Where Leichhardt Died




The fate of Leichhardt has lain hidden under the dark canopy of seventy four vanished years. In this article, I am raising that canopy for the first time, and revealing a secret held by me since the year 1878. And among other reasons for recording it here is my knowledge of the fact that it will reach a wider circle of readers than if published in any other paper in Australia. Of that fact, I have no doubt whatever.

        The present very deservedly popular Governor of New South Wales has kindly written to me that he “reads my articles in ‘The World’s News’ with avidity,” a compliment highly appreciated, and I gladly hope this article on Lost Leichhardt will not interest Sir Walter Davidson and all the other usually appreciative readers of “The World’s News” with any smaller interest.

        Why was this secret not given by me to the world before today? It is a natural question, and the answer requires that I shall go back to that year of 1878, when two Warrego River aboriginals were brought in by a Warrego squatter to Ipswich, a town 24 miles from Brisbane.

        In that year, I was editing the old “Ipswich Observer,” now the “Daily Observer,” issued from the “Brisbane Courier” office, and had a general knowledge of two aboriginal dialects, the “Yucumbilla” of the coast and the “Kamilroi” of the Namoi, a dialect understood over a wider area than any other in Australia. The squatter brought the two blacks over to my office, and it was a remarkable interview. Their dialect was quite unknown to me, and the Yucumbilla dialect was equally unknown to them, but we reached a neutral zone when I asked them, “Yamma guinda Kamilroi?” (Speak you Kamilroi?). The Namoi blacks pronounced it “Kammil-rye.” To shorten a long story, a three days interview with those two blacks satisfied me that a party of white men had been annihilated in a night attack by the blacks on the Upper Warrego, on a creek they called “Boonderra-bahla.” They gave me a most circumstantial account of the whole tragedy. And yet the squatter told me the object had never been mentioned by the blacks to himself or any other white men on the Warrego.

        I told him the two blacks belonged to the same class as myself, the “Bunburri” of the West, and the “Barrang” of the coast, that we were brothers in the third Bora degree, and that they would hide nothing from me or tell me an untruth.

        Not long afterwards, I read all that was known of Leichhardt, including his letters and journals, and also the journals of Hovenden Hely, who went in search of the lost explorer in 1852.

        Picture my intense interest in Leichhardt, on finding that the blacks told Hely that the explorer and all his party were killed on a creek called “Bunderabala,” at once recognised by me as evidently the “Boonderra-bahla” of the two Warrego blacks interviewed by me in Ipswich three months before. Being thus once on the track of Leichhardt, it became a fascinating study, as I sifted the whole subject down to the bedrock, and waited impatiently for a chance to go west to the Warrego, locate the fatal creek, and hear the whole story over again, extended and completed by the old Warrego blacks.

        When Gresley Lukin was editing the Brisbane “Boomerang,” a very smart weekly long since extinct, I contributed a number of articles which attracted a lot of personal correspondence, among the letters being one from W. H. Kent, a fine type of man once well known in Brisbane.

        It was the most interesting letter I had ever received, and the most astonishing. Kent told me in that letter how he was lost on a certain range, at the head of a certain river, and when threading his way through a thick scrub, with tree ferns and palms, beautiful springs, small rivulets, and tiny waterfalls, he saw the entrance to a large cave with a small opening, and he entered, to find only black darkness before him, until he went out and made a torch of some dry wood, and was then astounded at what he saw around him.

        A cave of unknown size, with small alcoves and natural stone benches of black basalt, with human skeletons everywhere, some lying on the floor, some extended on the stone benches, others apparently standing against the walls of the cave; skeletons in all attitudes, a “truly weird, amazing, and uncanny scene,” such as I certainly never saw in all my own experience, and no such scene has been recorded from any other part of Australia.

        Kent’s letter has no suggestion that any of the skeletons were those of white men, and he does not even allude to them as those of aboriginals. We may easily assume that a lost man, in strange country, not knowing if he would come out of it alive or dead, was not likely to be interested in the scenic effects, the romance, or scientific interest of that cave. He says in his letter:-

“The whole scene, under the circumstances, gave me a feeling of unspeakable horror, and I came out into the daylight with a feeling of intense relief.”

        But in the few minutes in that mysterious cave, Kent saw, on one of the black basalt benches, some apparently brass instruments, like those of a surveyor, possibly compasses, aneroids, artificial horizons, such as an explorer would use, and kent suggested they might be some relics of Leichhardt.

        He was in no mood to carry any of them away, or even touch them, so they were left undisturbed, the end of his letter being an earnest appeal for me to go and try to fathom the mystery of that cave at the earliest opportunity. Two years afterwards I was away on the Warrego, went out on the Langlo, and the blacks took me to “Boonderra-bahla” Creek, showed me where Leichhardt’s last expedition ended, and related the whole story.

        Years afterwards, that story was very clearly endorsed in all detail by old blacks I met on the heads of the Warrego, Maranoa, and Mackenzie; also old men from the Paroo and the Thompson.

        Even during the nine years I was Government Protector of Aboriginals in Queensland, 1895 to 1904, I met old Western blacks with a very clear recollection of the tragedy of Leichhardt.

        The year 1895 was only 47 years away from 1848, and blacks were then living from 20 to 30 years of age when Leichhardt’s party were killed, and I met at least three who were actually present at the tragedy – “Coothalla” (the eagle-hawk), “Coobardoo” (gidya), and “Cambool” (the bloodwood).

        There were others whose names I cannot remember, and my manuscript is in Brisbane. On the Nogoa River, I met two old blacks who gave me minute details of that scene on Boonderra-bahla Creek, and all the tales told to me by blacks, some 200 miles apart, were perfectly consistent and unanimous.

        Of their truth I never had any doubt whatever.

        When Leichhardt got to the Langlo, he was clearly turning north to reach the Gulf watershed, but undecided whether to go north or west, so he formed a camp at a big waterhole in the creek, had yards erected, and everything arranged for his people to stay there, while he took one white man and one of his two blacks either Womai or Billy, and made a flying trip away north towards the Thompson.

        He went north about 80 miles, decided to return, marked a tree at that spot, the solitary “L” tree seen by Gregory in 1858, and then went back to join his party on Boonderra-bahla Creek.

        In the meantime, the blacks had apparently been friendly, and old men and old women, and keen-eyed boys, came to the camp day after day, bringing fish or eggs or honey, while carefully observing the daily life of the camp, the place where everybody slept, and the exact position of the whole equipment, all being daily reported to the warriors of the tribe.

        Couriers had been sent far and wide to summon the men of all tribes friendly to the Langlo River tribe, the intention being to make a concerted surprise night attack on the explorer’s camp, the white men being off their guard, suspicion disarmed by the continued friendly attitude of the blacks.

        The white men knew nothing of the “gathering of the clans,” or the fact that hundreds of armed blacks were within two or three hours’ march of the camp.

        Leichhardt, with his one white man and blackboy, returned from his flying trip to the north, Leichhardt so ill that he had to be lifted off his horse, and he evidently died on the same night or next day, for he was dead on the following night, when a big mob of armed blacks surprised the camp and killed the rest except one white man. The Warrego blacks called Leichhardt “Goorigann,” the “tall man,” he was 6 feet 2 inches; and the Nogoa blacks called him “Jirra-bnegalli,” “spine log.”

        The Warrego blacks told me that “Goori-gann” must have been dead (“goonteela”) during the tragedy, as he was found next day without a mark on him, the others being all speared or brained by nullas. The white man who was spared had red hair, and was regarded as a friend (“noolah”).

        The aboriginal Creator, “Biamee” (“Mirri-arahl”) has red hair, and no white man with red hair was ever killed by the blacks.

        Now, Classen was a red-haired German, and he may have been taken away west by the blacks, from tribe to tribe, far beyond the Cooper, and Hume’s story may have been strictly true.

        The half-caste boy seen by Stuart on Sturt’s Desert in 1862 may have been Classen’s son, as the 14 years that elapsed from 1848, and the boy’s age, would correspond exactly.

        The old blacks who were present at the tragedy, as young men, had not forgotten Classen’s red hair, or the fact that two of the whites, presumably Hentig and Classen, spoke a language different from the others. Leichhardt would also speak German to his two countrymen. The blacks also told me of Hely’s expedition of 1852, and of his coast blackboys deserting him because they were frightened to go to the place where the whites were killed.

        They also remembered the long ears of the mules.

        So far I have not written this account of the fate of Leichhardt, as I believed, and still believe, that some of his relics are in the cave discovered by Kent, and it was my intention to go there and see if they could be found as a final proof of the truth of the tale told by the blacks, but for various reasons, from time to time, the visit was postponed, really one of those cases of that extraordinary procrastination for which we can never give a coherent account to ourselves; but I hope to be in that cave in next November or December.

        So Leichhardt fulfilled his intention he expressed in a letter from the Peak Downs, of “dying in  Australia, for Australia,” and fate ordained that he was never again to see his beloved Lucy Nicholson. The blacks left all the bodies where they were killed, and Leichhardt where he died, and the horses, mules, and bullocks, were all speared from time to time and eaten.

        Here, then, but necessarily in a very condensed form, is at least a distinguishable outline of the fate of Ludwig Leichhardt, most interesting and picturesque of all Australian explorers, and a reasonable clearance of the mystery that has overshadowed the tragedy of that remarkable man for 74 years. The dark recesses of Kent’s cavern may reveal further secrets, but no more is needed to confirm necessary own implicit faith in the tale told by the aboriginals whom “The World’s News” readers may also accept as reliable narrators, with complete confidence.



The Asgard gates unfold again!

On coal black steeds with sable mane,

Ride forth the “Choosers of the Slain.”


Weird Sisters from the Spectral City.

With steel grey eyes that know no pity.


They seek some child divinely fair,

A blue-eyed girl with golden hair!


A mother’s agonizing fears,

A father’s grief – too deep for tears!


No power have these to turn, or flee,

The dark Valkyrie’s stern decree!


A sudden dreadful Shadow falls,

Across the floor, along the walls!


And awful as the Day of Doom,

The silence of that fatal room!


The mother kissed the dying child,

The fair young face looked up and smiled.


She saw the shadow on the wall,

She heard the voice from Odin’s Hall!


Cold was the black haired Sister’s breath,

The soft blue eyes are closed in death.


The slowly through the Asgard Gate,

Ride back the Messengers of Fate.


And radiant –twixt the leading pair,

A blue eyed girl with golden hair!


And elsewhere, in a darkened room,

A mother sits in voiceless gloom!


Hot tears are falling on the bed,

Her heart is colder than the dead!


Then! By a white recording stone,

Mother and father stand alone.


And read of one they buried there,

The blue eyed girl with golden hair!


And both in silence bow below,

A parent’s first and bitter woe.


The child they loved had gone before,

Where pain and sorrow come no more.


And Angel Spirits guard her well,

On Asgard meads of Aspbodel.


But oft the tears unchecked will flow,

From those who loved her here below.


She lives upon that burning scroll,

The ‘Younger Edda’ of the soul!





Daily Mail 30 July 1923

There have been only six white men “gone wild” in all Australian history, and only one “white lady.” Five of the men and the “lady” had their experience in Queensland only, the sixth man leaving his record in Victoria.

        In the year 1780, a bricklayer named Buckley, at Macclesfield, in Cheshire, became the father of a son, whom he named William. At 20 years of age, that boy entered the militia, and from there into the King’s Own Regiment, where he became involved in some trouble, which ended in transportation. When Collins went from Sydney to the present site of Melbourne in 1803, with a party of soldiers and convicts to start a settlement, Buckley was one of the convicts, a tall six foot six man of splendid physique.

        Collins only stayed three months at Port Phillip, and then went on to the present site of Hobart Town, but during his stay in Port Phillip, a number of convicts escaped, 12 altogether, including a party of Buckley and three others, who either returned or were recaptured, and promptly regaled with 100 lashes. But Buckley wandered away into the bush until he met a tribe of aboriginals, who either adopted him as the re-embodied spirit of some dead aboriginal or as a curiosity by reason of his immense stature, and impressive appearance.

        The blacks found him very hungry and gave him roasted opossum, which he declared to be the “sweetest thing he ever ate,” but the average boardinghouse steak would doubtless have received a flattering testimonial under the circumstances.

        When Batman went to Port Phillip he returned on some business to Tasmania, leaving his servants on Indented Head until he came back. Batman’s servants were astonished to see a very tall man, much lighter in colour than the blacks, walk up to the local camp of aboriginals and squat down at the fire in silence.

        On asking him questions he was unable to reply, but pointed to his arm, on which were the letters, W. B., and also a mermaid, a sun, half-moon, seven stars, and a monkey. His hair and beard and eyes were dark brown; he had a long beard, and bushy eyebrows, a 45in chest, 18in calves, low forehead, and walked erect with a military gait, really the ordinary gait of the Australian wild black. His height was 6ft 6in. Such a man, armed with woomera, spears, shields, and boomerangs, and a kangaroo skin cloak over his shoulders, must have been a remarkable personality.

        He was merely a splendid animal, of a low grade of intelligence, silent and morose, and no useful information was ever obtained form him. His brain capacity was far below that of the wild men with whom he had lived for 33 years. The only words he could find for Bateman’s men were “William Buckley” and “bread.” He was 53 years of age when found, and he finally died in Hobart on February 2, 1856, aged 76. He married a widow in Hobart, and the Government made him gatekeeper at the female convict factory, and also gave him a pension of £52.

In the year 1828 a convict named James Davis escaped from the penal settlement at Moreton Bay, and was adopted by the aboriginals among whom was one named Pambie Pambie, regarded as the reincarnated spirit of a son killed in a tribal fight some years before.

        Davis was the son of a Scottish blacksmith in the Broomiclaw, Glasgow, and must have been sent out as a youth of about 16, transported for misappropriating a few shillings and a parcel of sweets, the “sweeties” of the Scots.

        It is not easy to understand how Davis came to be sent to Moreton Bay, at so young an age, as that penal settlement was supposed to be occupied by twice convicted men, second only in badness to the convicts of Norfolk Island. However, we was sent to Moreton Bay, duly escaped, and lived for over 15 years among the blacks. After escaping he met the first blacks about where Sandgate is, and they passed him along to the tribe at Toorbul Point, where he received the name of Durramboi, pronounced “Dur-eumbye,” by the blacks, the name for little in the dialect spoken by Tom Petrie, who called it “Turrabul,” and Toorbul is only another spelling of the same word.

        When Davis was asked by me, in 1874, in the presence of Tom Petrie, why they called him Duramboi, he replied, with as much of a laugh as he was capable of, “Oh! I was only a little fellow!” And certainly he only looked like a boy beside the six foot two Tom Petrie, for Davis had never been more that 5ft 5in, and he was a very small man among the splendid types of Moreton Bay aboriginals of those days. Their average height was given at 5ft 10in by Dr. Lang in 1848, and at 6ft by Leichhardt in 1845. An aboriginal is always bigger than he looks.

        As no one recognised him among the Toorbul blacks, he was passed along the coast, finally to Wide Bay and the Mary River, where the tribes spoke the Cabbee dialect, quite different from the Waccah of Brisbane and Toorbul, though both dialects were understood of each other, just as German and French would be understood by the dwellers on both sides of the Rhine.

        The name of “Durrambye” was passed along with Davis, and retained until he was recognised as the long dead son of Pambie-Pambie, a man of the tribe of Thyeebalang, and then the wild father who adopted him bestowed the name of the dead son, and called him “Thurimmbie,” the name of the kangaroo rat, but Davis had an aversion to that name, and always retained the “Durrambye.”

        Old blacks of the Mary and Fraser’s Island told me 40 years ago that he was called by one name as often as the other, and that fact is mentioned by me on page 83 of my “Geographic History of Queensland,” of 1895.

        Several interviews were given to me by Durranbye, but though he gave me his confidence, he was a most cantankerous old fellow, and what little was obtainable had to be dragged out of him by patience and diplomacy. He had some interviews with Dr. Lang, but something went wrong, and before the parliamentary Committee of 1861 he accused Dr. Lang of “writing the falsest book that ever was written!”

        It has been truly said that “all war is a misunderstanding,” and there was certainly some serious divergence between Davis and the grand old Scottish warrior, whom nobody would ever suspect of willfully telling anything unreliable, but when one reads Lang’s mention of Davis in his “Cooksland,” the opinions of the ex-wild man become intelligible.

        When before the Committee in 1861, Davis said he had been with the blacks for 15 years and three months; that he had been with several different tribes; that the dialect of each tribe varied; that in a radius of 200 miles, they could clearly understand each other very well; and that he spoke four or five dialects. Davis only spoke one dialect, the Cabbee of the Mary River, extending from the Caboolture River to midway between Maryborough and Bundaberg.

        In the vocabulary given by Davis to Ridley in 1854, he calls the dialect “Dippil,” as “spoken around the Glass House Mountains.” That vocabulary shows conclusively that the “Dippil” of Davis was pure Cabbee, which stopped at Caboolture, and merged there into the Turrubul of Tom Petrie. The word “Burrambye” of Turrubul, became very slightly changed to “Durramye,” in the Cabbee spoken by Davis.

         The reader who requires proof will find it in the vocabulary given by Davis, to Ridley in 1854, in Ridley’s “Kamilroi and other Dialects,” and though Ridley spells the word for “little” as “Duramoi,” the actual sound was “Durramye,” which is not very far from Durrambye!

        And yet foolish people, actuated by pure ignorance, or the vanity of seeing their names or initials in print, some of them not capable of knowing an aboriginal from a Hottentot, rush in to show that they are the pure oracles, and Durramboi, Tom Petrie, and myself, are bogus pretenders, on whom no reliance is to be placed! Today there seems to be a law against everything except fools.

        To Ridley, Davis gave the name of his dialect as “Kabbi,” only Ridley’s way of spelling “Cabbee,” so the reader will see that the subject is fairly familiar to me.

        In the 15 years, Davis had become as wild as the blacks themselves, could climb a tree with a vine, throw the spear and boomerang, and use the shield and nulla effectively in peace or war.

        Stuart Russell, in his “Genesis of Queensland,” gives a very graphic story, and highly dramatic description of the scene when Durrambye was found among the wild blacks of the Mary River. Davis was a pure savage, who not only had gone back to all the habits and customs of the savage, but had become addicted to cannibalism.

        Of this there was very clear evidence given to me by old Thyeebalang blacks, but one has only to read the evidence of Davis himself, in his examination in 1861, to see how he seems to gloat over the cannibal feasts, and the dainty sucking pig character of those who were young and fat, to readily realize that Pickwick’s “fat boy” would not quite safe if Durrambye and a camp oven were anywhere in the vicinity, and Durrambye was hungry!

        On his return to civilization he adopted his father’s trade of blacksmith, at which he was expert, and he had a shop in George Street, where he remained until opening a crockery shop next to the old Lands Office, the present location of the Railway Commissioner and staff.

        Another escaped convict- this man’s name was Baker, who escaped from the penal settlement in 1832, or two years after Captain Logan was killed by his own men between Ipswich and Esk. The foolish story that Baker engineered the tragedy was therefore glaringly fictitious. Baker was out seven years with the Upper Brisbane blacks, when he was recovered, and he acted as interpreter for the two blacks, “Meriddioh” and “Noogamill,” tried in Sydney for the murder of Surveyor Stapylton and his assistant Tuck, near Mount Lindsay, in May, 1840. Both blacks were brought back to Brisbane and hanged from a spar projecting from the present Brisbane Observatory on Spring Hill



Courier 20 October 1923

        On my first visit to Queensland, as a youth, in 1870, or 53 years ago, I came form the Clarence in a centerboard dish bottomed iron schooner, the West Hartley No 2, Captain James Holden, who in after years kept the Commercial Hotel at Ballina, then an hotel at Maitland, and, finally, died about two years ago at Petersham, a Sydney suburb.

        An all-round good man was “Jimmy Holden,” and a thorough seaman. We came out of the Clarence Heads, by Iluka and Yamba, and over that ugly bar in a thunderstorm, and we had night, and storm, and darkness, and almost incessant lightning, until we rounded Cape Moreton and anchored close to shore. Some of the sailors started fishing, and caught a lot of tailor and whiting, the “poonbah” and “boorenn” of the blacks, and Holden woke the cook at midnight to give us a fish supper.

        The cook’s subsequent remarks set fire to the fat in the frying pan.

        After breakfast, we went ashore, and met about 20 blacks, big, athletic men, and fine specimens of women. At that time I spoke the “Yoocum-Yoocum” dialect, which extended from the Logan River south to midway between the Clarence and Bellinger, and all New England from Armidale to near Warwick, whence it was joined by the Wacca Wacca of the Darling Downs, the dialect which came down the north side of the Brisbane River to the sea and Toorbul Point, and down the Burnett to the sea at Bundaberg. All the intermediate space was occupied by the “Cabbie-Cabbie” of the Mary. In a number of dialects, the negative was duplicated to describe the language, just as English would be “No-no,” Scottish “Nah-nah,” French “Non-non,” German “Nein-nein,” and Italian “Nou-nou.”

        The Polynesian races call the French the “man o’ wee wee,” from Johnny Crepand’s too frequent use of his affirmative. On Moreton Island I was in a dialect new to me, but there were two Yoocum men there on a visit from the Talgiburra tribe of Nerang, and so we were all younger brothers, “bannama,” at once, and, after a delightful interview, or, in the perfervid eloquence of the immortal social columnist, “we had almost enjoyable party,” a death less sentence, renowned for its originality.

        The shining hour was improved by recording about 150 words of the Gnoogee dialect of Gnoorgannpin, and that old note book is now before me. In 1874, on my return to Queensland, I added 200 words, and those 350 are all that remain of an interesting dialect, now absolutely extinct with those by whom it was spoken.



Courier 25 August 1923

There were seven dialects spoken by the Moreton Bat tribes- the Yoocum of Nerang, extending to the Logan; the Cateebil, from the Logan to Brisbane; the Waccah, from the Brisbane to the Caboolture; the Cabbee, north of Caboolture; the Nhulla of Bribie; the Coobennpil of Stradbroke; and the Gnoogee of Moreton Island.

        What was called the Noonuccal of Amity was actually so nearly allied to Coobennpil that it could hardly be called a separate dialect, though it had its own negative and affirmative.

        There were three negatives on Fraser Island – Waccah, Cabbee, and Warr – but it was all one dialect.

        Stradbroke Island, as a whole, was known as Cheranggaree, and the tribes Cheranggaree- Cabalchu. The south end of the island was called Minjerribah, the name by which it was known to the mainland blacks. Mud Island was Bung-umba, Bird Island was Moppambilla, Peel Island Chercrooba, St. Helena Noogoon, Green Island Tanggeera.

        To the Stradbroke and mainland blacks, Moreton Island was known as Gnoorgannpin.

        In Coobennpil, the following were the names of the fishes:- Groper, coojung; bream, gnoolan; pike, yoocoh; dewfish, booigoom; blackfish, dang-alla; eel, chagine; silver eel, choorooin; garfish, joonboroo; flathead, duggin; horse mackerel, doolbie-doolbie; schnapper, bimba; crab, winyam; kingfish, decambilla; mullet, andaccal; tailer fish, poonbah; whiting, boorenn; pike, yooco; oyster, keenying-urra.

        Those are a few of the names taken by me from Coobennpil speaking blacks over 50 years ago, before the dialects were mixed.

        Brisbane was known to all the blacks at that time as Maginnchin, but the Cateebil people, on the south side, called it Meeannjin. That was the name of the spot now occupied by the Botanic Gardens, and meant the tulip-wood, also “guarrim-tenblerra,” of which there were so many splendid trees in the dense scrub which once covered the side of the Gardens.


The word Woolloongabba was the name of the creek that ran along parallel with the old Ipswich Road, and through Woolloongabba.

        It was a series of circular, or partly circular, clay holes, only connected in wet weather. Then the rain water would run from one to the other, swirling around in each hole before rushing into the next.

        Woolloongabba meant swirling water, but the blacks pronounced it Woolloon-capemm, from woolen the word for a whirlpool or whirlwind, and capemm, one of the names of water.

        Clement Wragge called his house, “Capemba,” meaning water there, the affix ba, or bah, at the end of an aboriginal word, being equivalent to our adverb of place there, so Capemba meant water there, just as Toowoomba means toowoom there, or the place where we get the toowoom.

        Mount Cotton was called Boolimba, and Joong-gabbin, and Bulimba was Toogoolawah. The hill near Bulimba, White’s Hill, was Numcarran, and where the ferry is, was Jing-gee-limbin.

        Mt. Gravatt was Caggara-mahbill, from Caggar, the porcupine, and the Hamilton was Yerrool, the old sandbank in front being Mooroo-mooroolbin, or “long nose,” from mooroo the nose, and mooroolbin, long.

        The blacks called Breakfast Creek at the mouth, Yow-oggera, and Yuoogera, but the u was mistaken for an n in the survey office, and it has remained Enoggera ever since.

        The place we call Enoggera was Booloor-chambinn, the name of the turpentine tree, and the tribe who lived there were the “Boondoorburra.” The old and long since extinct Brisbane tribe were called Boor-pooban-burra, the burra being the generic word for the aboriginal race, like the “Murri” of the Kamilroi.

        The site of the present Enoggera saleyards was Booiyooba. The point at Breakfast Creek, where the Harris family lived, was Garran-binbilla, the name of the horizontal vines used in lacing the supporting stays of a camp.

        Toowong was called Gootcha, one of the names of honey, and it also was a name of One Tree Hill. There were two native bees, one a little larger than the other, one being gootcha, and the other cubbye.

        To the blacks, One Tree Hill was known as Gootcha and Mappee, gootcha being honey, and mappee a word for the posterior, actually meaning the posterior of the range which ends in One Tree Hill, the aboriginal fancy picturing some imaginary resemblance arising out of their ingenious doctrine of correspondence. The hill got its unfortunate name of Coot-tha in the following manner: a gentleman named Radford, who was at the time acting as Assistant Clerk of Parliament, went to old “King Sandy,” “Gairballie,” and asked him what the blacks called One Tree Hill. Radford had been to Sandy several times before, and on each occasion forgotten to give the old fellow some reward, so, instead of giving Radford either Gootcha or Mappee, he wilfully, of most wicked malice aforethought, gave him a word, the use of which, if translated into English, would be rewarded with a fine of anything up to £5. Hence, the urgent need of removing it from the maps, and substituting Gootcha, Mappee, or Cubbye. Mappee, on the Russell River, was the name of the tree climbing kangaroo.

        Spring Hill was known as Woomboong-goroo, as that was the place where an aboriginal of tha name was killed by the relatives of “Dundahli,” a black who was hanged in 1854 for several murders of whites, hanged on the site of the present G.P.O.; and his last words to the crowd of listening blacks on Spring Hill conveyed an earnest wish for them to kill Woomboong-goroo, whom he accused of having betrayed him. His relatives and friends were careful to see that wish fulfilled, and Woomboong-goroo duly died on Spring Hill from the visitation of a nulla. Previous to that occasion, the old name of the hill was Mahreel, one of the names of a step-mother.

        In Vulture Street, South Brisbane, near the Dry Dock, is the old home of the Stephens family, of whom the father, T. B. Stephens, was at one time Minister for Lands. They called the home Cumbookie-bah, from Cumbookie, the freshwater crayfish, and bah, “there,” meaning the place where we get “Cumbookie,” which were numerous in two of the waterholes near Stephen’s house. Away out on the Ipswich Road was Stephen’s tannery, called Ekibin, that and Yekkabin being names of reeds which grew round the adjoining waterhole. The large flags of which the celery like roots were roasted, and eaten by the blacks, were called jinboora, allied with the Down’s blacks’ jimboor, whence came the name of Jimbour station, both words in the Waccah dialect.

        Cleveland was Nandeebie, Lytton was Gnaloongpin, and Wellington Point was Cullen-Cullen. King Island was Yeroobin, and Sandgate was called Moora, in Waccah, and Warrah by blacks on Stradbroke. Can we not create titles and elevate that genial old colonist, Jack Hayes, to the position of “Marquis of Moora”? Verily, Sandgate has changed since that 3rd of December, 1853, when Dowse and his son were badly speared by the blacks on the site of the present modest castle of the “Marquis of Moora.”

        One unfortunate aboriginal word has suffered more than usual, the word Tingalpa, pronounced Ting-al-bah by the blacks, from tingal, the word for fat, and bah, “there,” as usual, actually “the place where we got the fat,” originating with an early settler, who had a fat cow killed by a falling tree, and he presented her to the blacks, who had never seen so much fat before in all their lives, and they never forgot that cow. Now the fine euphonious aboriginal word is tortured into Tin-gal-pa!

        Another unfortunate word is Coorparoo, which the aboriginal pronounced Coor-poo-roo, with the accent on the poo; in the Cateebil dialect, the name of the old tribe of South Brisbane, who were the “Coor-pooroo-jaggin,” when the white man, with his choice collection of fellow scoundrels, made his advent on the sylvan scene.

        Indooroopilly was from indooroo, leeches, and pilly, a creek; Yeerongpilly, from yeerong, rain in Cateebil; and Jeebroopilly from jeebour, the flying squirrel.

        We pass now to the word Caboolture, from cabbool, the carpet snake, and cha, the name of the ground, actually the carpet snake’s ground.

        Old Sam Pootinngga, belonged to the Bo-obbera tribe, of Caboolture, and was the last man speaking the Waccah dialect of Brisbane. His country on the Caboolture was called Dow-oon.

        Now we come to the “Dippil” people of Duramboi, and the Glass-house Mountains. The Blackall scrub was known as Thammaleerie, the word for black soil, though it is mostly red. The Glasshouse Mountains had a variety of names in the Waccah and Cabbee dialects. One of them puzzled me for a long time, until it was explained by Alick Jardine, who named it when surveying there. The word is a compound from the Kamilroi, of New South Wales, and hence my surprise at finding it in Cabbee country. Jardine called the mountain Micatee-boomal-garri, from mickatee, the lightning, and boomal, to strike, accent on al, literally the place where the lightning struck. The mountain known today as Coonowrin was the coonoong-warrang of the old Cabbee blacks, from coonoong, the neck, and warrang, bad, hence the term “Crookneck” frequently used for that peak.

        Beerwah was from beearr, the Blue Mountain parrot, meaning the place where he rests.

        The two small hills, close to each other, were Bitheer-boolaythu, actually “the two hills,” from bitheer, a hill, and boolay, two.

        The one now called Beerburrum from beearr, the parrot, and burrum, the noise of his wings, was called Jeeboroo-gaggalin by the old Cabbee blacks, from jeebour, the squirrel, and gaggalin, nibbling, the “nibbling squirrel.” But the names varied considerably in the two dialects, Bitheerboolaythu in Cabbee became Toom-boomboolah in Wacca, Coonoo-warrin replaced Coonoong-warrang, and Jeeboroo-gaggalin became Teeborcaccin.

        Other Glass House Mountain names taken down by me from the blacks themselves, when they spoke their own language, were Nuhroom, Yooan, Birriebah, Daiangdarrajin, Turrawandin, but as no meanings are recorded, the blacks probably had forgotten them, as often the case with very old names.

        From the summit of Spring Hill, you can see in the distance Flinders’ Peak Mountain, the Booroompa of the Cateebil dialect, and his two cone-shaped satellites, Muntannbin and Teenyeenpa, while far off on the sky line is the great cliff faced front of Mt. Lindesay, the Chalgammbooin of Cateebil, and the Changgam-bin of Yoocum.

        The Ipswich tribe was known to other tribes as Noonillburra, and the North Brisbane tribe, who spoke Tom Petrie’s Turrabul, was known as Beepooban. The Bunya Mountains tribes were grouped under Dallamburra, and the Downs tribes as Gooneeburra, the “fire blacks.” The Logan people were Warilleum, and the Albert River tribes were Boonoorajallie, while the Coomera was occupied by the Balloonjallie, and Nerang by the Talgiburra, and Chabbooburra. The Durundur tribe, of whom so many were poisoned in the early days, were the Giggaburra. Nerang Creek was named from Neerang, a shovel nosed shark, which is more a ray than a shark, and Coomera was a word for ground. In Maori, it is the name of the sweet potato.

        Some names of places in the Bay have been overlooked, Macleay Island was Jencoomercha, Coochie Mudlo was Goojingoojingpa, Dunwich was Goompee, and Moreton Island was known to the other tribes as Cung-an-yung-an. St. Helena, Noogoon, was occupied by a people from the Coon-ool-Cabalchu tribe of Dunwich. The Gnoogee dialect of Moreton Island, gave the name of the Creator as “Tooloong-coloo-manboo,” the Biamee of the Kamilroi, a name bearing no resemblance to the Creator’s name in any other known dialect. The names of the boomerang in Moreton Bay dialects were barrann, bargann, and barragan, the shield, goolmarring. Nundah was the mouth, and Nambour was the tea-tree. The forest oak was buranda, and the swamp oak billarr. Water was goong, tabbil, and capemm, and fire was wy burra.



MAY 18, 1896

By the centrifugal scattering forces at work in early colonization, many of the people most interesting historically are projected to the remotest fringe of settlement.

Hence we find in Queensland, even far west and north, some of those who form connecting links between the present and the early years of the parent province. Yesterday I met an old lady who, in her maiden days, as Miss Williams, was ladies companion to Miss Burke, and dressed her on the morning of her marriage to E. Deas-Thomson. Mrs. Thomson, by the way, was credited with writing all her husband’s best speeches.


Here is an authentic snake story, revealing remarkable presence of mind. A Miss McEwen, now Mrs. Ellis, lived with her mother and sisters on the Brisbane River in a locality notorious for black snakes. The girls were so accustomed to these reptiles the sudden presence of one inspired on fear whatever. The dairy was the great attraction for the snakes, as they are very fond of milk. Family seated at dinner. Kate McEwen called to the servant to bring her a basin of milk. “The jug of milk is on the table,” said her mother. “Bring me a basin of milk and be quick about it,” said Kate, without moving a muscle. The basin was handed to her and she quietly placed it on the floor close to her feet. Then a black snake slowly uncoiled himself from the calf of her legislation and glided over to the milk. This is one of several instances of Miss McEwen’s astonishing self possession. What would an ordinary man have done in similar circumstances?


When our Crown Ministers were out on a recent grand tour, to “make ourselves acquainted, Mr. Speaker, with all the wants of this great country,” one of them, in a moment of deplorable weakness, unworthy of a modern statesman’s dignity, asked a brother Minister “Are we fully justified in the expense of this little festivity at the present time?” To which the other replied, “That implies an abstruse problem in political ethics which life is not long enough to solve! Charley, bring in another half a dozen of champagne!” Which recalls (I have just been reading American papers), the two Negroes in the fowlhouse, “Ain’t it werry wrong to do this sort of thing?” said the sometimes stricken partner. “Dat involves a great moral question which we ain’t got time to discuss. Hand down that big white rooster!”


The champion humorist among Australian explorers was McDouall Stuart. Referring to hoisting the Union Jack on Central Mt. Stuart, he said: “We gave three cheers for the flag, the cause of freedom and religious liberty, and may it be a step for the natives that the dawn of liberty, civilization and Christianity is about to break out upon this continent  from the whole of whose living aboriginal inhabitants, and the countless indignant ghosts of those who were dead, there was even then ascending to Heaven, one deep well founded Curse on the Day when the “emblem of civil and religious liberty,” and those who carried it, came into sight upon the Australian coast.


A venerable pioneer, with a phenomenally clear memory, was recently telling me that he was a youth of 16 in Bathurst in 1826, when Holloway kept the “Bathurst Classical and Mercantile School,” and the “Bathurst Hunt” Club rode forth in green jackets turned up with velvet, a dingo in gold on the collar, and gilt buttons, with “Bathurst Hunt” on them. He still owns two of the buttons. The men with the clearest memories are those who never learned to read. A woman’s memory is generally more reliable than a man.


An episode in the life of a Brisbane society woman, who, after a long interregnum, had a quire unexpected piccaninny. By way of novelty she was seated on the bedroom floor washing the infant in a large wash basin. It was her very first attempt, and she was nervous. The plump little living “roley poley” slipped out of her hands and vanished in the soapsuds. Mamma thereupon went promptly off into hysterics, and when some woman heard the awful uproar and rushed promptly into the room, she found the infant sprawling on the floor in a pool of soapsuds and mamma lying on her back beside the empty basin, which she had fortunately kicked over in the first excitement.


You lately printed C. R. “Daly” instead of “Haly,” late P.M. at Dalby, and one of the squatting pioneers of Queensland. Charles Robert Haly and R. R. Mackenzie, our fifth Premier, were returned for the Burnett to our first Parliament in 1860. Haly had a station on the Logan in 1845, and Dr. Lang stayed there, on his way over from the Clarence, via Mt. Lindsay. Old Haly was one of the whitest men in Queensland. He had to bear much chaff in the House for his advocacy of the natural grasses, especially the wild carrot, and the use of salt. A wiser generation may have good reason, and the necessary sense, to remember old Haly’s prophecy.


“Had the horses no external indications of ownership?” said a pompous Justice of the Peace to a bush witness in a North Queensland police court. “Only the gripes a couple o’ times,” was the reply. This fits in with the evidence of a Dutch witness who, when asked if his pig had no ear marks, observed that “Zee only ear marks he haf was two curls mit his tail!”


AUGUST 2, 1891.

The nose of Queensland’s Colonial Secretary Horace Tozer, has been a “prominent feature” in a recent Gympie press correspondence. The true story of that nose shall now be related. Tozer’s Roman proboscis  was aggravated by occasional visits of eczema, and Jack Hamilton, M.L.A., recommended lubrication with a weak solution of salicylic acid. Now when Kelland, the Gympie democrat, looked in at the railway window and briefly remarked “Boo-hoo!” Tozer was in the attitude of a Hielanman regaling himself with a pinch of snuff, the thumb used for applying Hamilton’s lubricant, and the rest of the hand extended at the usual angle. Kelland somewhat naturally assumed that this was a gesture of derision, intended as an affront to the local democracy. Archelaus, the ancient philosopher, held to the theory that goats breathe through their ears; Kelland is of opinion that Tozer conducts satiric dialogues with his nose. Alas! As old Carlyle observed, “All war is a misunderstanding!” Tozer is not a man capable of an act of vulgarity either to an individual or a crowd. I have met him in joy and sorrow. Last week we were unusually seasick together on a private open-sea fishing excursion. Tozer slipped on a piece of bait and Saturday down unexpectedly on deck, after throwing up a new Mining Bill, while Morgan the Chairman of Committees, unwillingly accepted several violent notices of motion.


No reporter has yet discovered that Sir Thomas McIlwraith had a recent narrow escape. The “Knight of Auchenflower” was down at Stradbroke Island in the steamer Miner, and about to leave of the return journey. The Miner was anchored off the shore, and Thomas started out to her in a small boat rowed by one of the crew. A heavy wave capsized the dingy, and the Colonial Treasurer, the boatman, and a big dog were at once wrong end to the zenith. With a violent effort, the boatman pushed Sir Thomas into shallow water with a hazy idea that he was a stranded whale (weight 18 stone), and the first question the noble knight asked was “Where is the dog?” That faithful collie had mysteriously disappeared. The boatman swam out, turned over the boat, and the collie jumped out and swam to shore as if nothing had happened! He had been safe in the air imprisoned beneath. About 35 years ago, a schooner was washed ashore on the beach at Tweed heads and old Tom Boyd and a mate cut a hole in the bottom and rescued two French sailors, one of whom is still alive. Sit Thomas swimming ashore with his Budget speech reminds me of Caesar with his “Commentaries” and Camoens with his “Luciad.”


The gaol regulations at Thursday Island are based on the most advanced principles of humanity. Some of the prisoners stroll about the island, catch fish, collect botanical specimens, go to sleep, or get drunk, with beautiful impartiality. Yet nobody ever escapes, and no harm is ever done. If you meet anyone there out for a walk, be careful to ascertain if he is a boarder from the gaol or a wealthy pearl fisher. Thus the gaoler to Tommy Abdalla: “Look here, Tommy, if you are not in by 10 o’clock, I’ll lock you out!”  “All right Massa,” said Tommy: “suppose I no drunk, I come home all right!” Some on e owed Tommy a sum of £7 for over a year, and, seeing no prospect of payment, Tommy forged a cheque for £11 in the name of the debtor. Tommy’s defence was: “One year this man he owe me £7, he no pay me. Now I woe him £7, and no pay him for one year more!” The sublime humour of this financial transaction was wasted on the local Justice of the Peace who sent Tommy into retirement for six months, but, during that time, he was so disgusted with the accommodation of the local gaol that when he came out he went away indignantly to try Croydon Bastille, and is probably there at the present time.


When Colonel Olcott was in Brisbane he spent a Sunday with me a few miles out of town. At his special request I gave him an exhibition of boomerang throwing, the first he had ever seen, and he was greatly pleased. Personally he is a very genial old gentleman and his persuasiveness is testified to eloquently by the fact that he induced me to write a long article for the Indian “Theosophist” on the “Habits and Superstitions of the Queensland Blacks.” My reward for that article is to be hereafter, or even later on, when “In Indian realms Elysian” the genial Colonel and I are instructing the Mahatmas and the avenging spirits who are to wipe out the capitalists, the Mammon worshippers, the money lenders, the fat landlords, the titled loafers and sundry other unspeakable human abominations who encumber that beautiful planet we men inhabit.




January 31, 1891.

When Leichhardt was out on the Mackenzie River on the 27th February 1845, he presented an innocent and inoffensive tribe of myalls with a Queen Victoria coronation medal. There was really no reason for this heartless outrage, as the tribe had done no harm to Leichhardt, and it can only be accounted for by the kindly supposition that the famous explorer was guiltless of evil intent. The medal was fatal to the tribe, and one by one each wearer of that Britannia medal symbol assumed unwarrantable airs and an intolerably despotic attitude, and the whole of the revenues of the tribe until they rose up in wrath and laid him gently out with a nulla. Finally there was but one man left, a grey haired old warrior who walked moodily about the forest with the medal in one hand and a stone tomahawk in the other, cursing the memory of Leichhardt in seven distinct dialects, and wildly imploring the spirits of his ancestors to pilot him to the “gin” who formed the original of that bas relief, so that he might exterminate her, and all her race, and perish peacefully among the ruins.


A tale of the times of old. About 20 years ago, the late Judge Blake and McDevitt, a well-known lawyer and politician of “them days,” were opposing counsel at Maryborough before the late Justice Lutwyche. Blake had the curious habit of occasionally thrusting his tongue out round his cheek, and McDevitt, laughing aloud at this performance, had to explain to the judge that he was unable to resist a loud smile at Blake’s “hopeless efforts to lick his ear.” Tom Blake, in a voice of thunder, “Your honour, no man more appreciates a good, healthy laugh than I do, but that was not a laugh! It was only a dirty, mane Irish shnivel!”


Once the late Judge Pring, and the present Judge Harding, were opposing counsel before Chief Justice Cockle. Cockle, by the way, is closely related to Cockle’s pills, and is a genial old gentleman in much request at the Savage Club, London. Harding was continually rising to object to Pring’s course of procedure, until Pring, in a choleric spasm, exclaimed: “Oh, sit down, and be damned!” Then Harding ferociously observed that he was not to be put down by a swell, a person of unknown paternity, only he expressed it all in one word. Pring, in wild rage, “You are a liar! And if you say that outside I’ll knock  ten thousand blazes out of you!” But this was only one of the legal amenities of “The days when our hearts were volcanic.”

And Pring and Harding became fast friends, and were both duly sorry for the impromptu and unbounded observations of their early days.


And this reminds me that when one of the Swanwicks was discovered in the Supreme Court with a loaded revolver in his pocket, presumably with the amiable intention of shooting Sir Samuel Griffith, Harding at once intimate that he would probably sentence the sportsman to forty years for contempt of court! The punishment of a man who used Pring’s language to the Harding of today would probably be imprisonment for eternity, seated on a red hot gridiron. The unfortunate Swanwick, whose revolver became a historical weapon, was found drowned two or three years ago on the beach at Port Douglas.


The military tournament at Warwick on the 13th ultimo, recalls March of 1860, when Sir George Bowen was met there by a cavalcade of horsemen, with an address of welcome, and in reply the champion hierarch of bunkum said: “There are only two places in the world where I could be received by such a splendid body of cavalry, who forthwith vanished on the edge of the horizon in search of some unoccupied realms worthy of their matchless prowess, and forgot to come back again. Bowen’s speech was deadlier than a battle.


Bygone Brisbane

To the Editor of “Truth”

Sir, I am afraid your correspondent “Scribbler” has got things a bit mixed. He stated that he voted for Hudson and Lang. He must mean A. Hodgson, the manager of the A. A. Company, one time Colonial Secretary, and afterwards Sir A. Hodgson, who cut a great swell in England in purchasing Bea Disraeli’s or Lord Beaconsfield’s estate. He put up for the Downs and opposed Dr. Lang.

Then again, the St. Patrick’s Hotel was one allotment from Albert Street, and joined Mayne’s butcher’s shop. In the Hollow was our old friend Costigan. M. M. Sheehan built and ran St. Patrick’s for years. He lent it to young Jones, the barber, who built and ran what is now called the Glebe, in Margaret Street. Young Jones had a gas works fitted up in the yard and supplied himself with gas – the first gas works in Brisbane. A culvert 9ft wide was then in Queen Street, to take the water from Roma Street.

As late as 1838, the chain gang was working in Queen Street. The last time I saw them was in 1838. They were then forming Queen Street, between the St. Patrick Inn and the Surveyors Arms.

        My first acquaintance with Jerry Scanlan was when he was with Dr. Simpson, the travelling Magistrate. Paddy Neill, the flogger, a man about 6ft 2in in height, always travelled with them. On their arrival at a Downs station, after a good feed, it was “Any complaints?” If there were, Paddy did his work.

        To come back to Dr. Lang. He did more for Australia, and Queensland in particular, than any other man living or dead. He stopped transportation, and lost a fortune bringing out immigrants. He was promised grants of land for all the immigrants he brought out. He brought out three shiploads to Moreton Bay, but never got an acre of land. All the Downs squatters had a down on Lang for stopping transportation, which supplied them with cheap labour.

        I was present when Dr. Land addressed a meeting on the Downs and suffered considerable disturbance from the crowd. “Turn around or I will speak to the reporters” said his protagonist. The disturbance continued so Dr. Land turned around to the reporters who were at the back of the hustings, bent well forward to address them, with his back to the audience, and his coattails over his arms. “Turn around you blank, blank, blankety blank” yelled the angry crowd. Dr. Lang turned around and said “What’s the point, when you won’t listen!” After that, every time the disturbance commenced, he repeated his performance until at last he obtained a good hearing. He was returned by a big majority. It was said that Jimmy Hughes and Billy Long and others paid the mob to break up that meeting. I would fill your pages with reminiscences.

Yours, etc.,

R. R. W.

Spring Hill.

February 19, 1908.



Well-known in North Queensland is Edwin Norris, the solicitor of Townsville.

He is one of the soundest lawyers in Queensland. He is also an ardent student of astronomy, and possesses, probably, the finest private telescope in Australia. In religion he leans lovingly towards Pantheism, and has an opinion of creeds and dogmas not to be expressed in all the languages of Elihu Burritt. One day he was waited on by Police Magistrate Morey and Walter Hayes. It had been decided that Townsville should become a cathedral town, and so the orthodox and Bishop Staunton were out on the warpath for cash to erect a gorgeous sacred gunyah to cost £20,000. Morey and Hayes called for a sub. of £100 from Norris. It may be mentioned that the legal astronomer is slightly deaf.

On this particular occasion his hearing was more than usually defective. “We intend to erect a cathedral,” said Morey. Norris heard this. “Ah! Very good, you have my full permission to erect half a dozen!” “And, of course, a leading citizen like you will give £100 towards it,” said Morey. Norris didn’t hear that. “You will give us a hundred, won’t you?” said Morey in a voice that was heard over on Magnetic Island.

The smile that irradiated the features of Norris was like the flash of sheet lightning in the bosom of the midnight cloud. “Gentlemen! Astronomy is my religion, a noble, godlike religion, the study of the Universe and the manifestation of the Eternal – a study wide and deep as Eternity! How, then, can you come to me for money to build your miserable religious structures and assist in propagating one of the gigantic ecclesiastical impostures that afflict humanity? But I will be magnanimous with you! Give me £100 towards another and larger telescope and I will give you £50 towards your cathedral!”

Then Morey and Hayes crawled out and went round to the Queen’s in solemn silence and buried their pale noses in a couple of tumblers.


I have to report a case of glaring sacrilege at Cairns. The Church of England clergyman there is a Mr. G. R. F. Nobbs. It is a terrible autograph to be launched out with on the shoreless universe, but he struggles nobly under the affliction. One night he invited a few friends to spend the evening, and had arranged a little surprise in the shape of an oyster supper. The Chinese oysterman opened them at the back door, and stood them on large plates at the kitchen table. There were 40 dozen. And when Nobbs thought the time had come to announce the banquet – to call the visitors to the “feast of shells”- he said “Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. As God gave you an appetite for oysters, I have ordered 40 dozen to appease that appetite; come with me and enjoy them, and we will return thanks!”

But lo! And behold! When Nobbs skipped cheerfully out for the oysters, they were gone! It appears that three young men, prominent citizens, I grieve to say, being temporarily possessed by devils, and hearing of the contemplated feast, arrived on the scene just as the Chinaman left, and feloniously and diabolically annexed the whole 40 dozen. And shameful insult was added to gross injury by sending 10 dozen to the Catholic priest – a “jayall” son of the first “gim of the say,” who, believing them to come from some devout son of the Church, ate them with great relish, and went to sleep with pleasant dreams. No painter could have caught the expression on the face of Nobbs when he found that his oysters had emigrated:-

“In voice and gesture savage nature spoke,

And from his eye the gladiator broke.”

Christianity was not equal to preserve serenity and award forgiveness for such an outrage. In the first impulse of that terrible moment, he breathed a fervent prayer that the miscreants who stole those oysters should be carted straight off to Sheol without dying. He reported the sacrilege to the police, and it is said the unregenerate Hibernian sergeant sent up a mad shout of laughter that burst the local welkin. And it causes me grievous pain to have to admit that the smile was universal among the population. Such is the effect of the Northern climate on the godless and lawless Queensland democracy. The act was, of course, indignantly denounced by the truly religious members of the Church, but those that denounced it the most earnestly of all were the three men who stole the oysters.



Specially written for United Graziers Journal by A. Meston

When Miss Van Tassel, the balloonist, took a fly round over Maryborough, she descended in  a field belonging to a German farmer. This Teutonic agriculturist was engaged at the same time chopping out a stump with an American axe; his frau, clad in the simple garments of the female peasant, was about a hundred yards away gracefully digging sweet potatoes with her feet. Perceiving a dark shadow sweeping over the scene the Teuton looked up to see what unusual bird was soaring round the locality, and there he beheld the beautiful Van Tassel (in tights) seated on the cross bar of the parachute and gracefully descending from the clouds. Believing this to be an angel sent down direct to scoop him up, and feeling totally unprepared for the occasion, Hans flung away his axe and started to break his previous records in a race for home, at the same time yelling out, several octaves above the yell of a lost new chum, “Ach, mein Gott, not yet, not yet, dere vash mein frau over dere; you gets away mit her!” And the fran, with one foot buried in a hillock of potatoes, looked on with stolid indifference, merely remarking “I wonder vat the tyvil dat vash, anyhow!”


One result of the Redmond trial, in the Bowen Downs cattle stealing case, was that the Government abolished the criminal jurisdiction of the District Court at Roma, for Judge Blakeney averred that no jury there would convict horse or cattle stealers. In order to save the Civil sittings of the Court, the lawyers arranged a dummy case, which was withdrawn when the Court opened. When Judge Blakeney was leaving, the whole adult male population of Roam turned out in black clothes with white handkerchiefs, surrounded the Judge’s coach, and pretended to weep bitterly. On that very day the criminal jurisdiction of the Court had been restored by wire, but was withdrawn again when the “weeping episode” was reported to the Government. One of the funniest facts in this interesting drama was the trial of one of the four accused, three years afterwards, for horse stealing, before his former counsel, who in his judicial capacity, gave his old client 18 months hard labour! This was the unkindest cut of all!


One who was present at the trial tells that “Redmond was one of the best bushmen in Australia. He looked like a prosperous Methodist parson, and came into the court with a long black frockcoat, and a cotton umbrella, clean shaved, except a little side-whisker, with a very demure and sanctified expression. He looked about 40 years of age, and 5ft 6in in height, and weighed about 13 stone. These are solid facts, somewhat different to the picturesque narrative in “Robbery Under Arms.” However, fiction has a big license.


The once Chief Justice and Premier Lilley of Queensland, married into a family named Jeays. One day a Hibernian agriculturist came into town to see Mr. Jeays, and while looking for that gentleman, met the Rev. B. G. Wilson, the Baptist clergyman. “Can yer riverance show me the way to Jeayses?” enquired the artless child of Erin. The old clergyman solemnly pointed his hand to the zenith, reverently raised his eyes in the same direction, and replied, “Yes, my friend, there is the place where He lives.” “Och, shure, that’s not the wan Oim lukkin’ for – Oi want Misther Lilley’s father-in-law.”


The first South Sea Islanders were brought to New South Wales by the Velocity, in 1847, for Mr. Ben Lloyd. There were 66 men and 1 women. The year 1890 is the period beyond which no labour vessel shall bring any more kanakas to Queensland, and there is not much prospect of that privelege being extended. Three years more will terminate the engagements of the last “boys” imported, and then must the sugar planters face the problems of “white labour or collapse.”


The first attempt to introduce coolies from India was in 1838, when G. R. Mayo applied for a tract of country at Moreton Bay to start a coffee and cotton plantation. He also asked for a grant of Eagle Farm, six miles from Brisbane, then the female convict settlement, and made a proposal to utilize the women as labourers. In reply to the collie question Lord Normanby wrote to Mayo, on March 12, 1839, to say that, “the introduction of Indian labourers is in direct opposition to the policy of Her Majesty’s Government.”


About 26 years ago a shepherd was found dead in a clump of myall acacias on a station out on the Barcoo. Beside the body was an empty rum bottle and a pannikin, on the bottom of which the dying man had scratched the words, “An officer of the Light Brigade.” And this was perfectly true. He had actually been an officer in that brigade, and was deprived of his commission for continued drunken ness. So perish the “military heroes” in gaols and hospitals, poorhouses, and Barcoo outstations, the “broken tools that tyrants cast away.”


In my possession is a copy of Sir George Bowen’s “Ithica in 1850,” printed in 1854 by James Ridgway, of Piccadilly, and dedicated to Gladstone. He was then “George Ferguson Bowen, M.A., F. R. G. S., Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford.” This book was priced 2s., and reached a third edition. Bowen in 1850 was an official resident of Corfu. He married a Greek wife named “Roma Theamantina,” the latter freely Anglicized to Diamantina. She gave her names to our western towns of Roam and the Diamantina River. The book is gracefully written, and contains a brief account of the splendidly heroic defence of Missoloughi against the Turks under Mehemet and Ibrahim Pasha – a defence worthy of the days of Salamis and Thermopylae.


The rum drinking of the present day is only a feeble imitation of the early times. When Flinders started for his second trip along the east coast of Australia in 1802, he took 1483 gallons of rum, purchased from an American vessel for 6/6 per gallon. The old pioneer timbergetters on the coast rivers of New South Wales bought rum in hogsheads, and drank it out of a bucket. “What’s a gallon o’ rum among one of us?” was the indignant query of one of these ancient warriors. And when I see a modern bushman really drunk, after a pitiful half dozen nips of colonial rum or imported whisky, I cannot refrain from shedding tears over the degeneracy of this effeminate age and the departure of the cast iron robustness of the past. In justice to the present, however, we must remember that in the early days there was no “very ld matured Jamaica,” made six weeks before in Sydney, nor any “famous old Scotch whisky 10 years in bond,” manufactured from chemicals in a Brisbane cellar; and that even in Flinders’ sailors and the cedar getters of 1845 would be knocked out after a few days’ sojourn of the average public house of 1891. We can therefore congratulate the old hands in having died wisely in time, in the company, and under the influence of good spirits.


Toowoomba’s Name

I read with interest in your issue of June 28 an article entitled “How Toowoomba got its Name.” Your correspondent refers to my father as “a citizen recognised as an expert who stated that the name was derived from ‘Choowoom,’ a small melon the size of a duck egg, which in the 1860s grew prolifically in the district.

I remember my father as being just an expert in the use of their weapons as the aborigines them selves, besides being recognised as an authority on their habits, customs, and language, having devoted most of his lifetime to the study of the aboriginal race now gradually but surely reaching the point of extinction in Queensland.

The question of the origin of the name “Toowoomba” seems to have been settled years ago by my father, whose patience and care in obtaining first hand information from the aborigines leave little room for doubt.

It was thought by some of the earlier settlers that the name developed from the aboriginal pronunciation of “The Swamp” as “Twamp” or “Twampa.” Another version given is that the name comes from “Woomba Woomba,” two words of which I do not know the meaning nor the dialect from which they come; but by simple arithmetical calculation became two Woombas, and combined, with slight variation, Toowoomba.

E. A. Meston

Lecture given by Mr. A. Meston at Ipswich

      The anecdotes told during the evening appeared to meet with the hearty appreciation of this scion of a dying race, who “wiggled” his shield about and laughed heartily whenever anything was said that pleased him.

        The appearance of the Hon. George Thorn, M.L.A., and Mr. Meston on stage, was the signal for hearty acclamation.

        Mr. Thorn said it gave him very great pleasure to be present that night to preside for Mr. Meston. He was sure that a great treat was in store for the audience, and that the lecture would be highly interesting, entertaining, and also truthful. Mr. Meston was a very old colonist, having come here, he thought, about the same time as himself. He was well known to most of them, and had been a considerable time in Ipswich, besides representing one of the adjoining electorates. As a journalist he was a contributor to one of the metropolitan newspapers. Mr. Meston’s fame was not confined to Queensland; he had made a name for himself in other lands. He was quite sure that he would rivet the attention of the audience during the whole of the time he was on the platform. He then introduced the lecturer who was received with applause.

        Mr. Meston entered a mild protest against Mr. Thorn adding thirteen years to his age, having introduced him to Queensland thirteen years before he was born. (Laughter). On that platform, seventeen years ago, he had made his first speech to a public meeting on behalf of the gentleman who was presiding that night. He had his (the speakers) esteem then; and he had never lost it. He had always regarded him as a most enthusiastic Queenslander, as a man of a most amiable disposition, and as a man whom he had never heard say an unkind word against any man or woman. (Applause). The lecturer spoke of his partiality for Ipswich and its people, and then began his lecture.

        The lecture was couched in a well chosen language, and the many outbursts of applause which were accorded left no doubt that the speaker had secured the appreciation of his audience. The convict period, the explorers, squatters, tragedies and comedies of the early days of Queensland were taken in turn; the exactitude of the dates, names etc., and the number of incidents related were proof of the vast amount of trouble and research necessitated in preparing the lecture. First, the convict period; Britain, Mr. Meston said, wanted to find people to settle in a new country, and many were sent out for the most trivial offences. Some of the best colonists of the early times came from the emancipated convicts. Some stories under “the system” were related, the death of Captain Logan, and an account of the horrible death by hanging in chains. Coming to the explorers, such names as Allan Cunningham, Leichhardt, Sir Thomas Mitchell, and Kennedy were mentioned, and their wanderings detailed. Referring to the blackfellow Jacky, who was instrumental in saving two of Kennedy’s party, he said in the history of Australian exploration there was no more heroic character than that of the aboriginal named. The squatters next came under consideration. He showed how the name was acquired, and gave a brief outline of the history of the early squatters on this and the other side of the range. He explained how the feud between the whites and the blacks on this side of the range, was caused and made some remarks on aboriginal etiquette. The tragedies were related in feeling language. They were narrations of fiendish murders by hand (in which both blacks and whites might be to blame, but in which the innocent almost invariably suffered) and shipwrecks by sea. Among others were the murders of the Wills and Fraser families, the tragedy at Simpson’s      


I had the real pleasure of knowing both brothers in 1874 and 1875, and took down a lot of interesting information from William, who then lived out near the present Rocklea.

        Both men were with the Archers on Durundur, and saw Leichhardt when he was staying there in 1844. In one of his letters to Lieutenant Lynd, Leichhardt describes the Turrabool and Bribie blacks as “a fine race of men, tall and well made, and they and the groups they formed would have delighted the eye of an artist.” He and David Archer came down to the coast from Durundur in September 1843, and stayed a couple of days with the Ning-ee Ning-ee (rock oysters) tribe camped beside the swamp at the rear of Toorbul, and both lived on crabs and oysters.

        Bribie Island is comprised mostly of swamps. I traversed it 30 years ago from Skirmish Point to the end near Caloundra, and crossed it opposite Donnybrook and at a point south of the “White Patch,” but I have never asked any friend to follow my example! About three miles north of the south end I saw one of the biggest kangaroos ever seen before by me, and that is somewhat expressive. Kangaroos and wallabies were numerous, and I saw their tracks everywhere, even right through the worst part of the swamps, actually in incredible places. They were probably the descendants of kangaroos and wallabies that had swum across to Bribie from the mainland when the blacks were gone from the island. The name of the old man kangaroo was “goorooman,” a widely distributed word, and the female was “eenmarr” and “cemarra.” There are wallabies yet on Bribie. It once had a rather evil reputation for death adders, though I have never seen one here in all my rambles.

        And now no more is heard in the “noon of night” of the song of the old Joondooburri, or the clang of the resounding boomerangs. No more are seen on the white sand beaches the naked footprints of the Race of Murri, or the tracks of the stone tomahawk on the trunks of the grey gums.

They have gone forever, that ancient race, and the Ocean of Oblivion has swallowed them all. We may say of them, as Von Martius said of the American Indians, “It is a monstrous and tragical drama such as no fiction of the poet ever yet presented for our contemplation. A whole people are perishing before our eyes, and no power of princes, philosophy, or Christianity can arrest their proudly gloomy progress towards a certain and utter destruction.”

I had the real pleasure of knowing both brothers in 1874 and 1875, and took down a lot of interesting information from William, who then lived out near the present Rocklea.

        Both men were with the Archers on Durundur, and saw Leichhardt when he was staying there in 1844. In one of his letters to Lieutenant Lynd, Leichhardt describes the Turrabool and Bribie blacks as “a fine race of men, tall and well made, and they and the groups they formed would have delighted the eye of an artist.” He and David Archer came down to the coast from Durundur in September 1843, and stayed a couple of days with the Ning-ee Ning-ee (rock oysters) tribe camped beside the swamp at the rear of Toorbul, and both lived on crabs and oysters.

        Bribie Island is comprised mostly of swamps. I traversed it 30 years ago from Skirmish Point to the end near Caloundra, and crossed it opposite Donnybrook and at a point south of the “White Patch,” but I have never asked any friend to follow my example! About three miles north of the south end I saw one of the biggest kangaroos ever seen before by me, and that is somewhat expressive. Kangaroos and wallabies were numerous, and I saw their tracks everywhere, even right through the worst part of the swamps, actually in incredible places. They were probably the descendants of kangaroos and wallabies that had swum across to Bribie from the mainland when the blacks were gone from the island. The name of the old man kangaroo was “goorooman,” a widely distributed word, and the female was “eenmarr” and “cemarra.” There are wallabies yet on Bribie. It once had a rather evil reputation for death adders, though I have never seen one here in all my rambles.

        And now no more is heard in the “noon of night” of the song of the old Joondooburri, or the clang of the resounding boomerangs. No more are seen on the white sand beaches the naked footprints of the Race of Murri, or the tracks of the stone tomahawk on the trunks of the grey gums.

They have gone forever, that ancient race, and the Ocean of Oblivion has swallowed them all. We may say of them, as Von Martius said of the American Indians, “It is a monstrous and tragical drama such as no fiction of the poet ever yet presented for our contemplation. A whole people are perishing before our eyes, and no power of princes, philosophy, or Christianity can arrest their proudly gloomy progress towards a certain and utter destruction.”


To the left, on the way to Bribie, lies Humpybong and Redcliffe Point. Humpybong should be “oompie,” a camp or house, and bong is “boong,” the word for sick in the Lytton dialect (Coobenpil). The words were used by the blacks for the “sick houses,” or “dead houses,” left at Redcliffe Point when the convicts left in 1825. The first convict settlement was started at Redcliffe in 1824 but was soon abandoned in favour of a site at Brisbane. In the convict records, I find that the prevalence of fever and ague was given as the reason for leaving Redcliffe, and the first hospital at Brisbane was erected professedly for the “ague patients from Redcliffe.” But an old convict diary in my possession says that the real reason was the hostility of the blacks who killed two soldiers and five convicts

Clarence River Aboriginal Their customs and traditions

The following paper by Mr. John F. Small (Clarence River) with an introductory note by Mr. A. Meston, was read before the ethnological section of the recent Science Congress at Brisbane.

        The name of John Frederick Small is probably new to Australian ethnology, though that of a man specially qualified to furnish philological and anthropological information. He and I were school mates, and at that time he spoke the great “Yoocum Yoocum” dialect just as fluently as the aboriginals. His father was one of the first squatters on the Clarence, and the son was born there and reared among the aboriginals while their laws and customs were unaffected by contact with white man. His father was honourably distinguished by his friendship with the aboriginals, and his life was twice saved in a remarkable manner by grateful warriors at the risk of their own. The dialect spoken by the son extended, with variations, from the Clarence River to the Nerang Creek in Queensland, and west to New England and the head of the Condamine, where it joined the “Wacca Wacca” of the Darling Downs. All over that area, representing many tribes, the negative word was “Yoocum,” and the dialects “Yoocumban,” and “Yoocumbill.” Mr. Small kindly accepted my suggestion to contribute something to the Brisbane meeting of the Australasian Association, and he has left us to regret the extreme brevity of information alike reliable and original.

Archibald Meston.


        These tribes believe that they were originally placed here by a Superior Being whom they called “Yooloo-tahna,” a dweller among the stars. With their forefathers there came an old man, named “Yooloorie,” a great doctor, who protected their hunting grounds, cured the sick, healed the wounded in battle, and decided all important questions affecting the welfare of the tribe. He was really a great medicine man, high priest, and judge combined. This office was always held by the oldest man in the tribe. When he dies his eligible successor leaves the tribe and goes away to the mountains, where the spirit of his predecessor endows him with supernatural powers and enables him to cause death without a wound or mark of any kind, this death being inflicted on any one offending him or refusing to obey his commands.

        The Yooloorie was a source of terror to his own tribe and others whom he visited. Next to him and under his control was a chief whose duty was to train the young men in war and hunting, and act as general in the day of battle. The chiefs are polygamists, being allowed a number of wives, but all the other men of the tribe must be content with one.

        When a man dies, he is immediately tied, hands and feet, slung to a pole and carried away to the chosen burial place. On the way to the grave the “Yooloorie” walks beside the corpse and instructs it how to act in the world of spirits. This realm of disembodied souls was a standard article of faith. To that mysterious Elysium the soul departed after adjourning on the earth for three nights, assuming various forms of birds and beasts, for the doctrine of metempsychosis was also a portion of the aboriginal creed. On arrival at the grave, the corpse is placed there in a sitting position, covered with pieces of saplings and bushes, over which the earth is piled and made perfectly smooth, the mould being reduced to the condition of flour. Then the grave is encircled by a string to prevent the soul from returning to the camp. For three mornings the grave is visited and carefully examined. The smallest crevice is filled so as to imprison  the spirit while sojourning on the earth. During the ceremony and for several days afterwards, the women engage in the most dismal lamentations and inflict wounds on head and body until covered with blood. If a woman dies there is no mourning, and no nightly crying, for they believe that women have no souls and for them there can be no resurrection. After the period of mourning      



Morton Bay and the Cape were named by Cook after the Scottish Earl of Morton, in whose name there is no “e.” He was President of the Royal Society from 1764 to 1768.

        We leave the Queen’s Wharf in front of where the Government Printing Office stands, the site of the residence of the Commandants at the penal settlement from 1826 to 1839, leaving South Brisbane on the right, and pass round the point occupied by the Botanic Gardens, first laid out in 1828 by Charles Fraser, the Colonial Botanist, when he visited the locality accompanied by Allan Cunningham, who came to examine the pass he had discovered in the previous year when he saw it from the hills of the Darling Downs.

        The long point on the right is known as “Kangaroo Point,” so called from the great number of kangaroos common there in the early days.

        On the left is Petrie’s Bight, named after Andrew Petrie, foreman of works at the penal settlement  from 1837 to 1839. On this spot, the first convicts landed in 1825 after leaving the temporary site first selected at Redcliffe Point on the shores of Morton Bay.

        Just around Kangaroo Point is one of the deepest parts of the river, a depth of 72 feet, shallowing to 24 feet, until we come to the deepest spot on the way down, a depth of 78 feet just below Galloway’s Hill.

        From the Queen’s Wharf to the mouth of the river is a distance of fourteen miles. The stream entering the river on the left hand is Breakfast Creek, the “Ynoggera” of the aboriginals.

        On the right the locality now called “Bulimba” was known as “Tuoolaba,” Brisbane itself was known to the aboriginals as “Meeanjin,” and “Magiachin,” the old native name of the point now occupied by the Botanic gardens and Government House.

        The North Brisbane tribe was called “Bo-obbera,” speaking a dialect called “Churrabool.” The tribe on the south side was called “Coorpooroo-jaggin.”



He Gave Beach Its Name

September 3, 1959

Coolangatta – Mr. Patrick Joseph Fagan, a Coolangatta pioneer who gave Greenmount Beach its name, died on Tuesday night, aged 96.

Mr. Fagan, who came to Australia from Ireland in 1886, built the widely known Greenmount guest house in 1903.

He named it after his home village in Ireland, and the name, Greenmount, gradually came to be used for the nearby beach, which is now one of the most popular on the Gold Coast.

Mr. Fagan had to cut a track through the scrub to the site before he could begin building, and most of the timber had to be brought from the Manning River.

In 1908, he bought a motor buggy to convey his guests to and from Tweed Heads railway station, and he was given a special permit to open the border fence for his buggy, after he had entered into a £1000 bond not to allow anyone else to use the crossing.

He conducted the guest house for 40 years, and took an active part in many bodies at Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. His wife died in 1944. They had no children.