Condition of the Aborigines (1845)


This work is conducted in memory and respectfully honours the First Australian People, the Aboriginal People of this land. 

Acknowledgement: The is the full transcription of 1845 N.S.W. Legislative Council Committee – Select Committee on the Condition of the Aborigines. Thank you to our volunteer Mr Peter Trenbath and staff member Ms Karen Moller who transcribed over 60,000 words comprising the complete document in the UON’s GLAMx Digitisation Lab. This transcription was corrected, edited and prepared for online distribution through the the Hunter Living Histories site by Gionni Di Gravio and Dr Ann Hardy. Thanks also to our colleagues at the State Library of New South Wales that were able to locate a copy of this very scarce and important report.


1845. New South Wales. Aborigines. Report From The Select Committee on the Condition of the Aborigines with Appendix, Minutes of Evidence and Replies to a Circular Letter. Ordered By The Council To Be Printed, 31 October, 1845. Sydney, Printed by W.W. Davies at the Government Printing Office, Bent Street. (13.7MB PDF File)


See related 1846 REPORT here:















31 OCTOBER, 1845











  1. Aborigines:- Mr Windeyer moved, pursuant to notice, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the condition of the Aborigines, and the best means of promoting their welfare.

Question put and passed, and the following Committee appointed accordingly:-

Mr Windeyer,

Mr Robinson, Mr Bradley, Mr Lowe, Mr Sutton, Dr. Lang, Mr Bowman, Dr Nicholson, The Attorney General

  1. Aborigines Protectorate:- Dr. Lang moved, pursuant to notice, That the Committee just appointed, be instructed to enquire into the working of the Protectorate of the Aborigines at Port Phillip, and to take into consideration the Petition of Mr C.W. Sievwright, late Assistant Protector in that District:- Debate ensued:- Motion by leave withdrawn.





  1. Aborigines Protectorate:- Dr. Lang moved, pursuant to notice, That the Petition of Mr.C.W. Sievwright, be referred to the Committee on the Aborigines.

Moved, as an amendment, by Mr.Windeyer, That all Petitions and Papers relating to the Aborigines since the establishment of that Protectorate, which have been laid upon the Table of this House, be referred to the Committee on the Aborigines:-

Question on the amendment put and passed:- whereupon Mr. Robinson withdrew from the Paper, the motion of which he had given notice for today.




  1. Missions to the Aborigines:- In absence of Mr Windeyer, Dr. Nicholson moved, pursuant to notice given by Mr. Windeyer, That an Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor, requesting that His Excellency be pleased to cause to be laid upon the Table of this House, a Return of expenses defrayed from the Colonial Treasury of New South Wales, of every Mission to the Aborigines within the Colony, and of the Protectorate from 31st December 1842 showing the amount paid for each Mission, the expense of the Protectorate, and the total expense of the Aborigines for each year.

Question put and passed, and Address to be presented by the Speaker and the Colonial Secretary.

  1. Aborigines Protectorate:- In absence of Mr Windeyer, Dr. Nicholson moved, pursuant to motion given by Mr. Windeyer, That an Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor, requesting that His Excellency be pleased to cause to be laid upon the Table of this House copies of Reports made to the Government, from or respecting the Protectorate of Aborigines, since December, 1842.

Moved, as an amendment, by the Colonial Secretary, That the words “copies of” be expunged, and the word “the” substituted.

Question on the amendment put and passed.

Question, on the original motion, as amended put and passed, and Address to be presented by the Speaker and the Colonial Secretary





  1. Mission to Aborigines:- Dr. Nicholson presented a Petition from certain Inhabitants of the Town and District of Geelong, Port Phillip, praying the extension of the principle on which the Wesleyan Methodist Mission at Bunting Dales is founded; Petition read, received, and referred to the Select Committee on the Aborigines.
  2. Expenses of Missions to the Aborigines:- The Colonial Secretary laid upon the Table, the Return to the Address, on this subject, adopted on the motion of Mr. Windeyer, on the 23rd instant.

Return ordered to be printed, and referred to the Select Committee on Aborigines.





  1. Aborigines Protectorate:- The Colonial Secretary laid upon the Table, the Return to the Address on this subject, adopted on the 23rd ultimo, on motion of Mr. Windeyer.

Return referred to the Select Committee on the Aborigines.





  1. Aborigines:- Mr. Windeyer, as Chairman, brought up the Report from the Select Committee, appointed on the 19th of August last, to consider the condition of the Aborigines, and the best means of promoting their welfare.

Report, together with the Evidence taken before the Committee, ordered to be printed.





Expenses of Missions to the Aborigines; and of the Protectorate from 1st January, 1843 to 30th June, 1845. Page 2





Mahroot, an Aboriginal Native. Page 1

His Grace the Most Reverend John Bede Polding, D.D., Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. Page 5

James Malcom, Esq.,. Page 12

Rev. William Schmidt. Page 15



Circular Letter. Page 22

Christopher Rolleston, Esq., J.P., Darling Downs. Page 22

John Clements Wickham, Esq., J.P., Moreton Bay. Page 23

Stephen Simpson, Esq., J.P., Moreton Bay. Page 24

Robert George Massie, Esq., Macleay River. Page 24

William Nairn Gray, Esq., J.P., Port Macquarie. Page 25

Bench of Magistrates, Raymond Terrace. Page 26

Magistrates of Dungog. Page 27

Bench of Magistrates, Scone. Page 27

Bench of Magistrates, Newcastle. Page 28

David Dunlop, Esq., J.P., Page 29

Bench of Magistrates, Brisbane Water. Page 31

Bench of Magistrates, Parramatta. Page 32

Bench of Magistrates, Windsor. Page 32

Magistrates of Bathurst. Page 32

Bench of Magistrates, Campbelltown. Page 33

Bench of Magistrates, Picton. Page 33

Bench of Magistrates, Berrima. Page 34

Bench of Magistrates, Bungonia. Page 34

Bench of Magistrates, Goulburn. Page 35

James Fitzgerald Murray, Esq., J.P., Queanbeyan. Page 36

Magistrates of Mudgee. Page 37

George James Macdonald, Esq., J.P., New England. Page 37

Francis Flanagan, Esq., J.P., Broulee. Page 38

Henry Bingham, Esq., J.P., Murrumbidgee. Page 39

John Lambie, Esq., J.P., Maneroo. Page 40

Edward Brown Addis, Esq., J.P., County of Grant, Port Phillip. Page 40

Henry W.H. Smythe, Esq., J.P., District of Murray, Port Phillip. Page 41

Frederick A. Powlett, Esq., J.P., District of Western Port, Port Phillip. Page 42

Foster Fyans, Esq., J.P., District of Portland Bay, Port Phillip. Page 43

Charles James Tyers, Esq., J.P., Gipps Land, Port Phillip. Page 44

G.A.Robinson, Esq., Chief Protector of Aborigines, Port Phillip. Page 45

Edward Parker, Esq., Assistant Protector. Page 51

William Thomas, Esq., Page 55

John Watson, Esq., Mount Rouse. Page 58

His Honor The Superintendent of Port Phillip. Page 59









The Select Committee of the Legislative Council, appointed on the 19th of August, 1845, “to consider the condition of the Aborigines, and the best means of promoting their welfare,” beg to report that they have forwarded copies of the Circular annexed hereto, to every part of the Colony, but have as yet received answers to only a few only. Different Members of the Committee have undertaken, to produce, next year, from their several Districts, intelligent Aborigines able to state their own views of their condition; a species of testimony so desirable that, of with no other view than to obtain it, your Committee would have forborne to make a final Report this Session; your Committee purpose, at present, to do no more than report the evidence they have already taken, and the means by which they hope to obtain more.



Legislative Council Chambers,
Sydney, 30th October, 1845



1845. Appendix to the Report from the Select Committee on the condition of the Aborigines (Expenses of Missions to the Aborigines)



















Mahroot, alias the Boatswain, called in and examined:-


  1. Where were you born? At Cook’s River.
  2. Do you know how long ago? I cannot tell rightly.
  3. What Governor was here when you were born? The Governor before Macquarie, I believe I have been told I am about forty-nine.
  4. Both your parents were aboriginal natives – black fellows? Yes.
  5. Do you understand what you have come here for? Yes.
  6. To tell us about yourself and your friends, and what can be done to do you good – do you understand that? I do.
  7. What extent of country belonged to your tribe – to your family how much land did you walk over? Only as far as here to Botany Bay and around the sea coast, away from the heads at Port Jackson, to the heads at Botany and all inland.
  8. How far inland? Very little far inland, where I am now.
  9. By Mr. Lord: How far was you country before the other black fellow come and claim it – before any other tribe come and claim it? Liverpool; because Liverpool black fellow speak another language, and Five Islands speak another language again.
  10. By the Chairman: Cannot you understand the Liverpool blacks at all? Yes.
  11. Could you understand it without learning it as a different language from your own? Yes I think, but very little.
  12. Could you make yourselves understood? Yes.
  13. Then the Liverpool blacks land came up to where yours did at Cooks River? Yes.
  14. When you first recollect, how many black fellows were there in the tribe who spoke your language, men, women, and children? Four hundred I think is my recollection.
  15. How old were you, do you think you were, when there were four hundred in your tribe? A very little boy, I can just recollect by guessing on it; I know there was that.
  16. Were there most women or men? There was both.
  17. Which was most, did one man have several women, or was there any man to be obliged to be without any wife? Oh yes, one had two, and one had none at all, may be that way it was.
  18. By Mr. Lord: You do mean to say black fellow is allowed to have two gins? They was formerly and have now from that day to this.
  19. By the Chairman: Then the other black fellows had none at all? No.
  20. By Dr.Lang: Do you think that is right? No, I do not think that right at all.
  21. How many have you? Only one, and I never had any more.
  22. By the Chairman: Do you not think it right a long time ago , or do not other black fellows think it right now? Yes, from what they say, there’s been a falling out about that.
  23. Used they to fall about it when you first recollect? Yes.
  24. Those who had not wives used to steal them from the others? They did so.
  25. By Mr. Robinson: Were the whole four hundred black fellows in your tribe about Botany? In Botany.
  26. By the Chairman: Were there many children then? There was.
  27. How many children did each woman use to have? I can’t rightly say.
  28. How many brothers and sisters did you have? I had three sisters by another father and the same mother.
  29. How many brothers did you have? None: I have got relations.
  30. Used other women to have three and four children likewise? Yes, three or four or two.
  31. Never more? Some of them more.
  32. What did they live upon? Generally on the sea coast fish, and fern root.
  33. And your tribe did not go far from the sea coast? No, always on the sea coast in the bay.
  34. When did the number of your tribe begin to diminish (a pause) when did you find black fellows die off; when did they come to be few? They used to fight about the town, knock about like the deuce in liquor.
  35. It was by getting drunk you think? To that degree they took to liquor, at last they went away very fast; it was the only thing that destroyed them.
  36. Do you mean that the old men and women died, or that the children died? (No answer.)
  37. Used the children to get liquor. I have seen that.
  38. Much? I can’t say great much.
  39. Used the mother and father give it to them or white fellow? I have seen mother and father give it to them.
  40. Did the women have less children after this, after they took to having the liquor? Very few after.
  41. Was that not because they used to give them liquor to go with them? Yes.
  42. And the white men used to give them liquor to go with them? Yes.
  43. Do you think that was the reason why they had few children afterwards? Nothing else but that.
  44. How many black fellows are there now living, men, women and children, where you used to know four hundred? I should say fifty, but not belong to Botany mind you Sir, different people raised up here in former times come?
  45. How many are there do you think alive, who were born there, who belong to the old tribe who speak your language, not the Liverpool language? Only four, three women and I am the only man.
  46. Used your tribe to be called any particular name, for the whole of the people together? They do give them a name, I do not know what it was.
  47. Do you call the Liverpool black fellows any particular name? There is a particular name for them, just the same as you call the French people.
  48. What do you call them? Cobrakalls.
  49. Does that mean anything? Cobra means a kind of worm eaten into the wood.
  50. What do the Liverpool blacks call you? Botany Bay Moora.
  51. What does “Moora” mean? That means your place.
  52. Where are the three women that remain of your tribe? At the Heads here.
  53. And other black fellows live with them that come from the country tribes? Yes.
  54. And they have come to live there because your tribe has died? Yes.
  55. What do the black fellows in your district live upon now, all the black fellows around Botany how do they get their living? They can pick up fish about the rocks, and opossums inland.
  56. What you used to do when there were four hundred of you, there are the same fish there now as before? Just the same.
  57. By Dr.Lang: Do you always find plenty of food? Yes, if we can forage anout the rocks and inland in the wood just the same way.
  58. By the Chairman: Are there many fish now as there used to be? Not as many as there used to be formerly; the nets come and destroy a good many.
  59. Are there as many opposums as there used to be? Not so many as there used to be.
  60. But there is still enough for you to catch? Yes, but you look all day to get one or two.
  61. Do you recollect when you were a little boy how many you could get in a day? Could get enough to make a rug in a week?
  62. How many skins would it take to make a rug? A good lot, I should say about twenty or thirty.
  63. When did you first learn to speak English? When I first joined the English, I left my father and mother and went to live with the English.
  64. With whom did you live? With Commissary Allen.
  65. Did you learn to read? No.
  66. Did any body teach you to say your prayers? I did go once or twice to church.
  67. Did you say your prayers every morning and every night? There is no praying with them in the bush; I did go to church when I lived with Mr. Allen once or twice.
  68. By Mr.Lord: Nobody taught you to pray or to read the bible? No.
  69. By the Chairman: Can you say any prayer? No.
  70. Do you ever think of God? I believe a little knowledge of it.
  71. Do you know there is a God? I believe there is.
  72. Do other black fellows? They think something about it, they believe there is something over them; I believe in my own mind there is a God.
  73. Do you believe God will punish the wicked and reward the good, according as they behave in this world? Yes.
  74. When you die what sort of place will you go to? I might go to a worse place, I might go to a good place, according to my punishment.
  75. By Mr.Lord: Supposing you are a bad man? I may go to a bad place, may be a good place.
  76. By the Chairman: Do black fellows when they are alone ever talk about going to a good place, or a bad place? No, they talk about somebody being over them that is all.
  77. By Dr.Lang: Do the black fellows think they live when you die? Some of them do believe that ways, some of them do not.
  78. By Dr.Nicholson: What do you think will become of you when you die? I believe I go somewhere else.
  79. By the Chairman: How old were you when you left your father and mother? I can’t tell rightly.
  80. Did they believe there was a God? They believed there was something over them.
  81. What did they call him? By just the name you call the devil.
  82. Was that a good or bad being? That is his name, just the same as you call the devil.
  83. You know the devil is very wicked, and lives in a place where people will be punished, is Boy very bad or very good? He was very good.
  84. By Dr.Lang: What did he do to the black fellows? They say he will take black fellows away to where he lives.
  85. Do they say he gives them anything? No, they don’t say that.
  86. Is there any other person over them besides Boy? Only Boy.
  87. Is there nobody else that does harm to black fellows, that steals their children? No.
  88. By Dr. Nicholson: What does Boy do, you say he takes black fellows away? That is what they say.
  89. Do you think they all go to Boy or that some go to the devil? Some say they will go to be a fish, some turn out to be a whale that is the way, that is what they say.
  90. By Mr.Lord: What is the meaning of Boy in your language? The devil.
  91. What do black fellows mean by devil devil? Devil Devils is its all over small pox like.
  92. By the Chairman: What is black fellows word for dead, when life is gone away, supposing black fellow die or sheep die what does black fellow say? Boy.
  93. By Dr. Nicholson: Who made the world, the sun, and stars, the sea and land, the trees and all we see? I believe God.
  94. Who did black fellows think mad the sky and stars, the grass, the gum trees and kangaroos? They grow itself, all grow itself.
  95. Do you believe that? No, I don’t believe it at all.
  96. What do you believe? Something over all these things food and fish, and all these here things that give these things.
  97. You learned that from the white people? Yes
  98. By the Chairman: What clothing used the black fellows have before they used to come into town to the whites, what did they have to put on? Sometime they had tea tree bark, and sometimes kangaroo skins from foreign parts, from the Liverpool black fellows, Lake Macquarie, and Five Islands, they came from these foreign parts.
  99. You used not to have much kangaroos about Sydney? Very few.
  100. I suppose you did not have much clothing at all, you went naked? Yes, like the black fellows a long way off.
  101. Were blankets given out to you? Yes they have left it off now.
  102. When did they leave it off? Last year.
  103. Do you think it did black fellows good to have blankets? It did indeed, it kept them warm in winter.
  104. Did they leave off making opossum skin cloaks when they got blankets? No they still made them inland
  105. Then it did not matter whether you had a blanket, because if you had not you would get opossum skin cloaks? Very seldom, the black fellows at Botany Bay have got no opossum cloaks.
  106. They have got clothing? Yes.
  107. How long have you worn coats and trousers, like you have got on now? I always wore them.
  108. Do you get them from the white fellows? Yes.
  109. How do you get them? I catch fish and sell them to…………., and he brings them in a cart to Sydney.
  110. How much can you catch in a week? According to how the weather is and the luck.
  111. Generally speaking how much money can you get for your fish every week? Very little now in the winter time. you get formally? Some weeks I made four pound to six pound that was a good while ago.
  112. By Mr.Lord: How much could you get formally? Some weeks I made four pounds to six pounds that was a good while ago.
  113. By the Chairman: What used to do with all that money? I threw it away along with my people.
  114. What did you buy with it? Clothes, and ,eat, and flour, and sugar.
  115. Tell the truth did you not buy rum? I can take a little sometimes.
  116. Have you got land at Botany? A little.
  117. How did you get that? General Bourke gave it to me.
  118. Do you understand that it belongs to you for yourself and your children after you, and that nobody can take it away? Yes.
  119. Have you got any children? I have not.
  120. Have you ever had any children? No.
  121. You do not want blankets to be given to you, you can earn plenty of money? I am doing very little now.
  122. Do you not think the other black fellows could earn money by fishing like you? If they do that they will do very well.
  123. There is nothing to prevent them is there? No.
  124. How much money can you earn in the week by fishing? Just keep me going to earn a bit that is all.
  125. How much, a pound, twelve shilling? No, I hardly got four shillings a week the way the fish is now.
  126. How much rent do you have coming in? A shilling a week from the land.
  127. How many people pay you that rent? Five.
  128. That makes five shillings a week. Yes.
  129. Is the land fit to grow anything or has it only got house on it? It is fit to grow cabbages, or what you like to put in.
  130. Have you grown any cabbages there? Yes, and pumpkins, but then the cows come and knock down the fence and destroy it when I am away fishing.
  131. Does your wife go fishing with you? Yes.
  132. So that your hut and garden is left to itself, the cows get in while you are away, and you cannot grow anything? That’s it.
  133. What made you take to fishing, did you follow the seas before that? Yes, I went out whaling five or six voyages.
  134. How much did you earn when you went whaling? Twenty pound or thirty pound a voyage.
  135. What did you do with that money when you came back? I went along with the sailors and we threw it away all together.
  136. By Dr. Lang: In the public houses? Yes, and then go for more again as soon as ever that was all out.
  137. By the Chairman: Could not other black fellows go whaling if they liked? Yes.
  138. Why do they not like? Because it is dirty work, and hard work, and they do not fancy it at all.
  139. Would any of the black fellows living about you now like to have a farm and to grow cabbages and other things? They would not stop by it.
  140. They like to walk about? Yes.
  141. By Mr. Lord: Do you not think if they had gone to sea, and been taken care of as you have been by the whites, they would like to do so? Yes, but they would not like it now.
  142. By the Chairman: Would they like to work with white fellows now? Some would. I have got two young fellows with us, now going shooting about.
  143. Would they like to work with the spade? They would soon be for running off.
  144. How much money or food would black fellows work for? I do not know.
  145. Have they never tried to work? They have been tried.
  146. Why do they not go on? They stop a little while, and when the work is done they leave it for a little time.
  147. What do blackfellows do when they fall sick? They must stop in one place till they die.
  148. Do you not know there is a hospital in Sydney, where sick people get cured – do blackfellows ever go there? No, they will not take the trouble to bring them all that way; there is a woman ill at Botany Bay, and I have told the blackfellows there to bring her in, and they would not have the trouble to bring her in.
  149. And she cannot walk at all? No.
  150. Why do you not bring her in? The brother, that is the person to speak of; I put one woman into the poor house, and I got into a row with the other black fellows a bout it.
  151. What did they make for? Because I should not put her in without letting them know, and they went and took her out again directly, and she died two or three days after.
  152. Why would they not her stay in the poor house? Because they said they would kill her.
  153. You do not believe that? I do not.
  154. You know the white fellows would have taken care of her? Yes, I saw her on a nice, good, clean bed, and everything else.
  155. Do not the other black fellows see that when they went there? No, as soon as ever they understood I put her in the poor house they kicked up such a row with me.
  156. What was the reason of their kicking up a row? Because they wanted to keep her in sight.
  157. These black fellows at Botany Bay, could they always get work? They can if they like to go to it.
  158. But they like to walk about better? Yes.
  159. Are there any half-castes among the blacks there? Yes.
  160. What does half-caste mean? Mulatto people, half and half.
  161. Are there many among the fifty blacks you have spoken of? There are seven out at Botany, one boy, and the rest girls.
  162. How old is the boy? I think about seven years.
  163. How old are the girls? The biggest girl, about seven.
  164. Why are there so many girls, and so few boys? (No answer.)
  165. Were there not as many half and half boys, as girls born? Yes.
  166. What has become of them – do you not know that the gins had half and half boys as well as girls? Yes.
  167. Were the boys killed? (No answer.)
  168. Are they not knocked in the head? No, no.
  169. By Dr. Lang: Do they kill them? No.
  170. By Mr. Lord: Do you ever see a pickaninny killed? No.
  171. By the Chairman: Are any black women living with white fellows at Botany? Yes, one or two.
  172. Have they got any family? No, one has got children by her first husband – black children.
  173. Have any black men had a white woman for a wife? No.
  174. Must a black woman marry particular black man, or may she marry any black man she likes? (No answer.)
  175. Suppose a gin wanted a husband, must she have any particular black fellow? Particular black fellow.
  176. Who makes her have a particular black fellow? Her father and mother.
  177. You have never had your teeth knocked out? No.
  178. Was that because you lived with white fellows? I ran away two or three times.
  179. Have the black fellows told you what they do when they knock out the boys teeth? They say it is to make a man of them directly, that is what they say. I would not believe it.
  180. Do you know what else they do when they knock the teeth out? They make scores about the breast.
  181. What else? They take the finger off from the beginning, it is tied taut with a bit of hair (pointing to the first joint of the little finger of the right hand.)
  182. What is that done for? Something about the fishing line, this here is the way and troubles them.
  183. Is that done to girls of a particular age? Yes.
  184. How old are they when that is done? From sixteen to nineteen.
  185. Used the black fellows of your tribe to fight with the Liverpool black fellows? They used to formerly.
  186. What used they to fight about? Some about spearing a man, and about the women, and all these things. They used to turn out all I used to see about the Race Course here.
  187. Used the black fellows to be killed? No, they used to dig their spears into one another: I have plenty of it.
  188. Were many killed? No, I did not see none of them killed.
  189. Used the black fellows at Botany to fight with the white fellows? They used to formerly.
  190. What did they fight them for? They thought they was the devil when they saw them landed first, they did not know what to make of them. When they saw them going up the masts they thought they were opossums.
  191. You threw your spears at the white fellows because you were afraid of them? Yes.
  192. But the white fellows did not hurt you, did they? No, they did not; it was when they come round this part, walked inland from Port Jackson to Botany, they speared them in the bush.
  193. Then it was not because white fellows hurt them that they did it? No, some of them were very savage at the time – very wicked.
  194. Did the black fellows all agree together to kill the white fellows, or did they do it without agreeing, every man killing as he liked? They did not agree exactly, some wild fellow may have wanted that jacket off him, or the blanket, that is what it was done for.
  195. Do you quarrel with the black fellows of Liverpool now? No.
  196. You do not go and shoot them with guns? No.
  197. You know that is wrong? Yes.
  198. What would the black fellows of Botany like to have done for them to do good? Best give him clothing of some kind to keep him away from town, and stop at Botany.
  199. Why do you want them kept away from town?   They are better round about that, than in Sydney. They have no firewood here, and they lay about the Race Course in the cold, when they have got a glass in their heads.
  200. Do the white people give them a great deal of spirits? Not a great deal, they used to.
  201. Would not the black fellows like to have their children taught by the whites, to have them sent to school? Some of them would, if they spoke to.
  202. Do you think they would send their children to school to be taken care of, and to be taught with white children? I think they would.
  203. They would not want to take them away again, as the black fellows took the women from the poor house; do you not think the father and mother would want to have the children hear them? Yes, I know they would.
  204. By Dr. Lang: Could you advise them about Botany to send their children to school? I could do that.
  205. By the Chairman: What do you think would be the good of the children going to school to made like the white fellows? It would not do them any good at all; but I mean to keep them away from Sydney.
  206. What do you think would best keep the black fellows away from Sydney? The punishment is, put him in the cells, he will remember that for years to come.
  207. For how long would you put him in a cell? Try him for one night, if you find him one night, if you find him anyway lying about the streets; put him by himself, and he will remember it for years to come.
  208. Do you think black fellows would like their children to be taught like white people? Some would, some would not.
  209. Do you think any of them would give them to the white people to be taught? Yes.






Wm. BRADLEY, Esq.,
Rev. Dr. Lang
Dr. Nicholson


His Grace the Most Reverend John Bede Polding, D.D., Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, called in and examined:-

  1. Your Grace is Roman Catholic Archbishop here? I am.
  2. We understand that there are a number of missionaries of your Grace’s Church, employed among the Aborigines of this Colony under your superintendence? There are four.
  3. Have you been able to gather from their reports any particulars relative to the Aborigines that might assist the Committee in it’s endeavour to promote their welfare?
  4. Have you in your different visitations and journeys in the Colony, taken notice of their habits and character? I have, in a very general manner.
  5. How long has your Grace been in the colony? Ten years.
  6. Have you noticed generally whether there has been any decrease in the Aboriginal population? I think there has been a very general decrease.
  7. To what causes do you attribute the decrease? My opinion may be very different from that entertained by a greater part of the community. In the first place I conceive that there is established in the mind of the black population a sentiment that the whites are essentially unjust; there may be exceptions as they find individuals who are good and kind to them, but I apprehend that that is the leading idea, founded on the fact of the whites coming to take possession of their land, without giving them what they deemed as an equivalent; of course they argue, not according to our view, but according to their own; to trespass upon the hunting grounds of another tribe is deemed by them a cause of war, and for one tribe , through mere wantonness, to invade the grounds of another, must necessarily be considered by them an act of spontaneous injustice. I conceive that these principles will apply to the whites coming to this country; the Aborigines will demand, ”what right have you to come here? We have not asked you to, and you take away our lands, you drive away our means of subsistence.” We do not of course feel as they feel, nor argue as they argue; they have instinctive justice, we argumentative.
  8. But your Grace does not think these sentiments have any connexions with the causes of their decrease? I am coming to them; they become discontented in their minds and their love of country is diminished; and also their desire to have their children to survive them; to see their posterity increase; I come to the cause of their decrease, hence the destruction amongst the children, arising from the carelessness of the mother or parents – nay from their positive act – when the child is not likely to prove personally useful, or becomes burdensome.
  9. Has your Grace ascertained that as matter of fact from conversation with them, or is it a conclusion you derive from reasonings of your own? I do not their language sufficiently well to be capable to enter into a ratiocination with them upon the subject, but I am making myself a black, putting myself in that position, and taking away all that I know except this is my country, that my father lived by pursuing the emu, and the kangaroo, that I am driven away from my hunting grounds, that my children and tribe are subjected to the grossest barbarities.
  10. By Dr. Nicholson: Do you not think you are assuming to much in supporting that they could have such feelings? I am only following a natural course of feeling, not as a member of civilized society, but as an uncivilized savage, and I am certain that is the feeling experienced by the Aborigines of this country, from casual expressions I have heard from them; these were as lights placed here and there in a dark tabernacle, and though not much in themselves, they served to dispel in some degree, the obscurity around. I have spoken with many who understand English, and I have invariably found a deep sorrow prevailing in consequence of the rapid decay and destruction taking place amongst them. They appeared to me to feel their position and state very acutely.
  11. By the Chairman: Then you think infanticide of females is common? I am not sufficiently acquainted with the tribes throughout this country to give a general answer; at Moreton Bay. I was informed that such was the case. I find this stated in some of the reports, and on Stradbroke Island, I did not observe one half-caste female amongst many children of that class.
  12. Do you then attribute the decrease in the population to that cause? That is one cause.
  13. Are you not aware that like many other savages they look upon their women and daughters of merchandise more than as objects of sentiment. Yes, I am aware of it.
  14. Is not the notion of women and female children being property out of which they could make a profit, inconsistent with the notion that they would destroy their means of profit? I do not see any inconsistency in this.
  15. Are you not aware that in some parts of the country the only children saved are the females, that the half-castes saved are only the females? No.
  16. Are you aware that blankets were formerly given to the Aborigines; and that they are no longer given? Yes.
  17. What do you think was the effect of giving them or ceasing to give them; do you think it would be desirable to resume the practice or to give them clothing of any kind? I think the effect would be much more the same, if you were to rob a man of 100 pounds and to give him a shilling; I think a more eleemosynary dole would be of no effectual use to them; at the same time I am of the opinion that blankets or loose clothing should be regularly given them, and every means used to encourage them to wear them.
  18. Have you noticed what habits they have bearing upon their aptitude for employment? I think they have very active habits, and there are great facilities for approaching these habits. But I think it is an erroneous idea to suppose that they are at once to fall into the ways of Europeans; their habits are extremely active, therefore they are to be civilized by giving them activities somewhat less active than their usual ones; hence the idea of first employing them in agriculture is not correct; they have very low ideas of obtaining food from the earth, inasmuch as they only employ their women for that purpose. Throughout the world, the glory of Christianity has been that it has restored women to her pristine dignity, and as Christianity elevates, as does the absence of it brutalize, the conduct of the men towards the women; having only the law of brute force, which even the white man too frequently avails himself of, it is natural that man is an uncivilized state, untaught, should make the weak woman subservient to his wants, and she being employed in digging roots, and in obtaining food in a way he does become ignoble, that man has naturally a dislike to anything of the kind.
  19. For any employment? Not for an y employment I think they are capable of being employed, if you would find employment to suit them.
  20. What kind of employment do you think is in the means of the Colony to give them, that would win them to civilization? Merely supplying theoretical ideas to practical purposes, I should say they would make excellent stockmen; in fine anything that requires much moving about.
  21. What would your Grace think of them as shepherds? They would not follow that occupation long.
  22. Are you aware that a settler to the southwards had seven thousand sheep at one time, under the care of natives? I dare say they would take a great deal of care of them; I am only afraid that after a time they would wish to give up the employment; I think they might be so used by a person who was desirous of turning their habits to profit that they would be constantly occupied, they might be employed for two or three months in taking care of sheep, and they might then for a time look after stock; they would thus have a little variety in their pursuits.
  23. You have spoken of their having nothing but the law of brute force, have you never discovered any fixed customs that they recognized between each other? Society even in its lowest state, could not exist without such customs; but when I speak of the law of brute force, I mean that probably the greater part of their laws are founded upon it; they would other laws because brute force would often be found to be no match for sagacity; hence they would require other laws for the management of their social affairs. I believe also many laws exists founded on the relations of parent and child; many founded on other relations.
  24. Are you aware that it is the custom amongst them, for them to take their women by force from the neighbouring tribes? I have heard so, but cannot speak from any personal knowledge; I have read it in several works written upon the colony.
  25. Have you at all considered what effect these habits must have upon their thoughts of our dealing with them in a right manner? I think they judge that there is very little difference between a white man and a black; and they do not naturally consider the white man to have any claim by nature to that which they possess; the white man takes it by force.
  26. That is the law they recognize? It is the law to which they feel they must submit.
  27. By Dr. Lang: Do you think they have such an idea of the value of land, as to lead them to view its settlement as an act of aggression? I am convinced of it, and I think that is the root of the evil.
  28. By the Chairman: It is the law of force brought upon them, which they feel to be irresponsible? Yes.
  29. Where are the four missionaries your Grace spoke of, stationed? On a small island in Moreton Bay, called Stradbroke Island, about nine miles from Amity Point.
  30. Are they all together? They are.
  31. Are they laymen? No, clergymen; they are, so to speak, at school, learning the language as regards its construction, the habits, &c., of the natives.
  32. How long have they been there? About two years. There are three tribes on the island, amounting in all to one hundred and twenty or one hundred and forty individuals.
  33. What is the size of Stradbroke Island? It is a band of sand about twenty miles in length, and varying in breadth.
  34. I presume the principal subsistence of the natives is obtained from the sea? Entirely. We have however found a bog, which we are about to drain, to see what we can do with it in the way of cultivation. The reason I took it was, that it was so barren I hoped no one would settle on it; still I have been deceived in that.
  35. The pilot station is on the island? It is.
  36. We have heard that there are some half-caste children on the island, where the Roman Catholic missionaries are stationed? There are.
  37. Does your Grace know anything with regard to them – are they living with their mothers? There are several half-caste; one, for instance, living with the wife of Story; he takes care of, and is very fond of it.
  38. Is the mother of that half-caste child still living with the blacks? Yes.
  39. Was she, when it was born, living with a white man? I do not know, the child is now twelve years of age. There are two half-caste sons of a man named Smith, the mother found great difficulty in supporting them, for the father would do nothing for her, and I had them sent to Sydney – they are now with me.
  40. Did you experiencing any difficulty in inducing the blacks to give them up to you? None at all. When I visited the Island I remained there about a fortnight, and saw a great deal of the blacks, and the children became very much attached to me, inasmuch that two little boys and a girl accompanied me to Sydney, and I intended to educate them.
  41. Have the missionaries made any attempt yet to teach either the adult natives or the children native or the half-castes? Religion requires to be very properly discussed, and, as they are not yet thoroughly acquainted with the language, they have not, at present, endeavoured to impart religious knowledge, except in a very general manner, by developing the law of nature, but they have attempted to improve their moral habits, also to give them habits of industry; they have made them acquainted with more efficient means of catching fish – I have sent down a large net and they have learned to draw the scene, in which they take much delight. Then they have planted gardens, and the missionaries have endeavoured to impress upon them the idea, that it is better to have a certain supply of food to live by casualty – I mean, on such food as comes to them by chance.
  42. Have the missionaries had much difficulty to retain the children, or the parents themselves, about them? Not the least. If we had the means of supporting the children we should have a very fine school there.
  43. Do these missionaries receive any government support? None at all; I have not received a farthing in any way whatever from the Government; the missionaries are entirely supported by our own means.
  44. Do you know whether any blankets have been supplied to the natives? The Government supplied us with sixty pairs of blankets, but we were given to understand that we were not to expect any more.
  45. What was the effect of distributing the blankets amongst them? Very great rejoicing and great contentedness of mind.
  46. What originating in – so much justice being dealt out to them, or in the satisfaction of having a warm blanket for the winter? Very much the same feeling that you would have if your servant brought you a great coat on a cold night when you did not expect it.
  47. Would your Grace state whether you contemplate that the language will be learned by the Missionaries at Stradbroke Island, will be available in other parts of the territory? Undoubtedly to a certain extent of territory, as the language of one portion of Greece would be available in learning the dialects of other parts.
  48. Do you think there is such an affinity in the different dialects that the learning of one would enable you to extend your operations over a great extent of the country? Not a great extent – four missionaries would not be able to go over a great extent of country, but as the tribes will have communication with each other, it is probable that thought their languages may in themselves be somewhat different, yet they will understand each other, as in the case between the Portuguese and the Spaniards.
  49. By Mr. Bradley You speak of the practice of infanticide as being one cause of the great decrease among the aborigines – does that practice prevail extensively? I have made enquiries and have always been told so; I have enquired particularly, with reference to half-caste children, and certainly have perceived that the majority of half-caste children have been boys.
  50. By Dr. Lang: Do you think there is any prospect of the civilization of the aborigines, in any other way than through communicating to them the principles of Christian religion? Certainly not.
  51. You think civilization, apart from Christianity, is hopeless? Perfectly, in the proper sense of the word.
  52. By Dr. Nicholson: Looking to the aborigines, generally, as members of the great human family, does your Lordship consider the position to be in the scale of humanity? That is a very difficult question.
  53. Do you consider them the lowest in the scale, or exceedingly low? We must first have the scale to determine by – I do not understand the phrase “scale of humanity”, as it is generally used.
  54. Do you know of any race on the globe whose intellectual capacity is apparently a lower order than that of the aborigines of the Colony? As regards intellectual order, I have no reason to think they are much lower than ourselves, in many respects.
  55. Do you think that if a number of aboriginal boys were sent to Eton, Harrow, or any of the public schools in England, that an equal proportion would be fitted for lawyers, physicians or clergymen, as there would be out of a similar number of European boys? I would not say that, there might be intermediate stages to pass through. I conceive that the children of aborigines of this country would take very much after the physical and moral qualities of their parents. For an aboriginal to boy to come anywhere near the European boy in scholastic matters, would show a development of intellectual power of a very high character indeed.
  56. But you have just stated, my Lord, that you considered the intellectual capability of the aborigines to be the same as that of the European? Not the same in every respect. I say, and give it as my opinion, that there may be some among them of intellectual capacity not inferior in any respect. What is meant by intellectual capability, more than the power of using the understanding to produce a certain purpose.
  57. I am supposing the case if a child taken from its parents in infancy, and educated with all the appliances of an European education? These men are in the habit of procuring food by their wits, and hence, it is chiefly in their mode of procuring food by their wits, and hence, it is chiefly in their mode of procuring their food you perceive the development of intellect; As well might an European be required to compete with the aborigine in throwing the boomerang or the spear in proof of mental capacity, as thought the aborigine be required to engage in literary exertion of proof of intellectual power.
  58. Then you believe that their habits – for instance, the great acuteness of the senses in the acquisition of food, are transmitted to their offspring? I think there is a tendency that way.
  59. In other words, you would fall in with my theory, and regard it as a psychological law, that civilization is progressive, and that it must take several generations to procure a high degree of intellect. I think it is done with great rapidity, that it might be effected, for instance, in three generations of fewer.
  60. But you recognize the law? I take facts before I recognize theories – For instance, the savages of South America, in the missions to Paraguay, attained in the second generation a considerable degree of civilization, made manifest in their pure moral Christian conduct, in their knowledge of the arts and sciences, and from the account given of them by Muraton Charleroix, and other authors, I believe they were lower in what you term the scale of humanity than the aborigines of this country; decidedly they were cannibals, and they appeared to be, in the words of the Apostle “without natural affection” of any kind.
  61. How do you reconcile that with their high civilization, the erection of the splendid temples and buildings, the remains of which are still to be found in Mexico and Peru? I am referring to the country to the north of the Rio de la Plata, some two hundred miles from the sea coast. The natives of this country were certainly as far distant from our habits of civilization as the natives of Australia, but, by means of religious instruction, they were brought to habits of civilization; and , in the second generation, they were distinguished for their intelligence. It is mentioned that some of these children, who were sent to school at Buenos Ayres, advanced beyond the Spanish boys.
  62. By Dr.Lang: Are you not aware that all the tribes of Indians, In America, have been accustomed in their native state to cultivate the ground? I am not aware.
  63. By Dr. Nicholson: Can you account for the difference of success that has attended the missionaries efforts with regards to New South Wales, as compared with the neighbouring islands, – does it not appear an anomaly of an inscrutable character? I think it may be attributed to the settlement of white men among them, who have introduced vicious habits. This is one reason, but in great part, the want of success must be attributed to the bad feeling and want of confidence, naturally caused by the mode in which possession had been taken of their country – occupation by force, accompanied by murders, ill treatment, ravishment of their women, in a word, to the conviction on their minds that the white man has come to his own advantage, without any regards to their rights. Feeling this burning injustice inflicted by the white man, it is not in the nature of things that the black man should believe the white man was better than himself, or suppose the moral and religious laws, by which the white man proposes the black man to be governed, to be better than those of his own tribe. Let charity and Christian equity – the means which the Grace of God employs for the dissemination of truth amongst uncivilized natives – be used, and from esteem and affection will proceed confidence, without this you will neither civilize or Christianize.
  64. Have they not introduced vicious habits in New Zealand, where the missionaries, notwithstanding these evils, have been successful? Compared with New South Wales, the missionaries have succeeded to a great extent. There the corruption was entirely local, as Europeans, without some particular cause, were not desirous to travel far into the interior. There were spots of corruption in New Zealand, but here the corruption was not spread entirely over the country. Besides, and principally, I would observe, that in New Zealand, no massacre of natives accompanied the settlement of the whites in the country; even no occupation of land by force was made, in the beginning; and , moreover, a large number of missionaries has been spread over the country. And let it be remarked, that the natives of New Zealand, so soon as they were convinced of the sovereignty of the land was taken from them, and felt aggrieved by conduct they felt unjust, have lost all esteem and affection for the white people, have ceased to have confidence in them, and unless proper means are used to restore that confidence, it is to be feared that all the good which has been done will rapidly diminish – Christianity is making no progress in New Zealand at the present moment.
  65. Are you aware that the children of aborigines of this country have been taken by settlers, and brought up in families, and that these children, after they have become adults, have abandoned their civilized habits and gone into the bush? And what harm was there in that.
  66. I merely quote it as an instance to show the predominance of savage habits, spite of all civilizing influences? It would be his natural tendency.
  67. I am speaking of one who was taken from his parents in infancy? I think there is something inherent in this tendency; still, that does not debar the possibility of civilizing them. I conceive if the Government were to take care of the aborigines, and give them tracts of land on which they might congregate, and where they would be in safety, much good might be done, even in the civilized parts of the Colony. They might be encouraged to have little gardens, and be gradually be brought into habits of civilization. Beyond the boundaries, the only would be to allot them certain portions of ground, to let them have cattle and other things for their use. Instead of protectors with large salaries, industrious simple minded married men might have the care of them, to prevent the intrusion of whites, and to look after their well being and concerns. The natives would soon learn it would be better to tend their cattle, and be able to kill an ox when they required it, than to hunt the kangaroo or emu. The natives would have confidence inspired by the fact they would have an asylum where they would be safe from the aggressions of whites.
  68. By the Chairman: Your Grace’s intention is, entirely to isolate them? Entirely.
  69. Do you deem it possible to work a plan of isolation in a Colony spreading as this? I think as easily as a gentleman isolates himself whom obtains a run, and will take care that no one trespasses on it.
  70. The law would protect his land from the trespass of cattle, but how can you protect the black from visits of the white; would you imprison the black man for coming out of the isolated district, or the white man for going into it; would you make this a tabooed ground, on which no white man should come? As far as I could do so. I would make these Government reserves, and would not allow any white person to trespass upon them; and if the law can protect the white in possession of his land, I conceive the Government may extend an equal protection to the land it may hold for use of the aboriginal owners of the soil.
  71. I understand your Lordship to say, that the Paraguay experiment, which was one of isolation upon a grand scale, to have been successful? Perfectly.
  72. Then, if the Committee should be of opinion that it was a perfect failure, I presume your Lordship would not be surprised if the plan of isolation should not be adopted? I should not be at all surprised.
  73. Supposing it should be considered that the plan of isolation is utterly impracticable, or that it has, in experience, failed, what would you recommend to be done? I would recommend the case of Dr. Lardner to the Committee’s consideration; he lectured upon the power of steam, and spoke of the advantage to be derived from its application to the purpose travelling by land; but when he came to the question, whether it be made useful in passing the great ocean, he pronounced it utterly impracticable. Twenty years afterwards he proved the practicability, by passing over in a steam boat, from England to America.
  74. I do not exactly see the application? Before any attempt is made the Committee pronounce it impracticable; I say make the attempt.
  75. I am not pre-judging what the Committee will say, but, supposing the Committee should be of opinion, that, at all events, in the settled parts of the Colony, the scheme would be impracticable, what would you suggest for these settled parts? I would propose a trial. I think in all parts of the Colony Government retains reserves; instead of allowing the tribe to wander about begging from farm to farm, which degrades them still lower than they are. I would give them these reserves as a home, and it would not cost much to provide a few cattle among them and other necessities and conveniences of civilized life, and this would put a stop, in a great measure, to one of the evils at present existing. The outrages that take place at Moreton Bay, generally arise from a desire, on the part of the aborigines, to obtain feed in the winter season. Their natural food fails them, the white man drives away the emu and the kangaroo; and the black thinks he has a right to the cattle and the sheep he finds in their stead.
  76. Your Grace expressed an opinion, in reply to a question from Dr Lang, that it was only through the means of religion that we could expect to civilize the aborigines; does not your own statement, relative to the process going on at Stradbroke Island, rather imply that something else was to be done before teaching them the dogma of religion? I did not mean to say that religion was the first thing to be taught to the savage; you must first obtain his confidence and prepare him for the reception of these important truths – Religion is a sacred thing, and I think it would almost be profane to speak until a sufficient knowledge of a language was acquired to convey correct ideas of religious truths; but I say man will not remain permanently civilized except through the means of religion.
  77. Then , in the first instance, you think you must attend to their physical wants? Undoubtedly; thus you conciliate confidence, induce moral habits, give expansion to the mental powers, thus you prepare them for religious truths. It must be proved to the savage that the white man is his kind friend; that if he drives away the food natural to the country, he provides better; that he has the well being of the aborigines at heart; and that, it is necessary for the purpose of civilized life, to occupy this land, it is not taken away without remuneration and reciprocal advantage. If the whites could also be impressed with the grievous improprieties of making use of the women of the aborigines, as they are used, the way would be open for doing them much good; and I have not the least doubt the aborigines of this colony might be brought into a high state of civilization. I may mention to the Committee, that, when I went to Stradbroke, even while I myself was there, one of the sailors from a vessel in the Bay, came and took three young girls, not fourteen years of age, on board.
  78. Do you think the natives generally would be disposed to part with their children, for the purpose of having them taught and supported entirely in schools? I think they would be very glad, generally speaking, to have their children taught, provided they could see them from time to time.
  79. They would be willing to have them taken entirely from their parents? I cannot say. While I was at Stradbroke Island three children expressed a great wish to go with me, two boys and a girl; the two boys I kept myself and the girl I sent to the Sisters of Charity; they remained in Sydney a month or five weeks, and , during that time, improved very much. The little girl began to speak English, and distinguished herself by her amiable qualities and desire to please; and though at first she did not like to be confined at school, when she found her exertions to please were noticed, she evinced a great desire to come to school. These children might have been made very useful to the mission, but, unfortunately, a report was raised that I had taken these children with the purpose of making away with them. The natives were in great distress, came to the missionaries and threatened that unless the children were returned by the next steamer, they would kill them.
  80. Have you ever asked any of the blacks themselves how they would like to be confined to one place? I do not contemplate them being confined to one place, but that they should have a home, and that every ordinary inducement should be used to encourage them in loss roving habits.
  81. Does it not strike tour Grace that there are other causes of decrease, besides those you have mentioned? Yes; amongst them may be reckoned the following:


  1. The aggressive mode of taking possession of their country, which necessarily involves a vast loss of life to the native population. This is done under the influence of principles and ideas which parties, to sooth recourse of conscience, under the influence of selfish motives, are willing to adopt. I have myself heard a man, educated, and a large proprietor of sheep and cattle, maintain, that there was no more harm in shooting a native, than in shooting a wild dog. I have heard it maintained by others that it was in the course of Providence, that the blacks should disappear before the white, and the sooner the process was carried out the better for all parties. I fear such optimism prevails to a great extent. Very recently in the presence of two clergymen a man of education narrated a good thing, that he had been one of a party who had pursued the blacks, in consequence of the cattle having been rushed by them, and that he was sure they shot upwards of a hundred – When expostulated wish, he maintained that there was nothing wrong in it, that it was preposterous to suppose they had souls. In this opinion he was joined by another educated person present.
  2. The want of protection for the aborigines. If a white man is guilty of stealing sheep or cattle, he is punished on conviction, but loss of life does not follow; the black is at once shot. I once met a party of five, who had been out after the blacks – in consequence of a yearling having been speared. I asked what their guns were loaded with? Oh, with ball. I observed, would not shot serve the purpose? Oh, they would carry too much of that away with them – was the answer. The Commissioners of Crown Lands – who ought not to have herds or flocks – if men of prudence, humanity and firmness, might do much to mitigate these dreadful evils. I fear, also, though I am ashamed to say it, that I have reason to believe that poison has been, in many instances used.
  3. The horrible extent to which sensual indulgence is carried, by the whites, is the abuse of females at an early period of life – mere children – who are made incapable the mothers of healthy offspring.
  4. The universal prostitution of the women, caused by the depravity off the whites.
  5. Introduction of diseases for which they have not proper remedies; the neglect of taking care of themselves while sick; the absence of command over their appetites, as regards eating and drinking; and their exposure to the weather, without having proper covering, after having been accustomed to the use of blankets; the use of spirits and strong drinks; and in short the general change of their habits.




  1. Extract from the Despatch of Lord Stanley, on the state of the Aborigines.
  2. Extract from Muratori’s description of the uncivilized tribes of Paraguay.
  3. Extract from the Journal of the Geographical Society, relative to the Missions of Paraguay.
  4. Extract from the works of S. K. Paulding, on the beneficial effects of religion in the work of civilization.


EXTRACT from a Despatch of LORD STANLEY on the subject of the Aborigines.

“I cannot conclude this Despatch without expressing my sense of importance of the subject of it, and my hope that your experience may enable you to suggest some general plan by which we may acquire ourselves of the obligations which we owe towards this helpless race of beings. I should not, without the most extreme reluctance, admit that nothing can be done – that with respect to God alone, the doctrines of Christianity must be inoperative, and the advantages of civilization incommunicable. I cannot acquiesce in the theory that they are inescapable of improvement, and that their extinction before the advance of the white settler is a necessity which it is impossible to control. I recommend them to your protection and favourable consideration with the greatest earnestness, but at the same time, with perfect confidence, and I assure you that I shall be willing and anxious to cooperate with you in any arrangement for their civilization which may hold out a fair prospect of success.”

“It is impossible to contemplate the condition and the prospects of that unfortunate race, without the deepest commiseration.”



EXTRACT from Muratori’s description of the uncivilized tribes of Paraguay.

“The savages of Paraguay know neither King nor Lord, and if any kind of commonwealth be found among them, as it has no settled form, so there are no known laws, nor any fixed rule for the civil government of the administration of justice. Every family, and even every savage thinks himself entirely free, and lives absolutely independent. But as the intestines feed and frequent wars they are engaged in with their neighbours. Continually endanger their liberty, necessity has taught them to form a sort of society, and they are ruled by chieftains.”

“ These small republics, or bodies of people, disperse as easily as they get together. As every individual is his own master, he leaves his cacique on every discontent, and goes over to another.”

“Many of the tribes neither till nor sow their land, as they are little concerned as to what is to come, and their voraciousness makes them devour greedily what they have to eat, without any care for the next day.”

“The woods are so stocked with deer, and wild boars, that the Indians can, in a few hours, bring in a fresh supply of provisions: and the lakes equally abound with large fish.”

“However to ensure plenty, the Indians often change their quarters and the same reason hinders great numbers assembling in one place, and is one of the greatest obstacles to their conversation.”

“Few of them wear any clothes. They hand round their necks a collar set with stones that might be taken for emeralds, or unpolished rubies.”

“What must raise the greatest horror is to find that the Indians feed on their own species, and that in war they strive to make as many prisoners as they can, in order to feast afterwards on the mangled limbs of the unfortunate captives; and that in time of peace, Indians who live in society together, mutually hunt, pursue and lay snares for one another to satisfy their inhuman appetites. Barbarity and cruelty, cannot be carried higher.”

“The scandalous life most Christians lead in America obstructs the conversion of the Indians, as much as their merciless barbarity.”

“When the Jesuits endeavoured to inculcate the holy maxims of religion into the hearts of these Indians, they at first scarcely gave them a hearing; if they succeeded as far to bring over a few infidels to Christ, the conversions were of no long continuance, on account of the sad impressions which the scandalous behaviour of the Europeans makes on the new converts. When the savages are told that our religion does not allow polygamy; that it teaches humility, self-denial, and charity, they retort the matters of European against all that has been said, and accompany their answers with a disdainful smile, which is sufficient to defeat the warmest zeal.”

“About the middle of last century, those Christian heroes formed a bold plan, and resolved to settle in the middle of the savage Indians that were farthest removed from the Spanish Towns, and plantations. Experience has taught them that was the only means to succeed, and to secure success among the Indians; but the question was how to introduce Christianity among men dispersed like wild beats, retired very far with each other, breathing nothing but revenge, and carrying barbarity to that excess, as to make their most delicious meals on the flesh of their fellow creatures.”

“The first step taken was to bring the Barbarians into society, and to convince them how much a civil life was to be preferred to the brutish life they had led hitherto, whether they considered their present maintenance, or their habitations, or even wars to frequent among them.”

“The wild Indians were scarce to be looked upon as men when the design was formed to make them Christians. The advantages and pleasures of social life and interest, which has so great an influence on the minds of men, were, in the beginning, frequently represented to the savages, who were not altogether insensible of what was proposed. Their former life, scarce different from that of brutes, was described to them in a natural manner. The inconvenience of this way of living were pointed out; the Indians laid hold of the truth, which they observed in these accounts of themselves, and were struck with the representation. When they were asked did they not think it against reason and humanity, to hunt down their fellow creatures merely from a desire of devouring them, they were at a loss what to reply, and they already begun to look upon themselves with some horror. At length after a competent number of Indians was brought together, they were taught to build homes with some appearance of neatness and symmetry. This cost very little, for their homes or rather huts were only made of rough wood and branches of trees put together reeds, mats and stakes.”

“ With much difficulty they were convinced that it was necessary to husband then ground, The Missionaries not only furnished the grain, wanted to sow their ground, but found them all necessities for their maintenance till harvest. The Indians continued hunting and fishing; they looked for honey and wild fruits in the woods. Before the year’s end the good people, grown more gentle and tractable, began to reap the fruits of their labour. The harvest was plentiful, and the success made them still more eager to take pains.”

“ This new people raised at the same time a church entirely made of wood, under the directions of the Missionaries. Who omitted nothing that could serve to instruct them with religion. The success perfectly answered their expectations.”

“The first reserve was scarcely settled and brought into any order when many others were formed on the same plan; these reserves went by the names of doctrines, or reductions, terms which have continued ever since to designate these kinds of establishments in the interior. It is not to be said how much their early successes encouraged the Missionaries. To extend this new empire of Christ, they daily made farther progress into those immense tracts, in quest of the Indians dispersed among the plains, the mountains and the forests. They endeavoured to gain by small presents the hearts of the Indians they met, they laid before them in the strongest manner, the misfortune of a man that owns no God, or adores false deities; they also represented the advantages of Christian Religion, and did their best to make them sensible of the truth of it. The savages came to observe with their own eyes the happy situation of the reductions. Nothing could be of greater power and efficacy for engaging them.”

”Thus several reductions were formed successively, and the old ones were increased by numbers that came in crowds to be admitted into these new settlements.”

“In the year 1717 the provisions of Guaira alone, situate betwixt the Rivers Parana, Uruguay, recoined thirty-two very populous reductions, and upwards of 121,168 Indians all Christianized.”

“Many other reductions were founded near to one another between the great River Uruguay and the Sea. Others were formed towards the north, on the banks of the large River Mamose, that runs into the famous River of the Amazons,.”

“Such, according to Muratori, were the Guaranis in those times. Their language is still spoken by most of the Indian tribes of the western frontiers of Brazil, and may be traced from the Parana to the Maranon. The Jesuits published a Grammar and Dictionary of it, which were used in their celebrated Missions in Paraguay, where at a later period, this people submitted themselves with such wonderful docility to their spiritual sway. In the Journals of the Royal Geographical Society, is a review of a work entitled the “Historical, Geographical and Political account of the ci-devant Jesuit Missions in Paraguay”, by the Governor Don Gonzalas de Doblas, 1785, and published in Angelis’ Records, of the provinces of La Plata, which was communicated to the Royal geographical Society by Sir Woodbine Parish, F.R.S. in 1836.”



EXTRACT from the Journal of The Royal Geographical Society, relative to the Missions of Paraguay.

The Royal geographical Society thus notices the publications in the 7th vol. Of its journal, part 2,

“In which the whole of this collection there is not a more interesting work than this. Its title is fully realized by its contents, which certainly comprise the most valuable account of Paraguay as yet published. Doblas was appointed to administer the new system of Government, established in the Guarani towns, after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768; a system of full errors, and which in a very few years led to the total ruin of those celebrated establishments. He arrived however in time to foresee and to foretell their inevitable fate unless a radical change took place in the mode of managing them; and one of the main objects of his labours was to draw the attention of the Court of Spain to the absolute necessity of this, if they desired to preserve them. Senor de Angelis states

That some years afterwards the King showed a disposition to adopt his honest suggestion, but it was then too late; the depopulation of the missions was complete, and the ruins of their churches and buildings are all that, in many places, are now left to show that they ever existed. Although in a geographical point of view this work is of great interest, it is till more so as correcting some of the many erroneous impressions respecting the rule of the Jesuits in Paraguay, and goes far to justify them from the calumnious attacks made upon them, by those who were interested in destroying the reputation of the celebrated order.”



EXTRACT from the works of S.K.Paulding, on the beneficial effects of religion in the work of civilization.

“On the Mississippi”, says J.K.Paulding, “at Detroit, Montreal and Quebec, are still to be seen the few and solitary examples of white men and Indians, having lived in near neighbourhood, and constant intercourse with each other, without that sad and mysterious result, which everywhere else on this great continent has followed the association; I mean the slow and sure extinction of the latter. Much of this is owing to courtesy, much to the sober habits of the French, and much more, perhaps, to the influence of a religion which though often calumniated, exercises a dominion, over the minds of untutored savages at least, far more powerful and , permit us to say, far more salutary, than has hitherto resulted from the influences of any other.”







James Malcolm, Esquire, called in and examined:-

  1. You are a settler in the Port Phillip district? I am.
  2. How long have you been so? It is nine years last January since I was first went there. I am about one of the oldest squatters in the Port Phillip district.
  3. What part of the country did you go to with your stock? I went to two or three different places, from time to time, but at last I settled down about twenty miles from Melbourne – on the Sydney Road.
  4. Did you look over much extent of the country before you finally settled? I did – I went over from Van Dieman’s Land with Mr Gellibrand, Mr Roberston, and others, and we went over a great extent of country. I was one of the party sent over from Van Dieman’s Land to see if the country would answer for sheep and cattle.
  5. Did you again examine a large tract of the country, when you went to take your stock? I did not, I removed from place to place until I came to the place where I am now.
  6. Could you form any opinion of the number of the natives in the parts of the country you have been? I could not.
  7. Could you say whether the tribes were numerous or not? I could not say that the tribes were very numerous.
  8. You are speaking of the inland tribes, are you not? Yes.
  9. You did not conceive of them to be very numerous? I did not.
  10. Have they, during the period of your residence amongst them, or that your observation has extended to, diminished in number, and to what extent? I could not say they have; but I could not say to what extent.
  11. Has the diminution taken place amongst the adults or children? Partly among the adults, and partly among the children.
  12. Do you see fewer children than you used to see? I think there are fewer children.
  13. To what causes do you attribute the decrease in your district? I really cannot say.
  14. You have not considered the matter perhaps sufficiently to state an opinion upon the cause of the decrease? No, I have not.
  15. What is their actual condition and means of subsistence in your district? They sometimes get fish, and at other times opossum and kangaroos. Their hunting season extends to over the whole year, but they fish at stated periods; they frequently call at any station as they pass, and I generally observe they have a great many opossums, kangaroos, bats, bandicoots or other animals of that description. I have been to their camps too, and seen dozens of these animals which they had caught for food. They sometimes stop for two or three weeks in our vicinity, on their way down to Melbourne, and sometimes as they are returning.
  16. Have their ordinary means of subsistence diminished or increased within the time that your experience extends to? I should say they have diminished. There is a nutritious root which they eat and are fond of; and that, I think has greatly diminished, from the grazing of sheep and cattle over the land, because I have not seen so many of the flowers of it in the spring as I used to see. It ears a beautiful yellow flower. The native name of this root is “murrnong”.
  17. What species of root is it? It is a small root, something like a radish.
  18. What tribe of plants does it belong to? I do not know, as I am not a botanist.
  19. Is it a species of fern? I think not.
  20. Have you see it at all in this part of the country? I have not.
  21. What are its qualities as an article of food? It is rather agreeable to the taste as a native article of food, and when you squeeze it, there is a sort of milk or creamy substance which comes out of it. I have eaten it many a time, and a man named Buckley who lived among the natives for thirty years before the settlement was formed, tells me, that a man may live on the root for weeks together; and that he has dug them up in great numbers for food.
  22. How is it prepared? I have eaten it roasted, but I prefer it raw. The natives roast a quantity, and carry them about for food.
  23. By Dr Lang: Is it not something like what are called “arnots” or ground nuts in Scotland? Something like that.
  24. Has not the leaf somewhat of the character of the parsnip leaf? Yes, it has.
  25. By the Chairman: What range of country do the tribes you speak of, as calling at your station on the way to and from Melbourne, travel over? They come down from the country about the Goulburn River.
  26. How often? Two or three times a year; there are besides a few stragglers about Melbourne.
  27. You mean individuals? Yes.
  28. You call a tribe, from half a dozen to twenty, or more, individuals who keep together, do you not? Yes.
  29. Do you know of any blankets having been given away amongst the aborigines in your district heretofore? There were blankets given to them by the Van Dieman’s Land Association.
  30. I mean, do you know of any being given to them by the Government? I do not know of its having been done at Port Phillip.
  31. What was the object of your Association in giving them the blankets you speak of? They formed part of the price given to the natives by the Van Dieman’s Land Association; and for which the government afterwards allowed seven thousand pounds of reduction on the land they purchased.
  32. Did the tribes about Port Phillip concur in this sale to the Association? I do not know; there are two or three tribes at Geelong who said they had sold the tract to the Association.
  33. They acknowledged they had sold it? Yes.
  34. What was the effect of giving the blankets and goods, on the minds of the natives themselves? I cannot tell that. I see them about now in blankets, black and dirty, but I think these have been obtained from the settlers; I should not think they saved those given by the Association, so long.
  35. Are the natives at all employed by the settlers about your district, either regularly or occasionally? Very seldom; they do not like to work – if you ask them to do anything, their answer is, “Plenty white man work – borak (that is no) work.”
  36. What habits have they bearing upon their aptitude for employment – have they any habits inconsistent with the notion of employing them regularly? I think so. I have observed that if you give them permission to stay and give them food, even without requiring them to work, that they will stay only a short time; their strong disposition to wander, prevents them from settling down permanently anywhere; I have enquired of Buckley about their habits, and he says they will not work; that they are always accustomed to a wandering life, and delight in prowling about from morning to night; looking up late the trees and throwing stones or their womeras, at any birds or animals they see. He says they never settle.
  37. Are there any half-castes in your district? I have never seen any.
  38. Have there been any born in the district? Not that I have heard of.
  39. Have you any native women living with white men in the district? I am certain there are none in the neighbourhood.
  40. [Left Blank]
  41. Is it from an indisposition on part of the white men, or of the black women that there are no such instances; or is it from the disapproval of the blacks generally? I could not answer that question.
  42. Are no improper connexions of this description ever formed, do you think? I am njot aware of any; none ever came under my own notice.
  43. Do you mean to say that you have not heard at all in your neighbourhood, that shepherds have connexion with the black women, with the consent of their relations and parents? I may have heard that such has been the case in an instance or two.
  44. Have you reason to believe that that kind of connexion is common? I should say ot say that it is.
  45. Are the Aborigines in friendly or hostile relations with the settlers, in your District? They are friendly now, but they were not at first.
  46. How did the hostilities arise at first? From the natives coming and taking the settlers’ sheep.
  47. What now occasions there being on a more friendly footing with the whites? They have ceased to take the settlers sheep as they did formerly; I have not heard of a case of sheep stealing by natives in my neighbourhood for six or seven years now.
  48. I suppose they have found that they can get anything they want by asking for it? Yes, they can get plenty; In the neighbourhood of Melbourne, I have seen them encamped about, with abundance of beef, mutton and flour; and some of them also having clothes, as coats and waistcoats.
  49. I suppose that in your part of the country, the settlers are willing to give food for the most trivial services? I am positive they would be willing to do so.
  50. Do you think the numbers of the native have diminished from any difficulty in getting food? I should think not.
  51. There is no property, now destroyed by the Aborigines in your District? No.
  52. But when the whites first came into collision with the natives, the latter used to take settlers’ property? Yes.
  53. Are the different tribes friendly or hostile amongst themselves? Generally hostile; there are fights amongst them.
  54. What are the their quarrels generally? It is impossible to say; a boy from a different district who a settler had brought with him to reside at his station, lately, in my neighbourhood has been killed. Quarrels and fights arise occasionally among them about their women.
  55. In the fights that they have, are there many or few killed? There are not many killed, but there are generally a few wounded.
  56. Do fights take place frequently? No.
  57. How often? I could not say.
  58. Have you heard of the crime of infanticide prevailing among them at all? I have not.
  59. Have you been in the way of knowing whether it is the case or not? I have not.
  60. Then it may be the case without your knowing it. Yes.
  61. Have you had an opportunity of witnessing the effects of what is called the Protectorate, I mean, what is the result of your observations on the system of the management of natives by the Protectors; have the Protectors done any good do you think? I should think they have done a great deal of harm instead of good, in the Port Phillip District.
  62. In what way has the harm manifested itself? They interfere so much in very trifling matters, where there is no occasion for it.
  63. Mention an instance or two? There was an instance when two or three young men, settlers, were charged with the murder of some of the natives; but when the case came before the Court, there was no proof of the charge. In another case a respectable settler was charged with murdering a black native; I myself was on the Jury on that occasion, and there also, there was no proof.
  64. But although there was no proof to convict the parties, was there not some information to justify the Protectors in putting the defendants on trial? According to the evidence there was not the least ground for doing so. All the Protectors proceeded on was the statement of one or two blacks which was shown to be quite false.
  65. Has not their interference tended to protect the natives against wanton outrages by the white man? I do not think the whites would have hurt the blacks in any way, unless it might occur in protecting their own property.
  66. Do you think the Protectors have been of use in assisting the settlers to preserve their stock? I do not think they have.
  67. But do you think the Protectors have prevented in some measure, the whites from gratifying their feelings of revenge against the blacks for offenses of that kind? It may have been so.
  68. Do you not think that is a good which the Protectors have occasioned; or are you of opinion that the same might be accomplished without the Protectors having anything to do with the settlers? I think it may be accomplished without the support of the settlers.
  69. I think I understand you, that the settlers are not indisposed to be kind to the natives? They are not.
  70. And the natives have never attempted to take away sheep from the whites for many years past? Not in our District.
  71. By Dr Lang: You do not find there is any disposition to aggression on their side? No, I should say not.
  72. By the Chairman: Do you think that the result has been produced at all by fear on the part of the natives; or that it has arisen partly by fear, and partly because they can get what they want without taking the sheep? I think it is partly from the one cause and partly from the other; we always give them something when they pass, but they do not want anything sometimes; I have told them to go into the field and take what potatoes they wanted; and they would not take the trouble to do it, as they had enough without.
  73. I suppose they relied on being able to get what they wanted at anytime they passed? I have generally noticed when they passed that they had plenty in their baskets.
  74. That is of late? Yes; formerly when they used to take the sheep, they used to be afraid to come near the stations to be seen, and therefore did not get much given to them.
  75. There is now then, great confidence shown by the blacks towards the settlers in your part of the country? Yes; but it is not so in t back country, where the whites and the blacks first came into contact with each other.
  76. Do you think that there was any great loss of life in the early years of the settlement, before the good understanding that now exists came to be established? There were several murders by the blacks; I and another person were the first who found Mr. Franks and a shepherd who had been murdered.
  77. That was a loss of life on the part of the whites; can you say to what extent the blacks have suffered loss of life from the whites? I cannot; I have heard that some blacks have been killed in the district; but this has not been the case with us, so much as it is said to have been in the Portland Bay District.
  78. Will you be good enough to state to the committee anything you think would assist the Committee in its endeavour to devise a plan to promote the welfare of the natives; can you make any suggestion of anything that would tend towards their civilization? I do not know I can. For my part I do not think the Protectors have done much to promote their civilization; there are very few of them who can speak English, and those only a few words; I do not know what is to be done for the natives.
  79. Do you think now, with respect to yourself for instance, that if you were to have any advantage offered to you for taking the trouble, that you could succeed in persuading any of them to remain with you, that you might introduce them to habits of industry and of civilized life; I do not think I could; I have not been to the Protector’s Station; but I understand that those natives who go there do not stay any time, but soon return to their old habits.
  80. Do you think they would willing allow their children to remain among the settlers? I cannot say.
  81. I think you say you have not come much in contact with them? I have not.
  82. You do not understand their language? Only a few words.
  83. And few of them speak English? Yes, and only a few words as “give me white money”, “give me black money” and a few expressions of that nature; when they meet me in the town and ask me for money, but I tell them to come to me at the station, and then I will give them food.
  84. What do they want money for? They learn habits of smoking and drinking and other bad habits.
  85. Would they not work to gratify those habits? I think not.
  86. By Dr Lang: What is the general impression in the Port Phillip District as to the benefits derived by the public, from the establishment of the Protectorate? All that I have heard speak on the subject, say that the Protectorate has done more harm than good.
  87. By the Chairman: Is that impression universal in the district? I think so.
  88. It is not confined to any particular party or parties in the District? No I should say that is the universal impression.





Reverend William Schmidt, called in and examined:-

  1. How long have you been in this Colony? Nearly eight years.
  2. Have you been all that period connected with the mission to the Aborigines? Yes.
  3. In what locality? Moreton Bay.
  4. Were you acquainted with the English language when you arrived here? Very little indeed; just as much as I was able to learn during the voyage here.
  5. Had you any companions? Yes, one ordained minister and ten lay-brethren, besides eight females, the wives of the missionaries.
  6. Will you be kind enough to state the origin of the mission with which you were connected, and the mode in which it was supported to the time of extinction? It was in the year 1837 when the Reverend Dr Lang, on his previous visit to England, engaged my former colleague, the Rev. Mr. Eipper, in London, and myself, along with ten artisans (eight of our number being married) by the instrumentality of the Rev. Mr. Gruner, of Berlin, to form a mission to the aborigines at Moreton Bay. The outfit and passage of each of the clerical members was paid by the Home Government with one hundred and fifty pounds. After our arrival in this Colony a society was formed under the auspices of the Synod of New South Wales, for the management and support of the mission; the contributions raised by the public, both here and in Germany, to defray the expenses of the mission, were met by an equal sum from the Colonial Treasury. The above society having become defunct, during the absence of the Rev. Dr. Lang from the Colony, in the years 1839 and 1840, and the missionaries being exposed sometimes during that period to almost starvation, there was formed, at our request, a General Committee for superintending and managing the affairs of the mission, at the commencement of the year 1842. The Rev. Dr.Lang and the Rev. Dr Ross having been appointed joint-Secretariat, new and vigorous efforts were made both for the better support and the government of the internal affairs of the mission, and the brighter days commenced dawning; but as in the course of eighteen months the Committee found it extremely difficult to raise money for our support, by reason of the badness of the times, a heavy debt resting besides upon the mission since the former years, and as His Excellency the Governor had withdrawn at the same time the Government support, in conformity to a Despatch of Lord Stanley to this effect, the Committee informed us of the state of things, and after much conference with the Rev. Mr. Eipper and myself, during our visits in Sydney, resolved to break up the mission in a public meeting held in the month of October, 1843, partly on account of the want of money to support the mission, partly on account of the want of success attending the labours of the missionaries, which, there is every reason to fear, will the longer the more be increased from the very circumstances, that the mission station is too near the principal settlement, and from the influx of a European population over the whole district. The lay – missionaries were directed ti support themselves by their various handicrafts and by cultivating the soil; the Rev. Mr. Eipper joined the Synod of Australia and I, having meanwhile received a call from a German congregation in the United States of America, was advised to accept of it and to proceed hither, when I should be able to raise the necessary means to defray the travelling expenses and when a favourable opportunity might offer. Whilst I was waiting for letters and money from Germany and America, the lay-brethren, with whom four other lay-missionaries joined, who, arrived here in the beginning of the year 1844 with the intention to proceed to one of the South Sea Islands were desirous to make another attempt with the aborigines, and formed a new station at Noongir Creek, about thirty four miles beyond the old station, near the coast hoping the natives might gather there more numerously and might be induced to settle; but as soon as the maize started ripening the natives became increasingly troublesome thay they could not be controlled and they actually attacked some of the lay missionaries, wounded, speared and almost killed him. He had a very narrow escape; but the hut and all the contents were burnt and the greater part of the crop destroyed. This place was consequently abandoned and all the lay-missionaries (ten in number) live and support themselves and their families at the old station, where very rarely a few natives make their appearance.
  7. What was the extent of the district that you considered to be within the range of the operations? About forty or sixty miles along the road towards the north of our station, near Brisbane Town.
  8. And what extent inland? Just according to circumstances; we had no fixed localities which we visited during our journeys.
  9. What is the probable number of aborigines in the district with which you are acquainted? There were four tribes to which we especially confined our labours, and the number of individuals in these tribes was different; those in the immediate neighbourhood of Brisbane Town in smaller, and those farther in the interior larger. One of the tribes in the immediate neighbourhood of the town had seventy or eighty members, and those farther in the interior had from one hundred to one hundred and twenty or one hundred and forty in each tribe, including all sexes and ages.
  10. What extent of country did these four tribes occupy? About fifty or sixty miles along the coast and a small island.
  11. And how much inland? That would be difficult to state precisely, because we generally followed the blacks along the coast.
  12. Are the numbers you have given, the number that existed when the mission was discontinued, or the numbers you found there at its commencement? The numbers were larger when we went out there, and gradually diminished during our residence, down to those I have stated.
  13. What diminution has there been during the eight years you have known these four tribes? The diminution amounts, I should say, to about fifty or sixty, if not more.
  14. Has the decrease between the children or the adults? Among both.
  15. To what causes do you attribute the decrease? To different causes; principally to the connection of the women with the whites; that is a very great cause. Then the alteration that has taken place in their food, from their intercourse with the whites, The venereal disease has also carried away many, and their fights with one another.
  16. Are you aware that the venereal disease was here when we first came, or that it is supposed? I am not.
  17. Do you know that it is supposed that venereal disease originated in the southern parts of Asia, and that it had not only reached America, but had been established in Polynesia before we came here? I do not; I may state, when I was travelling among the Bunya Bunya tribes, some of which had never been in communication with the whites, I found the disease prevailing among them, but was not able to form any opinion whether they had it before the arrival of the whites or not, nor were they able to give any information themselves upon the subject.
  18. You were enumerating the other cases in which might be attributed the decrease in the number of blacks? Yes; so those I have mentioned may be added drinking and smoking, and other changes in their habits.
  19. By Mr. Bradley: In fact they neglect their own natural means of getting food, and hang upon a precarious means of subsistence to be obtained from others? Yes.
  20. By the Chairman: Has their ordinary means of subsistence diminished? It has diminished among those tribes in the immediate neighbourhood of the whites; for instance the kangaroos, opossums and birds have diminished, and also the roots upon which they partly subsisted, but it has not diminished among the tribes and the coast and in the mountains.
  21. Has their food from roots diminished. Partly by the cultivation of roots, but chiefly the stock.
  22. Is not the quantity of ground cultivated by the whites very small indeed compared with the whole? It is; but at the same time, the stock spreading over districts, not only destroy the roots, but prevent the natives from frequenting many places where roots are growing, the shepherds driving them away.
  23. What is the means of subsistence that the tribes near the coast have, that has not diminished? Fish.
  24. Have the aborigines ever had any difficulty in procuring food from the settlers in your district for any the most trifling services? They have not, at least small numbers, wherever they lived in peace with the settlers.
  25. Have they not at all times, as far as you are aware, any that were willing to render the least service, been able to get meat? They have always been able to get something.
  26. Have blankets been issued to the aborigines in your district? Only once.
  27. When was that? After the visit of His Excellency the Governor, he was so kind to supply us with one hundred blankets, and I obtained at the same time, twenty-five from the Rev. Mr. Threlkeld, who had been engaged at the mission in Lake Macquarie.
  28. Then these blankets were distributed by the missionaries? These blankets were sent by the Governor, and placed under the control of Dr. Simpson, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, and when we applied to him to be furnished with the same number.
  29. Have the native blacks any clothing of their own manufacture, in your district?  Nothing byt kangaroo or opossum skin cloaks.
  30. What was the effect upon them of giving them, blankets; did they cease to make cloaks of opossum or kangaroo skins after they had received them? I dare say in winter time they enjoyed their blankets and did not care for the opossum or kangaroo skins.
  31. Did it prevent them seeking for them? No doubt the first distribution created a desire to have them continued.
  32. Were they disappointed in not getting them again? They expressed the greatest dissatisfaction sometimes.
  33. Do you think the distribution of these blankets had any good effect? For a short time it had a good effect, but generally speaking they did not care much for them after the novelty had gone; on the contrary, they sold them for a fig of tobacco, or any small thing they wished to have, either to other natives or prisoners.
  34. Do you mean they sold them during the cold weather? Yes, for a fig of tobacco, or any other trifle. When His Excellency sent the blankets, he requested Dr. Simpson to inform us they were not to be distributed indiscriminately, but for services rendered us, and we were careful to act accordingly; we kept a regular diary, and put down the number distributed among the natives who had rendered services to us during our journeys, or at the station, and only those who had rendered the best services got them; we likewise gave pieces of them to the children who attended the school according to their ages; some had quarters and others halves of blankets.
  35. The children habitually go naked, I presume? Yes, they all, both children and adults, go entirely naked, excepting in cold weather some have kangaroo skin cloaks.
  36. Do you think it would be advisable to distribute blankets, or any clothing, to them, constantly, as a matter of practice? From my own experience, although I wish to promote their comfort in every possible way. I am decidedly of opinion that they should not be distributed indiscriminately, because at present day they do not value property. At all events, if any clothing were given, it ought to be given only to those who attach themselves to stations, and with the understanding that they have to leave the clothing at the station, when they retire again into the bush.
  37. Do you not think it perhaps necessary in dealing with all savage races, to create in them, in the first instance, a desire for our comforts, by giving them the enjoyment of them to remain in one place for a considerable time, although they might, for the sake of clothing, or a blanket, render services. There were four families in the neighbourhood of our station, who built huts, and we resolved to give blankets to them, with the understanding that they should be theirs while they remained in the huts. They did remain for a week or two, and then went off.
  38. Have they been allowed or refused hospital or medical treatment in case of need, and in what manner? There have been two cases where natives have been in hospital to my knowledge.
  39. At whose expense? I do not know.
  40. What proportion of them are either regularly or occasionally employed by the settlers, and in what way? If they are employed at all by the settlers, they are employed either as stockmen, or in doing little about the house, in breaking up the ground, chopping wood, cutting down trees, and fetching bark etc.
  41. Have any of these been employed latterly in that way? There have been cases where the blacks have worked in that way, so long as they continued at a certain station.
  42. For how long at a time have you known any native continue at a regular employment? The longest time at our place has been five to seven weeks.
  43. What habits have they bearing on their aptitude or employment? They are able to perform almost any species of manual labour, and with no difficulty.
  44. Are they inclined to do so? Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not.
  45. They are not inclined to regular labour. No, they work just according to their own inclination.
  46. Do you think any liberality of remuneration, such as putting them upon an equality with the white man to begin with, would induce any of them to work regularly? No.
  47. Do you attribute that to the habits that have become part of their nature, from their wandering life? It is owing to their being so much addicted to a wandering life.
  48. Do you think any measures may be taken with the children that would tend to bring them up with different habits and desires? The greatest difficulty would be found to attract the children, so as to keep them.
  49. Do you think if the means were taken to educate and entirely maintain the children, that the parents would be willing to leave them in schools devoted to that purpose? They have not been willing during the eight years we have been at Moreton Bay, although we have offered to take their children, especially orphan children, that we knew had neither parents nor near relations; but neither would the children stay, nor the tribe leave them in our place.
  50. In what way do you account for this reluctance; do you attribute it to distrust of you, to affection towards the children, or to an objection to the children being brought up in the way of the whites? I think more to affection for the children, which is very strong.
  51. Have any of them shown any disposition to leave their children with you for short periods to be instructed, when they should come and see them every day? If it served their own purposes they left then perhaps for a few days, or a week.
  52. Were they at all sensible that, by means of training their children, they might be put in the same situation of superiority as to knowledge, that the white have over them? They have no dislike to their children being instructed; on the contrary, they sometime brought them to school, but they had no desire for their children to be raised above their own level.
  53. Were they conscious of inferiority to the whites, or did they fancy their own mode of life the most pleasant and the best? From some of their own expressions, I judged that they considered themselves superior to us.
  54. Do you mean that they consider themselves superior to the whole of the white race, or to those they saw in the conditions of the convicts? To the whole; they preferred their mode of living to ours; when they have accompanied us on some of our journeys, they have expressed the opinion, that they were our masters in the bush, and our servants at the stations; they pitied us that we troubled ourselves with so many things.
  55. Then with these notions of course, no mode of remuneration would induce them to abandon their vagrant life? No.
  56. Were they conscious themselves, that they were, as a race, gradually disappearing? If they were, they did not express any regret.
  57. Are there any, and how many half-castes in your district? There are none in our district, but there are some at Amity Island.
  58. Have you reason to believe there have been any that have been destroyed? There have been some destroyed among the tribes, that the whites have had connexion with; it has come under our notice, that women have murdered their half-caste children immediately after their birth.
  59. Has that happened in the case of the children entirely of their own colour, as well as in the case of half-caste children? No, in that of the half-caste only; it is a rule to kill them immediately after their birth whatever their sex; there is an exception at Stradbroke or Amity Island, because there women have been under the control of the pilot crew.
  60. You speak of it being a rule among them -is it a rule with the murder or among the men? It is a rule among them all.
  61. Is there any sort of sentiment of jealousy or dislike with the men to the women having half-caste children – what do you think is the foundation of the rule for killing the children” I think it is in order to keep the tribes pure.
  62. There is, I presume no sentiment of jealousy or dislike with the men to the women going with the whites with their consent On the contrary, the men carry on a regular trade with them, and offer their women and daughters to any one; they have been offered even to some of my own brethren in the mission, knowing they were not married; of vourse they found the difference; from this circumstance it has come under our own special notice.
  63. Does the number of males or females predominate in the tribes with which you are acquainted? The males are the most numerous.
  64. Have any of these males more than one woman or gins? There are a few cases, but very few.
  65. To what do you attribute, if there be any cause apparent to you, the great number of males – have you never heard of infanticide among them, of their murdering other half-castes. I have not.
  66. Are you aware that it has been said to prevail in other parts of the Colony? I am not.
  67. Perhaps, never suspecting such a thing, you never took steps to ascertain whether it was the case or not? During our residence at the station we knew whether a woman was likely to be confined and we never missed the child afterwards.
  68. By Dr. Lang: Do you think infanticide could have prevailed generally among the natives of Moreton Bay district without your knowing the fact? Not very well.
  69. By the Chairman: I think you said that the tribes that were about you were exceedingly fond of the children, even of those who were not their own, or to whom they were not immediately related? They are very fond of them.
  70. Is there any disposition on the part of the white labouring population to amalgamate with the aborigines as to form families? No; excepting at Amity Island, where the pilot with his crew, and the Roman Catholic Missionaries are stationed.
  71. Are the aborigines in friendly or hostile relations with the settlers in your district? Partly friendly and partly hostile.
  72. Is the hostility permanent, or does it arise from time to time as fresh cause rises? It rather rises from time to time according to the behaviour of the natives.
  73. What are the motives that prompt the natives to hostility? Nothing but their belly being their God, their being desirous to obtain food without working for it, both the produce of the ground and sheep and cattle.
  74. What destruction of property has been occasioned by the aborigines? At some stations the destruction of property has been very great.
  75. Independently of what they have consumed? Yes; in fact they have, although they have been fed and received wages at our station, attacked it, plundered the gardens, and taken whatever they could.
  76. What are the relations, hostile or otherwise, of the aborigines amongst themselves – the four tribes that you have spoken of and neighbouring tribes? Sometimes they are at war, sometimes at peace.
  77. What brings about their hostilities amongst themselves? Partly offences given to each other, and partly women being taken from tribe to tribe without the consent of the parents or relatives.
  78. The women are stolen by force? Yes sometimes; but, of course, with the consent of the women themselves.
  79. Are their numbers affected by hostilities? Generally.
  80. To what extent do you think? The extent is not very great; there are a few severely wounded, and perhaps one killed.
  81. Are the fights frequent? They were more frequent after our arrival than latterly.
  82. What do you think has caused the diminution? Perhaps they have been more divided of late – more scattered about the different stations.
  83. Has the presence of settlers and the authorities at all restrained their hostility one towards another? In some cases perhaps.
  84. Have you ever known them to obtain fire-arms for the purpose of attacking one another? Never.
  85. Will you be good enough to state any facts relative to the aborigines that would assist the Committee in its endeavour to promote their welfare? That is the most difficult task of the whole.
  86. What conclusion have you arrived at, from your experience as to the possibility of doing anything for them? They are not in want of faculties, but the great difficulty is, how to attract and how to keep them; if they could be induced to remain at a certain place, in order that labour could be bestowed upon them in a regular manner, they might be brought to a better way of living; in short, their welfare might be promoted in many ways, if that difficulty could be overcome.
  87. Can you suggest any system or mode by which they might be attracted; I preseume you have tried several; and they all have failed? We have tried so many that I do not know what to propose; all have failed,
  88. Did you try the payment of wages? Yes, in the produce of the ground.
  89. But not in money? No, we had no money ourselves.
  90. Supposing, in the first instance, it might lead to an improper use of money they might earn, do you not think if they were induced to earn money, even though they spent it in drink, that would be an improvement? Formerly there was no money current at Moreton Bay; it is only since the settlement has been opened that the aborigines have known the value of money; they know the difference in value of copper and silver.
  91. How do they expend it? In buying bread, liquor, pipes and tobacco.
  92. Those are desire they wish to gratify? Yes.
  93. You have endeavoured tom proceed on a plan that would exclude the use of spirits among them? Yes.
  94. I would ask you then, as a matter of abstract opinion, whether you do not think, seeing the failure of all the schemes that have been tried, it might be desirable to put money at their command, even with the foreknowledge that they would abuse it spending it on drink? I am decidedly of the opinion that should not be done.
  95. Do you object to it as doing evil that good may come, looking at drinking as an evil in the abstract, or is it that you dread the abuse that would take root and we should not be able to correct and check the appetite after it had been formed.? It would come to such an extent that we should not be able to accomplish the object we intended to obtain.
  96. You think you would not be able, after you had made them drunkards, to make them temperance people? No.
  97. Have you not observed that an inducement to great exertion, even among the lower order of the whites, is the enjoyment of debauch? There is not the least doubt that is the case.
  98. Do you not think the mind of a savage is, to some extent, in the position of that as an ignorant white person? I dare say it is.
  99. Have you at all thought of leaving it to individual settlers to attach themselves to individual blacks as well as they can. And of giving the settler a premium at the end of a certain time, for as many blacks as he is able to show have been employed by him for any given period? There are a few stations where the natives are more attached to the settlers than at others, and these have generally greater benefits than the other natives who only come now and then; they arf generally rewarded according to the services rendered.
  100. Then you have observed at these stations where they have rewarded the natives, they have been induced to settle down? Not to settle down, but to stay longer.
  101. The experiment at Moreton Bay I believe failed, as similar experiments have failed everywhere else? As far as it has come to our knowledge it has failed entirely.
  102. To what cause do you attribute the failure of the mission generally? Perhaps the greatest cause was the opening of the settlement.
  103. How long were you there before the settlement was opened? A little more than three years.
  104. What progress did you make before the settlement was opened? We had a much larger number engaged, and at longer periods.
  105. How many had you engaged with you, and at longer periods – what was the greatest number you could be said to have attending the mission with any regularity?
  106. Then the eleven hundred attendances of men, might be made by some fifty or sixty men? Quite so.
  107. Can you fix upon any particular natives that did appear to have taken to more settled habits? There are a few who have been much more civilized than the others.
  108. How many do you think you could number? Perhaps thirty or forty.
  109. Do you not think there are as many as that scattered among the different stations who have received a similar amount of benefit? There may be.
  110. By Dr. Nicholson: Do you think it possible to communicate any high degree of intelligence to any black in one generation? No, not without the aid of supernatural means.
  111. Then you think it requires a succession of generations to communicate anything like habits of decided civilization? Yes, except they could be brought under the power of the gospel.
  112. By the Chairman: Would you be kind enough to state to the Committee your opinions upon the attitude of their minds to receive religious impressions of any kind, such as more abstract notions of another world and of a Deity – you have said you do not consider these wanting in capacity; but I presume you are aware that different races of men have shown different degrees of aptitude for receiving religious impressions? There is no doubt that they are the lowest in the scale of the human race, so far as they have come under my notice; they have no idea of a Divine Being; the impressions which we sometimes thought we had made upon them quite transient. Their faculties, especially their memories, are, in some instances, very good; but they appear to have no understanding of things which they commit to memory – I mean connected to religion.
  113. Then I conclude you have an impression that there is something wanting in their minds that occasions this defect of understanding upon the abstract matters you speak? That is my opinion, or at any rate, it is slumbering so deeply, that nothing but Divine Power can awaken it.
  114. Have you noticed at all whether they have any poetry – any sings? They have songs which they have at their dances (corroborees).
  115. Do you know what are the subjects they turn upon? The common affairs of life, they are sometimes the repetition of one and the same sentence.
  116. Are you not aware that songs will sometimes travel a distance of a thousand miles in a very short period – that they are taken from tribe to tribe? I am aware that any new corroboree, as they call their dances and songs, is communicated very quickly from tribe to tribe.
  117. By Dr Nicholson: Do you know anything of the language of the natives? I am able to converse with them.
  118. By the Chairman: Does each of these four tribes speak the same language? Each tribe has a different dialect.
  119. Have you seen Mr Threlkeld’s grammar? I have.
  120. Do you find the language spoken by the tribes with which you are acquainted has anything of the same formation as spoken by the tribes about the Hunter River? As far as the grammar goes, I am unable to compare them, but with regard to the terms themselves, they are quite different.
  121. Have they any dual numbers? They have.
  122. What do they call themselves – does each tribe give itself a particular name, or do they speak of all the tribes by any generic name? They generally call themselves after the district they occupy.
  123. Do they call that by the English name? Among themselves by the native name.


With regard to questions 86, 87 and 88, I beg to make the following remarks:

After our arrival at Moreton Bay, in the year 1838, I made enquiry of the Rev.Mr.Handt, then missionary of the aborigines and Chaplain to the Convict Establishment, and of the Government Officers, whether the natives had expressed any desire to settle, and to cultivate the soil, as I observed that they frequently enjoyed the advantages of civilized life. But I learnt to my great surprise that they never made any attempt to do so although the penal settlement had existed at Moreton Bay a number of years, and although some of them had been engaged in different ways. Supposing, however, that no pains had been taken with them, to teach them the various sorts of manual labour for settling, I cherished the hope that it might please Almighty God to bless our endeavours to improve both their bodily and mental condition, and to create in them the desire of imitating us, as we should have to turn the wild bash with our own hands before their eyes, into comfortable habitations and fruitful gardens. And, indeed, they were not only eye witnesses of all our labours, but they were even engaged to assist us, whenever our provision at the onset permitted us, and thereafter the produce of the ground enabled us to feed them. Thus they learnt to perform almost every species of manual labour. It was, however, not only the comforts of civilization we had at heart to convey to them, but as messengers of the Gospel of Christ which is the power of God into salvation to everyone that believeth we desired to particularly make them partakers of blessings of Christianisiation, fully convinced that civilization will never prosper without it having broken the way before it. One more attempt to attract the natives and to induce them to settle, was made by the Lay Missionaries in the year 1844, near the coast, in the territory of one of our fishing tribes, some thirty miles beyond our station, which had been frequented by us in former years; but here it was learnt by bitter experience that the very natives upon whom our labour of love and work of faith, and particularly of hope, of nearly seven years was bestowed, proved to be the worst and the ringleaders of the wilder blacks in every deceit, mischied and beastliness, as soon as the produce of the ground became eatable, so that it was resolved upon, to abandon the place and to sacrifice rather all the labour, as soon as the crop might be ripe. But a deceitful and fierce attack of a native upon one of the Lay Brethren put an end to this attempt even sooner than it was resolved upon. Three weapons were thrown at him, which caused him a spear wound in his back and a wound in his right ear, and it was but for the gracious preservation of Divine Providence, that he was not roasted and eaten. The native that attacked him, and four or five others, that joined in plundering and burning the hut were well acquitted with us since our arrival, and had enjoyed innumerable tokens of our friendship towards them. The utter want of gratirude os one of the very worst features of this degraded race. There are but very few exceptions from the rule, that no confidence can be placed in any native; such exceptions are, sending them a message with letters, and even provisions, engaging them as guides and companions on journeys, and sending them out to trace horses and cattle.   It is owing to their frequent migrations, that the children do not make any progress which is worth speaking of; the lessons which were caught with much more difficulty during one visit, are almost entirely forgotten before the next. Adults can be scarcely obtained for obstruction; they deem it beneath them, having as yet no proper idea of a school. The adults as well as the children, think the scholars work during the instruction, for the benefit of the teacher, and expect therefore payment for attending school.

To conclude – I am at a loss, what plan I could suggest for the amelioration of the Aborigines. There are, however, a few points to which I desire to direct the attention of the Select Committee:-

1st – It is evident, that a mission situated near the principal settlement, or in the immediate neighbourhood of squatting stations will never prosper, the inducements of the natives to ramble from station to station, being too great; and their natural idleness being too much fostered by such a life.

2nd – A mission far in the interior can not exist without the protection of a police force, or else the missionary must hold in his left hand the gospel of peace, and in his right hand the weapon of war.

3rd – To establish a mission amongst each tribe, will require some mounted policemen at each station, or in the immediate neighbourhood.

4th – Without applying coercive means, the natives of even one tribe and in their own territory will neither be brought or kept together.

5th -n Many hut-keepers, settlers, and squatters will not be inclined to send these natives that are attached to them from their places, except they were forced to do so.

6th – If as Christians we believe, that all exertions to promote the mental and bodily welfare of the aborigines will prove fruitless upon the whole, until Almighty God, will be pleased to open their eyes and to turn them from the power of sin and Satan unto himself, then success cannot be expected until the Christian Churches present the most fervent supplications before the Throne of God on their behalf, that a feeling of their deplorable degeneration and wretchedness may be created in them, and the cry heard from their lips, “what shall we do to be saved?” “Come and help us.”



Replies to a Circular Letter, addressed to the Benches of Magistrates, Commissioners of Crown Lands, and other Gentlemen residing too remote from Sydney, to expect the favour of their personal attendance upon the Committee.

Legislative Council Office,
Sydney, 3rd September, 1845


No.45-3. (Circular)


I have the honor to request, that you will be pleased, at your earliest convenience, to favour the Committee now sitting to enquire into and report upon the condition of the Aborigines, and the best means of promoting their welfare, with replies to the following queries, addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, Council Chamber, under the cover to the Clerk of the Legislative Council.

I have the honor to be,
Your obedient humble servant,

Clerk of the Legislative Council

To –

  1. What is the probable number of Aborigines in your district, distinguishing males, females, and children”
  2. Has the number diminished or increased, and if so, to what extent, within the last five or ten years?
  3. Has the decrease been among the children or adults?
  4. To what extent do you attribute the decrease in your district?
  5. What is the actual condition and means of subsistence?
  6. Has their ordinary means of subsistence diminished, and if so, what part of it, and from what causes; if it has increased, what part, and from what causes?
  7. Have blankets been issued to the aborigines in your district heretofore, and for what period? What was the effect of giving them? Has the giving of blankets ceased? When did it cease? What has been the effect of its cessation? Would it be advisable to resume the distribution?
  8. Have they been allowed or refused hospital or medical treatment in case of need and in what manner, and if allowed, at whose expense?
  9. What proportion of them of them are either regularly or occasionally employed by the settlers, and in what way? In what manner are they renumerated?
  10. What habits have they bearing on their aptitude for employment?
  11. Are there any, and how many, half castes in your district? Are they living with or after the manner of the aborigines?
  12. Is there any disposition on the part of the white labouring population, to amalgamate with the aborigines, so as to form families?
  13. Are the Aborigines in friendly or hostile relations with thr settlers in your district; if hostile, how has the hostility arisen, and what collisions have taken place between the two races?
  14. What destruction of property has been occasioned by the Aborigines?
  15. What are the relations, hostile or otherwise, of the Aborigines among themselves in your District?
  16. Are their numbers directly or indirectly by their hostilities and to what extent?
  17. Is infanticide known amongst them?
  18. Will you be good enough to state any facts relative to the Aborigines that would assist the Committee in its endeavour to promote their welfare?


From Christopher Rolleston, Esq, J.P., Commissioner of Crown Lands, Darling Downs:-

  1. The probable number of the Aborigines frequenting the Darling Downs, cannot, as yet, be correctly ascertained; not less, I dare say, than one thousand – men, women and children, But I do not think the tribes actually claiming this district as their peculiar country, can amount to more than half the number. I am sorry that I cannot give the proportion of females and children, but judging from what I have seen, I should say more than half.

2,3&4. This district has scarcely been occupied five years, and it is impossible to say whether the numbers have increased or diminished during that period.

  1. The condition of the Aborigines is better than most in other districts with which I have been acquainted, and their means of subsistence sufficient to satisfy their wants.
  2. I do not think that their ordinary means of subsistence is diminished in the least, but rather the contrary, owing to the blacks having confined themselves for three or four years past to scrub and mountains, from which cause I should imagine that the game in the open country must have increased, and this opinion is justified by quantities of game and fish I gave seen them bring to camp after a few hours hunting.
  3. Last year I applied to His Excellency the Governor for a few blankets, shirts etc., to distribute with a view to encourage the natives to visit my head quarters, and give me an opportunity of showing them the folly of their aggressions, and proving to them that we wished to be in friendly terms. The effect has been more than favourable than I was prepared to hope for; no aggressions have since been made on my property or lives of the whites, and I am happy to observe, not only a friendly feeling, but mutual confidence springing up between the two colors, of which I am inclined to hope the continuance. I do not hesitate to say, that it will be most desirable to resume the distribution of blankets next winter, not only as a defence from the cold, which in this district is most severe, but to ensure the maintenance of the friendly disposition at present entertained by them towards the Europeans. It may be as well to state here, that with His Excellency the Governor’s permission, I distributed a little flour and tobacco occasionally during the winter months, which I may safely say has promoted our friendly relations with them to a considerable extent.
  4. No hospital or medical treatment has been called for.
  5. The Aborigines are not sufficiently civilized to be of any assistance to the squatters.
  6. They are of a very roving disposition, and I cannot see that they have any peculiar habits which can fit them for the employment of civilized life.
  7. There are three or four half castes living with the whites.
  8. I can observe no disposition on the part of the whites labouring population to amalgamate with the Aborigines, so as to form families; indeed the jealousy which the blacks entertain of any interference with the gins would prevent it.
  9. The Aborigines are in friendly relations with the squatters.
  10. The destruction of property occasioned by them in this district amounts to about one thousand five hundred sheep, and two hundred head of cattle and driven away.
  11. The relations of Aborigines among them is amicable.
  12. The relations of Aborigines among them is amicable.
  13. Infanticide is common among them.
  14. The very limited acquaintance I have as yet had an opportunity of forming with the Aborigines in this district, furnishes me with no facts that can, in my opinion, be serviceable to the Committee in its endeavour to promote their welfare. My enquiries lead me to doubt whether any Legislative enactment can be efficacious in improving their condition as a class ; individually I think much may be done ; I may instance my own black, who has been with me some years, and I find him more serviceable in every respect than a white man, and I believe, in this way only can any permanent good be effected.



From John Clements Wickham, Esq., Police Magistrate, Moreton Bay:-

  1. With reference to the probable number of Aborigines in this District, it is very difficult to estimate, owing to the diversity of opinions upon the subject. The tribes near the sea coast are most numerous, and I believe there are three hundred upon Stradbroke Island; probably the entire number in this District is much less than four thousand.
  2. (2, 3, & 4) I am not aware of any marked decrease in their numbers during the last five years with the exception of the tribes in the immediate vicinity of the settlement, among whom I am informed, several die of native small pox, and diseases brought on by intemperance.
  3. If we may, judge from the appearance of the natives generally, their condition is not bad and they do not appear to be at a loss for the means of subsistence which they procure by hunting and fishing, and not unfrequently, by plunder.
  4. Their ordinary means of subsistence have no doubt diminished in the item of kangaroos, but they are fully compensated by the food they receive at most of the stations.
  5. Blankets were occasionally issued to the Aborigines when this was a penal settlement, and since that period a few have been given to them from the German mission; the Commissioner of Crown Lands issues a few occasionally to those in his immediate neighbourhood, but they rarely remain for any length of time in the possession of the natives; they are evidently thought a great deal of comfort by some few who take care of them, but I am of the opinion that if any article of clothing is to be supplied to them, a long robe or shirt of blue cotton cloth (“Dungaree”) buttoned around the neck, and confined around the waist by a belt would be most suitable; it would the most decent and can cost but little.
  6. The natives rarely apply for medical treatment, but when application is made, they invariably receive it at the Convict Hospital.
  7. (9 & 10) None of the Aborigines are regularly employed by the settlers; and but few occasionally; they always receive food for the work they perform. The habits of the natives are very much against their aptitude for employment, and at certain seasons of the year, no inducement will keep them from the bush. They are certainly averse to hard work, and become excessively last and indolent when well fed.
  8. There are very few half castes in this district and those live with the Aborigines who, I am told, frequently make way with them
  9. The white population do not show any disposition to amalgamate with the Aborigines so as to form families.
  10. At present there is little hostility shown on the part of the Aborigines towards the settlers, although last year the attacks upon stock were frequent. Hostility on the part of the settlers arose in consequence of the natives stealing their sheep and cattle. About fifty white men have been killed by the blacks; the number of blacks killed cannot be ascertained.
  11. Almost every settler has experienced considerable loss of property.
  12. (15 & 16) The different tribes of the blacks are mostly hostile to each other, they frequently meet for the purpose of fighting, but there is seldom any loss of life.
  13. I am told infanticide is known to a great extent among the natives.
  14. As far as I can judge of the character and disposition of the Aborigines, I am of the opinion that little can be done to promote the welfare of adults, the bush life seems to have so many attractions, that no inducements can prevail upon them to forego it, and I fear that great difficulty will be in the way of doing anything for the children, so long as they are under the influence of the parents. The boys are invariably practising to throw the spear and boomerang, and look forward with evident pleasure to the time when they may be permitted to join in a hunt or fight, the charms of both seem to be equal.


From Stephen Simpson, Esq., J.P., Commissioner of Crown Lands, Brisbane, Moreton Bay:-

  1. The number of Aborigines of this district, including the ranges, is probably about four thousand – about one third of which are fighting men – the proportion of females to males about two to three – and very few women have more than two children.
  2. Judging from the tribes I am acquainted with, I should say there is little alteration in their numbers during the last five years, which will be a sufficient answer to paragraph 3 and 4.
  3. (see 2 above)
  4. (see 2 above)
  5. Their actual condition is that of savages who live by hunting, fishing and collecting the natural products of the earth – with occasional pillage.
  6. Their ordinary means of existence is much the same or if they have lost anything by their hunting grounds being occupied by squatters, they are amply compensated by what they receive or steal from them.
  7. Blankets and tomahawks have been distributed by me during the present year, and about three years back by the Missionaries; they were very anxious to obtain them , but soon make away with them, often, no doubt, for tobacco; blue serge shirts with a waistband would cost less and be more useful.
  8. I am not aware that any Aborigine has ever been refused Hospital treatment, if required; no instance has occurred in my time.
  9. A very small proportion of them, particularly those least able to find their own food, are occasionally employed in menial offices about the huts, for which they receive a little food.
  10. Their habits are those of an indolent, good-natured, merry-making race, and they are in general quite incapable of any continuous employment.
  11. I know but three of four half castes in this district, and these mere children, living under the protection of their white parents; if left with the Aborigines they would probably be destroyed, as their prejudices are strong against them.
  12. There is no disposition on the part of the white population to amalgamate with them; but concubinage is but too prevalent, and the source of one half the quarrels.
  13. At present the Aborigines are in general upon a friendly footing with the squatters, and differences between them are usually about women. On the first settling of the district there were sundry collisions, indeed, I believe, in the first instance of the squatters. The whites may have lost about twenty killed altogether; but if the report id to be believed, the loss of the Aborigines has been much more considerable.
  14. The destruction of property has by no means so considerable as might be expected. Indeed, after one of the most serious and most persevering attacks on a herd of fourteen hundred head of cattle, the winter before last, only about twenty five were found missing; rushing them has, however, no doubt, other ill effects.
  15. The Aborigines of this district are by no means a blood thirsty race, and their quarrels are settled with little effusion of blood. Indeed their great fights are more like tournaments – never wounding with a vital part if they can avoid it; their numbers therefore are but little affected by them.
  16. (blank)
  17. I am not aware that infanticide is practised by them in this district – they manifest great affection for their children, but nevertheless eat them, if they die from natural causes.
  18. All efforts to settle down or civilize the full grown Aborigine, will, I am satisfied prove abortive – their life in the bush has too many charms to allow them to abandon it for that of civilized man. All attempts therefore must be directed to the rising generation and here the first step must be to supply them with abundance of food and tobacco, and little work. During the last winter they consumed on my station at least seven tons of sweet potatoes, besides corn, flour and tobacco; the store however became exhausted and they decamped with the exception of a few boys that I am anxious to retain for the service of the police, having no hopes of those whose wild habits are already confirmed. An Aboriginal Police would I am satisfied tend more to the civilization of the Aborigines than any other measure; it will require, however, much time and perseverance to effect it in the new districts, and no considerable expense.


From Robert George Massie, Esq., Commissioner of Crown Lands, McLay River:-

It is almost impossible to give a correct account of the number of Aborigines as there are so many tribes in the district who are in such a totally wild and uncivilized state that they would fly on my first attempt tom approach them; as far as I can ascertain, however, the following is the probable number, although I am aware the statement must be received with caution.

Adults: Male 290 Female 111 Children: Male 15  Female 12

Total: 429

Having been in this district a period of two and a half years only I am unable to answer your second, third and fourth enquiries.

From the great facilities the rivers and the coasts afford them for obtaining fish as an article of food, the natives of this district have less intercourse with the white population resident at the different stations than is generally the case in the interior; this however instead of being a subject for regret is rather desirable and I have rather discouraged the existence of any great intimacy between black and white populations on the following grounds: that generally speaking, as far as my experience goes, whenever the blacks are allowed to come about stations continually it leads to a waste of caution on one side, and a proportionate degree of boldness and treachery on the other; the inevitable result of which is a collision between the races. As proof of this I may mention a case in particular that occurred in this district in 1843. An unfortunate hut keeper who was remarkable for invariable kindness he showed to the natives, inviting them into his hut and giving them both tobacco and flour, fell victim to his misplaced confidence; only two days before the occurrence took place, I was in the course of my circuit at his station, and cautioned him not to let the blacks come into his hut, his answer was that he had nothing to fear from them as he had always been kind to them; only forty eight hours after I left it appears that four blacks came to the station, whom I found he treated as usual, and whilst one of them was assisting the unfortunate to cut cross a log, the others, judging from appearance, must have come behind him and struck him down with their tomahawks, afterwards butchering him in a most barbarous manner, nearly severing the head from the body. From particular enquiries I made it did not appear that there was or ever had been and provocation given to them or any of their tribe, either by maltreating them or taking their gins, which I am too aware is often the cause of aggression. I own I am not surprised when the first knowledge of civilized life the natives acquire is from their intercourse with such lawless and unprincipled men as are generally, from the nature of the service, the forerunners of civilization in this Colony, that si much corruption should necessarily be introduced, and that in exchange for their simplicity they merely get acquainted with every kind of profligacy and vice that can disgrace the human species.

I have been in the habit of giving blankets occasionally to the natives, but never indiscriminately , as I am of the opinion that such a proceeding is worse than useless; in too many cases the blankets fall to the share of the idle and vicious who are in the habit of prowling about the different Townships and Police Offices on the look out for presents of this nature, and I am acquainted with instances in the Colony where gifts made in this injudicious manner have very soon parted with in exchange for rum or food. I have invariably made it a rule when I gave blankets away, to give them only as a reward to those parties who have been of assistance to the Police, or who have deserved by some other well authenticated service to the settlers. The number of blankets I have given away this year amounts to twelve.

No native has ever applied to me for any hospital or medical treatment, a few have come to me for trifling ailments, when I have always afforded them such assistance as lay in my power.

Very few are employed by the settlers, chiefly resulting from their roving and unsettled habits and love of change, and from the influence the older natives have over the younger members of their community, and those from whom their long intercourse with the whites have a taste created for all the enjoyments of civilized life, and would adapt themselves to the European mode of living, were it not that they are absolutely prevented by the old members of their tribe. How to counteract this influence I know not; the only effectual method would be, perhaps by forcibly promoting any interference, although at the same time every other means should be resorted to first.

The collisions between the different tribes are rarely, if ever, attended with loss of life, although from some unaccountable cause they appear to bear a most implacable hostility towards any natives from a remote district.

Within the last three weeks there has been a solitary instance this year of aggression on the part of the natives, in which an unfortunate hut-keeper was most severely ill treated and the hut robbed. Two out of three offenders have already, by the activity of the Police, been apprehended and forwarded to Sydney for trial.

There are not many half castes in the district; on the Manning River there are many, both male and female; to reclaim these from the wild and barbarous mode of life which in the natural course of events would be their fate, seems to me a most humane and desirable end ; to effect which no pains or trouble should be spared; a school might be formed exclusively for their benefit at the head quarters of the different Commissioners or they might be sent to the Orphan School; there would be no difficulty getting their mothers to give them up, as from some unexplained cause they appear to have a repugnance towards them, so much so, that I have known several instances in which the mothers have destroyed them immediately after birth. These children would hereafter prove a valuable medium of communication between the white and black population, and well qualified to as interpreters in Courts of Law.

I may perhaps be excused for mentioning that, with this object in view, I have had in charge for more than two years, a young half caste boy. I have invariably made him adapt himself to European customs, and English mode of dress, and have him now placed at school in Port Macquarie, through the kind assistance of Mr Gray, Police Magistrate, where I am informed he is rapidly advancing, and that he shows a greater aptitude for learning than is generally met in white boys of his age. The way in which I became possessed of him was this :- a tribe of blacks in the neighbourhood came and offered him to me, saying, that his mother was dead and that they knew not what to do with him unless I would consent to take him; this occurred in May 1843, ever since which, he has been under my care; and if I shall only be the means of effectually civilizing and reclaiming one human creature I shall not consider any time or trouble that I have bestowed misapplied; and I shall consider myself fortunate, if I can be the means of assisting the Committee in reclaiming the half castes of the Colony, so many of whom are to be met with in every district.


From William Nairn Gray, Esquire, J.P., Police Magistrate, Port Macquarie:-


  1. About three hundred and seventy viz.’ Two hundred and ten men, eighty women and eighty children.
  2. Diminished at least one half during the last ten years.
  3. Amongst the adults.
  4. A species of consumption which carries them off very quickly, and occasioned, I believe from accustoming themselves at times to European habits and food, and afterwards exposure to cold and hunger.
  5. Very miserable, and their means of subsistence very precarious; on the coast they live principally upon fish and roots, and in the interior on kangaroos and other animals.
  6. Owing to so much of the land being occupied by Europeans , the kangaroos, their principal means of subsistence, has become very scarce, and consequently their means of subsistence has much diminished.
  7. Blankets have always been issued to the Aborigines in this district annually until the last year; it had a good effect upon them, and the discontinuance of the supply has occasioned a great deal of discontent amongst them, as they cannot understand why it has ceased, and I should certainly think it advisable to resume the distribution; the blankets, should, however, be marked in a particular manner to prevent them being sold to or stolen by the Europeans.
  8. They have always been admitted into the Government Hospital when they could be induced to go in, but they are generally averse from it.
  9. Very few of them are employed by the settlers, and then only occasionally, as stockmen; no dependence can be placed on them remaining any fixed time, and no wages could induce them to remain from their tribes; they receive for their services, when they can be induced to do anything, clothing and food.
  10. They are exceedingly idle in their habits, and have no inclination to work.
  11. There are from twenty to thirty half caste children in this district living with the Aborigines; they however seldom allow them to arrive at the age of puberty, they fancy they become too knowing, and kill them when away from their mothers in the bush.
  12. Not in wedlock.
  13. For the last six years a friendly feeling has existed between the Aborigines and the settlers, and no collision has taken place.
  14. Some few cattle have been spared at the Manning, but I am doubtful if it has not been done at the instigation of Europeans, who were bushrangers.
  15. Peaceable; and when they do meet to fight, no mischief is done.
  16. No
  17. I cannot speak from my own knowledge, but I believe when a very weakly child is born it is destroyed, as they consider that it would not come to maturity.
  18. In my opinion it is impossible to persuade the men to give up their wandering life, but by taking the children from them very young, and bringing them up in an establishment where they would have no opportunity of seeing any but Europeans, they would, I have no doubt, become useful members of society, and their conditions would be much improved. The parents could be easily persuaded to give up their children, and the number of children in this district is so small, that the expense would be but trifling.


From Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, C.B., and Archibald Windeyer, Esq., J.P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Raymond Terrace:-

  1. There are about thirty male aborigines in this district, sixteen female and seven children.
  2. Diminished fully a half.
  3. Chiefly among the children and the old people, and it is supposed to their destroying the half caste male children.
  4. To age, and want of proper treatment to the few children there are, and their participating in all of the vices of the whites.
  5. They live in gunyas, very miserably and subsist chiefly on the charity of the people in the neighbourhood, to whom they occasionally fetch or break up a little firewood; they also fish for themselves at times, and kill opossums; but they are very lazy generally, and prefer almost to starve rather than do any settled work.
  6. There are still plenty of kangaroos, opossums and fish to be had as formerly, if they would exert themselves, so that it can be scarcely said that their ordinary means of subsistence have diminished; but they certainly have not increased.
  7. Blankets were issued up to May 1844; the effects were very beneficial, and its cessation has been severely felt in hard weather; the question of resuming the distribution of blankets may be doubtful, for where none have been issued they have been driven to making opossum skin dresses.
  8. There have been no applications nor have there been any cases of epidemic amongst them.
  9. There are none regularly employed by the settlers, and the only work done by them is the occasional splitting and drawing of firewood, or in the season, husking corn, for which they are renumerated by food, tobacco and old clothing.
  10. There seems to be no aptitude for fixed employment.
  11. There are but four half caste women in the district; one lives with a white freed man and two children; the other three are living after the manner of the Aborigines, with whom they cohabit.
  12. [Answered in No.11]
  13. There is no hostility whatever between the settlers and Aborigines in this district’ they are treated in a friendly manner; there has been no collision or loss of life for some years.
  14. There is no hostility among the Aborigines in this district; but they sometimes, but not lately, have as they term it, a fight with a neighbouring tribe; but seldom or ever is there any loss of life.
  15. [Answered in No. 15]
  16. [Answered in No. 3]
  17. It is much feared that all means of improvement of the present adult generation will be abortive, and in detaching the children from their parents to train them to industrious habits would be unfeeling and inhuman, and what the parents would not submit to it.


From E.M.McKinlay, Esq., J.P. and C.L. Brown, Esq., J.P., Magistrates in the District of Dungog:-

  1. The number of aborigines in the District of Dungog, i.e. from Clarence Town to Underbank (the highest station on the River Williams) is sixty three: viz, forty six men and boys, fourteen women and three children.
  2. About ten years ago an epidemic of a various nature carried off about half their number – principally women and children – and during the last five years they have been reduced from thirty five to forty percent.


From E. M. McKinlay, Esq., J.P., and C. L. Brown, Esq., Magistrates in the District of Dungog :-

  1. The number of aborigines in the District of Dungog, i. e. from Clarence Town to Underbank (the highest station on the River William,) is sixty-three ; viz., forty-six men and boys, fourteen women, and three children.
  2. About ten years ago on epidemic of a variolous nature carried off about a half of their number – principally women and children – and during the last five years, they have been reduced from thirty-five to forty per cent.
  3. The greatest decrease has been among children and women.
  4. To sexual intercourse with the whites at a very tender age, excessive venery, syphilis, and intemperance ; the dimunition in births is most remarkable.
  5. Their actual condition is tolerable, and their means of subsistence ample.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence has diminished, on account of the ‘brushes’ having been cleared, in which animals and vegetables formerly abounded, and were easily obtained.
  7. An inadequate supply of blankets was for many years issued, in May, yearly, to the aborigines ; but two years ago the issue was suspended ; I cannot say for how many years they were in the habit of receiving them – probably seven or eight. The distribution may have had some little effect on them ; but the principle is decidedly bad, and should not be renewed.
  8. As a medical man in the district, I have been frequently applied to by the blacks for relief on indisposed, and have given them medicine and attendance gratis ; it is hard that I should be at all this expense, but I never applied for remuneration.
  9. Three or four of them are generally in the employment of the settlers, as stockeepers (assistant,) and receive slops and rations for such services.
  10. They are so very erratic in their habits, and slothful withal, that it is difficult to say what employment is best adapted to their peculiar habits – perhaps stockkeeping.
  11. There are three half-caste children and one grown up girl in this district ; the children life with, and after the manner of the aborigines ; the girl referred to resides with a family in the neighbourhood, and is very tractable. having no desire to return to her tribe.
  12. Not the slightest.
  13. On friendly relations.
  14. None.
  15. Pretty amicable.
  16. Affected only to very slight extent, say two per cent, per annum.
  17. I think not now ; but it was very common at one period ; half-caste lads are generally murdered – always I believe.
  18. I cannot take upon myself to state any facts relative to the aborigines which could possibly assist the Committee in its laudable endeavour to promote their welfare.E. M. M’KINLAY, J. P.


The above answers to the queries coincide with my opinion fully, except that of the 14th query ; viz., that a report by credible people is now in circulation, that the aborigines have been spearing cattle on the Gloucester, and that they have been blamed for the same, occasionally, for similar proceedings during the last fifteen years ; since I have been a resident in this district, on one occasion, I saw a black named “Billy” spear a fine barrow pig of my own, for which he was punished with the aid of his own tribe, by Duncan Forbes Mackay, Esq., and myself.

C. L. BROWN, J. P.


From Joseph Docker, Esq., J.P., Scone, for the Bench of Magistrates :-

  1. There are between seventy and eighty aborigines in this district ; we have no means of distinguishing the separate classes, but there are very few children.
  2. It has diminished to a great extent within the last ten years, probably to the amount of a hundred souls.
  3. There has been a great decrease in the number of adults, and there are very few children born to supply the waste.
  4. About ten or twelve years ago, a great number were carried off by a disease resembling small pox, many have died from diseases, caused probably, by intemperance but the great cause of the disease in their actual number arises from the paucity of births.
  5. Their actual condition is that of their natural state, they roam through the district, each tribe having their peculiar limits, camping for a few days at the various establishments. Their means of subsistence are the wild animals (chiefly opossum0 and roots, which they procure in the bush, and they frequently procure flour and tea and sugar from the establishments.
  6. It has diminished only with regard to the forest kangaroo, and the fish and water tortoise they used to procure from the streams. The numbers of kangaroo have diminished from the prevalence of stock feeding, and the fish from the drying up of the water courses, in consequence of the local drought which has prevailed in this district for the last four years. On the other hand, their means of subsistence have increased by the extraneous supplies they obtain from the men upon the various establishments, chiefly by means of the prostitution of their females.
  7. Blankets have been supplied annually to the aborigines in this district till last year. It appeared to give great satisfaction to them, but we have reason to believe that many of them disposed of their blankets immediately, to the shepherds and others. The issue of blankets in 843 exceeded seventy, but in 1844, only thirty-six were supplied to the Bench for distribution, a quantity which was not sufficient, and led to some difficulty in determining which among them should derive the benefit. No ill consequences have occurred from the cessation, but as the numbers are so small and gradually decreasing, we think it would have been advisable to continue the distribution.
  8. No instance of the kind has come within our knowledge, and no application has been made in their behalf, although we are aware of their applying for medical relief to private individuals which has been afforded them.
  9. There have been only a few instances in the district in which the aborigines have been regularly employed by the settlers. In one of these, the native was taken when a child, and educated with the children of the settler. There is one instance in which a native has been employed as a stockman and received wages. The others are cases of women who have formed connexions with white shepherds and assist them in their duties, they receive no remuneration, excepting in some instances a ration.
  10. It is impossible to induce the males to work, two or three may occasionally be prevailed upon to strip bark, but never for more than a single day. The females in time of harvest will sometimes assist in reaping, but when they have procured a sufficiency of food in payment the men take them away.
  11. The majority of the children are half-caste, but none approaching the age of puberty ; they are living with their mothers.
  12. No, there are a few instances of women living with white men for some years, but the aborigines are very jealous of such permanent connexion and generally take the women away.
  13. In friendly relations ; there have been no collisions. The only instance in which any disagreement has arisen has been in one instance, in which the natives had taken away a women from a shepherd with whom she had been living for some years. The man pursued the tribe, with a companion in the night, and recovered the woman, as the blacks stated, by presenting fire-arms at them. In this instance, the natives appealed to the Bench for protection, and their statement was referred to the Government ; the white man being held to bail, the woman we believe, subsequently returned to this man, he having paid some consideration to her relations.
  14. None whatever.
  15. Friendly, there have been only two collisions within the last ten years, in one of which a tribe from a neighbouring district surprised one of the tribes in this district. The casualties were one death from a spear wound through the body, a broken leg from the blow of a boomerang, and a woman received a musket shot through the head, but still living ; the other was a casual recontre in which a few were wounded, but not seriously.
  16. In a very trifling degree.
  17. It is impossible to answer this question with certainty ; from the circumstances of none of the half-caste children reaching the age of puberty, we fear there is reason to infer that it does exist ; the popular report is that these children are destroyed before they reach that age.
  18. We are not aware of any endeavours that would be attended with success in attempting to improve their moral condition ; their natural habits are such as totally to preclude such hope ; it is impossible to induce them to lay aside their wandering propensities, and in the few instances in which they have been prevailed upon to part with their children, they have invariably been resumed by the tribe, if not by the parents. With regard to their physical condition, their wants are few, and we think the resumption of the distribution of the blankets is all that could be done for their welfare ; in all probability the tribes will become extinct on the decease of the present adult individuals.




From James Henry Crummer, Esq., J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Newcastle :-

  1. It is impossible to give more than an approximate statement as to the number of Aborigines in this district, as no musters of them have been made since May, 1843, when the last issue of blankets by the Government took place ; the total of the Newcastle tribe was 38, viz., males 21, females 12, children 5.
  2. The number has considerably decreased, but to what extent cannot be accurately ascertained.
  3. Principally among the adults.
  4. To venereal and other diseases common to the blacks ; particularly catarrh in the cold season, and the effects of constant intoxication.
  5. Their condition is wretched in the extreme, in consequence of their having abandoned their original habits in the bush ; their present means of subsistence is artificial, being dependant principally upon what they may by chance receive from the inhabitants of the town and country settlers, occasional fishing and hunting for wallaby, and other native animals.
  6. The means of subsistence in the bush is still abundant, such as their predecessors were in the habit to rely upon the sustenance, as stated in the letter part of No. 5.
  7. The issue of the blankets by the Government ceased after the month of May, 1843 ; the females and children retained their blankets, but the males generally exchanged them for money or spirits ; these blankets were eagerly sought after by the lower orders, as they obtained them at a very insignificant price ; no check could be given to this unjust and unchristian traffic, in the absence of a prohibitory law. It would be advisable to resume the issue of good warm blankets under certain protecting regulations, particularly to the females, as many lives have been lost for the want of warm covering during the inclement season, from May to October. The use of opossum skins as a covering is unknown to the tribes in this part of the country, or at least not made use of.
  8. No provision has been made for the reception of the sick Aborigines into the Hospital at Newcastle ; in some instances application has been made to the Government on behalf of sick persons for admission to that establishment, which has been generally granted, but except in the last stages of illness, the natives are averse to our medical treatment, and trust more to their native advisers. Food and clothing might be issued t them in such cases with advantage, but abuses would follow such humane assistance, unless care was taken that this aid was properly applied.
  9. The number of natives continually employed by the white population is comparatively few, in consequence of their erratic and capricious disposition, which does not permit them to continue in any employ for a given time ; those employed are water carriers and hewers of wood in the town ; they are remunerated by food, old clothes, money, or spirits.
  10. Their habits are indolent to an excess, except when hunger, and the necessity of seeking food oblige them to be in motion ; once nature is satisfied, they are stretched listlessly on the ground, and with the exception of the manufacture of spears, bomerangs, &c., and nets and fishing lines by the females, they have no aptitude for employment.
  11. There are very few half-castes in this district ; those of the first remove (who are principally females) live among, and after the manner of the Aborigines.
  12. There are no instances in this district of union between the labouring class and the female Aborigines so as to form families, but the white men of that class are in the constant practice of cohabiting with these women, and there appears to be no repugnance such association on either part.
  13. The Aborigines in this district are of quiet and peaceable habits ; no collisions of a serious nature have taken place for many years.
  14. No destruction of property by the Aborigines has been complained of.
  15. The neighbouring tribes seem to live in perfect harmony with each other.
  16. But few casualties, during a series of years, have occurred from hostilities between the neighbouring tribes.
  17. Infanticide has not been directly discovered ; reports of such a practice, chiefly on the half-caste males, are in circulation, but positive proofs are wanting to establish this charge.
  18. The results of the Missionary Establishment at Lake Macquarie, under the direction of the Rev. L. E. Threlkeld, for the instruction and welfare of the Aborigines, although many years in existence, and favourable circumstanced, have been totally nugatory ; there are no instances of any of either sexes having been induced to adopt the pursuits of civilized life, and it is to be feared that every attempt to induce them to abandon their aboriginal mode of life and become domesticated would prove impracticable ; alike inconsiderate as the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, they have no thought of what to-morrow is to bring, and from their nomad habits, are impatient of control, and disinclined to settled habits. There are instances in which they have made good stockmen, a mode of life the nearest adapted to their dispositions ; and some have entered whalers and been useful in their boats.


From David Dunlop, Esq., J. P., Wollombi.

  1. The aborigines of the Wollombi and Macdonald River district are seventy-three in number, divided into three tribes. Township of Wollombi tribe, hunting ground extending to Patrick’s Plains. Ellalong tribe, hunting ground joining that of the Maitland blacks, and the Macdonald River tribe, who range from the Colo to Wiseman’s Ferry. Of the first there are fourteen men, ten women, two male children, and one little girl ; one of the men aged fifty-five, is blind from old age ; one young man born deaf and dumb ; another one is lame. The Elalong tribe, eighteen men, eight women ; one boy eleven years, one girl twelve, and one five years old. The Macdonald River tribe, twelve old men, three women aged forty, thirty-five, and twenty-five years ; two boys about eleven years old ; no children. According to the statement of one of the early settlers, this latter tribe, in his memory, exceeded three hundred.
  2. The number has decreased ; although many children have been born, they seldom live over the first winter.
  3. Within the last five years the deaths of adults in the Wollombi tribe are as follows:- One very fine young man fell from a tree, and died on the spot ; another was shot by an un-seen hand when sitting at his night fire with his two gins, one of whom he had recently stolen from the Brisbane Water tribes. There was much angry excitement and some skirmishing between the tribes, but they are now on friendly terms. A third death, that of the Wollombi Chief’s brother, has never been accounted for by any one ; he was found dead in a deserted hut, and in such a state of decay, that the cause of his death could not be ascertained. Two old men, and one aged woman, have died during the last winter. I have no hesitation in stating my belief, that they died of cold and hunger.
  4. Answered in query third.
  5. Their condition during the winter is miserable in the extreme ; women; who are perhaps suckling infants, will be for half a day or night in the water spearing eels. At other times they may be seen seeking for grubs or mimosa gum, with their young infants tied on their shoulders. In the spring and summer months, they have guanos, flying squirrel, and opossum, in tolerable quantity, but it is only during the reaping season, or while pulling and husking maize, that they are employed by the settlers. At the above periods they get plenty of good food, and also some clothing, such as shirts and trowsers. The men have an insuperable objection to wear any slop clothing that resembles the convict dress ; as an instance, six pair of trousers having the government brand, were distributed by order of His Excellency, I could find none in use at the end of one week ; and the only answer to my enquiry was, “ no good, all same like croppy.”
  6. Their regular and continuous means of subsistence have been decidedly diminished since the district became so much more densely inhabited. The kangaroo has entirely disappeared ; the wallaby, the black swan, wild duck, wanga-wanga, bronze pigeon, and pheasant, are daily decreasing. For this loss, a few weeks food during harvest time, affords no adequate equivalent.
  7. In the year 1840, there were twenty-two single blankets distributed to the Wollombi tribe, who at that time were at deadly feud with the Elalongs. In 1841, the number issued was eighteen single blankets of inferior size and quality. In 1842, there were forty single blankets sent to my order from the Colonia Storekeeper’s, and these were distributed equally, according to number, amongst the three tribes. In 1843, the number received by me was thirty-two, the size and quality very bad. In 1844, after several applications, six single blankets were forwarded here from the Police Office, Maitland. These were given to two very aged women, and four gins were nursing mothers, all of the Wollombi tribe. For 1845, no blankets were issued. In answer to what was the effect of giving them, I say it was considered as a recognised tie between the ruler and the ruled. Their simple nature understood it thus, that the Governor sold their grounds to people who cut down the trees where the opossums dwelt, which had always furnished food for themselves, and warmth for their sleeping place, and for their women, and that in lieu thereof he gave blankets, which they accepted from want, but always spoke of as no sufficient recompence. The miserable dole having ceased, is looked upon as a breach of faith, of which the effects cannot yet be fully known, but a spirit of deeper discontent is engendered, and suffering to the trusting beings who looked for the needful aid is fearfully increased. I cannot convey an idea of the energetic feeling of the chief, when pleading for his very few old women and sick young ones all so cold, no hut, no blanket, no light fire on white fellow’s ground, adding indignantly – “ what we do, bail no fight like New Zealand fellow, no ! I gave land, and have cold, and “very hunger. No, did no bad, we not get blanket ! what for?” My opinion, founded on an experience of upwards of seven years, is, that the issue of good serviceable blankets, (if blue or scarlet colour, so much the better), should be instantly resumed to all peaceable and friendly tribes, for although of small real utility to creatures of improvident habits, yet if the lives of a few infants be saved, and their wretched mothers comforted by the warmth of a blanket, such should be a consideration to the government far above all paltry saving of so many shillings or pounds.
  8. I do not know of any application for aid in sickness having been made by aboriginals in this district. For wounds, they have simple remedies in various herbs, and for head and stomach ache, tea is the universal panacea.
  9. Answer in reply to query fifth.
  10. Their early habits have unsuited them for settled employment, but when there is some definite object to be accomplished, or some peculiar interest in the pursuit, many of the men work diligently and well. Several of them are excellent reapers ; they do not like the servile offices of cutting wood or fetching water, but willingly drive cattle or attend to horses. Two young men are employed by individuals in the township as household servants.
  11. There are no half castes, old or young, in this district. I have remarked that children for a few months after their birth, are of a much lighter shade of color than after two or three years’ exposure to the changes of the climate.
  12. The female aborigines are as modest in demeanor, and quite as morally conducted as the native, or otherwise free women. There is no instance of their leaving their tribe, or connecting themselves “ with the white labouring population.”
  13. Friendly and obliging in the extreme, willingly undertaking the task of tracing lost animals. Careful of property, strictly honest, and, unless when trained by the whites, will not speak a lie. The only aboriginal aggression in this district is in the case of a person named Lynch ; the circumstances as narrated of both parties are of a revolting nature, and better left untold.
  14. No destruction of property in this district has at any time been caused by aborigines.
  15. They are a peaceable people, and too few in number to have fights on a grand scale, but occasionally a few heads are broken with the koteri, or a spear wound inflicted in retaliation for some breach of their laws or customs. The rights of chase are closely looked after, and any encroachment on each other’s boundaries occasions much hostile feelings betwixt the tribes. Sometimes the price of peace must be either a young gin, or an opposum cloak.
  16. Answered in reply to query fifteen.
  17. If the crime of infanticide exists, the instances must be very few, and occasioned only by the deepest misery and want. I have seen a young mother shivering with cold, and her thin blanket covering dripping wet, reject the food we had given to her, until she had first quieted her baby, and seen my wife wrap it carefully in dry clothes. The men, too, have exultingly shown us their children, saying “there, look him boy blackfellow.”
  18. Their eternal welfare ought to be the first of all things cared for, but this onerous task, I fear, can only be accomplished when there shall be a thorough reformation in the white population, for while reckless men, and abandoned women, ignorant of divine, and despising all human laws, are living examples daily before them, the aborigines cannot learn to love or venerate our laws, our customs, or our religion. Less than six years ago, in this district, the Sabbath was as all the other days of the week ; killing and salting meat, making butter, baking, washing, and reaping, and carting home grain, were as sedulously followed, as if a day of rest had never been ordained by the Almighty, and this not alone by the lowest order of settlers, but by those having large establishments, and being the assignees of numerous convicts. Even yet, we have not a resident minister of the Gospel nearer than thirty-five miles, but within the past year, a pious teacher of the Wesleyan faith has brought many souls into the paths of godliness, and already our aborigines begin to count their time by Sundays, when “ day him no work.” The Committee can best promote the welfare of the aborigines by enforcing on the minds of those who have the power, the necessity of sending the word of God to our homes in the wilderness, and furnishing us with the good examples of Christian ministers and their families, and by co-operating with that philanthropic lady who is devoting her unequalled energies to the speedy introduction of an honest peasantry, and making what she herself terms it, “squatters stations fit abodes for Christian men.” For the present, I would respectfully suggest for the approval of the Committee, that besides a supply of blankets to each district, that a discretionary power should be vested in the respective Benches to give trowsers, woollen shirts, tomahawks, needles, and sewing thread, as rewards for assisting in the recovery of stolen cattle, or other public service.


From the Bench of Magistrates of the District of Brisbane Water :-


  1. There are about forty-seven of the Aborigines in this district ; comprising twenty-seven male and thirteen female adults ; four male and three female children.
  2. Their numbers have diminished during the last five years, to the extent of one-fourth of their original number ; in the previous five years the deaths were more numerous.
  3. The decrease has been principally confined to the adults.
  4. The decrease may be attributed, 1st., to immoral habits and disease ; 2nd., to the use of intoxicating liquors, and exposure to the night dews ; 3rd., to the general intercourse subsisting between the aboriginal females, and the males of the white population, may be considered as the primary cause of there being no increase in their numbers ; as a natural consequence, they are rapidly diminishing.
  5. Their present condition is very miserable; they partly subsist by catching fish, and hunting small animals ; and are sometimes employed by the settlers.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence has decreased to some extent, arising from the location of the country, and the scarcity of wild animals.
  7. Blankets have been issued to the Aborigines during the last fifteen years ; they appeared to derive much comfort from their periodical issue, and were at all times willing to assist the Police when required ; the giving of blankets has ceased – the last issue of them was in May, 1844 ; they have suffered severely (especially the elder ones) from the want of them being their only covering in the winter ; the re-issue of blankets would be advisable, and would be highly advantageous to them particularly to the old people.
  8. The Clergyman of the district has been furnished with medicines for their use by Government, and he has always supplied them when required ; they have not had either Hospital or medical treatment.
  9. With a solitary exception or two, they are not generally or regularly employed by the settlers ; in those cases they are given rations for their labour ; they are, occasionally, employed in driving cattle, as guides, and sometimes as messengers, and at times procure fish and other articles for the settlers, for which they generally receive provisions, clothing and sometimes money.
  10. Their habits are proverbially too unsettled to admit of their contenting themselves with any regular employment.
  11. There are four half-castes in the district, two of which are adult females and are married to white men ; and two children who are living after the manner of the Aborigines.
  12. There is not disposition on the part of the white population to amalgamate with the Aborigines ; there are two instances of white men having married half-caste women, and are living with their families.
  13. The most friendly relations subsist between the Aborigines and settlers of this district – no hostility or collision has taken place within the last nine years.
  14. No property has been destroyed by them within the last nine years.
  15. Meetings of a hostile character amongst the Aborigines, rarely occur in this district.
  16. No diminution of their numbers can be attributed to their hostile meetings within the last five years.
  17. Infanticide is known, but not generally practised amongst them ; and abortion was formerly resorted to.
  18. Firstly : It would be very desirable to continue the issuing of blankets, which would considerably ameliorate their miserable conditions. Secondly : It would be also desirable that the different Benches of Magistrates should be empowered to afford medical relief, and food and lodging, in extreme cases; one female has lately died from sickness and exposure to the weather.



From Gilbert Eliott, Esquire, Police Magistrate, for the Bench of Magistrates, Parramatta :-

From enquiry we find that the last of the aborigines of this district died three or four years ago ; about half a dozen of the aborigines from other districts occasionally come into this district.


From Robert Fitzgerald, Esquire, J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates at Windsor :-


  1. The probable number of aborigines now in this district sixty-five, viz.:- 40 Men 9 Women 16 Children. 65 (Total)
  2. The number has greatly diminished within the last ten years ; the number in 1835 was one hundred and six, viz.:- 70 Men 23 Women 13 Children. 106 (Total)
  3. The decrease has been among the adults:
  4. The decrease is supposed to be occasioned by their removal to other districts, and having so few children.
  5. The aborigines in this district are more naturalised of late years ; their means of subsistence is derived from animals in the bush, and selling honey, currants, &c., to the white inhabitants.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence does not appear to have either increased or diminished.
  7. Blankets have been issued to the aborigines from the year 1832 to 1843 ; they generally sold them for liquor ; the giving blankets ceased in the year 1843 ; the effect of its cessation is unknown ; the answers to the foregoing queries will give the required information.
  8. No application for medical treatment has been made in this district.
  9. Five are occasionally employed by settlers in this district in farm labour ; they are remunerated with provisions, clothing, and some little money.
  10. The aborigines are in general of very lazy habits.
  11. There are three half-castes in this district, viz. :- 1 Woman and 2 Children; they reside with a white man, who cultivates land for a subsistence.
  12. There does not appear to be any disposition on the part of the white laboring population to amalgamate with the aborigines, or to form families.
  13. The aborigines are friendly with the settlers, no hostility has arisen, or collisions taken place in the district.
  14. No destruction of property has been caused by the aborigines in this district.
  15. The aborigines in this district appear to be friendly among themselves.
  16. [Answered by No. 15.]
  17. Infanticide is supposed to be unknown among the aborigines in this district.
  18. We are not at present in possession of any facts, except those above stated, respecting the present condition of the aborigines, which would further assist the Committee in their enquiries.



From James Thomas Morrisset, Esq., Police Magistate, George Ranken, Esq., David Maxwell Irving, Esq., William Lawson, Junior, Esq., and James Byrne Richards, Esq., Magistrates of the District of Bathurst.


  1. About one hundred and fifty, sexes equal, in the Police District.
  2. The number has diminished within the last two years we think full thirty per cent.
  3. Both.
  4. From natural causes and their wars.
  5. In the neighbourhood of settlers they are generally well fed ; when at a distance from located parts they subsist upon their usual food wild animals, fish, &c.
  6. In settled parts the kangaroo and emu are greatly decreased, but this is more than made up by the food they obtain from the white population.
  7. The last issue of blankets was in May, 1844 ; it had a good effect; the Aborigines suffer greatly in this district from cold during the winter season; it has ceased since the above period. We should recommend the distribution of blankets as heretofore upon the 1st of May, generally, throughout the Colony, to prevent them obtaining blankets at different districts which has frequently occurred.
  8. Answered by Surgeon’s certificate attached.
  9. A few are employed as mates to bullock drivers, sheep washing in season, and others in different capacities ; they are remunerated in money and slops, with good rations.
  10. There are a few half-castes living with and after the manner of the Aborigines.
  11. None to settle permanently – but the white population of the lower orders occasionally cohabit with the gins for a short period.
  12. The Aborigines and white population have been in the district for many years on a very friendly footing.
  13. None.
  14. The tribes occasionally differ in this district, and loss of life sometimes ensues, but not to any great extent.
  15. Answered by the foregoing.
  16. It formerly did, but we have not heard of any recent instance of infanticide.
  17. Educate them.

(Surgeon’s Certificate referred to).

The Aborigines have never been refused Hospital or Medical treatment, in case of need. At the time when the expenses of the Hospital were borne by the English Government, they were occasionally admitted as patients and their names entered as such in the Hospital books and returns. Occasionally also they received medical treatment at the Hospital without being admitted. Since the Hospital has been supported by the district, the only application for the admission of an Aboriginal native, was that in favour of “ Jemmy Nyrang,” whose expenses were guaranteed at his admission, and afterwards paid by Messrs, Kinchela and Jones. At my own residence I have also frequently dressed their wounds, and given them medicines at my own expense, both when they have applied themselves, and when they have been sent by others.


From James Chisholm, Esq., J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Campbelltown :-

For the last five to ten years they have been gradually decreasing, from the number of about fifteen to twenty, until none can be said to belong to this police district, as a tribe. Their death may be attributed to natural causes. Blankets were issued to the natives, but have ceased to be sent for the last three years, nor was there the necessity for any issue of them as far as this district is concerned.




From Matthew M’Alister, Esq., J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Picton :-

  1. The following is a statement of the number and description of the Aborigines in the district of Picton.





    Male. Female. Male. Female. Male. Female. Male. Female.
    27 23 5 1 1 1 3 6 67

  2. Diminished about five per cent.
  3. Among both.
  4. Bad living; lying on the damp earth ; dissipation, and consumption.
  5. Very miserable ; food, principally opossums, and what they beg from the white inhabitants.
  6. Decreased, from the increased occupation of their original hunting grounds.
  7. Blankets have been issued to most of them annually, till the present year. The effect of giving them was, that they made themselves, at times, useful to the police and other inhabitants, and were much pleased and gratified with the indulgence, which, from having been acceded to them for many years, they at length looked upon as a right. The effect of discontinuing them has been to make them exceedingly dissatisfied. It would be very desirable to resume the distribution of blankets, and of a better quality than they have been in the habit of receiving lately.
  8. They have seldom or never asked, or received any hospital or medical treatment. One of the tribe is a Carradgee or doctor.
  9. A few occasionally reap, and pull and husk maize, for which they are paid in provisions, tobacco, old clothes, and sometimes muskets, and fowling pieces.
  10. They are proverbially indolent, and very lazy when employed by the whites.
  11. One man, one woman, and nine children, all living with, and after the manner of the aborigines.
  12. Only one instance of an aboriginal woman living with a white man, in this district.
  13. Mostly friendly. No collision whatever has occurred.
  14. No destruction of any kind of property has been occasioned by the aborigines.
  15. They are very friendly and quiet among themselves.
  16. A very few have been killed by hostile tribes.
  17. Not in this district.
  18. Their welfare would be greatly promoted by giving them in the winter months some little food, such as flour, tea, and sugar, and giving them blankets, or woollen slops, which should be marked in a conspicuous manner, and made punishable for any white person to buy or have them.



From Samuel North, Esq., J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Berrima :-

  1. There are at present about forty blacks in the Berrima tribe, viz., about twenty men, fifteen women, and five children.
  2. The number has decreased about one-third within the last five years. From information we are enabled to arrive at, we are induced to believe, that the tribe did not exceed sixty in number, then years since.
  3. Both.
  4. Natural causes, except one or two instances of sudden death.
  5. The same as heretofore.
  6. No alteration in their means of subsistence.
  7. Blankets were issued to them till 1843 ; since then the practice has been discontinued. The effect of the cessation has been to make them resort to their primitive habits, of providing themselves with opossum cloaks ; but as the weather here is very severe in winter, and as the cost of blankets is but trifling, we would recommend the resumption of the distribution.
  8. No hospital in this district ; there has been no demand for assistance (medically) on their part ; nor is there any fund for paying for medical treatment for them, should they require it.
  9. There is but one aborigine in this district who has remained regularly in employment, viz., as groom. During the harvest time they are generally employed by the farmers reaping, and this they do very well. They are remunerated for their labour partly in money, and partly in property, such as clothes, and a little tea, sugar, and tobacco.
  10. It is only by holding forth, what to them appears great remuneration, that they can be induced to work ; on the whole, they are excessively indolent.
  11. There are two or three half-caste children in the district ; they live with the aborigines.
  12. No, (with one single exception.)
  13. Friendly.
  14. None.
  15. Friendly.
  16. There have been three deaths amongst them during the last four years, arising out of quarrels amongst themselves.
  17. Not to our knowledge.
  18. We are not aware of any facts, relative to the adult portion of the aborigines, that would assist the Committee in its endeavours to promote their welfare. But as regards the children, we are of opinion much may be done for them. We have one instances of their aptitude for knowledge. We have one instance, in this district, of an aboriginal youth, adopting the habits of the white race, and of having continued so far some length of time. We have also one instance where an aboriginal woman has, in like manner, adopted the habits of white women, in every way. We think if the parents could be induced to part with their children, and these children were placed in such situations where their education could be strictly attended to, (every exertion being made to eradicate from their minds the desire to roam) a sense of religion inculcated in their youthful minds, and a due attention paid to their wants, they might eventually be reclaimed from that wretched state of barbarism, in which they are unhappily at present placed.



From Francis Murphy, Esq., J. P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Bungonia :-


  1. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.) There are no aborigines permanently in this district ; the tribe, a pretty numerous one, which in former times was located in the neighbourhood of Bungonia, has nearly, disappeared, and has dwindled down to very few individuals, who have joined themselves to portions of tribes of other places, chiefly of Braidwood and Goulburn ; these few persons, probably not more than a dozen or fifteen, occasionally visit the district, in company with portions of the blacks from the places above-named, varying in number from twenty to fifty or a hundred ; remain for a few days, and then decamp to some other favourite spot. No one in particular cause can be assigned for the disappearance of the tribe of this place ; several in our recollection have been killed by persons of their own, or of other tribes, and we can only generalise by saying, in reference to this portion of the enquiry, that the blacks have disappeared before the march of civilization, and we have no doubt will at no distant period be extinct. The aborigines when in this neighbourhood chiefly live by hunting and fishing, and have not the least difficulty in procuring plenty of opossums, small kangaroo, eels, and other animals with which the bushy ranges and ponds abound ; they can also procure flour and other provision by asking for them at the houses of the settlers, who seldom refuse to supply their moderate wants ; and we should confidently say that there is not probability of the blacks in this district being ever in want of food, unless when too lazy to look for it, or to earn it by some trifling labour upon the farms.
  2. (see 1 above)
  3. (see 1 above)
  4. (see 1 above)
  5. (see 1 above)
  6. (see 1 above)
  7. Blankets had been for many years delivered to the blacks in this district, but were discontinued by the Government about two years back ; this was decided loss to these poor people, who relish the warmth of clothing very much, and we should consider it an act of charity, if not of justice, to distribute blankets to the small remnant of the tribe as heretofore, the saving for economy, which we presume was the cause of the discontinuance, being so paltry, as to be quite, in our opinion, unworthy of consideration in the case.
  8. We have not, known instances of blacks applying for medical relief ; they are in the habit of treating their sick themselves, perhaps asking at a settler’s house for some little comfort for the sick person ; they have been known to refuse medicines and advice.
  9. (9 & 10) The blacks in their occasional visits, are employed by the settlers very constantly – when they can be got to work – which is not often, in cutting bark chiefly, and at harvest time in reaping, when they are invariably the best reapers in the field ; but it is very seldom they can be induced to work, and then but a few at a time, and for a very short period ; they are mostly paid in provisions and clothing, the best payment they can receive, for should they happen to procure money, it invariably goes to the public house or sly grog shop.
  10. (see 9 above)
  11. There are several half-castes amongst the blacks who visit our district ; but of their numbers we cannot speak with certainty, indeed there are few of the children that we see that have not some trait of the white about them, as the black women are well known to confer their favours prodigally and indiscriminately ; the half-castes are seldom apart from the tribe ; but some few young persons are living with their reputed fathers or others who may take an interest in them, and they seem as intelligent and apt as persons of the same age amongst the working classes.
  12. We have not observed any disposition amongst the labouring class to form families with the blacks.
  13. There is not, nor has there been in our recollection, any hostility between the blacks and whites in this district.
  14. The blacks do not commit any destruction of property, except it may be an occasional calf killed by their dogs, with whom they do not hesitate to share the spoil.
  15. (15 & 16.) The blacks have occasional quarrels amongst themselves ; but they are careful to conceal the consequences ; it is however known that murders are sometimes committed by them, but very difficult of being traced.
  16. (see 15 above)
  17. Infanticide it is said is practiced by the aborigines in this district, but we have no positive information upon this head ; but we believe it exists amongst them.
  18. Our observation of the black people in this quarter is very limited, from the paucity of numbers, and of opportunity for noting their manners, as they remain but a very short period in our vicinity at one time. There are several amongst them who speak English remarkably well, have a full knowledge of the value of money, and are in every respect comparatively speaking, as intelligent as the working people around us ; indeed, in several instances, much more so ; they, however, although quite competent to form notions of the value and comforts of civilized life, seem utterly indifferent about availing themselves of t hem, and evidently prefer the dirty, squalid, wild liberty of the bush, to the restraints which a residence amongst white people to a certain extent enjoins ; it is very rare that one can be attached to a farm and induced to render himself useful, and should a settler succeed in doing these, he can only calculate upon the black remaining for a time, for sooner or later he is off to the bush again, to his greasy gin, sheet of bark, kangaroo rat, and white ants, and opossum skin cloak. The black is often forced by the threats of the tribe to leave the settler’s service, should he manifest a disposition to remain longer than usual, so that from necessity as well as choice, the aboriginal native, as far as our observations extend, makes no effort to attain the advantages of civilization ; and it is extremely probable that no human efforts, however well directed, will conquer the adult blacks attachment to his wild though miserable mode of life; an early age ; and we speak diffidently in saying that the female black often manifests dispositions to induce us to believe that she is not quite untameable or irreclaimable as her male companion. We would finally observe, that their physical wants are those to which they seem most alive, and to the supply of which the exertions of the humane would be, probably, best directed ; give the black his warm blanket and rug, and his belly full of food, and any man might envy the contentment and happiness that apparently fills him, when singing his uncouth song, or dancing his grotesque polka.
    With respect to infanticide, it has been ascertained since the above was penned, that the black women frequently destroy their offspring, particularly half-castes ; a case of the kind was brought under my notice that occurred upon Mr. Murphy’s farm some short time back, and the excuse for the deed was that it was half white.



From Francis McArthur, Esquire, J.P., for the Bench of Magistrates, Goulburn : –

  1. There are not exceeding twenty or thirty, of all ages and sexes, belonging to the Mulwarree, or Goulburn Plains tribe.
  2. Within the last ten years, they have diminished at least one-third – and very considerably within the last five years.
  3. The decrease has been in equal proportions among the children and adults.
  4. The causes may be attributed to violent deaths inflicted by Aborigines from other tribes ; occasionally, from disputes among themselves ; a great proportion have died from pulmonary affections, induced from exposure after intoxication ; they have frequent severe rheumatic attacks, which depresses them ; these attacks are aggravated by exposure after intoxication ; their bodies gradually waste away, and death generally carries them off in about twelve months after such attacks.
  5. As to their actual condition, they are degraded and idle, chiefly subsisting upon food obtained from kitchens and huts.
  6. The natural food, if it may be so called, of the Aborigines, is by no means diminished in this district, except the kangaroo, and, perhaps, the eggs of wild fowl and the young of such fowl ; the opossums and squirrels, since they have been less disturbed, have certainly increased, not to mention such mean food as grubs and muscels, which was at one time, the common food of the women.
  7. Blankets were always issued to the Aborigines in this district once every year, and these poor people are at a loss to ascertain why it has not been done this year ; with reference to the effect of giving blankets, there are none apparent, except the unfrequency with which the far more comfortable opossum cloak is to be met with ; and it is to be feared the effect of the cessation will be a farther addition to the misery, for the falling off in the industry of an improvident class is decidedly lowered still more by deprivations ; in such cases, the tendency downwards appears inevitable; – the man retrogrades – the animal prevails. To resume the distribution of blankets, to say the least, would be an act of kindness to failing race; it would afford some relief, small indeed, to the injuries which the vices of a civilized race has inflicted upon a remnant of the original wanderers over the soul of this country.
  8. When they have sought it, Hospital or medical treatment has not been withheld, and this at the public expense.
  9. They are only occasionally employed by the settlers, for stripping bark ; they may occasionally help at sheep washing; the remuneration is, ordinarily, provisions, tea, sugar, and tobacco, and, it may be, spirits ; on Messrs. James and William MacArthur’s sheep establishment in this district, there are two Aborigines employed as shepherds, receiving the usual wages of a shepherd on the establishment.
  10. They are apt enough at all the occupations of a farm ; active as long as they are engaged in any labour, but not enduring, and, when fatigued, will not work for any consideration.
  11. There are a few half-castes among the children ; although, within the last fifteen years, there have been many half–caste children of both sexes, there never was a half-caste adult male in the tribe ; and there have been only two half-caste women, both of whom are still alive; the disappearance of the half-castes is not satisfactorily accounted for.
  12. There is one instance of an Aboriginal woman living with a man, by whom she has several children ; the man in question is in comfortable circumstances, and has been living with this woman since 1830.
  13. Perfectly friendly, and have been always friendly with the settlers in this district; seventeen years are here vouched for.
  14. None.
  15. About ten years since, the neighbouring tribes were always at war ; but at present, they have diminished so much that, from Braidwood to the river Abercrombie, they mingle together as one tribe ; two or three tribes would now require to join to perform a “ corrobboree.”
  16. (Answered by reply to query four.)
  17. That infanticide was formerly known among them, can positively be asserted.
  18. This is a controvertible question ; there may be some among them, one here and there, who might be reclaimed ; that is, elevated to the condition of a civilized man, if taken early enough in had for that purpose ; but, even in some of the most promising cases, these hopes have been frustrated about the age of puberty ; these cases could be accounted for from the access their friends and relatives had to them, inducing them (by what means is not known) to abandon the comforts and acquired wants of years (in one instance, from infancy) as instantaneously, and with as little apparent inconvenience, as if they were never in any other condition but their pristine one. To advance their welfare as a race, leaving them free to dispose of themselves, practically speaking, is conceived to be impossible ; man, although a progressive animal, like all other animals, is born with a determinate constitution of mind and body, which is manifest in the peculiar distinction of races ; and these peculiarities are not obliterated by the modification resulting from external circumstance. Consequently, it appears hopeless that the Committee can bring to bear upon the Aborigines of this colony, any appliances which would be a sufficient inducement to them voluntarily to subdue a determinate constitution of mind and body which may be the result of organization ; if, however, there be any instances known of a wild race of men who have been left to their freedom and brought to civilization, (it is assumed that this is what is understood by promoting their welfare) it would be well to adopt a similar proceeding, could it be ascertained.



From James Fitzgerald Murray, Esq., J.P., Queanbeyan :-

  1. About sixty.
  2. Diminished.
  3. Among both, but chiefly among children.
  4. Such as the forest supplies.
  5. Yes, for several years, till May last. We think it desirable to resume the issue of them.
  6. No Hospital here.
  7. A few occasionally.
  8. Bad.
  9. One half-caste female living with the blacks.
  10. None.
  11. On friendly germs.
  12. None.
  13. Friendly in this district.
  14. Yes.



From Henry Bayly, Robert Lowe, William W. Lowe, and Nicholas Paget Bayly, Esquires, Justices of the Peace, Mudgee :-


  1. The numbers of aborigines in this district, is about fifty, of which, about one third are males, and two-thirds females and children.
  2. About fifty per cent.
  3. Amon both, but chiefly among the adults.
  4. To venereal, measles, and various diseases.
  5. The condition of the aborigines is better than formerly, and their means of subsistence lay chiefly in hunting when unemployed by the whites.
  6. No, but rather improved by their intercourse with the white population.
  7. On the application of the Police Magistrate in 1842, for seventy blankets, forty were allowed ; in 1843, thirty-two blankets were issued ; in 1844, sixteen were issued. Notice has been received, that no more blankets will be furnished subsequent to the issue of 1844. The effect of issuing blankets to the blacks has been beneficial to them, we therefore think it advisable the issue should be resumed.
  8. No case has occurred in which the natives have received hospital treatment at the public expense, but have occasionally received relief from private individuals.
  9. They are very seldom employed by the settlers, be reason of their extreme laziness, but when they are employed they receive remuneration in provision and clothing.
  10. None.
  11. About one-fifth are half-castes, and they generally live with, and after the manner of the aborigines.
  12. Not more than two or three instances have been known in this district.
  13. Friendly.
  14. None.
  15. They live peaceably among themselves, in their own district.
  16. No hostilities ever occur among themselves, but in quarrels with other tribes many lives are frequently lost.
  17. No cases are known for certain.
  18. The proprietors generally are anxious to employ them, but find it impossible to retain them for more than two or three days, consecutively, consequently, we cannot give any advice that would assist the Committee in its endeavour to promote the welfare of the aborigines ; every exertion having been made by the proprietors at large, to make them useful, but without success.



From George James Macdonald, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the district, of New England :-

  1. The number of aboriginal natives in New England, is from five hundred to sixhundred men, women, and children ; but from their wandering, disunited, and unsettled habits, it is impossible to estimate the proportions of each with any approximation to the truth.
  2. There is an apparent decrease within the last five years, but not to say great extent.
  3. The decrease has been both among adults and children.
  4. I attribute this decrease, in some measure, to an extension of disease generated by intercourse of the aboriginal females with Europeans.
  5. Their actual condition is similar to that of the aboriginal tribes generally throughout the Colony ; and their means of subsistence principally animals of the marsupial family.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence must have diminished to a considerable extent; the introduction of five hundred thousand sheep into the original hunting grounds of the district, has nearly driven the kangaroo, on which the natives formerly subsisted, beyond its boundaries.
  7. An annual issue of blankets, and clothing, is made to the aborigines by the government ; the effect of this distribution has been decidedly beneficial, and it is desirable that it should be continued, more especially in a climate like that of New England, where the winter is long, rigorous, and severe.
  8. The aborigines have received gratuitous medical treatment, when requisite, or applied for ; but some public provision should be made for their reception into hospital when necessary, and for their support while under medical treatment.
  9. A few natives are employed in the district, as shepherds, occasionally, and in various capacities on many of the stations ; they are remunerated with rations and clothing – never with wages.
  10. Their habits, like those of the nomadic tribes generally, unfit them for steady and permanent employment.
  11. There are but few half-castes, and those are principally with Europeans.
  12. There is no disposition whatever on the part of the white population to amalgamate with the aborigines, so as to form families.
  13. The aborigines have been for the last three years in friendly relation with the Europeans in this district ; but previously shepherds were frequently treacherously murdered by them.
  14. Several flocks of sheep, were formerly driven off and destroyed by the blacks, as well as a considerable number of cattle.
  15. The aboriginal tribes are frequently at feud with each other.
  16. There numbers are not directly affected by their hostilities.
  17. Infanticide in common among the tribes ; the victims being half-castes, and their own female infants, never the male.
  18. It does not appear to me, that there is much hope of effecting any general improvement in the moral or social condition of so scattered, disunited, and indolent a people as the Papuas of Australia ; indeed what has been said by Dr. Tocqueville, of the American Indians, applies with equal force to the natives of New Holland: – “That judging of the future by the past, we cannot err in anticipating a progressive diminution of their numbers, and their eventual extinction, unless our border should become stationary, and they be removed beyond it ; or unless some radical change should take place in the principles of our intercourse with them, which it is easier to hope for than to expect.”



From Francis Flanagan, Esq., J. P., Broulee :-

  1. The number and description of the aborigines in this district is as follows :- About two hundred and fifty ; one hundred and sixty males, sixty females, and thirty children.
  2. Diminished about fifty per cent.
  3. Few children are now reared, and many adults have died lately.
  4. Cutaneous and venereal diseases principally.
  5. Those who choose to work can obtain plenty of food and clothing, and they seldom have of necessity to depend upon fishing or hunting for subsistence.
  6. Kangaroos have diminished, but most of the natives in this district depend more upon the sea than the bush for food.
  7. Blankets have been regularly issued since 1837, till last year. None have been given during the last winter, and in consequence many of the old and infirm have perished through the inclemency of the weather ; as trusting that blankets would be issued at the usual time, they did not even provide themselves with opossum cloaks. But we would recommend the issue of a sufficient number of blankets for the old and infirm ; in fact, the supplies hitherto rendered, (twenty-five pair,) were only sufficient for such, and distributed accordingly.
  8. About two years back, a virulent cutaneous disorder was raging amongst them, and a surgeon resident in this neighbourhood provided them with medicines at his own expense, for which the Government have since refused to remunerate him. When ill, they generally apply to the white residents in the district, who doctor them according to their ability.
  9. Both males and females are employed by the settlers in gathering the maize and potatoe crop, and some of them in reaping. The have commonly been remunerated in provisions, clothes, tea, sugar, tobacco, &c., but many of them now insist upon being paid in money. They are always employed for stripping bark.
  10. They will only work while the fancy seizes them, and always go off without warning.
  11. There may be about a dozen half castes in the district, all young. They generally disappear when they reach the age of puberty, and are supposed to be destroyed by the other blacks, with whom, however, they generally live.
  12. No; several black gins live with whites, but there is only one instance of a family continuing to reside together in this district.
  13. All on friendly terms.
  14. Some few cattle have been speared, and petty robberies are occasionally committed by them.
  15. The frequently fight amongst themselves, upon which occasions, the whites, though often spectators, never interfere.
  16. Few are killed in those encounters.
  17. Very common, and in cases of twins, one is always sacrificed.
  18. The only means of benefitting them is to allow blankets and medicines in cases of sickness and infirmity, as the strong and healthy can always obtain plenty of food and clothing, although they will never remain long in one place.



From Henry Bingham, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the district of Murrumbidgee :-


  1. The number and description of the Aboriginal Natives in the district of Murrumbidgee is as follows ; about one thousand males, four hundred women, four hundred boys, and two hundred girls, in all about two thousand.
  2. Their number has diminished in the more settled districts.
  3. Among the adults and children.
  4. Owing to the illicit intercourse with the Europeans, engendering disease of a virulent nature ; and to their country being occupied.
  5. Precarious ; hunting and fishing, and some families kept at the stations of native settlers.
  6. Diminished very much indeed, in consequence of the occupation of the country ; and from the 1st of July to the 1st of October, is the season of their greatest scarcity, and debarred from their hunting grounds by the generality of settlers, they naturally turn on the stock of the proprietors of the stations. Game of all sorts natural to the Colony, and which are found very numerous in the districts where the settlers have not entered on.
  7. Issue of blankets ceased since 1843. I consider that it should be continued, and that it contributes much to their comfort and satisfaction, and shews them that the Government have some regard for them, which is very gratifying to them.
  8. Never required such.
  9. A few employed as shepherds, and stockmen, and hutkeepers. Remunerated with a good ration.
  10. None.
  11. A few living as the natives.
  12. Very rare, except where the girls have been at school.
  13. Friendly in the more settled parts, but hostile in the country more recently taken up by the squatters on the Edward or Kielat River, and the lower Murray and Niemer Rivers, extending to the Murrumbidgee River, and only kept in check by a strong party of Mounted Police under my orders, and which I keep on detachment, in two positions, for the protection of both parties. The first act of aggression of any consequence in my district, as more recently attached to the Melbourne division of the Territory, was an attack made on the station and huts of Dr. Mackay, at Waraily, Oven’s River, brought on by a hatred the natives had to a stockkeeper in that gentleman’s service, from previous injuries received from him, and accelerated by the want of judgment, in the person in charge of the station ; in the absence of Mr. Mackay, they were beat off, and killed on shepherd on retiring to the mountains ; the stockkeeper was very properly discharged afterwards. One of Mr. Chisholm’s hutkeepers was killed at Myrha at this period, believed from some feeling of revenge. Then followed attacks upon the stations of Messrs. Lewis and Throsby, at Moira, Murray River, being then the most advanced station, surrounded by several numerous tribes of blacks, some of them of a more warlike character than others. They disarmed two of their shepherds, but spared their lives, took some sheep, and on various predatory attacks, three blacks were wounded. I would here remark that this gentleman, Mr. Lewis, the acting manager, has since, with great consideration and judgment, permitted the blacks to hunt over their ground, in his occupation, at their season for hunting, and he keeps his stock on other portions of his run at this period, which has established an excellent understanding between him and the blacks. At the close of 1843, an attack of a very serious character was made on a newly formed station of Mr. Green’s, fifty miles below Moira, on the Lower Murray, and which was continued for some days, and which was the result of very bad management on the part of Mr. Green’s overseer, or more properly speaking, the men mutinied agains him ; an aboriginal native was struck in the hut in a row with the servants, and in a few days after, the attack was made. They had injudiciously placed their huts in a position perfectly surrounded by water, and to which, in wet weather, all ingress and egress was totally at an end, except with boats, had such been there. Mr. Green lost about two hundred head of cattle, the men had a very narrow escape of their lives, and fled at night ; simultaneously, an attack was made on the station of Mr. Clarke, the blacks being in a state of great excitement, and from the hut being equally injudiciously placed, gave the blacks great advantage, as from the high state of the waters, they could not send for the police ; the men were obliged to fly at night, having expended all their ammunition, they lost about fifty head of cattle. Both those stations were thus obliged to be vacated ; then followed attacks on Mr. Cropper’s sheep station, situated on the Gulpha Creek, and very careless and bad management was the principal cause here. The blacks disarmed two of the shepherds, but spared their lives, but took their fire-arms, and the shepherds gave the blacks the sheep when they came for them at any time afterwards ; the overseer absent, they lost about two thousand sheep from time to time, the overseer was a man having no command of his temper, and they had a peculiar dislike to him ; be having previously, in a moment of irritation, struck and knocked down one of their chiefs, which insults they do not easily forget or forgive ; the proprietor dismissed this person afterwards, and removed his sheep; about this period an attack was made on the station of Messrs. Wills and Forrester on the Kialat or Edward River, and two shepherds murdered close to the house, being disarmed. This melancholy affair took place, and arose from revenge, in which the innocent suffered for the guilty ; as some time before as the party were travelling down the Murray River, and encamped at night, one of the shepherds fired into a canoe, having a favourite quiet black in it, then fishing on the river, and shot him ; the blacks did not disguise their future intentions, but it was not much noticed, the aggressor, however, decamped ; some sheep were lost here at this time ; then followed attacks on the station of Messrs. Gwynne, on the same river, and I consider these gentlemen were made the dupes of badly disposed servants, and under the excess of temerity, the blacks were fired on, and four shot ; since peace has been established by the almost constant presence of Police, some fifty head of cattle have been lost here, and the Police have had one or two skirmishes with a party of blacks taking some cattle from this station at intervals, in which two blacks were wounded, but not mortally, and the cattle were recovered ; one troop horse was injured by a cut of a tomahawk, and the trooper narrowly escaped ; then followed an attack on some cattle of Mr. Howe at Moroco, and which, I have every reason to consider, was urged on by a hatred and dislike the natives had to one of Mr. Howe’s stockkeepers, whose deportment was very overbearing to the blacks, and who had threatened him in consequence ; two blacks were shot dead in an affray on the station, in which this young man was a principal ; the lives of two men on the Edward river were recently, or this season, attempted by some of the Nieber tribe, but timely assistance came, and they were rescued ; the Nieber tribe are numerous and very daring.
  14. About five hundred head of cattle and two thousand sheep.
  15. The blacks of this district, in certain divisions, are hostile to each other.
  16. Not to any great extent.
  17. Yes of half-caste children only.
  18. I should recommend a large reserve being made for them, commanding both hunting and fishing grounds, and that a school for the children of both sexes should be formed adjacent to the reserve, in which the young girls might be taught useful domestic acts, and the boys some light employment, combined with gymnastic exercise, and the mind gradually but not too hastily, led to higher and more important objects, as it expanded to the more ordinary details of improved social life, and when they arrive at a certain age, the young men should be permitted to take wives of those girls, if the parents wished it ; I am well aware the subject is one surmounted with great difficulty but not insurmountable with perseverance.



From John Lambie, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the district of Maneroo :-


  1. The probable number of the aborigines in this district, is about six hundred and eighty-seven ; namely, adults males, three hundred and eleven ; adult females, one hundred and ninety-nine ; and male and female children, say under twelve years of age, one hundred and seventy-seven.
  2. The number has, during the last five years, diminished ten percent.
  3. The decrease has principally been in adults.
  4. The decrease has been from natural causes – chiefly from continued fever.
  5. Their condition is not worse than formerly. The means of subsistence is chiefly fish, and game, and food furnished by the residents.
  6. The ordinary means of subsistence has diminished, inasmuch as the kangaroos retire as soon as the land is stocked.
  7. Blankets were issued formerly, and doubtless the effect was beneficial, particularly to the aged and infirm. The supply has, since 1842, ceased ; but it would be advisable to resume it on account of the severity of the winters.
  8. No hospital treatment has been received or applied for on behalf of the aborigines; but almost all severe cases have been medically treated by one or other of the Surgeons who are resident stock owners, from motives of benevolence ; also necessaries in cases of sickness have been supplied from the same motives by these gentlemen, and other squatters.
  9. The proportion of aborigines occasionally, but not permanently, employed by the stock owners is very small indeed. Some can reap, others assist in sheep washing, and a few engage in the coast whale fishery ; but they are so unsettled they cannot be depended on, and consequently their services are not much in request. The remuneration is usually made in articles of food and clothing.
  10. They can scarcely be said to have any settled habits bearing upon an aptitude for employment.
  11. There are about twelve half-caste children, all living with, and after the manner of the aborigines.
  12. There is no disposition on the part of the white labouring population to amalgamate with the aborigines, so as to form families.
  13. The aborigines are in a perfectly friendly relation with the squatters, and no collisions have lately taken place.
  14. The only destruction of property, occasioned by the aborigines, is cattle sometimes speared, but the loss has been but trifling.
  15. The relation among the aborigines of the district is not unfriendly.
  16. The numbers directly or indirectly affected by their hostilities are not great. Occasionally hostile tribes come from the adjoining counties, and their collisions were, on two occasions, attended with fatal results. In the first instance two were killed, and in the last, one.
  17. Infanticide among the aborigines is not known in this district.



From Edward Brown Adddis, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the County of Grant, Port Phillip :-


  1. In the County of Grant there are about two hundred aborigines of the Barrabool and Colac tribes, of whom two-thirds may be said to be male adults, the rest females, with but few children.
  2. Within the last five years the number has considerably diminished ; I cannot state to what extent not knowing their original number, but I should conjecture by about one-third.
  3. Chiefly among the adults.
  4. From the consequences of promiscuous intercourse with the white population, and the change of living ; and from the facility of getting animal food rendering them more liable to inflammatory attacks.
  5. Still continuing their wandering habits, living in the vicinity of towns or near stations, and principally subsisting upon the contributions of settlers and others.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence has diminished, but has been fully made up for by the above-named contributions to their wants.
  7. None have been issued, with the exception of, I believe, some at the mission station; but they have been supplied occasionally by the settlers and residents of the towns; they appear to prize the blanket almost equally with their native rug, being, however, careless of them in the summer season.
  8. There is no Hospital in the district ; but the medical gentlemen have occasionally treated them gratuitously.
  9. It is difficult to confine them to any settled employment ; but occasionally they are willing to be employed in a general way, for which they get rations or some clothing.
  10. Their wants being few, they are naturally indolent.
  11. I am not aware of their being any half-castes in the district.
  12. None.
  13. The aborigines are friendly relations with the settlers in this district ; there has only been one life lost by a European for several years, and that by an incursion made by a wild tribe from Cape Otway murdering a boy who was shepherding.
  14. None worth consideration.
  15. The tribes of the district are tolerably well disposed, but they have occasionally revenged themselves upon Aborigines of distant tribes visiting the district.
  16. I consider their numbers but slightly affected by their hostilities.
  17. I am informed it does prevail, but not to any great extent.
  18. Any attempt to promote their welfare by limiting them to any particular locality would, in my opinion, be unavailing. A fund for the issuing of blankets to them in the winter season, and certain medical treatment in cases of need, would be desirable.
    I fear but little good has been done by the Protectors ; certainly not more than would have been effected by the Magistracy and well disposed settlers.




From Henry Wilson Hutchinson Smythe, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Murray District, Port Phillip :-

  1. I have ascertained the exact number of men, women, and children in the tribe at the crossing place on the River Goulburn, which is as follows ; men fifteen, women twelve, boys seven, and girls six, making a total of forty ; assuming each tribe to contain the same relative proportions of the sexes ; I estimate that there are in the Murray district, men seventy-five women sixty, boys thirty-five, girls thirty, total two hundred and ten.
  2. I conceive they have decreased ; they are constantly murdering each other ; if an individual of a tribe die, however apparent or natural the cause of his death may be, another from a neighbouring tribe is sacrificed. I have seen many die from natural causes, and although not the slightest mark of violence was to be seen on the body, the friends of the deceased have immediately asserted that the “wild black fellows had killed him.” Their custom in such case is to observe the direction taken by any insect near the body, and in that direction they seek for vengeance on the imaginary murderer, in which object they seldom fail. The squatter on first pushing out into the unexplored bush, had to defend his life and property from the aborigines, and some lives have been lost in this way. I am, however, happy to have it in my power to state that the necessity for resorting to violence by the squatters towards the aborigines, is almost entirely done away with in this district ; the only portion of it where danger may be apprehended is at the junction of the Goulburn with the Murray ; but this winter though I have stationed a party of police there for protection, they have not seen a necessity for acting.
  3. I should say principally among the adults.
  4. This is chiefly answered in the reply to query No. 2, but in addition to what is therein stated, I may say they are frequently guilty of infanticide.
  5. The adults are incurably lazy, and cannot give up their old habits of roving about ; I consider that any plan for their redemption from their present abject state would be unavailing. They subsist principally on the bounty of the squatter, but sometimes when in a good locality will take a day’s hunting for opossum.
  6. The sheep and cattle have driven away the kangaroo and emu, otherwise I do not see that their natural food has diminished.
  7. I am not aware of any issue of blankets having been made to them. I consider a few blankets given to them judiciously, would be advantageous, to be distributed to them before the winter is set in.
  8. At the protectorate station on the Goulburn, there has been a medical man stationed on their account, and many I believe have derived relief trhough that agency.
  9. None are employed regularly though many of them will occasionally make themselves useful in sheep washing, reaping, and stripping bark, but their love of change interferes with any systematic or regular employment ; as remuneration for what they do, the generally receive food, clothing, and tobacco, of the latter of which they are great consumers.
  10. Indolence and propensity to roam about from place to place.
  11. I know of none living ; several have been born, but they have invariably disappeared.
  12. I think none.
  13. The intercourse between the settler and the Aborigine is becoming daily more friendly ; any hostility which may have arisen, has generally been occasioned by the latter attempting to appropriate to themselves the squatter’s cattle or sheep, which he, of course, defended. Since I have been in this district, a collision took place between them and a party of Police under my command, when, I believe, three lives were lost, on the part of the Aborigines ; it occurred as follows :- My party had been in pursuit of the murderers of two of Mr. Thomas Wills’ shepherds, in addition to which crime, they were accused of daily spearing the live stock of Messrs. W. and E. Howe, and Mr. Lewis, on the Murray, besides threatening the lives of all who resisted them ; under the circumstances, it became my duty to apprehend the leaders of these outrages ; after a great deal of exertion, and almost failing in my endeavour, I succeeded in finding their encampment in a dense bed of reeds; the natives immediately resorted to their spears, and the Police to their arms, when the lives above mentioned were lost ; a detailed account of this occurrence was forwarded to His Honor the Superintendent of Port Phillip. I know of no other loss of life in hostile encounters between the Aborigines and Europeans, since I have held office in this district as Crown Commissioner.
  14. A reply to this query, if correctly given, would excite surprise ; I am unable to do so faithfully ; the amount of live stock destroyed during the last five or six years must have been very great ; at the present time, settlers do not, in most instances, consider it worth while to report the killing of a bullock, provided that be the extent of the robbery; they have, on the contrary, many of them, expressed their willingness to submit to this species of “black mail,” trusting to time to remedy the evil.
  15. The different tribes have always a fond open.
  16. There are few deaths occasioned by fair fighting ; they murder each other occasionally.
  17. Infanticide is common among them.
  18. The comfort of the tribes, in certain situations, might be greatly increased by the distribution of blankets, and an allowance of food during the severity of the winter months; on the low marshy banks of the Murray for instance, where their principal food is fish, which they are then unable to obtain, and hence they are at this season of the year always most troublesome to the settler ; many might be relieved from disease by medical aid, to give which would require a doctor to visit the various tribes from time to time. The younger Aborigines have, in most cases, acquired a good knowledge of our language ; sufficiently so to enabled them to receive instruction, were such a project meditated.
    The hostile feeling which always exists between the different tribes, has, I conceive, rendered the benefits, which otherwise might have been derived from the Protectorate Station, comparatively limited ; a few of the Aborigines, if any, would venture to approach the station, who were not in some way or other connected with the tribe near which that station was situated, but, as I have before stated, many have no doubt been relieved from disease and body suffering, by the advice and medicine there obtained.



From Frederick Almond Powlett, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Western Port District, Port Phillip.


  1. I am unable to form any opinion that may be depended on, but should think that one thousand is about the number of natives in the Western Port District, from the source of the Goulburn to its junction with the Murray, from thence down the Murray to Swan Hill, south of Mount Cole – the source of the Werrabee River, Port Phillip Bay, and Sea Coast to Anderson’s Inlet ; male adults three hundred and fifty, female two hundred and fifty ; male children two hundred and fifty, female on hundred and fifty.
  2. (2, 3, & 4.)  The Protectors of Aborigines ought to be able to give authentic information.
  3. (see 2 above)
  4. (see 2 above)
  5. Their condition and means of subsistence depends much on the country they inhabit, its distance from Melbourne, its Rivers, and the number of stations where provisions are given them; those natives within eighty or one hundred miles of Melbourne, frequently visit the town, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants, where they appear to get an ample supply of food, and occasionally, I am sorry to say, spirits; the distant tribes in the Mallay country, north of the Pyrenees, the lower Lodden, and the Boga natives, live chiefly by hunting and fishing, occasionally visiting the stations, where they are supplied with food in payment for stripping bark, or making themselves useful in any other way.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence has diminished in the open located parts of the district, as game generally leaves the country where stock is depastured, and the sheep by clipping the grass make it more difficult to discover the yams ; but the natives on the banks of rivers like the Goulburn and Murray have much the same means of subsistence as formerly ; new tastes and wants have been created, and they prefer bread, potatoes, and mutton, to yams, kangaroos, and opossums.
  7. The Protectors of Aborigines will be able to answer this query, but I believe blankets have been issued at the Protector’s stations, and I think it advisable that the issue should be continued to the aged and infirm, and to the young men and women for any labour they perform.
  8. Medical treatment is afforded at the Protectorate establishments, at the expense of the department.
  9. Very few are regularly employed by the settlers in my district, perhaps fifteen or twenty as shepherds or stockmen, for which they are remunerated by supplies of rations and clothing ; at the shearing season many assist in washing sheep for a few days as an amusement ; about forty of the tribe south of the Yarra are employed in the Native Police.
  10. Their love for a wandering life naturally fits them more for policemen, guides, or stockmen, than any other more laborious employment.
  11. There are very few half-castes in my district, I have only seen two ; they were living with, and after the manner of the Aborigines.
  12. None whatever.
  13. The Aborigines are, generally speaking, in friendly relations with the settlers in my district ; hostilities generally arise from the natives spearing cattle, or driving away sheep, and I believe, in some cases, the hut-keepers at distant out-stations encourage the native women about, for the purpose of illicit intercourse, making an agreement with them, either to give them their master’s sheep or provisions ; this is difficult of proof, and seldom occurs. Very few collisions have taken place in my district between the settlers and the Aborigines ; the Native and Border Police have had two or three collisions when the native had sheep in their possession, and I believe five or six of the Natives have been shot. In an encounter I had with them, north of the Pyrenees, a trooper and horse were speared before I ordered the men to fire.
  14. During the last five years, I do not believe that more than one hundred cattle and five hundred sheep had been destroyed by the Aborigines in my district.
  15. (15, 16, 17, & 18.)  The Protectors of Aborigines will be able to answer these queries more correctly than I can.
    I am of opinion that the establishment of the Protectors of Aborigines has been beneficial both to the Aborigines and the settlers, though I think the system might easily be improved ; but I consider the quiet conduct of the natives in my district is, in some measure, to be attributed to the knowledge the natives have that Government is overlooking them, and that when they murder or rob, they are liable to the same punishment as a white man; though it would be desirable that some Act should be prepared, which would render it more easy to put the Aborigines on their trial than under the criminal law of England ; and I am of opinion that native evidence, when corroborated by strong circumstantial evidence, ought to be received for what it might be considered worth by a jury.




From Foster Fyans Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Portland Bay District, Port Phillip :-


  1. In this most extensive district, and passing through it twice yearly, as Commissioner of Crown Lands, I consider the number of natives does not exceed three thousand. I do not think there is a proportionate number of children among them.
  2. On my arrival at Geelong, (having been appointed by His excellency Sir Richard Bourke, as Police Magistrate,) His Excellency sent a number of presents, clothing, blankets, &c., directing me to assemble as many natives as possible at Barmilok. I did so, and with the assistance of a man named Buckley, who was thirty-three years amongst them, we collected two hundred and ninety-three, which included nearly all the tribes within fifty miles. On this occasion I asked Buckley if many were absent ? He said no ; the blankets and clothing had brought all. I said the number appeared small, when he replied :- “ On this ground I have met five hundred, and sometimes seven hundred natives ; since my arrival,  upwards of thirty-three years since, the aborigines have decreased;” but he could not give any reason for their decrease, and appeared disinclined to afford any information.
  3. The decrease has been both among children and adults. The children are often murdered (killed and eaten,) in satisfaction for revenge against their tribe. The adults are always ready to commit murder, and are in constant riot and dispute ; one native will murder another to get his gin ; this causes loss of many lives, and has been carried on for years, and I suppose will be continued until all are exterminated.
  4. Chiefly to what I have stated ; many lives are also lost by their agressions and plunder throughout the district. I feel that no man can tacitly submit to the destruction of his flocks, and their being carried off by a wandering race of savages.
  5. I believe the natives possess all they ever did in this part of New South Wales, excepting the myrnong root. In the forest one native, in one hour, can supply himself with his natural food for days. Their actual state to all appearance, is extreme misery and degradation, in which they appear more happy and contented, than in any other way in life.
  6. I consider their means have very slightly diminished, and only in the myrnong root at sheep stations.
  7. I have not known of any issue of blankets to the natives, excepting those sent by Sir Richard Bourke in 1837. I have found them in pieces through the district, left in old miam miamis, or huts. The effect of giving them blankets or rugs, for a day or so, is useless; if the native keeps it for a day or two, and then goes into the bush with it, he has a good chance of being assassinated by another for the blanket – and likely this goes on so long as the blanket is considered a good one. I really think the numerous riots and murders which take place on this account, are considered to add to the value of the blanket. I cannot say if any blankets are given at present to natives ; I have not heard of any. I consider the issuing of such things, or anything to the natives, without an equal value in labour, to be very injurious – operating to make them more idle and more useless, than they were before the gift. I can safely say the few natives in this district, would be well fed and clad by the settlers, and taken care of, would they only execute a very slight portion of work, in return for an ample sustenance.
  8. I do not know of any hospital in this large district, excepting a small hut erected near Geelong, by Dr. Shaw, at his own expense.
  9. On my arrival here in 1837, I found scarcely an establishment in this neighbourhood without natives being employed thereon ; many of them doing extremely well, and found useful ; some acting as shepherds, and others in domestic uses ; for these services they were well fed and clothed, and also well treated, and generally more kindly than the Europeans on the establishments. Immediately on the appearance of the Protectors, and Missionary gentlemen, the natives left these employments ; and I can have no hesitation in statin my opinion and firm conviction, that from the arrival of these parties, the aborigines in this district have declined any employment ; lost sight of endeavouring to do any good for the community ; wandering and pilfering through the country. There are but few employed on establishments, and they seldom remain long ; this will ever be the case, until some system is adopted to benefit them, by encouraging them to remain on their natural ground.
  10. Their habits are all for sloth and idleness ; they are able enough for any work, but have no inclination.
  11. Half-castes I never heard of in this country. I should not think any European could brutalize himself so much.
  12. I should think not.
  13. The settlers, (that is previous to the Protectors and Missionary gentlemen residing here,) were always glad to have natives with them, but of late years they have not wished to have them, as generally on such visits, the settler is sure to lose then, twenty, fifty, or one hundred sheep, and considers himself fortunate, if he has not a flock of six or seven hundred left with their legs broken ; a number of collisions have taken place, and lives have been lost – both Europeans and natives have suffered ; these collisions have been caused chiefly by the natives driving away the settler’s sheep, perhaps after murdering the person in charge.
  14. In sheep very great destruction.
  15. Very hostile, constantly killing each other, by extracting the kidney fat, which I understand considered a luxury. I can give a late instance of the moral improvement of the natives of Geelong. A native boy left the Elephant Hill, attending a dray to Geelong for stores ; the driver of the dray had orders to get the boy anything he wished for ; he provided him with a shirt, hat, trowsers, and other things ; this poor lad left with the dray to go on as far as the Ford, about three miles ; a party of the domesticated christian natives of the place, during the dusk of the evening, seized the poor boy, cut his side open, and cut his kidneys out, opened Major Mercer’s well and threw the body into it, (133 feet deep 😉 on the following day the drayman offered bags of flour to the Geelong natives for the boy ; the chief constable after this found out where the boy was ; the man was also told by some gins where the body was ; he reported this to me ; the body was taken up and inspected by Dr. Clerke.
  16. I should think t a great extent, and will in some few years become extinct.
  17. I am convinced it is a common practice ; in 1838 a child was killed close to my hut, on the opposite side of the Marrabool River, by a native man taking the child by the legs and dashing the head against a gum tree ; I saw the tree with the hair and contents of the skull on it, only a few hours after the occurrence.
  18. It is my firm conviction the only plan to serve the aborigines, and one I have for years contemplated ; there are many respectable gentlemen settlers in this district, possessing good moral principles, wishing and willing to serve the natives, many do so at their cost, by sending food to a distance to prevent their coming to their places. I submissively state, for the information of the Council, that the expense of sustaining and feeding the very small native population in this district would not be much ; at the same time it would operate well, as to the industry and habits of the natives, making them useful members of our community . I beg to state that at the present time the natives are wandering through the district ; a few remain at Mount Rouse, and very few at the Government mission station under Messrs Tuckfield and Hirst, I believe only on passing visits ; in my opinion the great object is to keep the natives in the country, and their tribes as distant and separate as possible. The plan I propose is a simple one, to nominate gentlemen in the district to ascertain the number of natives in the tribes about them; let these gentlemen draw a sufficiency of second flour to be distributed to the neighbouring gentlemen settlers, for them to issue as rations to the natives who remain on their runs, and to those only who merit it ; by this means the remaining different tribes would frequent their own ground, and become useful, and well-behaved to the settlers. I feel assured this plan would succeed, and in less than two years many of these useless and helpless persons would become most valuable to the community.
    I do not consider that the slightest good has been effected by the appointment of the Protectors ; but, in my opinion, injury to a great extent, as I have before stated. Previous to their arrival, and to the forming of the missionary establishment, the natives were inclined to work on establishments in the district ; on their arrival the natives left such employments; at he present time I consider the natives place more reliance on the bounty of settlers than on any others, and receive more protection from them.




From Charles James Tyers, Esq., J. P., Commissioner of Crown Lands Port Phillip :-


  1. It is at present impossible to ascertain the number of aborigines in Gipps’ Land, owing to the wildness of their habits, leading them to inhabit a part of the country almost inaccessible to the settlers ; dense scrubs, extensive morasses, and lofty and scrubby mountains, afford them a secure retreat ; it is supposed to be not less than one thousand.
  2. (2, 3, & 4.) These questions cannot be answered for the reason given in reply No. 1.
  3. (See 2 above)
  4. (See 2 above)
  5. The Gipps’ Land aborigines having had little or no communication with Europeans, and speaking a different language from the neighbouring tribes, with whom they appear to be hostile, cannot be said to have advanced on step towards civilization, but continue perhaps in as wild a state as they were prior to the discovery of the district ; they appear to subsist on kangaroo flesh, opossums, grubs obtained from the trunks of trees, and fish ; the latter are abundant in the rivers and lakes.
  6. The ordinary means of subsistence of the aborigines has not, I think, diminished since the white man has been in occupation of the country, although to a certain extent, the kangaroo has been driven from the occupied parts to the forests and ranges, by the depasturing of cattle and sheep.
  7. Blankets have never been issued to the aborigines of this district, but it would no doubt be advisable to do so, should an opportunity be afforded of a friendly interview with them ; hitherto, I believe, no native of the neighbouring tribes has been found who could interpret their language.
  8. No medical assistance has been given them, as far as I am aware.
  9. None are employed by the settlers, with the exception of a few Omio and Maneroo natives, and two or three from the middle district ; these are employed as stockkeepers; the aborigines from the middle district receive wages and rations ; the others merely rations and clothes; the latter seldom remain in their employment for any length of time, owing perhaps to the proximity of their tribes.
  10. Cannot be present as ascertained
  11. There are two half-castes from the middle district, one employed as bullock driver, the other as stockman ; these live with, and after the manner of Europeans.
  12. The white labouring population, is, I think, in too much dread of the Gipps’ Land aborigines to admit of any attempt at present to amalgamate with them.
  13. The aborigines are in hostile relations with the settlers ; the hostility has probably arisen from the aggressions of the blacks:-
    First : The first party said to have penetrated into Gipps’ Land, was one of Mr. L. Macalister’s under the direction of Mr. Macmillan, about five years ago. At a morass near the River Mitchell, or Macarthur, it was attacked by a large body of natives, but I have heard that no lives were lost on either side.
    Secondly : Mr. Macmillan, with a party of seven men, was again attacked at his homestead on the River Avon, or Dunlop, by about one hundred natives, on the 22nd of December, 1840, when one aborigine is said to have been shot.
    Thirdly : On two other occasions, Mr. Macmillan was attacked by large parties of natives, while proceeding with his drays to Port Albert.
    Fourthly : Mr. R. Macalister was killed near Port Albert, about four years ago, by a small party of aborigines, apparently without having given any provocation. It is possible, however, that the blacks were instigated to the committal of this murder in consequence of a dispute having occurred a short time previous. between a resident of Port Albert and a native, owing to the latter having stolen a double barrelled gun from the residence of the former.
    Fifthly : A shepherd in the employment of Mr. L. Macalister was killed in December, 1841, while endeavouring to protect his master’s property from the depredations of these savages ; his legs, and the muscle of one arm, were cut off, and carried away by them.
    Sixthly ; A hutkeeper of Mr. Foster’s was killed in 1842, while in the act of shifting his hurdles. No cause is assigned for this murder.
    Seventhly : Two men in the employment of Mr. J. M. Loughnan were killed on that gentleman’s station by a party of aborigines, while in the act of removing their goods from one hut to another. In this case, also, no cause seems to have been assigned for the perpetration of the deed.
  14. About four hundred head of cattle belonging to different settlers in this district, have been speared within the last hear and a half. A hut of Mr. Sparks’ on Lake King, has been several times entered by the aborigines, and property estimated at upwards of £10, taken away by them.
  15. Not known.
  16. No means of ascertaining.
  17. Not known.
  18. I am in possession of no facts that would assist the Committee in its endeavour to promote the welfare of the aborigines of Gipps’ Land, since so little is known concerning them. Nor do I think anything can be done towards the promotion of their welfare, until an opportunity of communicating with them shall be afforded.
    The establishment of Protectors of Aborigines has had no effect upon the welfare of the Gipps’ Land tribes. The Chief Protector visited the district in May, 1844, but, chiefly in consequence of his inability to procure an interpreter, he had no interview with them.




From G. A. Robinson, Esq., Chief Protector of Aborigines, Melbourne, Port Phillip :-


  1. The probable estimate of the aboriginal population is upwards of five thousand, thirty-five per cent. being males, twenty-eight females, and thirty-seven children.
  2. The number of aborigines in the settled districts have decreased within the last six years to the extent probably of twenty per cent.
  3. Both.
  4. The decrease is attributable to collisions with Europeans, to intestine strife, to feuds, but principally to the effect of European disease ; and, in some instances, there is reason to fear the aborigines have been poisoned, and the ends of justice defeated, for want of legal evidence; the only witnesses to be obtained in such cases being the aborigines, who are disqualified on account of their legal disability.
  5. First, the condition of the aborigines have been greatly improved since the appointment of officers whose peculiar province it is to watch over their interest. Secondly, by the introduction of free emigrants. Thirdly, by the increased number of respectable proprietors living upon their runs, instead of as heretofore, leaving the management of stock to shepherds and herdsmen. Their means of subsistence in the settled districts have, in part, been supplied at the government stations, and in some instances eleemosynary ; their chief subsistence, however, has been from natural sources.
  6. Kangaroo and other forest animals, gum, roots, herbs, and fish, their ordinary means of subsistence, has diminished greatly since the occupation of the country by Europeans, and the introduction of stock for breeding purposes ; the wanton destruction of forest animals by white men, who keep dogs for hunting, has been complained of. Kangaroos and emus are now seldom seen, except in stony and wooded ranges ; the latter are nearly extinct; the continued grazing of stock has rendered edible roots exceedingly scarce ; the primitive inhabitants from some localities have been prohibited probably without reasonable cause; much depends, however, upon the disposition of the person in charge, whether friendly or otherwise, towards the natives ; with some tribes the means of subsistence, especially from natural sources, is very precarious, being shut out from their own lands, and precluded, on account of some angry freud, from visiting their neighbours.
  7. Blankets and other clothing, during the past five years, have been issued to the natives on the reserves or native establishments, as rewards for industry, and in exchange for produce, but gratis to the sick, aged, and young children; distribution during the last two years has been very limited, in consequence of the reduced expenditure of the department; gratuitous and indiscriminate issues of blankets and clothing to the healthy adolescents and adults is thought unadvisable ; and equivalent in labour or produce is required, as calculated to lead to industrious habits, and to a knowledge of the value of property ; the natives are partial to blankets – a new skin rug has been frequently given in exchange.
  8. The aborigines are allowed hospital and medical treatment at the expense of government ; to each of the following stations – the Goulburn, the Loddon, and Mount Rouse, a medical officer has been appointed exclusively for the aborigines.
  9. The aborigines are employed chiefly as shepherds, bullock drivers, stock and hutkeepers, messengers, domestics, sheep-washers, whalers, collectors of skins, police, and guides; in this latter capacity, they are from their knowledge of locality, quickness of perception, endurance of fatigue, their facility in procuring water and sustenance, found of infinite service to travellers generally, and have merited their approbation ; females are occasionally employed, and as respectable settlers, with their families, are now removing to the bush, it is to be hoped this class of labour will be more encouraged. The natives receive in return for labour, food, clothing, trifling articles of luxury, as tea, sugar, tobacco, and in some instances, money.
  10. The aboriginal youth have an aptitude for acquiring civilized and industrious habits ; many are living in the hired service of settlers as shepherds, stockkeepers, and bullock drivers, &c., and in those employments have been found equal and in some instances superior to Europeans.
  11. The number of half-castes is very limited, probably not more than twenty or thirty in the district, who are living with, and after the manner of the aborigines.
  12. There is no disposition on the part of the white labouring population of this district to amalgamate with the aborigines, so as to from families.
  13. I know of no decided hostile feeling on the part of the aborigines against the settlers ; generally speaking they are friendly disposed ; hostilities have arisen, and collisions have taken place between the two races, with loss of life ; in some cases originating in the robbery or supposed robbery of stock by the aborigines, and instances have occurred where the whites have been the first aggressors.
  14. The Chief Protector is unable to report the amount of property destroyed by the aborigines ; cases of this description are in general reported to the nearest magistrate ; many of them however, when enquired into have been found greatly exaggerated.
  15. It frequently happens that the tribes of a large extent of country are in friendly relations with each other ; disputes arise, and collisions sometimes happen. The Wenerong, Yarra ; Boongerong, Western Port ; Wodowro, Geelon ; Jargowrong, Loddon ; Damgouron, Goulburn ; Pinegerine, Murray ; and the Mokullumbeel at the source of the Goulburn, meet together on friendly terms. A short time since a meeting of eight or nine hundred from the several tribes, above-mentioned, took place near Melbourne ; an hostile feeling exists in the minds of the aborigines, from superstitious prejudice against those of remote districts.
  16. The number affected by these hostilities is, in the aggregate, probably to the extent of one in twenty annually.
  17. Infanticide, to a limited extend, exists ; half-caste children have been invariably its victims ; of late, some tribes have spared this portion of their offspring.
  18. Facts and observations relating to the aborigines :-
Vide instructions from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State.

First : The legal disabilities of the aborigines have been a serious obstacle to their protection and civilization :-

“ As far as personal influence is concerned, the aboriginal natives have been protected from acts of injustice, cruelty, and oppression, and their wants, wishes, and grievances, have been faithfully represented to the government of the Colony :” and this, under the circumstances in nine cases out of ten, was all that could possibly be effected. I feel it my duty, therefore, respectfully to bring this subject again under notice, and the necessity that exists for some suitable system of judicature for the better protection and governance of the aboriginal races. There is reason to fear that the destruction of the aborigines has been accelerated, from the known fact of their being incapacitated to give evidence in our courts of law. I have frequently had to deplore, when applied to by the aborigines for justice, in cases of aggression committed on them by white men, or by these of their own race, my inability to do so, on account of their legal disability to give evidence ; it were unreasonable, therefore, under the circumstances, to expect the aborigines would respect ore repose trust and confidence in the Protector, or submit to the government of a department unable efficiently to protect, or to afford them justice ; nor is it surprising they should complain of being made to suffer the higher penalties of our law, when deprived by legal disability of its benefits ; little difficulty has been experienced in discovering the perpetrators where the blacks have been concerned, even in the greater offences, and hence the ends of justice would be greatly facilitated by aboriginal evidence. There has, however, not withstanding all the disadvantages mentioned, and under which the department has laboured, a large amount of good been effected, and many valuable lives in both communities have doubtless been preserved through its influence and agency ; indeed, the virulent opposition evinced against the department, I am sure must be considered rather as a proof of its efficiency than otherwise.

Secondly : Means adopted for the civilization and protection of the aborigines :-

The Chief Protector, in the management of the department, has been mainly guided by the instructions of Her Majesty’s Government, of 1838 ; as a general outline, these instructions have answered the purposes contemplated. The province, pursuant therewith, was subdivided, and four stations occupied ; and the fact, that large bodies of natives can be associated, and induced to locate without injury to themselves, or to the Europeans, demonstrated ; still it remains a question how far it is desirable to encourage the natives to congregate in considerable numbers, unless teachers, whose peculiar province it should be, (as designed by Her Majesty’s Government), to promote the knowledge and practice of Christianity among them be appointed. His Excellency’s instructions, “ That the Assistant-Protectors were not to encourage the natives to assemble in greater numbers than they were able to control,” were most judicious ; the supplying with food large bodies of natives, and the attendant outlay consequent upon the formation of new establishments, were the principal causes which led to the former expenditure ; in future, the natives will be supplied with produce raised from the soul, and will not, in any considerable numbers, be encouraged to congregate at the stations, until this, and a regular system of moral and religious instruction be afforded. – Extract from Chief Protector’s Report, 1843.

Thirdly :- The revolting murders perpetrated by the aborigines inter se, are serious impediments in the way of their amelioration, and are greatly to be deplored. They are the results of cruel superstition which prevails generally among the aboriginal tribes, attributing the deaths of their relations and friends by internal disease, and, in some instances, natural decay, to the effect of incantation practised on them by hostile natives, when the duty becomes imperative on the tribe, and especially the relatives, to kill any member of their supposed enemies first met with. Numbers of civilised aborigines from other districts have in consequence been killed, the more to be regretted, as in general they have been found efficient and excellent servants. It is thought that as the evidence of the aborigines is the only testimony to be obtained in most cases inter se, that were the legal disabilities of the aboriginal natives removed, and they be allowed to give * (footnote: The law in South and Western Australia.) evidence and information without the sanction of an oath, it would go far towards the suppression (especially in the settled districts,) of these barbarous practices. Still it becomes a question how far or sanguinary code is suited to their state, and whether the punishment of death in all cases, in the event of conviction, ought to be inflicted ; for as the great obstacle to their improvement is moral, the only cruel superstition and prejudices, is the application of religious truth upon their minds.

The condition of the aboriginal natives throughout the settled parts of the Colony, have been within the last two years greatly improved ; a better class of peasantry since the introduction of free emigrants, I am happy to say, is being formed ; and a marked improvement in morals is apparent ; this, and the circumstance of proprietors being more on their stations, have conduced much to the advantage of the aborigines. I have endeavoured to encourage a kindly feeling between settler and aborigine, and feel gratified at the result, moving about among the tribes, collecting information from the settlers, visiting the natives at their camps, listening to their complaints, advising, admonishing, and encouraging them when such were necessary, together with the presentation of a few articles, has been found of infinitive advantage, and well calculated “ to gain their confidence, and make them feel that the Protector is their friend ;” with this view the Chief Protector, in 1843, made a journey of seventeen hundred miles ‘ in 1844, passing from Melbourne through Gipps’ Land, Omio, Cape Howe, Twofold Bay, Biggah, the settled districts by Yass, thence to the northward of the Alps, of two thousand two hundred miles, after an absence of seven months from head quarters, and during a season of unprecedented severity ; the Chief Protector, during the current year, has made a journey of eleven hundred miles into the interior, visiting in the course of this route Lake Hindmarsh, the entire distance will be during the year about fourteen hundred miles ; in all these several journies the tribes and settlers (for the purposes mentioned) have been visited. The following tribes personally visited by the Chief Protector, are among those who have never received blankets or any other present of consequence from the Government, and to whom a periodical supply would be acceptable, and attended with beneficial results, especially as some of the localities referred to have been recently taken up an occupied, viz.:- Grampians, Glenelg, Lake Hindmarsh, Wimmera, Mount Hope, Murray, Ovens Hume, Murrumbidgee, Gipps’ Land, Omio, Snowy River, Cape Howe, and Ninety Mile Beach.

Whaling appears to be well suited to the habits of the coast natives ; three boats manned and worked exclusively by aborigines, were at the Twofold Bay fishery at the time of the Chief Protector’s visit, several other crews were in readiness ; the aborigines are expert whalers, and equal, if not superior, in some instances, to Europeans ; eight whales had been killed by the aboriginal whalers I the Messrs. Imlay’s employ, in one season ; disease among the natives at the Bay, from illicit intercourse with the white men was painfully prevalent; two aboriginal adults, male and female, died in much agony during the Chief Protector’s stay, from the effects of syphilis ; hospital assistance and medical relief is afforded to the natives by the medical gentlemen at Mr. Boyd’s, and food and clothing is supplied, the whole at the expense of Mr. Boyd ; similar assistance to the natives, I was glad to find, was rendered at the Messrs. Imlay’s establishment. There is reason to fear that numbers of aborigines in the interior perish annually for want of medical assistance ; last year the Omio, Snowy River, Murrumbidgee, Hume, and other tribes visited by the Chief Protector, were greatly afflicted by disease, and during the current year, two natives at Lake Hindmarsh, scarcely able to crawl from syphilis, applied to the Chief Protector and party for medical assistance ; benevolent settlers however, occasionally relieve them, and gratuitous assistance to the Wayradjery, at the Hume, had been afforded by a medical practitioner at Albury. As a people, the aborigines are rapidly on the decay ; they are greatly reduced ; they are (especially in the settled districts) but remnant tribes, sections are extinct ; these diminutions are attributable to several causes ; some have been sacrificed to angry feuds and intestine strifes, but hundreds have fallen victims to European disease ; variola, often of a confluent description, influenza, febris, and syphilis, have extended their baneful influences to the remotest parts of the interior ; the latter disease is now almost prevalent throughout the land ; ophthalmia in some districts is indemic ; cutaneous affection is peculiar to the natives, and prevalent.

Emigration from the middle districts under proper regulations of well conducted natives, and vice versa from Port Phillip to the middle districts might, were the superstitious prejudices of the aborigines removed, be attended with beneficial results, especially as the aborigines when out of their districts have been found exceedingly tractable.

I have advised the officers of the department, in the absence of properly qualified religious instructors and schoolmasters, to visit the natives at their own camps in the bush, or at the stations of those settlers who may be willing to employ and encourage them, (of whom I am happy to say, there are now a large proportion) rather than to congregate them in masses at the Protectorate establishments, more especially as the limited means of the department would not permit of large numbers being supplied – the sick, and aged, and the young children being the chief objects to receive rations.

The aboriginal natives are not so degraded or devoid of intellect as they have been by some represented ; I have had extensive intercourse with them, in the several long journeys of thousands of miles I have travelled, and have observed t hem variously and usefully employed by settlers, and well spoken of ; I earnestly hope, therefore, that properly qualified Missionaries may be appointed to the interior, nor only for the aboriginal natives, but for the Europeans, for I am quite certain the settlers would willingly co-operate in so laudable an undertaking ; and I am happy to find, from a proposition lately submitted, that this desideratum is about to be realized, and that endeavours will be made, to use the language of the Report * (i.e., Report of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge in Foreign Parts) “ for the conversion of the heathen, whose country God’s providence has given to the British Crown, and whose amelioration and happiness has confided to British Christian benevolence.”

The Chief Protector, during his journey of last year of two thousand two hundred miles, extending through Gipps’ Land, the Alps, Twofold Bay, Cape Howe, Biggah, Maneroo, Murrumbidgee, and Murray Rivers, found but one solitary Clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Price at Maneroo, sent out by the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts) engaged in the sacred duties of his office, nor were “the Schoomasters abroad” – at least, not one person of that class came under notice. This moral desolation, on account of the numerous native born and emigrant families, besides aborigines, scattered over an extent of thousands of square miles of country, rich in soil, and well adapted, from its salubrity of climate, for European location, was exceedingly painful.

The number of half-castes met with among the aboriginal tribes of the interior during my journey, was singularly striking contrasted with the paucity at Port Phillip ; only nine children of this class have been reported in the latter district, whereas in one tribe only, beyond the bounds of the province, I have counted fourteen, some married and having children ; it would be exceedingly desirable could this fine race be removed to an asylum for protection and instruction, more especially as there is reason to fear that these children are frequently murdered, as in the case mentioned by Mr. Murray, (the Member for Murray) wherein eight children, whose proximate ages averaged from three to five years, were killed, and the tribes generally in the Port Phillip district are known to be guilty of infanticide, especially on this portion of their own offspring.




The Department of Aborigines


Comprises one Chief and two Assistant Protectors ; one clerk ; three medical officers, two of whom are qualified surgeons ; three overseers, and five artisans and labourers.

In 1844, there were five stations, viz., Merri Creek Mount Rouse, Goulburn, Loddon, and Nerre Nerre Warren, the four latter being reserves ; at these reserves agricultural operations are carried on for behoof of the aborigines.

The daily average attendance of natives at the Loddon was sixty-six – the number visiting the station during the year three hundred and sixty-six ; the daily average attendance at Mount Rouse and Goulburn from forty to fifty.

The expenditure of the department in 1844, including salaries, expense of food and clothing to the aborigines, Chief Protector’s journeys and presents, medical and hospital assistance, with incidental expenses, was two thousand two hundred and thirty-nine pounds.

The estimate for the department for the current year is two thousand three hundred and fifty-five pounds, including one hundred and fifty pounds on account of the Wesleyan mission station, Bunting Dale.

The estimated aboriginal population of the district is about five thousand (at least;) a large proportion have been personally visited by Chief Protector, and from one to two thousand have visited the stations.

Click image for a larger view

The following summary of a census recently remitted by Mr. Assistant Protector Parker, of the tribes occupying the Upper Goulburn and Campaspe country, omitting the return of the sections of the Dargoongerong, Lower Goulburn, not yet made, gives a total of three hundred and two.-

Joimgbert Section…:-

Beubedor ……………27

Konongillam ………. 27








Total……………. 302




The following summary of a Census of the Aboriginal population of the Loddon, in January, 1843, gives a total of six hundred and twenty :-




Learkabulluk ………………….24                              Parnbulluk ……………………….        6

Galgalbulluk ………………….53                              Youngbulluk …………………….         21

Wombulluk …………………… 5                               Larninggondeel ………………..        23

Konangarrabulluk …………. 3                               Pargoondeel …………………….        16

Juringbulluk …………………..15                              Bolokepar ………………………..        32

Womarragerra ……………… 37                              Toodoondyabulluk …………..         20

Terackbulluk …………………  10                              Neetyeerbulluk ………………..        10

Bealbulluk ……………………..2                               Tudedalbulluk ………………….        4

Kalkalgoondeel ………………16                              Polloityalbulluk ………………..       21

Jannebullar ……………………22                              Larningel ………………………….        10

Peerickel-moon-bulluk ….. 14                             Tarkillel ……………………………        12

Borumbeelbulluk ……………26                              Teerapbulluk ……………………        23

Tooloarabulluk ………………20                              Goolowil ………………………….         19

Kalkekner-neel-bulluk …….6                              Berrnett …………………………..        6

Borumbulluk ………………….31                              Korkinbulluk …………………….        12

Juanbulluk ……………………. 8                               Barbatinbulluk …………………        7

Juanbulluk …………………….4                               Moomoongoodeel …………..         15

Ulowalbulluk …………………41                              Netterackbulluk ……………….        20

Teribulluk ……………………..18                              Welleelpar ……………………….       16

Kuraekbulluk …………………12

Total ……….       670




A Census of the Yarra and Western Port tribes, recently made, gives a total of one hundred and sixty-five, viz :-

Males …………………..        99

Females ……………….        66






The establishment of Protectors had had a very beneficial effect upon the welfare of the aborigines ; from the detailed reports transmitted to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary, it will be seen that the system of Her Majesty’s Government hitherto pursued with so much is precisely the same as that lately adopted at Bunting Dale, with this exception, that two hundred and fifty to three hundred people, mostly speaking the same dialect, and meeting on the same terms of amity, are provided for at the Loddon, whereas at Bunting Dale there are but fifty ; at the latter station, also, it appears from three to four natives have been killed ; at the Loddon where sometimes three hundred natives, and some even of different tribes have congregated, no lives have been sacrificed since its formation, now nearly five years since ; and happily the same remark will apply to the Western Port and Goulburn aboriginal stations, and would have been the same at the Western, had a suitable officer been intrusted with its management.

The accompanying paper containing a detailed report of a public meeting at Melbourne, where the facts above stated appear to have been discussed, is respectfully submitted ; on that occasion Mr. Assistant Protector Parker observed :-

“ Mr. Dredge had tried to make it appear that the system pursued at the mission station at Bunting Dale was essentially different from the system of the Protectorate. He denied it ; so far as the proceedings of a mere civil officer, and a christain missionary could be assimilated, the course pursued by Mr. Tuckfield and himself were identical. There was this difference only that he could find, that whereas Mr. Tuckfield, as he has told you, finds it necessary to confine his attention to a tribe of only fifty people, he had immediately connected with his station, from two hundred and fifty to three hundred people, mostly speaking the same dialect, and meeting on terms of amity. And as a sufficient answer to all that has been said about concentration, he might inform them, that though he had sometimes had three hundred natives, and some even of different tribes, congregated at the station since its formation, now a period of nearly three years, no life had been sacrificed, no blood had been shed.”

The following is from the Rev. T. Tuckfield’s report to the Government. of a visit to the Loddon station in 1842, corroborative of the pleasing results above stated, Mr. Tuckfield thus writes :-

“ I crossed the country and came on a line of road which brought me to the aboriginal station on the Loddon, where I was most affectionately received and kindly entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Parker ; it was to me peculiarly gratifying to find that the present state and opening prospects of this establishment are of most encouraging character ; the orderly conduct of the natives, the oneness of opinion and of effort which seems to exist among the members of the establishment and the surrounding settlers, and especially the success which has attended Mr. Parker’s labours in concentrating the scattered tribes of that district, produced in my mind a hope that, under discreet management, and by the blessing of Almighty God, these wild hordes may yet become useful members of society ; during the Sabbath which I spent with Mr. Parker, I had the opportunity of conducting religious services both morning and evening ; the morning services was held within the frame-work of a new Church, which is in the course of erection, in the presence of all the white members of the establishment, and one hundred and forty-four natives, all of whom listened to the word of life with profound attention. After the prayers were read Mr. Parker and I addressed the natives, as well as we could, in their own language, on some of the first principles of christianity ; in the evening service was held in Mr. Parker’s own house, where two white children and one of the native boys, a little foundling whom Mr. Parker has taken into his family, were initiated into Christ’s visible Church by water baptism ; this little native may I hope, be safely regarded as the first fruits of European labour among the wanderers of Australia Felix ; he can talk the English language as well as most white boys of his age ; he is receiving a religious education under the fostering care of Mr. and Mrs. Parker, and can already answer with astonishing acuteness many of the questions of the Wesleyan conference catechism. The Monday morning on leaving this establishment a summer hat manufactured by one of the native women, displaying much improvement, skill, and taste, was kindly presented to me by Mr. and Mrs. Parker.”

There can be no question, observes Mr. Assistant Protector Parker in his report of 1843, that the residence of an official representative amongst the aborigines of his district, and the establishment of a permanent homestead and reserve for their advantage, has been attended with the most beneficial results both to the settler and the aborigines, and expresses a hope that what has been already accomplished in his district would be deemed a sufficient encouragement to perseverance in the effort to improve the condition of these unfortunate people.





Extract from Mr. Assistant Protector Parker’s Report, January, 1845 :-


“ I now advert to the measures adopted for the civil and religious improvement of the  natives ; when I have been on the station I have regularly assembled them for Divine Worship every Sabbath ; a brief native service now precedes the regular English worship. This is necessarily omitted when my duties take me from the station ; the aborigines generally remain of their own accord during the English service ; some of the young men begin to comprehend a few of the more simple passages in the liturgy ; I endeavour to avail myself of every opportunity to converse familiarly with them on religious topics ; I have elsewhere adverted to the apparent effects upon some of the younger natives ; but it must not be concealed that the conveyance of truth to the mind of the Australian savage is a work attended with many formidable, I might almost say insuperable, difficulties. What can be done with a people whose language knows no such terms as holiness, justice, righteousness, sin, guilt, repentance, redemption, pardon, peace, &c., and to whose minds the ideas conveyed by such words are utterly foreign and inexplicable “ It can only be by long continued persevering labour, making the more intelligent acquainted with the meaning and force of our English phrases, and getting them by circumlocution, and figurative allusions, in which they frequently show much aptness, to explain the truths of revealed religion to their less favoured brethren, that those truths can be brought to bear with their full force upon their understandings and hearts ; most ardently do I wish that my time and opportunities were more extended for this particular department of my duties. The experience of every successive day convinces me more fully that if once the benign influence of christianity can be brought to bear upon the native mind, all the fruits of civilization would follow in due course ; and I am well assured there is nothing either in the nature of true religion, or the capacity of the aboriginal intellect to exclude these unhappy people from a full participation in its benefits.”

“ I again have to express my deep regret that no regular school establishment exists on the station ; such and institution cannot be maintained efficiently, without having a person entirely devoted to it ; when on the station I have adhered to the plan referred to in a former Report, and instructed myself some of the younger boys in the morning and the elder in the evening, before and after the hours devoted to the regular work of the station ; numerous interruptions however, occur which prevent me from following this up so successfully as I could wish ; from twenty to twenty-five youths have been thus under occasional instruction ; about half of the number have commenced reading easy lessons of one syllable, and the rest are most acquainted with the alphabet ; in several instances great eagerness has been occasionally evinced to be taught to read and write.”

“ I purpose, as early as possible, submitting to your notice, in conjunction with a vocabulary of several dialects extant in the range of country included in the north western and Goulburn districts, some Scripture extracts translated into the Jajourong dialect, with the prayers, and in the Sabbath services, and also some easy lessons in the same dialect, for the use of the native youth ; I trust I shall be allowed the means of getting these lessons printed, as without some such provision it is scarcely possible effectually to afford them instruction.”

“ During the past year I have had much communication with some of the young men, respecting their traditions, opinions, and history, prior to the occupation of the country by Europeans. Many circumstances of an interesting character have been related to me, which will form the subjects of further investigation.”

“ Before closing this report I must advert to another circumstance of some importance, I allude to the increase of half-caste children among the natives. Hitherto they have been charged, and I fear with justice, with the destruction of these illicit offspring. But a better feeling now seems to be spreading, at least among a portion of the tribes, and these children are regarded, I think, in some cases, even with more affection than the pure native.”

“ The position of the aboriginal natives convicted of crime in this Colony, contrasted with those at Swan River, is Painful, and would seem to require interference. At Swan River an Island is appropriated exclusively for this class of delinquents, and judging from the report of the Rotnest Establishment the best results have been realized.”




From Edward Parker, Esq., Assistant Protector of Aborigines : –

  1. The district of country under my charge extends from the Goulburn on the east, to the boundaries of South Australia on the west, and from Mount Macedon and Mount William on the south, northward to the Murray. Within this extent of country there cannot be less than fifteen hundred natives, exclusive of the tribes on the banks of the Murray, which, notwithstanding the numbers undoubtedly destroyed within the last eight years, are yet very numerous. In the early part of 1843, I completed a Census of the tribes between the Campaspe and the Grampians, which has been printed by order of the Council ; last year I took a Census of the Campaspe and Goulburn tribes ; this district having been put under my charge in July, 1843 ; the results are as follows :-


2. The extent of the district, and the remoteness of many of the tribes, prevent my giving the Committee accurate information on the second question as to the entire aboriginal population ; I must therefore refer separately to three distinct portions of the district ; – First, the country from the Campaspe to the west side of the Pyrenees, and the northward to the Malle country. Secondly, the Goulburn and Campaspe country. Thirdly, the country west of the Pyrenees to South Australia. The first portions contains twenty-one tribes (two or three of them mere fragments) numbering at the time the Census was taken, four hundred and twenty-six ; with these I have been in such frequent communication, as to keep myself accurately acquainted with their movements, the number of births, deaths, and other circumstances happening amongst them ; the result is as follows :-

I include in the above statement, only the children now living and in health ; a much larger number of infants have been brought forth, but in most cases have not survived above a month. Of those killed by other aborigines, five were slaughtered at one time in a midnight attack by a party from the Grampians ; three others died of wounds received in mere personal affrays ; two others have been deliberately murdered (one near Melbourne) under the influence of their cruel superstitions. No loss of life has occurred among the aborigines, at ornear the aboriginal stations, on the Loddon and the Goulburn. I estimate from these and other data, the decrease in this part of the district at five per cent, during the last five years. With reference to the second portion of the district (the Campaspe and Goulburn country, I can only reply in general terms, that the decrease is more considerable, owing to the paucity of births, the practice of infanticide, and other causes. A few have fallen by the hands of other aborigines. Before the Protectorate stations were established, a considerable number were shot by Europeans. During the last three years and a half, no aboriginal life has been sacrificed nearer than the Murray, which is not within the rage of the influence of these stations. The decrease in this part of the country, in the last five years, may be from ten to twelve per cent.

The third portion of the district (westward of the Pyrenees) presents a more painful aspect. A great decrease has unquestionably taken place here. Twenty-one cases of homicide by Europeans are positively known as having occurred, since the first occupation of the country in 1840. In the same period, and the same range of country, two Europeans have been killed by aborigines. I have strong grounds for believing that many more have been slaughtered in the remoter parts of the district. I estimate the decrease in this portion of the district at not less than twenty per cent, in the last five years, from the cause just named, the unchecked spread of disease, infanticide, and the diminution of their means of subsistence.

I have entered into these details, in replying to this question, because a mere general statement would not have given the Committee sufficiently accurate information.

3 & 4.- Queries are answered in the foregoing statement.

5. With the exception of a few, who may be considered as reclaimed, by their almost constant residence at the Protectorate stations, and adopting there the habits and occupations of civilized life ; the aborigines retain much of their original wandering habits, their movements from place to place being mostly governed by the facilities which are offered for the acquisition of food ; they derive their subsistence from the produce of the chase, the indigenous vegetable productions of the country, and what they can procure at the different European stations.

6.Their original means of subsistence have unquestionably diminished, from the destruction of the larger game, and the occupation of the country by stock ; those tribes whose relative position gives them access to the Protectorate stations, and who are in amity with the Europeans, obtain more than an equivalent for this loss ; but other tribes (as those on the Wimmera, and near the Murray) for whom nothing has yet been done, are often in circumstances of great destitution ; and hence their depredations on stock, and the hostility of the Europeans.

7. Blankets are issued at the Protectorate stations as a reward for work and good conduct ; the aged and sick are also occasionally supplied ; an indiscriminate periodical issue of blankets would, I think, be of little advantage ; many of them would quickly be bartered away for inadequate considerations at the out-stations.

8. Medical and hospital aid is provided at the Protectorate stations for the eastern and central parts of my district ; but to the westward, where it is much needed, no provision for the medical treatment of the aborigines exists ; the settlers have insome instances supplied them with a little medicine.

9. The tribes connected with the Loddon station, are very frequently employed by the settlers, particularly at the time of sheep washing, potatoe harvesting, &c. ; in other parts they are often usefully employed in stripping bark, &c., and I have invariably recommended to the settlers not to give them any supplies of food without an equivalent in work ; the remuneration is usually given in provisions.

10. Their habits vary to a very great extent ; many of the young men and boys make very good shepherds, stockkeepers, and bullock drivers ; I have encouraged with success their employment as domestic servants on the stations under my charge ; the habits of the older aborigines are, however, so far fixed, that regular employment is irksome to them ; yet, though they exhibit the characteristic indolence of uncivilized life in its worst features, they will often cheerfully engage in occasional labour, even of a severe kind, if it be not protracted.

11. I know of six half-castes at present in the district, all under the age of four years ; there are now probably more ; formerly every half-caste infant was destroyed ; I have laboured earnestly to impress their minds with the wickedness of infanticide, and the preservation of these children may be attributed under the blessing of God to these instructions.

12. No ; only to that promiscuous and immoral intercourse, which is equally destructive to the European and the aborigine ; from the Goulburn to the Pyrenees, the natives are in friendly relations with the settlers.

13. On the Wimmera, and the upper part of the Glenelg, great hostility exists between races ; several collisions have taken place and much property has been destroyed. In my report for 1842, printed by the Committee, a return will be found up to that date of the number of homicides of Europeans by aborigines, and of aborigines by Europeans within my district; I beg to refer to that document ; since that period no lives have been sacrificed on either side, in the country eastward of the Pyrenees, that is among the tribes under the influence of the Protectorate stations on the Loddon and the Goulburn ; but in the western part of the district, the following cases of homicide have been ascertained :-


1 man killed in June last, at Horsefalls, on the Avon Water, by two natives, supposed to be from Lake Hindmarsh.


1 man shot by the police in the country north-west of the Pyrenees, May, 1844.

1 man shot by a shepherd of Mr. Boyd’s, near the Grampians, April, 1844.

2 men reported by the aborigines, as having been shot in the Grampians, by Europeans, 1844.

2 men shot by the police, north of the Wimmers, October, 1844.

4 men shot by the native police under Captain Dana, June, 1845, on the Wimmers.

10 Total.


These are all that can be ascertained ; but as I have before stated I have strong reason for believing, that more aborigines have perished in the remoter parts of the district.

14. In the eastern and central parts of the district, I know of no loss of property by the aborigines, since January, 1843, excepting five sheep stolen from Messrs. Pettett and Clarke, October, 1843, on the west side of the Pyrenees, for which I caused two natives to be apprehended. To the north-westward of the Pyrenees some serious depredations were committed on stock, in the winter of 1844. Some minor acts of pilfering have occurred involving the loss of a few rations ; but in the whole, bearing no proportion to the acts of dishonesty prevalent among the European population. On the Wimmers and Glenelg the Case is widely different ; Messrs, Baylee and Hamilton have lost several hundred sheep, and other settlers have experienced considerable losses, but I am not able, without a minute investigation, to specify the extent.

15. The Taomgurong and Taongbert natives, occupying the eastern side of the district, are in amicable relations with the Jajourong knin knin waru and Mallegoondeel, occupying the country between the Alexandrine range and the Pyrenees. The latter are, and have been for several years, in hostility with the Grampian tribes on the west. The Pangurang and Taomgurong nations are also frequently in hostility with each other.

16. Their numbers have been formerly much more affected than at present by their intestine divisions. Two or three years before the settlement of Port Phillip, the Jajourong and Knin Knin wuru people were surprised at night by the Goulburn and Campaspe tribes near the Pyrenees, and a great slaughter ensued. It is acknowledged by the natives themselves, that before I fixed my residence among them, murders were far more frequent than at present. Should peaceable relations be established between the Loddon and Grampian natives, which I hope shortly to effect, a fruitful source of aboriginal disturbance will be closed, and greater facilities obtained for the maintenance of peace and security among the European and aboriginal inhabitants of the entire district.

17. Great differences are observable among the different tribes, with reference to this painful subject. The Taomjurong and Taungbert natives have been much addicted to this cruel practice. Hence the small portion of children in the return of their numbers. The Pangurang natives on the lower Goulburn country, even by the acknowledgment of their enemies, are free from this crime. Among the Loddon tribes infanticide was formerly prevalent, but I have great reason to hope that my earnest efforts to convince them of the wickedness of the practice have not been without effect. No case has occurred, to my knowledge, for the last two years ; on the contrary, the births have latterly increased, owing to the improved condition of the health of the women, and several fine children have been brought to the Loddon station, and shown to me by their parents with peculiar pride and satisfaction. To the westward the practice prevails in its grossest and most frightful character. A well ascertained instance was lately made known to me, in which an infant was killed and eaten by its mother, and her other children. I regard the natives in this quarter, as in a much lower state than any natives I have yet seen.

18. If the opinions of an individual who has now for five years been in constant communication with the aborigines, and in that period acquired much experience as to their character, habits, wants and capabilities, may have weight with the Committee, I beg to suggest, that two things are essential to the welfare and preservation of the aborigines who have come within the range of my observation :-

First : An efficient system, providing for their protection and sustenance, such as can only be provided by reserves of land for each petty nation, on which they should be encouraged to raise the means of their own support ; experience teaches me that these stations, under faithful management, may ultimately be made self-supporting.

Secondly : Full provision for their religious instruction by faithful Missionaries, such as may be obtained from the different missionary institutions, who, possibly without cost to the Government, and without having their usefulness impaired by secular cares and concerns, might devote all their energies to the spiritual renovation of these people ; the influence of christianity alone can supply to the mind of a savage, adequate motives for the adoption of the habits and decencies of civilized life. Measures identical with these were recommended by the House of Commons to the British Government, after a lengthened and minute investigation in the years 1836 and 1837 ; and the experience of the last five years convinces me that, whatever may be the precise agency employed, to these measures alone, faithfully carried out, can we look with any degree of hope for the civil and religious renovation of these degraded people ; it would swell these answers to an unreasonable length were I t adduce the facts and arguments by which practical experience enables me to sustain these opinions ; but I beg distinctly to state that I am fully prepared to do so ; and I beg also to state my firm conviction that the measures adverted to above, are as essential to the security of the lives and property of the colonists, as to the preservation and ultimate civilization of the aborigines. As minor measures calculated greatly to promote the well-being, both of the aboriginal and European population, I beg to urge most strongly the necessity of more stringent enactments to prevent the prostitution of the native women by the labouring population. Minute enquiry into the origin of nearly every aboriginal outrage which has occurred in my district, has convinced me that this is the most frequent cause of the loss of life and property ; the admission of aboriginal evidence is another important measure, not less essential to the welfare of the colonists, that it is to the aborigines.

I could have wished that the opinion of the settlers on the Campaspe, Loddon, and vicinity, had been obtained as to the usefulness of the Protectorate, as their reply would have been free from the possible suspicion of interested motives ; and that reply, I think I can confidently affirm, would have been most decidedly in the affirmative, as to the advantages derived both by the aborigines and settlers, from the Protectorate stations. When I took charge of the first district of country assigned to my care, I found every thing in a state of the greatest confusion ; aboriginal outrages, involving extensive loss of property, and, in some instance, of life, were of frequent occurrence ; the most deadly feelings of hostility existing on the part of the Europeans, which in all probability would have led to a war of extermination on both sides. A respectable settler (now a Magistrate of the Colony) told me in the latter end of 1840, that he considered the existence of the two races in the same country incompatible. Another (also a Magistrate) about the same time avowed it as his opinion that one-half of the aboriginal population must be shot, before we could subdue and keep in order the other half ; on the other hand, after the measures adopted by the police authorities under Major Lettsom in October, 1840, some of the most influential men among the aboriginal tribes frequenting Melbourne, declared to me their intention of retiring to the mountain and forest ranges, and killing every white man they could find unprotected ; and it is my firm belief that this threat would have been executed, as far as lay in their power, but for the efforts and influence of the officers of this department ; yet now, without any such exterminating measures, the whole of the eastern and central parts of this district are at peace, life and property are considered to be secure, remedial measures are applied for the improvement of the aborigines ; and if more marked results have not been obtained in the improvement of their condition, it has been from the want of additional agency in carrying on the work of religious instruction. I have endeavoured to do the work of a missionary, so far as the extensive range of my secular duties would allow ; but desultory, and often interrupted, as this portion of my labours has been, although many encouraging circumstances have occurred, the results have not been of that decided character which may be expected from more concentrated and sustained efforts ; for the details of my operations I must refer the Committee to the periodical reports sent in to the Government. To sum up briefly the advantages resulting to the aborigines from the establishment of the Protectorate, so far as it concerns my own district, I may state that a numerous aboriginal population, once turbulent and dangerous, have been conciliated, and induced to live in amity with the European inhabitants ; that they have been made acquainted with the sanctions of British law, so far as to apprise them of the penalties they would incur by any interference with life or property, and therefore left without excuse if their conduct subjected them to those penalties ; that provision has been made for the sick, the aged, and infirm, and the spread of disease, introduced by the whites, checked and subdued ; that partial religious instruction has been afforded to those frequenting the station on the Loddon, which has counteracted, especially in the minds of many of the young people, the dire effects of their native superstitions ; that, by the peaceable way in which the aborigines have been induced to live, they have been effectually protected from injury and slaughter, by giving no provocation to the hostility of the settlers : that facilities and encouragement have been afforded to those who might be induced to adopt the habits of civilized life, resulting in the partial civilization of several of the younger men and boys ; that their labour has been made available in raising provisions for their own support, and an amount of property created for their benefit, which may, on the Loddon station more particularly, at no distant period, render that station self-supporting ; and that, finally, the way has been prepared, though not without much painful and difficult labour, for the introduction of the christian missionary and the more hopeful fruits of gospel truth.


From William Thomas, Esq., Assistant Protector of Aborigines :-


  1. The Yarra and Western Port tribes, which are more immediately under my charge, contain at this time, (June, 1845) ninety-nine male and sixty-six female aborigines.
  2. The number has awfully decreased ; at the close of 1839 I took a careful census ; their number then was males one hundred and twenty-three, females eighty-four ; since born two males and three females, gives the total decrease in five and a half years of forty-seven, nearly twenty-three per cent. ; from returns which I have forwarded to Government every half year of the births and deaths of aborigines, I have found that there are at least eight deaths to a birth, and the children seldom live one month ; but one child remains of those born in these two tribes for the last six years, that is to say, there is but one child under that age.
  3. Among both ; there has been, however, a greater proportion of females than males, especially in the Western Port District.
  4. First, to their connexion with the white population bringing the venereal disease ; on the protectors arriving at Port Phillip they were in an awful diseased state, (which was duly reported); when I came among them, old and young, even children at the breast were affected with it ; I have known hapless infants brought into the world literally rotten with this disease. Second, a redundancy of males, and debauchery among themselves. Third, their indifference to prolong their race, on the ground as they state, “ of having no country they can call their own,” hence should there be a birth the infant is artfully put out of the way.
  5. Morally speaking, wretched in the extreme ; they have capabilities, but appear no way desirous of using them, as they find by asking and importuning they get their wants supplied ; they may be said, strictly speaking, to live as mendicants ; a few occasionally sally forth to get skins and birds to keep them in powder and shot ; none, as I perceive, have any, the least desire to conform to civilized habits ; in my charge of the blacks, visiting the precincts of Melbourne, I have had man opportunities of seeing and observing blacks from various parts, and whether from Geelong, the Goulburn, or Loddon stations, I have found them the same people as they were six years back ; they can talk more English, but in filth, dress, and habits, they are precisely the same ; I should say (independent of not being so diseased) in personal appearance they were better then than now.
  6. Their principal staple support, kangaroo, has greatly diminished ; also most other animals 0 the former, owing to the district being more than any other (for its size) closely occupied by settlers, cattle, and sheep ; gum, almost their only luxury, has still more diminished, occasioned by the great export of wattle bark ; their vegetables have not, in my opinion, diminished ; it is a mistaken notion that sheep destroy the mernong ; the natives know where it is to be found, without the appearance of the flower ; it is a thrifty indigenous root, and will thrive in the poorest of soil; I have seen it grow by the door steps in Melbourne; no animals but pigs can destroy, generally speaking, any of their indigenous roots, as they are mostly bulbs, and very firm in the earth.
  7. Blankets have been issued at the aboriginal station ; they always felt grateful for them ; none to my knowledge have been distributed during the last two years, (save to the Native Police) ; my blacks feel dissatisfied at not having these comforts doled out to them ; blankets are the most acceptable present to a black ; give him any other apparel and it may be seen on one and another, and soon lost sight of ; but he seems to know and feel the value of a blanket ; I have know them make fires and burn very good clothes on leaving Melbourne, even shirts are generally torn up, but they will mend and patch a blanket to the last. It would be advisable to resume their distribution ; but they should be given them at their stations, or by the missionaries.
  8. They have never been refused hospital treatment to my knowledge, (since their state was made known to Government by the Protectors in 1839) ; there was a medical dispenser at this station, but he was discharged ; since August, 1843, I have attended to the various encampments about Melbourne myself ; I go round the encampments with a few simple medicines daily ; in difficult cases I have applied to the Colonial Surgeon, Dr. Cousens, who has, on all occasions, given me instructions how to act ; if I have felt further difficulty, he has accompanied me to the encampment.
  9. None at present ; some years back a few would occasionally stop a month or two to assist a settler ; on one occasion, one remained eighteen months shepherding ; but since the growth of Melbourne, generally speaking, all other employments have given place to mendicancy ; when they were employed by settlers, they were rewarded with food and clothing.
  10. I know of none particularly ; the men are more partial to collecting cattle than any other employment ; the women made considerable progress under Mrs. Thomas, in needle work while on the station, and improved with basket making.
  11. None in my district, and of the various tribes who have visited the settlement, but one half-caste has come under my notice, a female child of five or six years, old from the Devil’s River ; it was living with, and after the manner of the aborigines.
  12. None ; although there are a set of low characters continually lurking about the encampments, and I have even detected them sleeping with the blacks, yet their object is for the gratification of lust, not to form families, the sense in which I take the query.
  13. The aborigines are in friendly relationship with the settlers ; there has been but one collision, and that not with the settlers, but the police ; I was with another tribe journeying at the time, or that would not have occurred ; no loss of life occurred on either side.
  14. None of any consequence ; they may have occasionally stolen a few potatoes from a garden ; I even travelled with them, and being on the spot prevented or settled any difference between them and the settlers, which in time, endeared both me and the blacks to the settlers.
  15. Friendly ; they occasionally appear hostile, but it is with them judicial proceedings ; there is however, much jealousy, so much so, that the two tribes seldom meet voluntarily on the station.
  16. Their hostilities to foreign blacks who may come into their district, or in their way, is fatal ; which must consequently thin their numbers ; within thirty miles of Melbourne, no less than eight instances of foul murders, in our comprehension of the term, have occurred :- in their’s, noble and valuable actions ; hence the necessity of some stringent restrictions on settlers, not to take blacks out of their districts ; so general does this law appear in all the tribes, that no black is safe when once out of his district.
  17. It is, and I fear a growing evil ; they are even accustomed to destroy the fruit of the womb till a male was born, but now, I have reason to believe that male and female are alike destroyed ; one chief has acknowledged to me that he has no power to stop it ; the blacks say “ no country, no good have it pickanineys.”
  18. Although every exertion hitherto made to civilize the Australian aborigines have alike been unsuccessful, whether conducted by Government, religious communities, or private individuals, we are, nevertheless, in duty bound to persevere, and to pause only to examine strictly into the plans already adopted, and endeavour to trace the cause of those failures ; whether in the plans, the agents employed, or the obstacles and hindrances in the way ; this enquiry appears more desirable, as it is evident from past experience, that all have alike failed, morally or spiritually, to benefit the aborigines. Since none would be bold enough to question the zeal and anxiety of all who have been engaged in this unsatisfactory work, and few would be found to ensure those plans adopted by missionaries, or the humane intentions of Government, to account for the ill success of one and all, appears to be the humane object of your honored Committee, and may He whose stewards you are, grant you wisdom to detect where the error has been. There appears to me to be two grand causes of the failure of all that have ever yet been attempted, viz., 1st. the hindrances in the way ; 2nd. that the means hitherto employed have been inadequate.First : The hindrances in the way. Among no race of savages on the face of the earth are there greater obstacles to contend with ; when missionaries have gone forth to other savage nations, they have gone with the words of eternal truth, and a band of pious helpmates ; their only obstacles have been the superstitions and vices of the natives ; hence truth has in the end prevailed. It is remarked by a valued missionary – “ That three white sailors, whom he found on the islands, done more to impede the work of evangelising the natives, than all their superstitious prejudices and vices.” If such was the fact, (which I can readily conceive,) what must have been the obstacles and hindrances in the way of converting the natives of Australia, when in the early part of the history of this Colony, nine-tenths were not only unconverted, but felous ? Your Committee will duly consider, that the aborigine here has ever been, from his knowledge of white men, blended with those far beneath him in moral debasement, sufficient to thwart the exertions of any missionary, however zealous and devoted. On my arrival at Port Phillip, (not a penal settlement), I found the same hindrance ; almost every crack of the whip, and strike of the maul was accompanied with an oath ; how differently have been situated the South Sea Islanders ! Hence one failure after another has inevitably followed, which has erroneously created an apathy, even in the minds of the religious world, until prayers for their conversion have comparatively ceased in the congregation of the saints, and the poor Australian savage has been set down as unable to comprehend that there is a God, none thinking or enquiring what obstacles or hindrances are in the way. The Ark which holds the covenant may be sound, and the drawers strong and zealous to remove it to the place appointed, but if the road be choked up, so as to impede it, the Ark cannot proceed. Such is the case perhaps here ; and although hindrances cannot be removed, yet extensive means might be adopted which would, in a great measure nullify the moral evil referred to.Secondly : The means hitherto employed have been incommensurate to accomplish their civilization, tantamount to no exertion, in consequence of the weighty hindrances in the way. It has ever appeared to me, and must forcibly strike your Committee, the apparent indifference of the religious world to the poor heathens of this land ; since Captain Cook discovered New Zealand and the South Sea Islands, the “Duff” was sent there with a band of missionaries and other pious characters to establish Christ’s kingdom ; and although for many years unsuccessful, yet by patient perseverance and prayer (the only legitimate means) they eventually succeeded, and nations long immured in superstition, darkness, and cruelty, (far greater than the Australian savage) have become submissive to the Cross of Christ ; the number of missionaries since that memorable period has been greatly augmented. In 1838 I witnessed an affecting sight ; the “Letitia” and “Camden,” both vessels laden with missionaries, all for the South Seas ; and one very recently was noticed with twenty-three more for the same Islands, and yet none for Australia ; far be it from me to censure the commend- able zeal of the Christian world on behalf of the Islanders, yet one cannot but be surprised at the indifference, I had almost said culpable neglect, of the soul of the Australian heathen, a land regularly recognized as the most extensive of all our colonies, which so many have adopted, while the Islands are only inhabited by us on suffrage. I do earnestly implore that your Honored Committee will not lose sight, in your patient deliberations, of the great hindrances in the way, and by extensive, not expensive means, endeavour partly to nullify those hindrances ; and after your plans have been decided, if a day was set apart for the outpouring of the Spirit for the success of the same, it would bring down a blessing ; some years back, when it hat not rained for the space of eighteen months, a fast was proclaimed, and while prayer was being offered up the heavens opened ; on that occasion two sermons were preached (by the Rev. Dr. Lang, and the Rev. Mr. Saunders), particularly alluding to the neglect of the aborigines as a supposed cause of the punishment we as a people were receiving ; one of these sermons was by a member of your Committee.Many may be the plans and suggestions laid before your Committee ; few have had more to do with the blacks than myself, in their wanderings, at the station selected for them, and when they have crowded the busy city ; and however simple may be my suggestions, I feel it my duty to state them.Let the aborigines be taken tribe by tribe ; to concentrate and amalgamate different tribes has been the great error, however well intended and desirable ; they have deep-rooted animosities, which none but those who have studied them can form an idea of, which can only be rooted out by that influence which makes the “ wolf and the lamb dwell together ;” let those tribes within the located parts be taken in hand first, not one here and another there, but the immediate adjoining tribes at one and the same time ; else those not taken in hand will decoy the others, if coercive measures are not taken to prevent such results ; that can hardly be sufficiently adopted by us, there being so much craft and adroitness in their character to accomplish any intended scheme ; too much deliberation cannot be devoted to this head ; a missionary or protector may rejoice to see so many tribes collect around him, and be anxious to note down his success, but experience will soon tell him that it is a bad omen ; the shaking of the hand and exchanging of spears (a token of decided friendship) is oft the acme of a plot, and ere a few hours are over the dancing village is totally deserted, and one or more murdered victims alone left in the still forest, to speak aloud to the credulous missionary or protector the purport of their visit ; nor are great numbers on a station evidence of its success or permanency, no more than great bodies at fairs are an evidence of the population of that particular spot ; there is a material difference between a house of call and an abode ; were I to propose a spot for a station, I should carefully avoid that spot where tribes had been in the habit of congregating. I trust your Committee will pardon my dwelling so much on this subject, as I have witnessed so much awful depravity and loss of life, arising from different tribes assembling together ; these stations should be under the sole guidance of the missionaries ; conversion and civilization will and must go together ; the latter will and must come in with the former, but if the latter and not the former is attempted, failure will be the result ; hence the necessity of every station being under the control of a missionary, in the strictest sense ofthe word, so that none be hired or employed thereon but those of good character.The country can be easily divided into districts, the Protector furnishing the number of tribes, at the principal missionary station ; in each district there should be a homestead for the Protector and his family.The Protector should be continually journeying through his district, in order to watch over the natives, and mutually to protect the black and the white, until the missionary stations are thoroughly established ; visiting each aboriginal station at least twice a year, encouraging by his presence among the blacks the work of the missionaries ; settling any difference between the blacks and the whites, preventing, to his utmost, collision between them ; I attribute much of the harmony of my district to my continually moving with the blacks, to settle disputes or aggressions on the spot as they take place. The Protector should make a report every half-year, or annually, to the Chief Protector, of the state of his district, noting minutely collisions, or any favorable or unfavorable feeling between the blacks and the whites. The Protector’s reports should go to government unmutilated, or abridged, and government should protect the Protector in the discharge of this most important trust ; he was sent by Her Majesty’s Government for the express purpose of faithfully reporting upon aboriginal matters. I have every reason to believe, that I am now laboring under this trial from the honest discharge of my duty. The law as it at present stands, in relation to the blacks being amenable to our laws in every respect, should, I would suggest, not pass unnoticed by your Committee, especially that which refers to offences committed inter se ; also the difficulties of their position in the dock ; aboriginal evidence not being admitted, must ever stamp the decisions of a Court with partiality against them ; their incapability of comprehending the proceedings, and being incarcerated till they do, whether guilty or not, appears such an outrage on the Habeas Corpus Act, as to call for some settled intermediate course ; a black is now in Melbourne Gaol, who may, and will in all probability (if the Court persists in the course at present determined on) remain there the residue of his days. *


* Allusion is here evidently made to an aboriginal named ”Koort Kirrup,” who is in custody at Melbourne, charged with the murder of Mr. M’Kenzie, and his shepherd, in the Portland Bay district, which charge is supported by strong presumptive evidence. On bringing the prisoner to trial, however, it was found absolutely impossible to communicate with him, from his total ignorance of any dialect known even to other aborigines in that district ; and he was therefore remanded from time to time, in order that an attempt might be made to establish some means of communication with him by which he could be made acquainted with the nature of the charge and evidence against him, and for this purpose Mr. Assistant-Protector Thomas was for some months in daily attendance on “Koort Kirrup,” but hitherto apparently with but little success. Under an opinion, however, given by the Attorney General, it is proposed hat he shall now be brought to trial, but with every kind of reasonable caution that humanity can dictate, and with the understanding, (to be declared at the outset of the trial), that in the event of conviction, the legal difficulties and the peculiarities of the case would be brought by His Honor the Resident Judge, under the consideration of the Sydney Judges, in conjunction with himself, and under the notice of His Excellency the Governor.


As an individual in the department, I feel some embarrassment in giving an opinion respecting the Protectorate ; I must beg however to state, to your honorable Committee, that keeping continually in view the instructions I received from my Lord Glenelg, I have acted accordingly, and endeavoured to my utmost, which my reports will show, to make known the wants of the aborigines, and every oppression to which they have been subjected as far as it has come to my knowledge ; nor have I omitted any opportunity to infuse into their dark minds gospel truths ; I cannot in any one point charge myself with any dereliction of duty ; yet I must candidly acknowledge, as far as regards my exertions, that no visible benefit, touching their welfare, has been accomplished. But had not the Protectorate been formed, what might not have been their condition is another question, which none but the Almighty can answer.

P.S.- In one of my former reports to government, I suggested a separate station for each tribe, to be surrounded by small farms, let out to respectable characters for a term of years, subject to a clause not to sublet the same ; the rent to be paid in labour or kine, in behoof of the station ; this, in the end, would be upon a self-supporting principle. I feel persuaded that the plan would not be so expensive as may appear, and that a moiety of thepoll tax and fines would, if carefully husbanded, meet the same, especially at the present cheap rate of provisions ; and I doubt not but there are many respectable settlers who would come forward, and gladly co-operate with the government in donations, kine, or assistance, could they but once see set on foot some system likely to benefit those poor creatures.



From John Watton, Esq., Mount Rouse, Surgeon in charge of the Western Aboriginal Establishment :-

In reply to certain queries respecting the condition of the aborigines, I beg to state, that as my connexion with the aboriginal department has existed only three years, my answers will have reference only to that period.


  1. It is impossible, in a district comprehending about twenty thousand square miles, to form any accurate calculation ; but from what I have seen, I should say that there must be, at least, two thousand natives in the district, of which about three-fourths would be adults ; the males and females about equal – one fourth children.
  2. I should consider that the number has considerably diminished.
  3. Both.
  4. To constant wars between the different tribes. To the prevalence of syphilis, to improper diet, and in a very small proportion to collisions with the whites.
  5. The greater proportion of these are still in a savage state, and their means of subsistence are obtained by hunting and fishing.
  6. Their ordinary means of subsistence must have diminished in the more settled districts, from the kangaroos having been driven away by the occupation of the country, or wantonly destroyed by the whites.
  7. A few blankets were given to them in this district three years ago, since which time none have been issued. The distribution was on too limited a scale, to enable me to form any opinion as to the effects of its discontinuance, but I am satisfied that a liberal distribution of them would add much to their comfort.
  8. Medical aid has been freely afforded them at the aboriginal establishments, at the expense of the department.
  9. A considerable number of them are occasionally employed by the settlers, assisting at the sheep-washing, shepherding, &c. ; the remuneration has I believe been limited to their food, a few articles of cast off clothes, and tobacco.
  10. They are generally exceedingly indolent, but by no means wanting in capacity for the usual employments of the bush, to which, if they could by any means be obliged to devote themselves, they would soon be fully equal, and much more to be depended upon, than the general average of servants in this Colony.
  11. I have never seen more than two infants treated as others of the families.
  12. I believe that no such disposition exists.
  13. Generally friendly ; whatever hostility may have existed has been produced by the aggressions of the natives on the property of the settlers in the recently located districts ; of such collisions I cannot speak from my own personal knowledge, but report states that they have been very frequently attended with the loss of several lives on each side. I have also had to report the circumstance of nine natives having been destroyed on one occasion by poison.
  14. I can form no decisive opinion as to the amount of property lost by the settlers ; I believe it to have been very great.
  15. Constant alternations of hostility and reconciliation between the different tribes ; there does not appear to be any settled animosity.
  16. Although no regular system of warfare is carried on, yet these occasional quarrels, frequently leading to the loss of one or more lives, and which it is a part of their system to take the earliest opportunity of revenging, even on unoffending parties, must tend to diminish their numbers.
  17. I have never known an instance of it.
  18. Their wandering habits, their natural indolence, their thievish propensities, their innate pugnacious disposition, being in my opinion only to be kept in check by force, I fear that nothing short of a system of absolute coercion for a time can effect any change worthy the name of civilization. If it were possible to congregate them at the aboriginal establishments – to forcibly retain them there – to oblige such as were able to do so to work, and to pay them in food and clothing, in proportion to the work done, and which ought after a very short time to produce the means of such remuneration ; to bring the different tribes together, and by means of an efficient Police to prevent all personal conflicts ; to educate the children, and to establish a system of rewards and punishments, I think they might then be gradually civilized to a much higher degree than they ever will be, while left to the exercise of their own discretion.
    Although the establishment of the Protectorate has not been productive of the degree of advantage which may have been anticipated, I am quite satisfied that much benefit has resulted. I consider that the mere circumstance of bringing the different tribes together has tended to produce a less unfriendly feeling between them. I think that even the small quantity of work they have been induced to perform, has been the means of eliciting their capacity for employments which have, in many instances, rendered them very useful to the settlers ; and I consider that the appointment of parties, whose duty as well as inclination would lead them to enquire into, and do all in their power to bring to punishment the perpetrators of acts of cruelty towards the natives on the part of Europeans, has acted as a most salutary check ; that the Protectorate has not been more useful, has arisen from the power of the Protectors, and the means afforded them of exercising it, having been on far too limited a scale.


The Replies from the Protectors of Aborigines were transmitted to the Clerk of the Council,
by His Honor the Superintendent of Port Phillip, along with the following letter.


Superintendent’s Office
Melbourne, 23rd October, 1845.



Referring to your letter of the 9th September, No. 45.181, transmitting by direction of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council, appointed “ to consider the “condition of the Aborigines, and the best means of promoting their welfare,” Circulars addressed to each of the Protectors of Aborigines in the District of Port Phillip, I beg leave to forward to you the enclosed replies containing the required information from the Gentlemen named in the margin, which have just been placed in my hands for this purpose.

I have the honor to be,


Your most obedient Servant,



In margin:

No. 1.

The Chief Protector.

No. 2.

Assistant Protector Parker.

No. 3.

Assistant Protector Thomas

No. 4.

Dr. Hatton,

Medical Officer in charge, Mount Rouse.


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