Dead Ships – Sydney Heads
Genesis of Toowoomba
The Townsville Story
Lecture on Aboriginals
The Bunya Terror
AND NORTH HEAD
“Who shall ever write the romance of the North Head of Sydney Harbor? How many people who pass in and out between those two headlands pause to think of the weird, wild tales that could be told if those grim, grey, stern rocks had a voice.”
If all that has passed in or out of that entrance was photographed by light on the dark rock front of that North head, what amazing pictures would fragment on the surface, if they presses on the forehead of some subtle souled psychometrist, reveal to his astonished gaze.
Denton’s “Soul of Things,” would be tame by comparison. Think of the procession of now dead ships that passed that giant sentinel rock since January 26, 1788, or 134 years ago, when the Sirius came round from Botany Bay, accompanied by the transport and store ships, and sailed into that unknown harbor, and way up to their anchorage in Sydney Cove, off where the Circular Quay is today.
Picture some Prometheus chained on that headland for those 134 years, and try to imagine what scenes he would have witnessed, watching through the dark shadows of the silent night to the hour when all the sky grew radiant with the glory of the dawn, and, in the words of Kendall, he “saw the ships, like sheeted specters, fading down the distant sea!”
On February 14, Phillip Gidley King passed that North Head in the Supply, with one officer and six marines, nine men, and six women convicts, one midshipman, and Surgeon Jamieson, from whom Jamieson Street is named, passing away to the eastward on that journey from which from which no one ever returned, and of which nothing was heard until Captain Dillon, of the research, found some mournful relics on the Island of Malicoola in 1829.
What dramas, what appalling tragedies, what awful scenes were represented by some of the ships that passed out through Sydney heads, never to return!
Among them was a barque called the Peruvian, bound in 1849 from Sydney to China, wrecked far off Cape Cleveland, and from the solitary survivor the terrible story was heard seventeen years after.
That survivor was James Murrells, who was 17 years among the wild blacks of the Burdekin, and was brought to Brisbane in 1863.
Seven miserable survivors only got ashore at Cape Cleveland, including the captain and wife and child and Murrells, and they were kindly treated by the blacks; all finally died except Murrells.
They had left the wreck on a raft, and made west for Australia, every day someone dying from thirst and starvation, to be thrown over to huge sharks that followed them day and night. They cut off a dead man’s leg, tied it to an oar, and caught a shark, which they ate raw, and drank his blood.
It is all a terrible narrative, beyond the power of the imagination.
Buried in the sand dunes and in the sand beaches of the Queensland coast and island are the spars and masts and timbers of hundreds of ships from Moreton Bay to Cape York, ships that sailed out of Sydney and vanished like La Perouse, trackless into blue immensity.
Two ships, called The America and Mary Ann Broughton, passed that North Head in 1831 and in that year Captain Blackwood, of the Fly, and M’Gillivray found the names of both vessels cut on two trees where they were wrecked on the Bunker Group. Some bottles and broken dishes and the soles of a child’s shoes were all the remnants. Ah, me! Those two little soles!
And those were two large ships of 600 and 500 tons. And in 1849 two more ships, the Countess of Minto and the Bolton Abbey, passed the North Head, to be totally lost on that same Bunker group where they had gone for guano.
Captain Allen, of the Countess of Minto, became in after years, harbour master at our Newcastle, and there are probably descendants living there today. A ketch called the Vision sailed out past the North Head in 1854 in charge of Captain Maitland, who went to Brisbane, took five white men and an aboriginal, to the Percy Islands, where four of the white men were killed by the blacks, one being a naturalist named Strange, and the one white man who escaped on shore was Walter Hill, who in 1855 became the first Curator of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
In 1847 a fine vessel left Sydney for Port Essington, and was wrecked on the Percy Islands, having on board three priests going to start a mission among the aboriginals. Two of the priests were drowned and Father Anjello afterwards got to Port Essington where he died delirious with fever from deprivation among the blacks.
Through the Heads in 1859 passed the barque Sapphire, to be wrecked in Torres Strait with eighteen of her crew and passengers,
Killed and eaten by Hammond Island blacks.
Past that North Head on April 29, 1859 sailed the Tam O’Shanter, Captain Merion, escorted by H.M.S. Rattlesnake, with all of Kennedy’s expedition of 13 men, of whom only Carron and Goddard and the aboriginal Jackey (Galmahra) ever returned.
Through the Heads in October 1831, passed the Stirling Castle, with Dr. Lang’s 59 Scottish mechanics, and years after, that vessel, in charge of Captain Fraser, was wrecked, on Elizabeth Reef, and of all who reached the Queensland coast, only Mrs. Fraser survived, being brought into Moreton Bay by a wild white named Bracefell, an escaped convict called “Wandye” by the blacks with whom he lived for ten years. The first steamer to Brisbane from Sydney, the James Watts, passed under that North Head, in 1837. Governor Gipps passed there on his way to Moreton Bay, on his visit in March 1843.
The steamer Sovereign passed there in 1858 for Brisbane, to later be totally wrecked at Amity point, and only ten survived out of 94.
And one morning in 1857 Prometheus awoke after a dark, tempestuous night to look out from his rock and see the North Head rock strew with wreckage, and the solitary survivor of the wreck of the Dunbar clinging to the face of the cliff. All the crew and passengers had gone down with captain Green into the remorseless sea.
They were unlucky ships, those Dunbars, as they were all wrecked, the Duncan Dunbar ending on the Roccas Shoal and the Phoebe Dunbar wrecking at Moreton Bay.
My brother, the late Alexander Meston, took his passage in the Dunbar on her fatal trip, and missed the last boat going out to her at Liverpool in 1857. He then came out to Melbourne in the Themis, Captain Rogers.
Following the Dunbar, within a week, came the Catharine Adamson, wrecked inside the South Head.
And from the vanished years I recall my first visit to that wild North head, on the day Rev. J. A. Pillar – if my memory is reliable- an eloquent Unitarian minister, and classical scholar, went over that cliff, by design or accident, to discover the “grand secret,” and solve the riddle of what the wild waves are saying.
There is no need to go to Greece or Rome or past ages for poetry or romance.
On that wild North Head alone there is poetry and romance in the next hundred years for Australians.
WRITTEN EXPRESSLY FOR THE TOOWOOMBA “CHRONICLE”
That opening of the railway on April 30, 1857, meant the dawn of a new era for Toowoomba. For a time the town would be the depot for all the trade of the west, and of settlement which was rapidly extending in all directions.
What would otherwise have been a day of great rejoicing was sadly marred by a series of unfortunate circumstances. There had been a continuance of heavy rains, so that all the creeks and rivers were flooded, and all the low lying lands from Ipswich to Helidon were under water. There were washaways on the line and there was considerable risk in traveling by rail. Apparently Sir George Bowen was not prepared to face the ordeal, and Macalister was prevented from going by some cause which is not explained. The Governor’s absence was a great disappointment, as there were elaborate addresses from Toowoomba (signed by Mayor W. H. Groom) and Drayton (signed by Mayor James Houston). There was also an excellent and practical address from the German people, who thoughtfully included a dozen bottles of wine, and a collection of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
There were two trains from Ipswich with visitors, but three wheels of a carriage of the second train ran off the rails near Highfields, involving only a delay of about three quarters of an hour. It is doubtful if this would be rectified so smartly today.
The trip up was rather depressing, owing to the damaged state of the maize and cotton crops and the washed away fences.
The first arch spanned the railway on top of the Range, and in the town itself there were seven or eight arches in the streets.
The “Queensland Guardian,” a paper of that time in Brisbane, said there were 3000 or 4000 people on and around the hill at the Royal Hotel, but the “Queensland Times” said there were 7000 or 8000. That is where the addresses were delivered, and the Minister for Lands received them on behalf of the absent Governor, and in a brief speech declared the railway opened, amid tremendous cheering.
An Ipswich Artillery Corps fired a salute of 17 guns, and an Ipswich Volunteer Band played the National Anthem.
Then a procession formed, led by the Oddfellows, who marched away heroically through beautiful soft red mud from six to nine inches in depth – very insinuating, and distinctly adhesive.
The followed a large Cobb’s coach with the P.M.G., Minister for Lands, and other celebrities, after whom a lot of Peto, Brassey and Betts’ draught horses, gaily caparisoned and decorated. But the Rifle Brigade jibbed at the red mud, shook their heads and “passed!” They were not prepared to rehearse any trench warfare.
The banquet was given in a big store belonging to Nutter and Co., a building that had been the Theatre Royal. The tables were laid for 200 guests. The chair was occupied by Mr. W. H. Groom, M.L.A., and the vice-chair by Mr. T. G. Robinson. Mr. Groom proposed “The Governor,” and the Minister for Works replied. Mr. Groom then proposed “Success to the Completion of the Pioneer Railway of Queensland,” a toast cheered with great enthusiasm. The vice-chairman proposed “Ministry and Parliament,” and the P.M.G. responded. Dr. Challinor, M.L.A., also replied. Mr. Groom proposed “The Contractors,” a toast replied to by Mr. P. Ogilvio, representative of Peto, Brassey and Betts. The general jubilee ended with a grand ball at night, where all the talent and chivalry of the Downs were present. Among the guests were D. Challinor, Engineers Cross and Ballard, Dr. Barke, St. George Gore, Edmund Morey, Father Brem, and Boyle. Mr. White, the P.M., was the M.C. of the evening. Alas, how many of all that gay band of revelers are left to us today! We may feel with Dr. Johnson, when he shed tears over the thought that all the brilliant assemblage of Ranelagh Gardens would be extinct in another 70 or 80 years. Ballard was the man who, in after years, was Chief Engineer, at Rockhampton, the man who wrote a clever and original book on “The Pyramids,” a book that attracted much attention in the scientific world. Ballard’s theory was that the Pyramids were the Geodorites of the Egyptians.
Edmund Morey was one of the very early squatters, and took up Mitchell Downs, on the Maranoa, about 1854. He was afterwards for many years a well-known Police Magistrate. When the train was returning next day to Ipswich with the visitors, it was stopped at Grandchester by the floods.
Mr. Groom wrote to John Douglas, then Colonial Treasurer, strongly urging him to establish a bonded store at Toowoomba at Toowoomba. Douglas replied that he had not provided for it in the Estimates, but if brought up in the House it would have his support.
In May of that year there was a large public meeting to consider the question of gold prospecting. Mr. W. H. Groom was in the chair. A man named Bernard Joseph showed some fine quartz gold specimens which he said were found within 10 miles of Toowoomba.
In 1860, Charles Bell got a considerable amount of gold in Canal Creek, and two Melbourne mining men were much impressed with the gold bearing probabilities of Thane’s Creek and Gore’s Range. To me it has always been a surprise that so little prospecting has been done in the Main Range, the mineral deposits of which we know next to nothing. One day there will surely be important discoveries among those at present unknown mountains. There will be a great opportunity for parties of enterprising Toowoomba young men to form prospecting parties, accompanied by an experienced miner, to prospect that Main Range to the junction of the McPherson.
How many people remember that after the railway started, the Government placed a toll bar on the road over the Range, and charged 20/- per ton on all traffic, to discourage all vehicular traffic in favor of the railway. Yet that preposterous obstruction – a relic of the Dark Ages – was actually there for some time until public opinion swept it away into oblivion. A large public meeting was held at Ipswich to denounce that toll bar, and it carried fiery resolutions.
The old bullock teams “died hard,” and continued in some places for a long time in competition with the railway, in the same spirit that made lots of old time sportsmen cling to the muzzle loader long after the advent of the breech-loader.
Cleveland Bay was proclaimed a port of entry on October 10, 1865.
The first direct vessel from Sydney was the Rangatira, in charge of Captain Harley, whose arrival was celebrated by a banquet at the Criterion Hotel, situated on the Strand, the first hostelry in Townsville.
This vessel arrived on February 15, 1866, and had on board the Hon. Robert Towns, and marked the occasion of his first and only visit to Townsville. The wealth and enterprise of his firm, and his political influence, combined with the careful and vigorous administration by J. M. Black, were highly instrumental in placing Townsville on a firm foundation. Black, the real founder of Townsville, called the hill overlooking the site after Castletown, and suggested the same name for the town, but the Lands Office called it Townsville, as a compliment to Robert Towns.
Robert Towns was born in Longhorsley, Northumberland, England, on November 10, 1794, and died at Cranbrook, Rose Bay, Sydney, on April 4, 1873. A portrait by the Australian artist, Lawson Balfour, was recently presented to the City of Townsville by the Bank of New South Wales, and is now hung in the Town Hall. This was a fine gesture by a grand old banking institution which opened a branch in the city on March 20, 1866, and enjoys the distinction of being the first bank of its kind in Australia. Robert Towns became a director in 1851, and later president of the Bank of New South Wales and he took an active part in its wonderful expansion.
Cleveland Bay is a very attractive feature of Townsville. It was first seen and named by Captain Cook on June 6, 1770.
Perhaps the first whites to land on any part of that coast were the unfortunate people wrecked far east of the Cape in 1849, in the barque Peruvian, bound from Sydney to China with a cargo of timber, and washed ashore after terrible hardships on the north-east side of the Cape. They were evidently well treated by the natives but all died within a year or two, except a seaman named James Murrells, usually called Jimmy Morrill, who remained with the natives for 17 years, until rescued by his old countrymen in 1863.
On January 25, 1863, he walked up to the newly formed Jarvisfield Station, on the Burdekin, and was nearly shot before he was recognised as a white man. He had scrubbed himself with some sand, and even then was as dark as a mulatto. He called out: “Don’t shoot; I’m a British object!” having almost forgotten his own language.
Murrells was living at Bowen during the first land sale there of Townsville land, and an allotment in Flinders Street, on which Woolworth’s premises now stand, was knocked down to him for the upset price of £8, and sold later by his son for £10,000. That was the year of the land boom, when syndicates purchased suburban lands from the pioneers for subdivision into allotments and sale at public auction, which left many Townsville men the wiser and sadder for the experience.
The bay is a glorious expanse of water and ideal for the boating fraternity. In the winter months the water is invariably calm, and at intervals so placid that not a ripple can be discerned on its wake surface, and the wake of a vessel remains visible for some miles. During the rough weather, usually between December and March, it can change its mood and assume an angry appearance, the waves lashing the shore with great fury, creating a roar like the distant roll of thunder.
Along the shore is a very fine stretch of about a mile and a half from Ross Creek to Kissing Point, of clean, hard beach, which forms a natural esplanade, and available at any turn of the tide. A retaining wall has been constructed along this portion of the foreshore, and the Strand is now a delightful promenade and drive. As money becomes available the whole length of the sea frontage along the Strand will be further improved and beautified, for it is indeed the dress circle of Townsville. Already an example of what can be accomplished is the enclosure known as the Strand Park. This park is situated near the imposing building known through the north entrance as the Queen’s Hotel, and is tastefully laid out with ornamental trees, shrubs with foliage of variegated colours, and lawns of couch, giving the whole scene a wonderful and tropical effect.
There are some handsome memorials to fallen soldiers and noted citizens. Band concerts are held in the rotunda, and on these occasions many people are attracted, and may be seen either reclining on the soft turf surfaces or sauntering about the lawns and beach while enjoying the excellence of the instrumental items. It is also a popular place for children, where every provision is generously made for their enjoyment. There is also a splendid bowling green, where the demon bowlers while away their leisure time in a game of that very ancient sport.
Adjoining the park are the Tobruk Memorial Baths, built to Olympic standards, having underwater lighting and provided with filtration and sterilization plant, and considered one of the finest baths of its kind in Australia. These baths are a great asset to Townsville, and are much used by the people at night, as well as the day, throughout the year. It was here, amidst picturesque surroundings and ideal climatic conditions, that some of the contestants did their training to which they attributed in some degree their amazing success at the last Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Alongside these baths, is a popular children’s playground, a memorial to the late Sister Kenny, who carried out her first work on the treatment of sufferers from poliomyelitis in Townsville.
Past the Convent, which occupies a commanding position on the Strand, to a point opposite the Hotel Seaview is fringed with Moreton Bay fig trees, providing acceptable shade from the tropical sun. In fact, the whole length of the Strand is now tree lined as a further step in the beautification of this area.
A short distance from the site of the fortifications at Kissing Point are erected well furnished huts for the use of country members of the Country Women’s Association, or others who may desire a change of scene and climate from the inland towns.
From Kissing Point, on whose brow the aboriginals chanted their dismal songs in opposition to the mourning wailing of the restless surge, the beach sweeps away north to Cape Pallarenda, a favourite picnic resort and motor drive, and is then lost to view. Between these two points nestles Rowe’s Bay, charmingly situated amidst peaceful and interesting surroundings, a spot to soothe and make vivacious the spirit of man. In Rowe’s Bay is located the Bush Children’s Home in this growing residential area. A road around Kissing Point, or through the hill, would be a great advantage to Townsville people, and tourists visiting the north.
There was much diversity of opinion in the past regarding the climate of North Queensland. Provided we pay the slightest attention to ordinary hygienic laws, there is no part of Queensland we need be afraid to reside in.
No climate is to be held responsible for defective drainage, disregard for sanitation or contempt for rational dietetic laws. The temperate man who lives in accord with nature and his surroundings will find all parts of Queensland adapted fro himself and family, Townsville schools will show boys and girls whose health and vivacity and vitality are equal to those of any part of Australia, though they may not wear the fresh rosy colour conferred by colder climates and higher altitudes. The general health of the North, the low death rate and the longevity of life combine to frame a splendid testimonial to the climate.
The person who can appreciate the beautiful will see much to admire in the scenery visible from the deck of a vessel in Cleveland Bay. The Cape Cleveland Range may be seen to the east, the stately form of Mount Elliott rising to a height of 4050 feet away to the south-east, and from the south to the west one can see the fantastic peaks and domes and serrated ridges of the Main Coast Range. At the northern entrance to the bay are Cape Pallarenda Range and Many Peaks, and to the north the gorges and ravines of Magnetic Island, and away are Bay Rock Island and Palm Islands and the lofty summits of the mountains of Hinchinbrook Island and the Cardwell Range. Southwest of the mainland is the city of Townsville.
The first white man’s architecture in Townsville was a lagoon in North Ward, where Comerford’s Dairy was one situated, the site now being occupied by modern homes. The first was built on Melton Hill, erected by John Melton Black from timber sawn out of tea trees growing on the edge of this same lagoon. Most of the early settlers resided on The Strand, between the Tobruk Memorial Baths and Ross Creek. The township was then approached from the west side of Castle Hill.
The opening up of Flinders Street and the building of a wharf were the first undertakings of Black, without any assistance whatever from the Government of the day but the pioneers were rewarded latterly to some extent by certain concessions in the nature of pre-exemption for improvements on allotments at the first sale of town land.
The first sale of Townsville allotments took place at Bowen on July 31, 1865. They comprised 69 blocks of one quarter of an acre each, and embraced the main street frontages from Ross Creek to the corner of Stanley Street, down Wickham Street, and along the Strand to and including the Harbour Board’s land. About half of the allotments was subject to computation by arbitration. J. M. Black, who had ridden across from Townsville on behalf of principals, Towns and Co., was the foremost purchaser. Bidding was keen and every piece found a buyer.
In January, 1865, Francis Charles Hodel arrived with material for building purposes to cope with the demand at the time when the population and trade were increased by branches of Bowen firms, who found it notice to use the port at Townsville for their western business.
The first woman resident was Mrs. Peter Lander, who kept a store where the old premises of the Bank of New South Wales stand and the first white native was William Townsville Boyes, born on August 5, 1865. He was the son of W. W. Boyes, who arrived with his wife in 1865 in the three masted schooner Policeman (Captain Till). Boyes, senior, built the first baker’s oven and made the first baker’s bread.
The first Police Magistrate, Lang Agent, and Collector of Customs, was James Gordon, the only passenger on the Santa Barbara when she entered Bowen in 1859. As Crown Land Agent, he once offered all the allotments in Flinders Street East for sale, and sold those not passed in at £5 each.
The first water was obtained from a well sunk nearly opposite the old post office, which was situated on the land adjoining the old premises of Bartlams Ltd. In Flinders Street.
The first beef came from a bullock shot by Andrew Ball on the front beach, and it was duly consumed by the assembled population of some sixty persons. The first export trade was confined to pastoral produce.
On Thursday morning last a man named Gavin Hamilton, a clearer on the second section of the railway, met with his death in a most shocking manner. He, in company with a mate, was engaged in burning off in the gully by Beard’s cutting. A tremendous fire was flaming at the bottom, and Hamilton, who was on one side of the gulch, called to his mate to help him roll down a heavy log.
As soon as it started, however, Hamilton somehow lost his balance and was precipitated right into the burning mass, head first.
His companion made desperate efforts to extricate him, getting severely burned about the arms in his courageous attempt to save Hamilton, but without avail. He shouted for help, and his cries brought the men down from the cutting, who, with buckets of water, succeeded in reducing the fire.
Hamilton was by this time charred to a cinder, but by means of a forked stick and rope, they succeeded in drawing his body out of the furnace.
His remains were at once placed upon a stretcher and conveyed to Hart’s Hotel at Barronville, the proprietor with his usual kindness at once placing a room at the disposal of the contractor.
The accident occurred at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and at 8 pm, Mr. Meston, J.P., held a Magisterial inquiry into the circumstances attending his death. The deceased was unmarried, twenty three years of age, and a native of Paisley (England), but had been for many years in Canada.
Mr. Buchanan, on hearing of the occurrence, at once gave instructions for a coffin to be made, and at midnight it was completed and the remains of the unfortunate man placed in it.
To the Editor of the Brisbane Courier,
Sir,- First let me say that the late “Fred. Campbell” of Amity Point and I were intimate acquaintances for several years, and that he entrusted me with some of his private papers and a sketch of the lives of his father and himself. The article you published yesterday he read over to me three years ago, and we had a long discussion on the various incidents. I called his attention to one or two errors which he intended to correct before publication. He mentions the Moravian missionaries at Stradbroke Island, whereas the missionaries at Dunwich were Catholic priests sent there in 1842 by Archbishop Polding, who removed them to the Sandwich Islands in 1846. Their names were Reos, Snell, Lewis and Morris.
The Moravian Germans went to German Station in 1838, and stayed there, except those who left the colony. He mentions Pamphlet and Finnegan, coming to Amity Point from Point Lookout, whereas their own narrative proves that they were wrecked on Moreton Island, and were ferried over in canoes by the Amity blacks. Parsons was the third man.
The story of the mailman walking from Dunwich to Sydney and back is of very doubtful origin, though Campbell was satisfied it was correct. The first version I heard under the following circumstances:-
In 1870, when on a visit to Queensland, I was staying with Muir, of Benowa, on Nerang Creek. Accompanied by a half-caste named Billy Harper, and a blackfellow named “Tullaman,” I walked from Nerang Creek to Point Lookout, where we found a camp of eight or ten blacks. While camped beside them for three days, I heard of the white man killed there a long time ago, and the locality and mode of killing were minutely described. [Billy Harper and three white men were afterwards drowned out of Rawling’s boat in crossing the Nerang bar, and Tullaman was killed in a night row near the present Nerang township].
That fact appears to be established; but the mail theory is a wild improbability, when we consider the chances of a solitary man traveling along 400 miles of coast across many rivers, and round many bays and inlets, and safely running the gauntlet of wild blacks for the whole distance – seeing no whites until he reached the penal settlement at Port Macquarie. There was in any case no such desperate necessity; for there was regular communication by sea; as schooners ran to and from Sydney bringing supplies and taking away produce, and interchanging convicts.
There is a record that Logan instructed the blacks at Stradbroke and Brisbane to kill certain desperate runaway convicts who were described for identification. Probably the Point Lookout victim was a runaway who had wandered far to the south and was returning to the penal settlement. In 1870 the blacks called this mysterious stranger “Jalwang-booyal” – “Knife long,” or “long knife,” probably referring to a cutlass he carried Apart from this –
He passed, nor of his name and race,
Hath left a token or a trace.
Referring to the wrecked vessel out of which came the flour and tar for the corrobboree, we have to remember that soon after Captain Philip started the Sydney Cove Settlement, many ships took the Northern route by Timor and Batavia, and several were wrecked on the Queensland coast at least twenty five years before Pamphlet and Finnegan. Embedded in the coral of the Barrier Reef, and buried far under the sandhills of the coast and islands, lie the remains of many a good old oaken ship that went down with her crew and cargo to a nameless grave, far back in the by-gone years.
And at least the blacks of St. Helena (“Noogoon”) and Bribie Island saw Flinders and his men in their cruise round the Bay in 1799, and those of Bribie had enough cause for an unhappy remembrance.
You are right in saying that Campbell’s untimely death is to be earnestly regretted. Such a man could have written an interesting and instructive book. He spoke two aboriginal dialects, the “Cateebil,” of Ipswich, and “Coobennpil,” of Lytton and St. Helena.
His father, old John Campbell, was the fifth squatter on the Darling Downs, where he took up Westbrook in 1841, and, subsequently, Tamrookum, on the Logan, in 1842. He started the first Queensland boiling down and fellmongery at Kangaroo Point in 1843, the same year James O’Brien inaugurated boiling-down at Yass. I hope in the future to give a biographical sketch of the late Fred. Campbell, and extracts from some papers placed in my care.
In the meantime, I may inform your correspondent “T. W.” that Campbell was not born at Kangaroo Point. His birth was on the 1st September, 1838, at Murrurundi, in New South Wales, the first white child born in that locality. This was four years before his father moved to Kangaroo Point,
I am, sir, etc
Mr. Meston’s Lecture Entertainment
An Unqualified Success
The Telegraph Wednesday Evening, September 30, 1891.
Seldom if ever has the Theatre Royal been more densely packed than it was last evening on the occasion of Mr. A. Meston’s lecture on “The Aboriginals of Australia,” with illustrations from real life.
The lecture was given in aid of the Bribie Mission Station. By 20 minutes to 8 o’clock, it was a case of turning money away, hundreds being disappointed, thus proving that the management were not at all too sanguine in relying upon the drawing power of what proved to be the most unique entertainment ever put on the stage of a theatre. Had the management secured the Opera House they would have had the satisfaction of seeing it filled. The curtain rose on a scene as picturesque as it was novel. Standing in two rows at the front were the children of the Bribie Mission Station with Mr. Tyson and the school teacher. Behind them was a number of aboriginals, representatives of a number of tribes once numerous about the northern shores of Moreton Bay; but which are fast dwindling away, until, as in the case of one of them, the last man only remains.
These aboriginals were “made up” in elaborate fashion, most of then being decked in the garb of glorious war. A stuffed cassowary, a kangaroo, a native dog, and a gunyah, gave additional suggestiveness to the picture.
The wings were representative of forest scenery, and the black cloth gave an admirable idea of a road in Queensland, away from the busy haunts of men.
Amid these surroundings Sir Charles Lilley at a few minutes past 8 stepped to the front, and, in introducing the lecturer, expressed his delight that so large an audience had assembled to hear Mr. Meston’s lecture, the object of which was a benefit for the Bribie Mission Station.
In no man’s hands in Australia, said Sir Charles, could a lecture of the kind be better placed than in the hands of Mr. Meston, no man being better equipped to do justice to such a subject. The remnant behind him (the speaker) was a small remnant of a very interesting race of man, many more of whom might have been saved had they in Australia done their duty.
Mr. Meston, who was warmly greeted, prefaced his lecture by expressing the particular, satisfaction it afforded the friends of the aboriginals to see that the public of Brisbane had responded so nobly to assist the mission.
The lecturer then took up the theme of the origin of the Australian aboriginal nature, showing how widely writers on the subject had differed. He criticized the argument that the origin of the race might be traced back through the similarity of words used by the aboriginals with those used by other races, and by analogous argument showed the futility of attempting to prove where the aboriginal came from, describing it as hopeless a task as to try to prove the origin of the kangaroo. Regarding the standard of the race, he referred to Darwin and Haeckel, who had repeated the old mistake that the Australian aboriginal was the lowest type of humanity. He denied that such was the case, asserting that those who held that view spoke in profound ignorance of the subject. There was a tendency among conquerors to underestimate the races whom they had conquered, and that was particularly the case respecting the Australian aboriginal.
Mr. Meston dwelt briefly on the history of Tasmania and the fate of the native there, beginning with Captain Marion du Fresne, who, in 1772, had the dubious honour of being the first white man to come into collision with the aboriginals; but the first serious collision with the natives occurred in 1803, when Lieutenant-Governor Collins and his party were all murdered at Hobart, whither they had proceeded with the object of forming a penal settlement. From that period onward the destruction of the Tasmanian black was unparalleled, until in 1865, the last black man had died, the last picanniny dying in 1876.
After dealing at some length with the language of the aboriginals, Mr. Meston alluded to the missionary enterprises which had been attempted, instancing as the first mission station that which had been formed at Parramatta, the most successful mission, having been established in South Australia, by Bishop Hale.
The first mission in Queensland was the result was the result of the efforts of the late Dr. Lang, who in 1838 induced 10 German missionaries to settle at German Station, but it was a failure.
Another mission was started in Queensland by Archbishop Polding, with two Italian priests, at Dunwich, who, however, were no more successful than the Germans at German Station. Another mission was attempted at Port Essington on the northern coast of Australia, but it ended disastrously. Latterly mission work had been revived, and was now almost epidemic. There was the mission at Bribie, there was another in the Cairns- Herberton district, and one or two were being established on the Batavia River.
The lecturer then remarked that it was of no use to say that Queensland had treated its blacks worse than the other colonies had done. The men who did the pioneering of the colony had dangerous work to do, and there were many temptations in doing it. He would say, let the dead past bury itself. They could not help the past, but they could not atone for it, and he was certain the people of Brisbane would render enthusiastic assistance. In traveling over the colony he had seen much of the blacks, and he had observed how utterly demoralized they had become, especially outside the little townships where grog and opium were doing their deadly work. He wished he could become an absolute despot for six months, and he would blot out those two things, which were utterly indefensible. Referring to the collisions which had taken place with the blacks in Queensland, Mr. Meston maintained that the troubles between the pioneers and the natives arose through the races not understanding one another. This was especially manifest where the pioneers had not respected the boundaries of the localities of the tribes.
Reference was then made to the collision between Matthew Flinders and the blacks at Bribie, in 1799; to the trouble at the Endeavour, where Captain Cook (who was held in deserved veneration) landed for the purpose of repairing his ship; and to the cruise of the Rattlesnake.
The lecturer then claimed for the explorers an honourable record in their dealings with the blacks, affirming that the troubles recorded arose mostly from the acts of subordinate members of the expeditions, not through the explorers themselves.
Special reference in this connection was made to Leichhardt, McKinley, Walker, and to W. O. Hodgkinson (Minister for Mines), the last-named never having fired at a native from the beginning to the end of his exploration trip in 1876.
The next phase of the subject was the residence of white men among the blacks, the names mentioned being Buckley, who escaped from the penal settlement in 1822; James Davis (Durramboi), who escaped in 1832; John Graham, who went with the Wide Bay blacks in 1832, and who was instrumental in saving Miss Fraser; Booraoba, who escaped to the Upper Brisbane, John Kent, and Jimmy Morrell.
The religious belief of the aboriginals was next dealt with, the lecturer showing how widely the beliefs of the tribes differed. Several legends of the aboriginals were then given. Mr. Meston here left the stage for a brief interval to appear again in a costume of black tights and trunks more suited to the exhibition he was about to give.
This was a contest with a weapon called a sword, but which looked more like a cooper’s stave, and which is claimed to be an exclusively northern weapon. Mr. Meston used the sword, unwieldy though it appeared to be, with considerable dexterity. His opponent, armed with a nullah and a shield, defended himself with agility, but the heavier weapon triumphed and the sable warrior was removed from the stage. Mr. Meston then described the various instruments of warfare in use by the natives, and showed how they were used, among which were a Hinchinbrook Island shield, a Russell Island shield, a spear from the Palmer, a club, and the boomerang.
He also showed how Inspector Kay met his death, at the hands of a black who was at his side, the inspector being under the erroneous impression that a spear could not be used unless it were thrown from a distance.
The lecture was interesting throughout, and was embellished with many pointed and amusing illustrations, and stories.
Mr. Meston spoke almost entirely ex tempore, and the grasp of his subject showed how much he had studied the habits and customs of the Australian aboriginal.
The lecture was divided into quarter of an hour parts, and the interval between each part was filled with interesting exhibitions of native customs and warfare.
The first native scene was a war dance, in which representatives of 15 different tribes were engaged; then came a part in which the women did the honours in supplying exhibition of tracking and then a corroboree and the music.
This was followed by an exhibition of spear throwing at a wood target fixed at the back of the stage. Most of the spears pierced the boards of which the target was composed, some actually entered the cracks made by previous shots, the lecturer remarking that a man would feel bad if served in that manner.
The cunning of the aboriginal was fully brought out by an illustration of the deceiving signs of peace used for the purpose of decoying an enemy.
Another corroboree followed, the music for which was given in the Lytton dialect. A nullah and shield combat, in which four blackfellows were engaged, was the next performance, followed by a nullah and boomerang contest, the weapon of defence being a shield in each case.
The “last man” of the Moreton tribe was engaged in this exhibition, and he made a hit by touching his head on regaining his feet, after being vanquished by his opponent.
The last performance of the natives was one of the best pieces of stage acting that could be conceived. A white man is represented as having camped for the night and has courted “nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,” never to wake again. An aboriginal approaches, with catlike stealth until within striking distance of the unconscious slumberer. The uplifted spear descends, and a few writhes and contortions, and all is over. As an example of realistic acting the death struggles of the blackfellow were really remarkable. Satisfied that his victim is dead, the murderer departs. He is soon followed by a black tracker, who, after viewing the body and the surroundings, gets on the murderer’s trail, and follows it up.
Meanwhile the murderer with a number of his tribe returns and just as a carousal is about to take place, the black tracker rushes into their midst, and leveling his gun, fires point blank at them.
The back scene immediately rises and discloses the mission children ready to sing a hymn, and they sing “Come, Let us Adore Him.”
The twin scenes represent the aboriginals in a state of savagery, and the condition of the young under civilising influences. The scene was well managed, very realistic, and was received with enthusiastic applause.
During the interval, Mr. Tyson expressed thanks to the chairman, the lecturer, and the audience on behalf of the Aborigines Protection Society.
THE DAILY MAIL, BRISBANE. 1923
MURDERED BY THE BLACKS
What percentage of the people of Australia could tell us the particulars of Captain Cook’s death, and when, and where, and how he died?
Very little of Cook’s history is taught in our schools, and of all that history the least known are the particulars in the mournful tragedy of his death. The only complete account of that last, sad, terrible scene, was written by David Samwell, the surgeon of the Discovery, and he was eye-witness of the whole tragical spectacle.
Why so able and clear headed and usually extremely cautious a man as Cook ever placed himself in so perilous a position, and took such terrible risks, with apparently so little to gain, is indeed a hopeless conundrum. For once, evidently, his caution and foresight had deserted him.
In a miserable, sordid, foolish undignified squabble over a small cutter, probably worth at that time about £25, the cannibal savages of a Pacific Island brutally murdered one of the most brilliant and immortal navigators the world has ever produced. It is only necessary to read the whole of Samwell’s narrative to be astounded at the want of caution, if not the actual want of common sense, displayed by Cook and his people throughout the whole transaction. His allowing himself to become involved in such a position at all, when any one of his officers could have been deputed for the interview with the chief, was error enough, but to trust himself in the power of dangerous savages, of whose numbers and disposition and fighting qualities, he knew next to nothing whatever, was a blunder for which there appears to be no reasonable explanation. That catastrophe on the island was a truly pitiable and unromantic termination to a splendid naval career, not paralleled in its glory even by Colombus.
On February 11, 1779, the two ships Resolution and Discovery, anchored off the island of Owhyee, now spelled Hawaii. It matters not who was responsible for the audacity of changing Cook’s spelling to the present idiotic and misleading orthography.
Cook wisely spelled all his words phonetically, and the natives of that island pronounced the name )-why-ee, just as they do today, and Cook’s spelling was strictly correct. The Cooktown blacks today pronounce the word “kang-aroo,” not kang-garoo,” exactly as spelled by Cook in 1770, but the word was the name of the big toe, and not of any of the marsupials. When Cook’s ships anchored, a lot of natives came on board to barter pigs, yams, sugarcane, and feather cloaks for articles from the ships, especially long iron daggers made on board by the armourer.
On the second day the natives stole some articles from the armourer’s forge, and were pursued and fired at, but they escaped. That was practically a declaration of war, and for Cook to trust himself on shore at their mercy after that looked very like an act of madness.
On the same night, they stole one of the cutters, and the launch and another cutter, with armed crews, went out to look for the stolen boat. Then Cook went ashore to the village of Kavaroa to try and coax the chief, Kareopoa, on board, and hold him as a hostage until the stolen boat was returned. After actually starting hostilities, he went ashore to take the chief from the midst of his warriors, when they were very excited and thirsting for revenge for some of their slain and wounded comrades. The folly of it all savoured of infatuation, and is beyond infatuation.
The King apparently consented but Saturday down to talk it over, a great crowd of natives around them, some very excited, a few of them armed.
At that moment, a canoe arrived with four men to say that Cook’s men, who were looking for the stolen cutter, had killed a chief called Karamon, on the other side of the Bay. This was fatal spark in that already too sensitive magazine. The natives put on their war mats, and armed with spears, daggers, clubs, and stones.
Cook told the marines to march down to the edge of the water, and form on the rocks, near the boast, as a cover for the land party. Cook followed, leading the chief by the hand, an old priest singing a noisy song, doubtless a war song, and an old woman threw her arms round the chief’s neck, and implored him not to go on the ship.
A chief named Coho was seen to be watching for a chance to stab Cook, or one of his men, with a dagger, and an officer struck him with the butt of a musket.
Then came a shower of stones; the marines fired into the crowd, threw down their muskets, and rushed into the water to reach the boats, leaving Cook alone facing a host of infuriated natives. Cook had fired small shot at one, but the mat stopped that, and Cook knocked him down with the butt of his musket. Then the savages rushed on them, dragged those who could not swim on to the rocks and killed them.
Cook was a few yards ahead of the marines when they fired, the stones shower had the effect of knocking a Lieutenant down, and as her was rising a native struck him in the back with a spear, but he recovered himself, shot the native dead, and escaped into the water, leaving Cook alone on the rock.
He was seen walking towards the pinnace, holding his musket under his right arm, and his left arm on the back of his head to ward off the stones.
A native stole up behind him, hit him on the back of the head with a club and ran away. Cook staggered for two or three yards, fell on one hand and on one knee, and before he could recover, another native ran up, drew an iron dagger from beneath his feather cloak, and struck it viciously into the back of his neck, Cook falling into the water beside the rock, where it was only knee deep. A crowd followed and tried to drown him, but being a powerful man, he made an heroic struggle for his life, got his head up, and waved his hand to the pinnace for assistance, but the natives got him under water again, and even once more he got his head up and tried to scramble to the rock, but a savage struck him on the head with a big club, and he was not seen alive again.
So we may picture some magnificent brave old lion being finally torn down and killed by an overwhelming horde of jackals or hyenas. One savage Saturday on his shoulders, and hammered his head with a stone, while others struck him with clubs, then hauled him up dead on the rocks, where they struck him with their daggers, banged his head on the rock, and used every ferocity on the dead body.
Four of the marines were killed. Corporal Thomas and Private Hinks, Pinochet and Allen. About 30of the natives were shot dead, and several more wounded.
The body of Cook and his comrades, the four marines, were left lying on the rocks when the natives fled from the guns in the boats, which went back to the ships, and left the bodies exposed to insult from the savages who carried them all away to the top of a hill.
Cook was killed by a chief named Nooah, and the first man who struck him with a club was a chief named Carrima-na-Coaka. On February 15 a native came off to the ships with a large piece of flesh cut from one of Cook’s thighs, and on the 20th a chief named Ecapo came with another bundle containing the thighs and legs joined together, without the feet, the skull with all the bones, the face wanting, the separated scalp in the bundle, with the hair cut short, the two hands complete, with the skin of the forearms joined to them. The hands had not been in the fire, but they were salted, and several gashes were cut to receive the salt. The hands were recognised by a cut on the right, between the thumb and forefinger.
Cook’s sword and gun were afterwards recovered, and, on Sunday, February 21, 1779, the mangled remains of the great navigator were committed to the deep, a salute of 10 cannon being fired as a final requiem.
One of the early biographers wrote that: “In the extent and value of his discoveries, Cook surpassed all other navigators. His surveys, latitudes, and longitudes, are extremely correct, and he may be said to have been the first scientific navigator.”
His widow received a pension of £200, and each of his children £25, about equal to £400 and £50 today.
In 1762, he had married a Miss Elizabeth Batts, who had six children at the time that Cook was killed.
Cook was born on October 27, 1728, at Marston, Cleveland, Yorkshire, so he was 50 years 3 months and 18 days of age when he was killed.
His father was a farm labourer and farm bailiff, and at 13 the son was apprenticed to a haberdasher at Staths, near Whitby. One writer says he was apprenticed to a grocer.
In 1752 he appears as a mate of a coal ship, and in 1750, as master of a sloop, in the navy, with the fleet in the St. Lawrence against the French.
His skill as a hydrographic surveyor, his bravery, and judgment, led to his promotion, and in 1764 he became marine surveyor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and commander of the scientific expedition sent to witness the transit of Venus at Otaheite on June 3, 1769. He was married at the age of 32.
From Otaheite, he went to look for the “Southern Continent,” sailed round New Zealand, went west until he sighted the east coast of Australia, on April 19, 1770.
He had come from surveying the Aleutian Islands , and from Behrings Straits, to winter at the Sandwich group, which he had discovered, when he anchored ay Owhyee in that fatal February of 1779.
One marvels how Cook managed to have converse with the natives a couple of days after his arrival, until we remember that he was there before, for sometime, and must have learned a little of the language and prepared a vocabulary, otherwise how could the chief sit down to talk over the proposal for him to go on board Cook’s ship, or how could Samwell know the names of the various chiefs, of even the name of the village, Kavarea?
That knowledge was acquired on the previous visit, when the relations were amicable between himself and the natives, and they rated good friends.
The easy going, complacent, and friendly attitude of the natives at the first visit evidently entirely misled Cook as to their true character on his second occasion, otherwise he would never have made so terrible a mistake as to try to take the chief from the midst of his tribe, especially after Cook’s men had actually shot one of the Chief’s people.
There are only two wise methods of dealing with savage races. You either go among them unarmed, and let them see that they are implicitly trusted as friends, or go fully armed with a force strong enough to wreak terrible vengeance if they are disposed to be hostile.
Cook chose neither one nor the other, with the usual result with half way house measures.
He choose only a few armed marines, using only muzzle loading old flintlock muskets of those days, before even the deadly bayonet was invented by the French; even those marines, after the first charge, threw down their muskets to save themselves, and left cook to his fate, an action not at all in accordance with the traditions of the British Army or Navy. It is fair to say that Australian soldiers or marines of today would either have brought their leader into safety or died beside him. And they would have died as hard as Cook died and left a much bigger gap in the enemy ranks than Cook’s marines did.
On Saturday last Senior Sergeant Martin drove me out to where some of the police were camped on Cabbage Tree Creek, a distance of about twelve miles from Brisbane.
This was the locality in which the mysterious kanaka had been camped for some considerable time, probably eighteen months or a couple of years.
Near here were found the camps which had formed his base of operations, and from which he sallied forth periodically to rob hen roosts and dairies and selector’s gardens.
Near here was the scene of the murder of Bridget Baker, a crime for which the kanaka is said to be responsible.
On arrival at Collin’s selection, we found all the police out on search duty except Constable Toomey, whom the Commissioner had deputed to accompany me on my tour in the surrounding country. From here Sergeant Martin returned to Brisbane.
Learning from Toomey that the kanaka was robbing selectors sixteen miles away in the Basin Pocket, under Mount Samson, I decided to start over in that direction at once. Removing my clothes, I put on a pair of close fitting merino drawers and skin-tight merino shirt, light sandshoes, and started, armed with a reliable Tranter’s revolver, specially granted for the occasion by Gartside and Son, and proved by me on trial to be fairly certain death to any two legged or four legged animal inside of a hundred yards. In addition, I carried one of my favourite scrub knives, a weapon quite as effective as a sword at close quarters. We went across a series of steep spurs and deep ravines, rough quartz and gravel country covered by bloodwood, spotted gum, she-oak, and stringy bark, over the head of the South Pine River until we arrived at Eaton’s selection on Cedar Creek.
Here, Mrs. Eaton kindly invited us to have something to eat, and we afterwards followed up the creek to Mr. Owen’s selection, the chief camp of the police in search of the kanaka, and arrived there in grand form after a rough walk of twelve miles.
All the police, including Sergeant O’Loan, Constable Forrest, Detective Johnson, and two blacks trackers were away over at Glover’s, about six miles distant, the scene of an extensive robbery the day before.
In the morning, Toomey and I started with the first dawn of daylight, and, after a rough walk of six miles, arrived at Glover’s at 6 o’clock. About an hour afterwards Sergeant O’Loan, Detective Johnson, and the two trackers arrived from a neighbouring selection. I was informed that they had followed the tracks for a mile and a half the previous day, and were now off to continue on the trail. Mr. Glover’s house was robbed some time before daylight on Friday morning. The kanaka had entered a back door, opening on to a skillion storeroom, out of which another door opened into a dairy. Out of the dairy, he took 20lb of fresh butter, and, out of the storeroom, 70lb of flour, 60lb of sugar, half a blanket, five pumpkins, and sundry small articles. Out of the kitchen, he took a small saucepan. On the east side of the house, he opened a bedroom window, put his hand in and took out half-a-pound of tobacco and a box of caps, leaving untouched a purse containing £9, lying on the dressing table.
It appears he has a soul above money, and never was known to include this base and sordid article in any of his robberies. The box of caps he left on the grindstone outside.
The extremely delicate nature of his movements will be understood when we find him entering the two rooms, at least three or four times, and opening a bedroom window, and robbing it while young Glover was calmly sleeping on the bed.
The total weight of the articles actually taken away, including four pumpkins and a gramma, was about 215lb. About fifty yards from the house was a spot where he had put down the flour, and evidently had adjusted the whole of his swag to make it more convenient to carry.
Glover’s house stands about 100 yards from the edge of thick scrub extending over a series of steep spurs on to the head of Cedar creek, and thence down the valley and along the watershed of that creek to the South Pine River. At the back of the house, a timber track runs away for a mile and a half into the scrub. Along this road, the trackers professed to have found the kanaka’s tracks. Relying on their statement, and, unfortunately making no search myself at the starting point, I accompanied the whole party to where the trackers turned off the road up through thick scrub out on to a forest spur and found themselves at fault.
Not caring to interfere with Johnson and the blackboys, I took Toomey and went away along the spur, turned down into the scrub towards the creek, and crossed and recrossed the gorges in various directions in the vague hope of intercepting tracks running to the east or south.
We came to a deserted hut in which the kanaka had camped one wet night, and made his fire just beside the bunk on which he had slept. Round this hut was a considerable area of felled scrub, over which had grown a dense rank undergrowth, which I traversed in all directions, the thin drawers not saving me very effectively from the stinging tree and the thorn apples. We followed down a branch of the creek along the ravines, through thick scrub, and over loose rocks, until we reached the junction, and then returned up a long spur to the hut in time to save ourselves from a very heavy thunderstorm, during which rain fell in torrents for about an hour.
We were joined at the hut by Sergeant O’Loen, Detective Johnson, Forrest, and the two trackers. When the worst of the rain was over, we travelled across country to Owen’s on Cedar Creek. The trackers had never recovered the tracks on the forest spur, and had been traveling all day at random.
Before starting that morning from Glover’s, I saw at a glance that the trackers were worse than useless. One of them is an ancient patriarch familiar to Queen Street citizens as a collector of stray pence, and a pathetic appealer for substantial sympathy on the ground of being one of the last surviving monarchs of a rapidly expiring race. His chief diet for some years has consisted chiefly of rum. After a month or two of enforced sobriety, he might possibly detect an odd track or two of an elephant across a ploughed field.
The other was a younger and more active black, whose tracking powers were equal to following the trail of a timber wagon along a muddy road. These two talented myalls were about as effective warriors on the war trail as two old women with sandy-blight and smoked spectacles. Moreover, they moved along in mortal dread of the kanaka, not daring to walk ten yards away from Johnson.
Believing them to have led Johnson entirely astray, I started next morning alone, followed the range round until opposite the basin, and struck straight across the scrub to Glover’s.
There was, of course, only a very remote chance indeed of finding a track after a heavy thunderstorm and a wet night. My opinion was that the kanaka had simply walked up the timber track to the forest spur and back to mislead his pursuers, and that he had either skirted the scrub and entered it at another point, or gone straight across the open valley into the scrubs at the foot of Mount Samson. Had I looked for his tracks the previous day, before any rain fell, instead of being misled by the blacks, I should certainly have found them and never left them until the rain came on. In any case I should have made sure of the direction he travelled. I crossed the valley to the Mount Samson Range, skirted the spurs of that range to the head of Cobble Creek, ascended the eastern ridge, followed that ridge until it entered the scrubs at the head of Cedar Creek, and came round on to the track emerging behind Glover’s house.
On arrival there, I found Constables Leslie and Perkins, who had discovered the four pumpkins and a gramma on the steep bank of a creek behind the cultivation about 200 yards from the house. I followed the fence round and found two tracks, one where the bare foot had flattened out a piece of rotten wood, and the other where one heel had left an indentation in the side of a cow track beside the small raspberry bush. I was, therefore, correct in my belief that he had doubled back, and either entered the scrub elsewhere or gone across the basin to the opposite range.
It was impossible to follow the track as the grass had completely recovered itself, and all other marks were washed out by the rain. Had another tour round the scrubs behind Glover’s, and returned there at night to camp. These scrubs today were full of leeches, and my drawers from the knees down were red with blood. Ticks are also very numerous, the most poisonous I ever met with. Constable Forrest took over twenty off himself during one day.
On Tuesday morning, I started across to the Samson Range, accompanied by young Glover, a strapping hardy youth of 18 years, ascended the range behind Michael’s selection, passed right along the summit, over Mount Samson, where on the highest point I cut my hand on a board nailed on to a stump, beside the signal pole, and I followed the range right around to the head of Cedar Creek, over all the peaks. This gave me a complete knowledge of the whole country. It was no holiday excursion. No trace or sign of the kanaka. Of course once the tracks were lost they could only be recovered by mere chance. We were not even aware of the way he went and might be searching for him at the head of Cedar Creek, and the artful dodger many miles away. He carried off enough provisions to last himself six weeks at least, and he could afford to remain in close concealment for that period.
One rare and splendid chance of capturing this kanaka was unfortunately thrown away. He had robbed a selector familiarly known as “Harry,” living on the crest of a hill two miles to the northeast of Owens’. He carried away about a hundredweight of groceries and beef, and took all down through the scrub to his camp, about a mile and a half in the ravine below. This camp was accidentally found by Constables Forrest and Toomey about 9 o’clock in the morning. The kanaka heard them coming, let the tent fall flat on the ground, and then left abruptly. Forrest remained on watch, and Toomey went away for Detective Johnson. During his absence, the kanaka came cautiously back, but saw Forrest before reaching the camp and vanished in the scrub, Forrest making a hopeless effort to overtake him.
In the evening, Forrest, Johnson, and Toomey waited for his return. He came back with great caution, saw Johnson, threw up his hands and ran, two of the police firing at him without any result. He evidently sustained no injury, as a day or two later he committed the robbery at Glover’s.
He is evidently an active powerful man, not at all likely to be taken alive unless surprised when asleep. He is profoundly cunning, and devotes his whole reasoning faculties to the planning of fresh robberies and schemes for evading capture. At present the locality he inhabits is merely a subject of wild conjecture. In the absence of tracks his discovery must be purely an accident. Perhaps not a sign of him will be found until he is driven to commit a fresh robbery.
Two first class trackers, the best obtainable, ought to be sent out to replace the two aboriginal fossils who are at present simply misleading the police.
He commands a practically unlimited area of cover among the adjoining ranges. In diet he is rather an epicure, being a connoisseur of butter and fat pullets. In one of his camps were found the remains of over a hundred fowls. He is fond of fowls, butter, eggs, pumpkins, sugar, rice, and jams.
The police have performed their duty conscientiously, and a lot of very hard work has been done by Detective Johnson especially, while Sergeant O’Loen and Constables Toomey, Forrest, Leslie, and others had their fair share of what is really very unpleasant and disheartening work in by no means agreeable country. It is my duty to mention here the genial hospitality received in the households of Mr. Owens and Mr. Glover, and the courtesy everywhere shown to me by the police, particularly Sergeant O’Loen.
In the absence of tracks I was personally able to do no more than four days’ rough work, when urgent business demanded my return to town, but I hope to go back in a day or two and make a further effort to obtain a personal interview with the mysterious kanaka who has, for at least three years, defied all attempts at capture.
In conclusion, I have to express my grateful thanks to Mr. Commissioner Seymour for the very kind and graceful manner in which he assisted me to obtain even this amount of reliable information regarding the “Bunya Terror”.