined to Goat Island. (Blair, 2003, 34-39)

He also sought to bring the Christian message and solace after the men were sentenced, especially Mickey who received a sentence of death and was executed. Threlkeld visited “Mickey” in the condemned cell until his execution took place. At first Mickey denied the crime. He afterwards adopted a threatening tone, assuring Threlkeld that “If the white men hung him, all the blacks belonging to his and surrounding tribes up the country would come, surround, and burn Sydney, together with the jail in which he was confined!” Finally, Mickey “softened down his mind, and he wept”. (Threlkeld’s 5th report, 1835, in Blair, 2003, 39).

In response, Threlkeld successfully argued that all Aborigines under confinement should witness Executions such as Mickey’s: “Hitherto the Blacks under confinement had not been permitted to be present at the executions…But on my suggestion the Aborigines under confinement were allowed to behold the sentence carried into effect. Their pale visages, their trembling muscles, indicated the nervous excitement under which they laboured at the melancholy sight. Some who were about to be brought to trial urged me to speak for them to the Judge, and all requested that I would ask the Jailer not to hang them during my absence. To use the expression of M’Gill who was present with me, he said: “When the drop fell he thought he should have shed his skin (like a snake). Previously to this it was a matter of Joke amongst the Blacks their being sent to Jail, and I therefore submit that there should be a standing order in the jail for all Aborigines under confinement to be brought out to witness Executions”. (Threlkeld’s 5th report, 1835, in Blair, 2003, 39).

During their stay on Goat Island, six of the incarcerated Aborigines from Brisbane Water District mixed with other Aboriginal prisoners. They were released in November 1836 and forwarded to Threlkeld’s Mission at Lake Macquarie. Threlkeld noted that all were able to repeat the Lord’s Prayer in their own Language and three could now read English. (Threlkeld’s 6th Annual Report, 31 December 1836, in Blair, 2003, p43).

While these men were liberated conditionally on the basis that they were to settle on and not leave Threlkeld’s Mission without a pass, the whole absconded the following morning to Brisbane Water leaving part of their clothing behind them. (Letter to Alexander L’Leay from Threlkeld, 17 Nov 1836, Dixson Library, in Blair, 2003, p44). All were in dread of recapture. (Threlkeld’s 6th Report, in Blair, 2003, 44)

The Story of “Emu” (c1814 – 1835?) The story of Emu begins in the period of conflict between Aborigines and European settlers in the Brisbane Water region during 1834. Emu seemingly was one of the Aborigines who took a very active part in the conflict within Brisbane Water and Newcastle districts. After a period of relative peace, the military were withdrawn at the end of 1834, after which the conflict resumed. Although Magistrate Warner drew up a list of 18 Aborigines – all from the Wyong, Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Beach – and posted a reward for their capture, he failed to arrest any of them until January 1835.

The Story of Pondo (“Leg-o-me”) c1817 – 1835? “Leg-o-me” (Pondo) was noted as being 18 years old when committed to gaol for trial for robberies at Wyong, Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie. His designated “tribe” was “Wyong, Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Beach”. Court proceedings held on 12 February 1835 reported that Pondo stood indicted for highway robbery and putting in bodily fear Patrick Sheridan at Brisbane Water. Sheridan claimed a party of blacks including the prisoner asked him for some tobacco which he divided among them; after which the prisoner, in a menacing attitude, poised his spear towards the prosecutor and darted it forward but the point went into the ground. Sheridan advised he was exceedingly alarmed as he was told the blacks had been making enquiries for him and as they had already committed many outrages in that neighbourhood. Reportedly armed with implements of warfare, “Lego-me” advanced towards Sheridan, commanded him to deliver up what he had about him and thrust his hand into his pockets before pulling out a pipe and a knife, and permitting him to proceed. Sheriden swore to the prisoner’s identity as he had seen him once or twice a week for two or three years, and frequently allowed him to sleep in the prosecutor’s hut. Mr Therry, in his cross-examination of Sheridan asked him if he had been a “squatter” for some time on Legome’s ground and committed great depredations on his kangaroos. Lego’me is found guilty and received sentence of transportation for seven years. A correspondent for the Australian newspaper questioned Pondo’s harsh sentence: “This prosecution appears to us unnecessary – and the sentence severe – it is too ridiculous to think that a man should prosecute in a Court of Law, one of a body of natives who committed so excusable and unimportant a robbery”. (Blair, 2003, 75).

The Story of Wattorgin (“Charley Myrtle”) c1790 – 1835? Charley Myrtle is one of the Aboriginal men involved in robberies at Brisbane Water, Wyong and Lake Macquarie during 1834. His Aboriginal name is Wattorgin. He probably is from Wollombi and has at some time worked for European settlers. During 1835, he has a wife and is listed as from “Wyong, Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Beach Tribe”. Wattorgin stood trial on 11 February 1835 for his involvement in the attack on William Jaques and William Ross in October 1834. He is found not guilty of this offence. The next day, he stood indicted for the serious offense of rape of Margaret Hansall. The trial R. v Mickey and Muscle was held in the Supreme Court before Judge Burton. John Lynch stated: “The blacks came to my house…they carried Henshall into the bush…I had a scythe in my hand, and made use of it as well as I could; I am told that one of the party died from the wounds he received; I recollect one of them told me he wanted my child to do what he liked with…”.

Margaret Hansall stated: “I live with Mr and Mrs Lynch, at Sugarloaf Creek…some blacks came to the hut…I told Mrs Lynch to send for her husband, as I thought the blacks were no good; Mr Lynch then came in and some of them shook hands with him; there was a calf just killed; they were offered the head…they refused, and said they would have the whole of it, and they made a fire and cooked…it…another party of blacks that were about the house endeavouring to get in; they then took me forcibly….”

Both Mickey Micky andWattorgin (Charley Muscle) denied this charge. After retiring about half an hour, the Jury returned to the jury box and had Hansall put into the witness box again. She distinctly swore to the identity of Charley Muscle. The Jury then found both guilty. Judge Burton passed sentence of death on both men, to be executed.

Public opinion was divided over this verdict, in particular for Wattorgin. The Sydney Herald stated on 16 February 1835: “The…simple looking girl, about seventeen years of age, stated, that there had been eleven in the party…but the two prisoners were the only individuals whom she could identify, from the strong resemblance the blacks bear to each other”.

A letter to the editor suggests a just verdict was not reached:“One of the prisoners [Mickey Mickey] was identified by all the three witnesses…The other prisoner, Charley Myrtle…was identified by the girl only. Lynch and his wife said they saw all the party…Lynch expressed his belief that [Wattorgin] was not one of the party…the case against [Wattorgin] rests altogether on the girl’s evidence – who says, she recollects him principally because his teeth were whiter, than those of the others…In one word, the case against Charley Myrtle is the uncorroborated evidence of one person [who]…had never seen him before…on this evidence the man is…sentenced to death”.

Mickey Mickey was executed by hanging on 27 February 1835. Wattorgin’s sentence was commuted to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for life. (Blair, 2003, 82-84).

“Broken Back Tommy” is reportedly the lone survivor of a massacre of Worimi people on Mount MacKenzie by settlers and retired soldiers of the Allyn River and the Australian Agricultural Company in Port Stephens. (Rosa Nolan, "‘We Want to Do What They Did’: History at St Clair." BA (Hons) thesis, The University of Sydney (Department of History), 2012.


The 250 kilometre long Great North Road is completed via Wollombi linking Sydney with the fertile Hunter Valley and Newcastle. Built by convicts it traverses rugged terrain that hinders early agricultural and pastoral expansion.

The European population in the Brisbane Water District is 621. There is an extraordinary gender imbalance of 459 males. (Blair, 2000, 12)

Biraban and Boardman guide visiting Society of Friends (Quaker) missionaries from Newcastle to Lake Macquarie. One describes Biraban as “a tall intelligent man”, wearing a “red-striped shirt, not very clean, a pair of ragged trowsers, and an old hat. Suspended from his neck, by a brass chain, he had a half-moon shaped, brass breastplate, with his native and English name, and a declaration of his kingly dignity; engraven upon it”. He describes Boardman as “an interesting looking young man in appearance about 18 years of age and wore a ragged blue jacket and a pair of trowsers”. (Smith, Mari Nawi, 2010, 57).

Aborigines and alcohol. Governor King was the first to offer liquor to Aboriginal people. When travelling up an inlet in early 1788 he made contact with Aborigines and gave two a glass of wine, which they spat out. Bennelong quickly took to European food and was the first of his people to show a fondness for spirits (Willey, When the Sky fell Down, 1979, 43, 143).

Aboriginal men increasingly helpless to maintain themselves and their families in the customary way, seek work with Inn keepers to clean out the brandy and rum casks. During the 1830s in Brisbane Water, Rev Threlkeld observes that Aboriginal addiction to liquor is in character with the general habits of the settlement: “Rum is the strongest inducement that could be offered to the [A]borigines to make them work. It was a Rum-national-education to reform criminals by Rum and stripes. The Aborigines became adept scholars…Drunkenness seemed to be considered by the [A]borigines as a sort of accomplishment. Rev Threlkeld’s very close relationship with Biraban at his mission is severely damaged by his attraction to alcohol: “Biraban seldom visits me, he displays his knowledge at Newcastle town, where drink has attractions far more strong than my study possesses at the Lake” (Threlkeld in Gunson, 53; Threlkeld, 1836, 6th Report, courtesy of Wollombi Historical Society)

The Story of Potory-Minbee (“Jack Jones”) c1805 – 1836? “Jack Jones” is listed on the Return of Aboriginal Natives taken at Brisbane Water on 5 May 1835 as one of 16 men committed to gaol for trial for committing robberies at Wyong, Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie. He has one wife but no children. His Aboriginal name was Potory-Minbee and he was born about 1805 in Brisbane Water. In the first record found of Potory-Minbee dated 7 May 1827, local Police Magistrate, Willoughby Bean noted that he received some “slops”. Distributed among 40 Aborigines in the district, these inadequate “slops” comprised: 13 Frocks, 13 Jackets, 20 pair of Trousers, 15 Shirts, 5 bodices and skirt, 10 blankets and 20 Caps. Bean noted that while “several natives had none from bad behaviour”, Potory-Minbee did receive slops. We can therefore safely assume Potory-Minbee is well-behaved.

By 1834 this changed. Potory-Minbee appears to be one of the many Aborigines that were attacking livestock and stealing from the few settlers in the district. Of a number of robberies and “depredations” on stock during late-1834, two are possibly the most disturbing. On 25 October, a large party of Aborigines robbed the home of Alfred Jaques, and he and his convict servant, William Ross were driven from Jaques’ house by three groups estimated to number 80 to 90 Aboriginal men throwing stones and a spear. One week later eleven Aborigines attacked John Lynch and family at their home at Sugarloaf Creek. Servant girl, Margaret Hansall was allegedly abducted and raped.

Potory-Minbee is recognised as being involved in the first incident. Local authorities order the arrest of him and 16 others. Catching Potory-Minbee proves difficult. Two months later four constables set a trap to capture some Aboriginal men wanted for the robberies. They report that: “the Blacks being so resolute and seizing hold of their fire arms, they were obliged in self defence to fire at ‘Jack Jones’ [Potory-Minbee], who is a very powerful man, and wounded him severely in the neck before any of them would surrender – during the scuffle three of them [natives] made their escape…”

Potory-Minbee, Nambo and Jago were captured and taken to the lock-up at Gosford, awaiting transport to Sydney for trial. That same day they escaped. Court records tell us that immediately Constable Smith, who had charge of the lock-up: “had drawn the bolt [to give the Blacks some water], they pushed the door suddenly open against him, ‘Nambo’ and ‘Jago’, who were handcuffed together seized hold of the Constable…while…(’Jack Jones’) who was sitting on the floor, and was so severely wounded in his neck…was considered as unable to move, but as soon as one of the blacks spoke to him in his own language, he through [sic] the Constable a blow….the other two thus dragged him from the lock-up, tore off his jacket…striking him with the handcuffs…and after about twenty minutes struggling with the Blacks…during this time ‘Jack Jones’ had made his escape, and…the other two made their escape also”.

The other Constable was, at this time on board a vessel, in charge of three other blacks for Sydney Gaol…Constable Smith should…have used more precaution, by handcuffing the three blacks together…(as the leg irons were in use on the Blacks, on board the vessel) as [the natives] are very determined…”

Potory-Minbe is recaptured and sent to Sydney to await trial. He appears before Judge Dowling and a Military Jury in the Supreme Court on 11 May 1835. Together with Long Dick, Abraham and Gibber Paddy, “Jack Jones” (Potory-Minbee) stands indicted for stealing some goods of Alfred Jacques and William Rust (a watch, some coats, shirts, trousers, sheets, blankets, handkerchiefs, towels, a pocket book, a powder flask, and a razor and case). Potory-Minbee, together with Gibber Paddy, Abraham and Long Dick are also indicted for “putting in bodily fear” Jacques and Rust. Rev Threlkeld interprets and tries to explain the customs of Aborigines to the court. Through Threlkeld and Birabahn the prisoners deny the whole of what the witnesses state, and say “it was done by other black fellows”. Evidence received during the case by Jaques includes: “I know Jack Jones and Abraham well, but I cannot swear whether they were among the parties; the aborigines have been committing several depredations on me within the last nine months…they have been treated very well by me and my men; none of their gins were ever taken away from them; my opinion is that the blacks are not solely to blame, being led on either by bushrangers or prisoners…[and by William Rust:] I asked [the accused] what they were destroying the house and stealing the furniture for, and they told me they had right to steal what they thought proper; I saw some of my master’s shirts on John Jones (Potory-Minbee]…I can swear all the prisoners at the bar were there; I got wounded…by a spear; it was not a dangerous [spear, it] was not jagged…Jack Jones held a conversation with this witness in tolerable good English, and threatened him if ever he caught him in the bush again…they do kill bullocks [sic] and eat them; my master has had many losses in his cattle”.

Despite the denial of carrying out the crime, the jury find all those tried guilty in around five minutes. All are sentenced to death recorded. It is not certain what happened to Potory-Minbee, Abraham or Gibber Paddy after the trial. (Blair, 2003, 81).

Publication of Threlkeld's An Australian Spelling Book. 1841 Threlkeld returns to Sydney concluding 15 years of missionary work at Lake Macquarie. 1850 publication of Threlkeld's A Key to the Structure of the Aboriginal Language. 1859 death of Reverend Threlkeld (University of Newcastle timeline)

The Story of Boxal (c1810 – post 1842) Boxal (Jago) is listed on 5 May 1835 as one of 16 men committed to gaol for trial having committed robberies at Wyong, Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie. He has a wife, but no children.

Jago is an Aboriginal man whose country is Brisbane Water. His Aboriginal name is listed as Boxal. He is probably born about 1810. As magistrates struggle to spell Aboriginal names, “Boxal” is spelt in a number of ways: Bogstail and Boogstaale. The first record of Boxal that has been found is dated 7 May 1827. He has received clothing and rugs that are distributed among “forty natives from the District”. Local police magistrate who distributes the items, Willoughby Bean, notes that several receive none due to “bad behaviour”. Boxal is not on this list. Boxal is listed as receiving “slops” during 1831. The situation changes in late-1834. Boxal appears to have been one of many Aborigines attacking livestock and stealing from settlers in the district. His name appears on a list of eighteen Aboriginal men for whom a reward is offered for their recapture for “Robberies and other Outrages” in the District of Brisbane Water. Boxal is captured on 2 January 1835 in a trap set by Constable Moses Carroll and assistants. They are concealed in a hut at Dooralong near Wyong for the purpose of apprehending some of the Black Natives involved in the robberies, who are continually lurking about the bushes near the hut and occasionally asking for milk. Of the six Black Natives that enter the hut, five are considered ringleaders. Boxal, Jack Jones (Potory-Minbee) and Nambo or Nimbo are captured. They are taken to the lock-up at Gosford 2 days later to await transport to Sydney for trial. That same day they escape. However Boxal is recaptured and sent to Sydney to await trial. Boxal is seemingly tried in August 1835. No information on the verdict or sentence has been found to date.

Boxal certainly returns to Brisbane Water and in 1837 is listed as having a wife and two sons. One of the boys dies between 1839 and 1841. A daughter is born in 1842. (Blair, 2003, 59-60).

From 1836, squatters can legally run sheep and cattle beyond the boundaries by paying an annual rent for the right. The Land Acts of 1861 allows free selection of crown land and “limits of location” become redundant.

Boatman and Biraban. Boatman is most helpful in guiding parties out to Rev Threlkeld’s Ebenezer Mission on Lake Macquarie. In 1836, Boatman and Biraban guide the missionary James Backhouse on his visit to Threlkeld’s mission. Backhouse wrote:“McGill was dressed in a red striped shirt, not very clean, a pair of ragged trowers, and an old hat. Suspended from his neck by a brass chain, he had a half-moon shaped, brass breast plate, with his native and English name, and a declaration of his kingly dignity engraved on it; his nose and part of his cheeks were be-smeared with ruddle, but he had few cuttings upon his chest: he carried one of our bundles and took a young dog upon his shoulders, on this journey of 26 miles through the bush. In passing his tent he stripped off his shirt which he left behind…”. (James Backhouse, A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies, 1843, quoted in Hartley, p89).

Tom White Melville Winder at Gosforth gives an Aborigine living on Winder’s property a nickname as the “Constable” as a form of endearment. He takes the term to mean Aborigines who remain about the homestead ground, keeping away “strange blacks” and checking on convict servants. He bestows a breastplate on “Constable” inscribed “King Cobra – Maitland”. “King Cobra” appears on blanket lists as old “Constable” in 1833 and 1836 as Kurba (50 yo). By 1836 Kurba had moved to “Sugarloaf” (Newcastle) or Kuringbong (Cooranbong) “tribe” at Dora Creek. (Ford p81).


1837c Mildred Saunders (Butha) is born to convict Lampet Saunders. Mildred retains her Aboriginal kinship name and totem, Butha emu. She is present when Robert Mathews visits the Darkinjung tribe. Mildred’s Aboriginal Saunders brothers appear to have included Albert (aka “Prince Albert”)and Willliam, father of Edward Saunders who married the daughter of Joe Goobra. (Ford p153)

Returns of the Aboriginal Tribes in the Hawkesbury/Lower Hunter districts during 1837 record 28 Aboriginal people: 10 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” [Macdonald River] 18 of the “Putty Tribe” (Summary of Blanket List returns, Jillian Barnes courtesy of Jim Kohen)

Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Upper Hunter Valley during 1837 records 106 Aboriginal people: 32 of the “Falbrook Tribe”, 29 of the “Plains Tribe” residing at Patricks Plains, 29 of the “Glendon Tribe” at Glendon Brook, 36 of the “Mulwarie Tribe” around Goulburn. (Summary of Blanket List returns, in Lucas 47-48)

Returns of Aboriginal Tribes at Brisbane Water on 5 June 1837 records 41 men, 1 old woman, 12 wives, 6 boys and 3 girls. (Blair, 2003, 128)

Using this Return of Aboriginal Natives, it is clear that many young men who received gaol sentences have returned to the Brisbane Water District. These include: Nimbo (Cudgebull), age 35, one wife Major (Wanishbunga), age 35 Monkey (Bulbury), age 32. Little Jack (Kendaja), age 26, one wife Jago (Bogstail), age 25, 1 wife, 2 children Long Dick (native name Boio), age 20 Molly Morgan (Wallongryoong), age 20, one wife. (Blair, 2003, 45)

A Select Committee of the House of Commons records that the effects of colonisation on the Aborigines of Australia are “dreadful beyond example, both in diminution of their numbers and in their demoralisation”. Sir George Gipps becomes the colony’s governor early in 1838 and later that year sets up the “Protectorate”. He appoints protectors especially in the expanding frontier districts. Their aim is to defend the rights of the Aborigines who are officially British subjects and entitled to British law and justice. The 1837 report suggests the idea of protectors, the reservation of land for Aborigines and proposes the prosecution of those whites who kill or molest Aboriginal people. The Protectorate lasts until 1849. Major cause of its failure is that atrocities continue but in a more subtle manner. (Brooks 1st edit, p4).

Story of Carbon (“Hobby”) and Maitland Paddy (Carbon c1813 – post-1837) During the robberies that take place in the Brisbane Water region during 1834, a young Aboriginal man called Carbon (Hobby) and his two brothers (one called Molly Morgan) are identified by Magistrate Warner as “active leaders” in these attacks. Carbon is apprehended and sent to Sydney Gaol in early June 1835. Court records not only describe “Hobby” as “quite a young lad [and] one of the most adventurous”, but also as involved in the rape of a white servant girl at Sugar Loaf Creek. Carbon together with Little Dick, Whip-em-up, Monkey, Charley Muscle, Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong Jemmy, and Tom Jones appear as defendants in the first trial relating to the attack on the dwelling of Jacques. Carbon and Maitland Paddy are defendants in the second trial later that year relating to the robbery at Jacques’s house, and also for “putting in fear” Jacques and convict, William Rust. Jacques states that a party of 50 to 60 Aborigines approached his house and demanded meat in a hostile manner. He and Rust close the house and barricade themselves inside. During the attack, Rust is hit in the side by a spear. Jacques alleges that Hobby boasts that “black fellow was best fellow” or most powerful before ransacking the house. Jacques also claims that the Aborigines told him that they come from different tribes and had gathered together to commit robberies. Rust said that Carbon stated that the reason for the robbery is: “Black fellow master now rob every body – white fellow eat bandicoots and black snakes now”. While the court finds Maitland Paddy not guilty, it deems Carbon guilty and sentences him to “death recorded”. Carbon returns to the Brisbane Water area and is one Aboriginal man to receive blankets in June 1837. He is estimated to be about 24 years and has a wife. (Blair, 2003, p64-65).


1838 and 1841 “King” Deniheny or Duimberry (Billy Green) is affiliated with the Putty tribe (previously the Belmont Tribe, North Richmond)

First land sale in village of Wollombi. MWPA, 91.

Threlkeld’s view of an Aboriginal Police Corps. Letter to Sir George Gipps from Threlkeld, 7 May:“…my opinion respecting…the formation of an Aboriginal Police Corps…There are several amongst the tribes, over which I have some influence, well adapted for such an employment, and M’Gill the Aborigine with whom I conversed on the subject gave me the names of several that would avail themselves gladly of the Employment…and of whose capabilities, I have not the smallest doubt. “Make me the head of them” replied M’Gill, “and not a bushranger shall escape my tribe”. (Gunson in Blair, 2003, 102).

Myall Creek Massacre. Atrocities continue throughout the region with Gooris usually spearing individual white men, along with sheep and cattle and plundering food supplies. The white response is more orchestrated and as pointed out by Elder: “Throughout 1836 and 1837 the frontier skirmishes reached a level that the settlers found unacceptable. They felt that too much effort was being expended in removing the Aborigines from the land; the settlers were constantly seeking new runs and the Aborigines were constantly resisting”. (Elder, 1988: 65 ).

The Myall Creek Massacre and the trials of most of the perpetrators mark a devolution of burden of colonial security and punitive expeditions against Aboriginal people from the control of the British garrison to that of settlers and local police. (John Connor, The Australian frontier wars, 2002).

1838c “Yellow Billy” (William White), is born in Yango.

Jetto shown in “blanket lists” for Wollombi or Wollumbi “tribe” (estimated age 23 yo) (Ford p80)

Rev Lancelot Edward Threlkeld gives testimony in evidence to a Legislative Council Enquiry on the Aborigines. He has been in residence at Lake Macquarie for 14 years. (Ford p325)

Maitland is a separate Police District and became a centre where neighbouring Aboriginal groups converged. (Ford p348-9)

1838 to 1840. The numbers of recorded Aborigines in Brisbane Water District seemed to slowly increase. The numbers were:

1838 34 men, 12 women, 6 boys, 3 girls: totalling 55

1839 35 men, 12 women, 7 boys, 3 girls: totalling 57

1840 35 men, 12 women, 9 boys, 4 girls: totalling 60 (Blair, 2003, 45)

1838 Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Hawkesbury/Lower Hunter districts record 34 Aboriginal people: 16 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” [Macdonald River] 18 of the “Putty Tribe” (Summary of Blanket List returns, Jillian Barnes courtesy of Jim Kohen)

Other legislative moves, that reinforce the inequality before the British law that Gooris are subjected to, include a clause in the Publicans’ Act 1838 forbidding the transfer of alcohol to Gooris and a Bill forbidding the use of firearms by Gooris without permission of a magistrate. The latter is not enacted. Debate is also entered into regarding proper payment for Goori labour and the processes of “interbreeding of the races”. Of the latter a response by Bishop Broughton is worth noting : he disapproves of mixed marriages on the grounds that the Aborigines are unbelievers and when the Rev. William Cowper requests permission to marry an Aboriginal woman and an employee of the Australian Agricultural Company at Stroud and to baptize their children, the Bishop allows the baptisms but forbids the marriage. (Reece, 1974: 206)

These discriminatory measures reflect the continuing uncertainty of how best to deal with the “Aboriginal problem”. Responses range from hostility through humanitarianism to protectionism. The results include discriminatory policies which are introduced periodically and exist continually, although not applied universally until the 1970s. They include the forced removal of Gooris onto mission stations or reserves such as at Karuah and St. Clair (Singleton), the removal of Goori children from their families, the exclusion of Goori children from the public school system, exclusion of Gooris from the public welfare system, the exclusion of Gooris from award wage entitlements and the denial of Goori rights to land and cultural pursuits. (Heath, 1997: 57). (Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association, ACRA)


1839c Boardman dies from spear wounds after a fight in Sydney. He is buried at Irriring near Dora Creek on Lake Macquarie. (Smith, 2010, 57).

Aboriginal Protection Policies. Among the varied responses to the Myall Creek massacre is an increase in the debate over Goori rights. Many pieces of legislation are enacted to help clarify the issue, one establishes the Border Police to try to make consistent the responses of the white community as it further encroaches on Goori lands. In May 1839 Governor Gipps republishes the order forbidding forcible detention of Goori women in the squatting districts and thereby raises the ire of the Australian Agricultural Company. Gipps raises further anger by trying to enact legislation that allows Gooris to give evidence in court, leading to such outbursts as Wentworth (of Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson fame) comparing Goori evidence with “the chatterings of the ourang-outang” (Reece, 1974: 181).

Returns of Aboriginal Tribes in the Hawkesbury/Lower Hunter districts during record 51 Aboriginal people: 28 of the “Lower Branch Tribe” [Macdonald River] 23 of the “Putty Tribe”. (Summary of Blanket List returns, Jillian Barnes courtesy of Jim Kohen)

Wollombi becomes a major access point and the sole representative of government in the district. The first Postmaster arrives in Wollombi and postal services commence once a week to Maitland. David Dunlop, arrives as the first Police Magistrate for the Wollombi and Macdonald Police District. The first court sessions are held in Dunlop’s bark hut. This district extends from the Hawkesbury River in the south to Broke in the north, and from Quorrobolong (near south of Cessnock) in the east to Howe’s Valley and the Colo River in the west. The Wolombi police establishment includes a clerk of court, chief constable, district constable, eight ordinary constables, two watch house [gaol] keepers and a scourger (whipping man).

David Dunlop also assumes the new role of Protector of Aborigines for the police district and is responsible for protecting Aboriginal people from white aggression. (WVPA, 91; Wollombi Museum)

The Davis Gang of “Bushrangers” is active in Wollombi district. WVPA, 91

Dunlop’s wife, Eliza Hamilton Dunlop joins her husband the following year. They build and settle into a new home that they call “Mulla Mulla” in Wollombi. Before Eliza’s arrival in Wollombi and amid the public debate about the humanity of Aboriginal people that surrounded the Myall Creek massacre of 1838, Eliza was outraged by these atrocities. She wrote the lament “The Aboriginal Mother”. This poem is remarkable for her use of Aboriginal words. Her poetry is also a deliberate contribution to this debate, intended to mobilise public opinion and bring about better treatment of Aboriginal people.

In Wollombi, Eliza takes a great interest in the welfare and culture of Aborigines in her husband’s charge. She is one of few to appreciate the literary worth of Aboriginal songs and poetry. Her pioneering recordings and translations of Aboriginal songs and poems give voice to Aboriginal people at a time when they are all but silenced.

Eliza wins the confidence of Aboriginal Elders, especially Chief Boni (Potembo, Ford p78), and records some verse of the Aboriginal poet Wallati (or Wullati, English spelling “Wollaje”)into English. Collaborative projects between Chief Boni, Wallati, Eliza and others are published or set to music by Isaac Nathan and become valuable works for preserving Indigenous vocabularies and culture. One early poem “The Eagle Chief” records a chant associated with Malivan, the totemic Eagle Hawk venerated by Aboriginal people as an ancestor. Native Poetry comprises three short “nung ngnun” (songs) composed by renowned poet, Wullati.

The Watagan caves area is a favourite camping place for the blacks. (Maitland Mercury, 3 August 1899, compliments of Ian Webb, Maitland Historical Society).

Members of the US exploring expedition visit the Hunter River and Rev Threlkeld’s mission on Lake Macquarie to see and draw “the natives” (artist, Alfred Agate; ethnologist and linguist Horatio Hale, and comparative anatomist, Charles Pickering). During Agate’s and Hale’s orientatory walks around Newcastle they meet a group of “several blacks” seated around a little fire “begrimed with dirt and red paint”. The women are dressed in “loose ragged gowns” and the men in a “strip of blanket wrapped round the middle, or a pair of tattered pantaloons”. This is probably prison issue clothing.

“Big-headed Blackboy” and “Jemmy” guide Agate and Hale during their twenty miles walk to Lake Macquare. They set out with a “troop of natives”. The visitors describe Jemmy as “the best-natured and most intelligent of all” and “Big-Headed Blackboy” as obstinate and begrudging for drawing his spear when Hale touches him “slightly with his foot” and orders him to “get up and listen” when Blackboy tells them “Bel (not) me want to go”.

While passing to the northwest of Lake Macquarie, near Five Islands, the party visit a “little encampment of natives, crouching around fires in front of their huts”. One woman is “good-looking, with large black eyes, white teeth and small features”. She is well dressed and has a “pretty half-caste” clinging to her skirts.

Upon arrival at Threlkeld’s camp, the Americans compare his 10,000 acre mission station with a welcoming “farm-house in our western country” and recognize that Lake Macquarie is a “favourite resort of the natives”.

Linguist, Hale meets M’Gill, who is “one of the most intelligent natives” and Agate takes his portrait. They find M’Gill’s “physiognomy” “much more agreeable than that of the other blacks, being less strongly marked with the peculiarities of his race”: middle in size, dark chocolate in colour, with fine glossy black hair and whiskers, a good forehead, eyes not deeply set, and an aquiline nose. M’Gill is seen as a skilled teacher of his native language, pronouncing words very distinctly. While M’Gill is familiar with the doctrines of Christianity, he is steadfastly attached to the customs of his people. M’Gill is “always a prominent leader in corrobories and other assemblies”. Agate draws a “corroborrie”.

The man that Agate calls M’Gill and the man that artist Agate draws and calls “Bamboo Kain” is most probably the same man: “Bamboo Kain” and “Bira-Bahn” are likely one and the same. Agate’s detailed drawing and a well-known rough sketch of M’Gill that later appears in Captain Wilkes’ summary of his US expedition are remarkably similar. The men wear the same clothing, their headdress is the same, their beards and the expression on their faces is the same.

M’Gill, “King Ben” and “King Shingleman” “furbish” up their spears, shields, boomerangs and clubs among other things in response to requests by Hale and Agate for Aboriginal “implements of the chase and warfare”. This undoubtedly includes a possum skin cloak that the visitors take back to America with them. After Agate sketches the “implements”, the visitors most likely take some or all of them away as well.

“Two natives of some note”, King Ben and King Shingleman wear “large oval brass plates” with their “royal title[s] inscribed thereon”. While Agate draws King “Shingleman" Yan of Lake Macquarie”, Hale records the “dialect” spoken by the “natives” between the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie region. He collects this principally from Threlkeld and some directly from the “natives”. (Wilkes, Narrative of the US Exploring Expedition, 1845; “One Pound Jimmy Shaves Beard”, 1953).

Around this time, American comparative anatomist with the same US exploration expedition, Charles Pickering, travels up the Hunter River via Green Hill, Maitland and Harper’s Hill to Mr Stephens property at Peuen Beuen. An Aboriginal man and woman row a bark canoe across the river in front of his steamer wearing “worn-out European clothing”. Three or four “natives” greet Pickering as he disembarks from the steamer. They hold “implements of warfare”. One presents himself to the visitor as “king of the country”, and later admits that he is at this time residing “in his master’s kitchen”. Two Aboriginal men meet and greet Pickering. They find common ground: all are employed as “mariners”. Despite all this evidence of adaptation to colonisation and Pickering’s surprise at the “facility” with which “natives” acquire the English language, Pickering decides that “The Australian race” is strictly in the “hunter state” while marvelling at the “ingenuity” of Australian “arts”: ascending trees by making notches, using throwing-sticks as javelins, and using the boomerang as a curving missile.

The vocabulary, portraits and objects that these Aboriginal men exchange with the visiting Americans are now important records of the diversity of Aboriginal life in the Hunter region. (Wilkes, vol 2, ch viii, 260-271; Pickering, 1851, 139-146; Naval Historical Centre, Washington DC (Agate’s drawings); Hale, 1846)

When Threlkeld meets the wife of Van Dieman’s Land governor Sir John Franklin, travelling from Sydney by boat he confides that while at first he had 160 blacks, he now has only one living with him although 30 came to the mission. (Penny Russell 2002 in Ford 333).

During his visit of inspection to the Hunter River District, Methodist Rev J Orton has his spirit perturbed near Maitland by a “young, conceited, self-complacent gentleman” who with “extreme loquacity” advocated summarily flogging “of the blacks without trial”. (James Colwell, The Illustrated History of Methodism, 1904, p260).

Possum skin cloaks are highly valued by the first settlers in the Hunter Valley and are collected where they are made by Aboriginal people. One is collected by American artist Horatio Hale of the US Exploration Expedition, during his meeting with Rev Threlkeld and Biraban at Lake Macquarie. In 1858, leader of the expedition, Lt Charles Wilkes donates this cloak to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

The numbers of recorded Aborigines in Brisbane Water District are: 35 men, 12 women, 7 boys, 3 girls: totalling 57. (Blair, 2003, 45)

Mary Ann Bugg is sent with her brother to be educated at the Orphan School in Paramatta.

Two Aboriginal men are working as “mariners” on the Hunter River around Maitland. (Pickering, US Exploring Expedition, 1852).

1839c The Story of Papola (“Warriba” or “Whip-em-up”) c1813 – c1839 The first record located of Whip-em-up is dated April 1831 and lists his receipt of clothing and rug in the Brisbane Water district. His name similarly appears in May 1835 and Whip-em-up is also listed as one of 16 men committed to gaol for trial for robberies at Wyong, Brisbane Water and Lake Macquarie. His native name is Papola and he is around 28 years old. The two men who apprehend Whip-em-up are Miles McGrath and Thomas Swan. Both receive the P10 reward offered by the government for his capture. Papola is sent to Sydney Gaol and tried. Together with several other Aborigines, Papola is charged with burglary in the house of Alfred Jaques of Brisbane Water and taking food and clothing. Rev Threlkeld is interpreter and Therry and Poole act as their Advocates. Defendants at the trial before Justice Burton on 11 February 1835 are: “Little Dick, Whip-em-up, Charley Muscle, Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong Jemmy, and Tom Jones”. Jaques gave the principal evidence and states the Aborigines also raided convict huts. He also states he had “presented his fowling piece” (gun) while three groups of Aborigines – numbering sixty in the first group and joined by 20 to 30 more – threw stones and a spear which hit second witness, convict William Rust. Papola (Whip-em-up), Monkey, Currinbong Jemmy and Thom Jones are found guilty. They and Toby are all sentenced to death recorded on 12 February 1835. Their sentence is commuted to two years labour in irons on Coal Island in Sydney Harbour, where they are to be kept in isolation and employed in stone cutting, in which they are judged to be “tolerably expert”. Papola returns to live in Brisbane Water district after the court case. His Aboriginal name is written as “Warriba" in 1837 and 1838. Warriba is presumed to have died around early 1839 at the tender age of about 26 years. (Blair, 2003, 72-73).