78 people are listed as living at “Windsor”. 33 adults and 45 children (Ab Protn Board Rep 1889). “One pair of oars” is supplied at Sackville Reach. “The men as a rule are employed on farms during the spring and harvest. Six children attend the Sackville Reach public school; all the community is supplied with blankets, one per year. “They are not addicted to habits of intemperance. On the contrary, they are very temperate” p7) W615, W512, w510 W517.

The second area set aside in the Upper Hunter Valley as a reserve for Aboriginal people (after Caroona) is situated between Muswellbrook and Singleton at Carrowbrook. It is established by Rev J.S White on Glennies Creek and called St Clair (later Mount Olive Station). People whose traditional lands make up the Hunter Valley region form a large proportion of the St Clair population. They include the Darkinung, Wonnarua, Awabakal and Worimi. They quickly adapt and combine European farming on the 60 acres and customary means of subsistence. They grow and harvest vegetables including corn, potatoes and cabbages. St Clair became the centre of Aboriginal life in the region for the next fifty or so years. Families at St Clair during the 1890s include but are not limited to: Tom and Nellie Phillips who receive financial support, rations and seed there until 1906; Henry, George and Mary Perry; the Murphy family including Albert Murphy who was granted some land in 1899; the Robertson and Saunders families. The APB reports that there are twenty acres under crop at St Clair in 1894 and that the population had grown to 76 in Singleton, about half of whom were children. (AIATSIS, Australian Museum; Nolan, ‘We want to do what they did’, p23)

Some aspects of traditional Aboriginal society survive in the Hunter Valley. While some Aboriginal people are integrated into white society and most come under paternal control on missions and reserves, small groups remain in places such as Glennies Creek and Reddonberry.

Weyera, Chief of the Hunter River” poses for a studio portrait to be captured by well-known Sydney photographer, Charles Kerry. This is one of 150 portraits of senior Aboriginal men, scarified warriors, and stately Aboriginal women from northern Queensland to southern NSW. While Kerry frames his portraits in the language of the “Last of the Tribe” tradition, echoing an earlier portrait of Truganinni, these photographs may be read as Weyera’s expression of pride in cultural continuity and the survival of the Hunter Valley peoples.

Six Aboriginal children attend Sackville Reach Public School, being ferried there daily in a rowing boat. (Brook, 1st edit, 19)

A number of ageing Aborigines still remember the “early days” of the colony. One old male, probably Tommy Cox (King Creek Tommy) who is employed by Mr A. Tuckerman at Sackville Reach alleges he saw the execution of the first man hanged at Windsor. (Brook, 1st edit, 19).

1890-1905 Collection of Aboriginal artefacts. Singleton newspaper man, Alexander Morrison is an avid collector of Aboriginal wooden artefacts from southeast Australia. At least four objects in his collection are made at St Clair: two parry shields and two clubs. Morrison occasionally employs people in his printing works from St Clair Mission. (Australian Museum)

These objects provide evidence of the integration of the St Clair mission into the local economy. Gooris combine their traditional craftsmanship with settler tools to produce objects on order for Morrison. Morrison is part of an Empire-wide network of trade in Aboriginal artefacts. St Clair Gooris produce artefacts for this growing market in “curios”. (Tom Griffiths, Hunters and Collectors; Rosa Nolan, "‘We Want to Do What They Did’)


Death of Mrs Rutter of Blacktown, Freeman’s Reach at the age of 69.

The District Returns of Aborigines for the year at Windsor (for Hawkesbury River District) recorded a total of 91 Aborigines, comprising 14 “full-bloods” and 77 “half castes”. The men were employed on farms during the spring and harvest (Brook 1st edit, p7).

1891-1908 Edward Saunders frequently moves between the Hawkesbury district and Singleton. In 1891 he is charged with stealing two pairs of boots at Singleton. His wife (Christian name unknown) is issued with an APB ration of infant food for her children in 1900. In 1898, Edward applies for roofing iron to build a house at Singleton. Two years later in October 1900 Edward applies for iron to construct a dwelling at Sackville Reach Reserve when the APB is assisting Aborigines at the reserve to build dwellings for themselves: it supplies materials, the Aborigines provide the labour. In 1908 Mrs Saunders is reported to be leaving Singleton for Mount Russell near Inverell. (APB Minutes; Brook, 1st edit, 30)

For his honesty in finding and returning a gold watch-chain pendant Tommy Cox is rewarded with a complete “rig out” (suit of clothes and hat). It is believed he will “hold a levee at the first opportunity” for his Aboriginal mates. (Brook, 1st edit, 29)

The Government Printer prints and/or re-prints three of Threlkeld’s works on the Language spoken by Aborigines in vicinity of Hunter River, Lake Macquarie etc: The Gospel by St Luke (1857) printed in 1891; Lexicon to the Gospel according to Saint Luke (1859) printed 1892; and Australian Language spoken by the Awabakal (1850) “re-arranged, condensed, and edited” and re-titled by John Fraser.

Martha Parsons born in Pitt Town, she dies 1981, Belmont.

Death of Black Adam at Swansea South. The area was called Black Adam’s Flat.


The hall at Blacktown, Freeman’s Reach which is used by the Congregational Church has been enlarged and is now capable of holding 150 persons. (WRG 18 Jun 1892 p3) W462 etc

Rachel’s (married name Trooper) father Charlie has a brush with the law at Windsor in 1892. He pleads guilty to being drunk. When asked who supplied him with liquor, he winks both eyes and replies “a gen’leman up the s’reet”. The Bench smiles and imprisons him until three o’clock to be released in time to catch the train to Kiama. (Brook, 1st edit, 55)

March. Sackville Reserve. The Aborigines on the two reserves on the Hawkesbury River used their two boats to stalk wild ducks. A member of the Barber family was duck shooting at Halls Swamp and bagged seven ducks. Around this time Henry Barber shared first prize at a local pigeon shooting tournament. (Brook 1st edit, 22)

67 Aborigines recorded residing in the Hawkesbury (Windsor) District. This is a decrease on the previous year of 91. (APB report).

On Queens birthday 24 May 1892, about 100 Aborigines trekked to Windsor for their annual gift of blankets. (Brook, 1st edit, 22)

R.H Mathews first visits the Milbrodale cave Aboriginal art site in the Wollombi region. While surveying from Bulga through the ranges via Wollombi to the Macdonald River area, he is commissioned by farmer Benjam Richards to survey the hamlet of Milbrodale, 20 kms south of Singleton. His attention is drawn to one of the great Aboriginal art sites of eastern Australia. It includes an extraordinary depiction of the creation hero or “great spirit”, Biame painted in red and white ochre. Mathews knows Aborigines from this region. His friend “Charley Clark, native of Broke speaks Dharkinung language”. This site becomes the subject of Mathews first publication on Aboriginal rock paintings. He publishes his sketches of Biame at Milbrodale in 1893. Charley is also a source of information on the local bora initiation ceremony. Mathews later publishes his description of this ceremony, “The Burbung”) in 1897. (Ford; Thomas, Culture in Translation, 31-32)

December 1892. Sackville Reserve. Some huts were erected for the “destitute Aborigines of the Hawkesbury”. A tent was provided for one man on the reserve who was employed splitting timber (Brook, 1st edit, 22)


1893 to 1896 Robert Hamilton Mathews works with Aboriginal people, and especially senior Darkinjung men, to record their language and culture. He publishes many works including “Rock paintings by the Aborigines in caves on Bulgar Creek, near Singleton” (1893), “Rock paintings and carvings of the Aborigines of New South Wales focusing on paintings located at Ballys Arm, Cutta Muttan, St Albans Road, Lockyer County, Mogo Creek, and Wollombi Brook among others (1895), “The Rock paintings and carvings of the Australian Aborigines” [part 1] focusing on stencils at Wollombi, drawings on the ground, trees, bark among others (1895), “Rock Carving by the Australian Aborigines (Plate VIII)” (1896) (see pictures below). This last work focuses on a carving of a “white man going to cut timber carrying an axe over his shoulder” done by “Hiram” in around 1855 in Wilberforce on the Hawkesbury River. Hiram uses the tool of the “white man”, an iron tomahawk and the height of the man with the axe is life size (five feet seven inches and a half). Mathew uses this as evidence that Darkinjung are introducing new symbols into ancient cultural practices to challenge the view that local Aboriginal culture belongs to the past. (Mathews 1896)

Many men in the Sackville region are working at the Tizzana Winery. They hold their Italian employer, Dr Thomas Fiaschi in high esteem, the respect is mutual. Thomas’ wife, Katherine Anne Reynolds (formerly a nun) teaches music to many Aboriginal people in the early days of Tizzana Vineyard. (Brook, 1st edit, 32).

Bert Everingham says Maggie Barber and Jane Everingham (nee Grono) compete in rowing races at Lower Portland on picnic days. (Brook, 1st edit, 32).

Account of Hawkesbury Aborigines employed at Tizzana Vineyard by Mary Salmon:“A darkies camp under the red cedar and willow trees by the river is a special feature of Hawkesbury life. The aboriginal settlement is too far off for return at night, except weekend. So the native men and boys pitch a couple of tents, and enjoy a camp out. They bring their dogs, and after the day’s work is done make picturesque groups squatting along the river side, singing songs or hymns in their full, rich voices. Sometimes they play with their lips on a gum leaf, a low, monotonous chant that sounds like an acolian harp through the resonant, sun-dried evening air. They are among the best workers, learning the ways of a vineyard quickly, especially a tall, full-blooded aboriginal, black as night, but a capital field worker, who comes regularly every year” (The Evening News, Sydney, 11 February 1905, in Brook, 1st edit, 31).

Members of local Aboriginal community assemble “in force” to welcome the Governor and Lady Jersy to Armidale in February. (Newcastle Library)

Singleton becomes a well-known base, drawing in Aboriginal people, displacing Maitland as their centre.

St Clair Mission declared people whose traditional land encompassed the Hunter Valley region form a significant proportion of the St Clair population. These people included the Wonnarua, the Awabakal, the Worimi and the Darkinjung. St Clair Mission was established by Reverend J. S White and covered 60 acres. People live at St Clair farm the land and also use traditional Indigenous means of subsistence.


In a phase of looking at Aboriginal art work, Mathews went from Richmond to “Sackville Reach on the Hawkesbury River and saw a Cave on Tuckerman’s grant near Punt”. (Ford 212).

“Scrammy Billy”: “The Last of his Race” “Scrammy Billy” dies at Paterson on 30 April 1894. He is a “very old fellow”. The local press recognises him as “the last of his race in this district”. Billy has been supplied with rations for several years. He is reportedly buried with “not one of his tribe to make lamentations over him”. (Maitland Mercury, 1 May 1894, courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).

The Story of Margaret (c1827-1894) Margaret was born about 1827 at “Waiong [Wyong] near the Hawkesbury River”. Of her early life, little is known. Margaret married Awabakal man, Ned, and it seems they resided or often visited the Norah Head region. While living there, Margaret and Ned’s eldest child, Ellen’ (born c1849) was taught to read by Miss Fanny Hargraeves. Margaret and Ned’s son, William was baptised by Rev Glennie at Edward Hargraeves’ home at Norah Head during 1860. Glennie described William Henry as “a very fine little boy of about 7 months old” and noted that he and Hargraeves stood as the boy’s godfathers, and Eliza Couldroy was godmother. Two or three other Aboriginal people attended the ceremony.

Margaret and Ned later settled on land on the shore of the lake near present-day Swansea. During a threat to remove them from their land during 1871, Rev John Shaw protested in local news media against this injustice. Mayor of Newcastle and Member of Parliament, James Hannell, secured a reserve of around twenty-five acres for Ned and his family. Margaret was identified by Shaw as “an ornament to her sex…[who] had some Christian instruction…[is] of irreproachable character and…has never been known to taste liquor”. Others said Margaret was very industrious, making and selling cabbage tree hats. She was also an excellent dressmaker and needlewoman.

After Ned’s death, Margaret was again threatened by expulsion from her home around 1880. Concerned resident, Robert Talbot, wrote: “Ned, Margaret’s late husband, brought her here [Lake Macquarie] some twenty years ago…where she has resided ever since, but not all the time in her present abode. Margaret is between 40 and 50 years of age, has two children by Ned – Ellen, aged about 22 and Willie, about 19. Old Ned…lays buried near Margaret’s present abode”. Parliamentarians responded by confirming Margaret’s life tenure of her holding at Pelican Flat. The Newcastle Morning Herald reported on 20 February 1880 that a “movement” had commenced to secure a grant of land for “Old Margaret” and her children, the so-called “the last surviving” Aboriginals of the Lake Macquarie district. Mr Flemming originated the effort, Mr Hungerford MLA raised it with the Colonial Secretary, and Sir Henry Parkes ordered officers report to him on the matter. Margaret died at Newcastle Hospital on 14 October 1894 and was buried in the Primitive Methodist section at Sandgate Cemetery, Newcastle.

Margaret’s daughter, Ellen, married twice. Her first marriage to Edward Milton bore several children: Frederick, Sarah and another male child. Ellen’s second marriage to John Williams bore Albert, Emily, William, Henry and Selina. Ellen died in 1902. A number of her children married. William Henry Williams married Lily Phillips. Descendents of William and Lily still live in Wyong Shire to this day, including grand daughter, Bronwyn Chambers. (Blair, 2003, 70-71).


One of the Sackville Reach reserves is revoked. 99 people live in Windsor. (Ab Protn Board Report 1896).

25 May 1895 Reserves 23957 and 23958 at Sackville Reach are revoked. On the same day land at Wilberforce is set aside for Aborigines to live on. Total area was 163 acres, part of which was low-lying swamp subject to flooding but there is some flood free high ground. It wasn’t secluded and Aborigines valued their privacy. (Brook, 1st edit, p23). Little use is made of the land, however, as it is not close to the river. W525. With the boats they possessed at Sackville they had freedom to travel and fish. The Hawkesbury was the “highway” and Aborigines wanted access to it.


Relations between Sackville Aborigines and their white neighbours are generally amicable. Six white residents sign a petition recommending the APB provide Charles Smith and his relatives with a fishing boat. The APB decline. (Brook, 1st edit, 26)

May 25. Sackville Reserves are reinstated after Sackville residents refuse to live in the reserve at Wilberforce. As part of showing their determination to stay where they are and consolidate their hold on the land, the Sackville community applies to the APB for iron to roof a church. 26 sheets of iron arrive that month. (Brook, 1st edit, 24).

88 Aborigines received blankets at Windsor. Among them is the aging King Tommy Cox. (Brook, 1st edit, 24)

1896c Andy Barber informs R.H Mathews that he saw a rock carving being done by a blackfellow named Hiram when he was 15 yrs old. (c1850). (R H Mathews, in Ford 213-14)


R.H Mathews identifies “The Darkinung Tribe”. Mathews encounters many members of the “Darkinung tribe” prior to 1897. He writes: “On the south of the Hunter River, extending thence to the Hawkesbury, we find scattered remnants of the Darkinung tribe, whose territory embraces the country watered by the Colo, Macdonald and Wollombi Rivers, with their numerous tributaries”. This includes families on the Hawkesbury River around Sackville, near caves on Tuckerman’s Farm at Addy Creek and Hall’s farm “Lilburndale” on Robert’s Creek. Aborigine Tom Dillon occupies a site around a river bend just downstream in the Portland Head Rock district. This becomes the place where Mathews meets more Darkinung. (Ford 209).

In 1897, R.H Mathews goes by buggy with his two younger sons to the Hawkesbury river Aboriginal camp to see Charlie Clark. He sits down with members of “the Darkinung tribe” and identifies their language as “Darkinoong” and “Darkinyung”. Mathews finally settles on the spelling “Darkinung” for publication. Mathews writes that all the cultural information he obtains is: “by personal inquiries among the few old natives who still speak their own dialect” and “every word has been written down by myself in the camps of the [A]borigines, and much time and care has been bestowed upon the work”(Ford 215, 239).

Mathews records the Darkinung language and identifies his informants as: Tilly Clarke, native of Hawkesbury, Mrs Henry Barber amended to read Annie, native of Wollombi and Tom Dillon’s sister, Mrs Everingham; Joe and Jack Gooburra and Kunda whose father is a native of Wollombi. The below entries deal with Darkinung expressions and grammar:

Mathews thus names the Aborigines of the Hawkesbury branches and the Hawkesbury/Hunter ranges as the “Darkinung tribe”. This occurs nearly 70 years after their country is first identified in 1824 by a Hawkesbury Aboriginal companion to John Blaxland junior as Wallumbi (Wollemi or Wallambine). The pronunciation of their country by the last Darkinung “fullblood” initiated man, Joe Gooburra, is spelt Wallendbine.

Of Darkinung country, Darkinung people, and Darkinung culture Mathews writes: “One of the principal dialects was the Darkinung, which was spoken by the natives occupying the country on the southern side of the Hunter River, from Jerry’s Plains downward toward Maitland, extending southerly to Wollombi Brook, Putty Creek, and including the Macdonald, Colo, and Hawkesbury Rivers...A small remnant of the Darkinung Tribe, numbering about sixty persons – men, women and children – are at present located on a Government Reserve on the left bank of the Hawkesbury River, about twelve miles below Windsor [at Sackville] …Two initiated men surviving – Joe Gooburra, a pure black, and Charley Clark, a half-caste…with whom I have been acquainted for some years…On the north the Darkinung are bounded by the Wattung (Kattung) and other tribes…on the other side of the Hunter River; on the west they are joined by the great Wiradjuri community…Kamilaroi touched the north-west corner of the Darkinung territory about Jerry’s Plains” .(Mathews, the Burbung of the Darkinung Tribes; Ford p295-6)

Two of Mathews’ key cultural informants for the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges are Charley Clark and Joe Gooburra. Although Charley Clark (or Charlie Clark with possible alias of Charlie Comfitt) is a “half caste”, he is the last Aborigine known to practice traditional culture. Mathews: “Charley Clark, native of Broke speaks Dharkinung language, [paints] hands in cave near where Dick Wiseman lives [at Laguna].” Mathews also notes “Joe Goobrah (Goobra, Gooburra, Gooburrah)…lives at the Hawkesbury camp”. Both are fully initiated men and have known kinship and personal totem names: Charlie is Ippai, grey kangaroo; Joe is Kubbi, bandicoot. Mathews has been acquainted with both men for many years. He seemingly knows them from Broke on the Wollombi Brook. (Thomas, Culture in Translation, 31-32; Ford 214).

Gooburra and Clark provide Mathews with information on the Darkinung bora initiation ceremony (Burbung). Mathews publishes “The Burbung of the Darkinung Tribes” (1897) and concludes: “On carefully studying the initiatory rites of the Wattung, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi tribes…traces of all their ceremonies are distinguishable in the Burbung of the Darkinung tribes. This is only what I should expect to find among a people surrounded by powerful communities”. (Ford 211-214).

Mathews meets the father of “Andy” and records him as “John Barber, 68, native of Hawkesbury – Darkinung”. John Barber informs Mathews about cultural heritage, especially Rock Carvings. (Mathews Notebook, in Ford p213-4).

Death of Joseph Gooburra (Goubra, Goodbra) in hospital. Joe is the last known man born to traditional parents who left surviving offspring. Of all of his 13 children, only one survives him. She marries an Aboriginal man believed to be the grandson of convict Lampet Saunders at the Hawkesbury River. Gooburra is the last known “full blood” from the Hawkesbury-Hunter ranges to undergo traditional male initiation. (Mathews, 1897, The Burbung of the Darkinung Tribes; Ford, 135).

1897c Mathews contacts Aboriginal man Ephraim Everingham via Miss Margaret Hall, at Lilburn Cottage beside “Lilburndale”. Ephraim provides some cultural information. (Ford 212).

Cricket is the sport many Aboriginal men enjoy and in which they excel. The Oakville XI consist of the Barber, Packer and Everingham families, all of Aboriginal descent from Sackville Reach or who later marry into Aboriginal families. When the Aborigines play for the champion Sackville cricket team, it is said “they had flash”.


1898 There is a constant movement of Aborigines departing the Windsor district. Some Aboriginal people apply for and receive (others refused) from the Aborigines Protection Board railway passes to journey to join their husband (Millthorpe near Bathurst), to Walcha Road Reserve (near Tamworth). In February, Maggie Barber requests a railway pass to Singleton. She has to explain where she is going and what she is doing there. She advises that she had employment at Singleton with the Rev James White, a champion for the rights of Aborigines in the area.

In March, “Dillon” and “Goobra” applied for railway passes from Windsor to Singleton. (APB Minutes in Brook, 1st edit, 26. Records “closed” for 100 yrs).

Sackville Reach is the home of generations of Aborigines.

R.H Mathews, surveyor, locates a rock shelter on the left bank of the Hawkesbury River at the lower end of Sackville Reach. He writes that the roof is: “much blackened and begrimed with the soot of camp fires; and judging from this, and the accumulation of ashes on the floor, this shelter has probably been the haunt of Aborigines for several generations”. The paintings in the cave consist of 40 two-hand stencils and one boomerang. As many were faint, Mathews concludes they are of considerable age. (Brooks, 1st edit, 17-18).

Maria Lock is living at Field of Mars on Lane Cover river. It is almost as remote from day to day interference as Sackville.

Edward Saunders applies for roofing iron to build a house at Singleton. (APB Minutes; Brook, 1st edit, 30)

128 blankets are handed out at Windsor. (Brook 1st edit, 28).

September 1. Police report the death of “the oldest [A]boriginal in the district”, Tommy Cox at the age of 75 (born 1822). The APB pays for his funeral. Tommy is buried at Sackville Reach, probably at the Aboriginal cemetery near “Lilburndale” close to West Portland Road. His passing is the end of an era. “King” Tommy is the last local Aborigine linked to the colony’s formative years. His mother Betty Cox is of mixed Aboriginal and European descent. (Brook, 1st edit, 28).

December 8. An extension of forty acres to the Sackville Reserve is approved. (Brook, 1st edit, 29).

During 1898, Tom Dillon and Johnny Goobra (Goubra) apply for railway passes from Windsor to Singleton but the APB decide that the men do not belong to Singleton. Tom and his family occupy a small bark hut on the land that becomes Sackville Reach Aboriginal Reserve. (Brook, 1st edit, 54).


1899 Death of Billy Murphy (King “Yellow Billy”) of Segenoe and Gundy, probably at Gundy but possibly at St Clair. (Brayshaw, Gundy, 235)

Arthur Bartle is born 1869 on Eastern Creek, his wife Louisa Emily Lewis is the daughter of Tom Henry Lewis of Marra Marra Creek and a descendant of Matora Bungaree. Arthur is the grandson of Maria Byrnes (Buggrone from Freemans Reach) and he joins the Australian Light Horse Brigade and serves in the Boer war. Arthur is the son of Mary Ann Bartle nee Thomas. W229.

Aboriginal pottery. A “blackfellow’s water-bottle of curious design” is found in the Wollombi district by resident of Watagon Creek, Mr W. Brown. The bottle is 10 inches high, appears to have been fashioned of clay on the end of a small round stick, and burnt until it assumed the consistency of potteryware. (Maitland Mercury, 3 August 1899, compliments of Ian Webb, Maitland Historical Society).

The church on Sackville Reserve, which doubles as a meeting room, is completed in October 1899. It is officially opened on 10 January 1900. (Brook, 1st edit, 24).