Where was King Bully of the Newcastle Tribe buried in 1857?

There is a quote from Windross & Ralston (1897) Historical Records of Newcastle 1797 – 1897 that says the following:
“The hill at the back of the gas works was then covered with honeysuckle, and was used by the aboriginal tribes as a camping ground. In that year, “King Bully”  the last of the kings of the Newcastle tribes of aboriginals, died, and was buried close to the camp. “King Bully” left a piccaninie named “Kitty” who subsequently became a notorious character. “
– Windross, John, & Ralston, J.P., Historical Records of Newcastle 1797 – 1897, Newcastle, Federal Printing and Bookbinding Works,  p. 32
 
The Gas Works that Windross & Ralston were probably referring to as the site of the Aboriginal camping ground was the one located on present day Steel Street, where a McDonalds fast food restaurant now stands. Please see the detail from the 1910 Newcastle map: 
Detail from M4631 Map of the Country around Newcastle NSW, 1910. Click image for a larger view. Full Image See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/6019950140
Newcastle 1910 map overlayed on 2018 Google Earth showing site of Gas Works on Steel Street. Click for a larger view.

Wildross & Ralston are writing in 1897, and the location of a gas works on that site is confirmed from the Water Board map from 1897

Water Board 1897 map showing location of Gas Works structures on site. Click for a larger view.

Now, they refer to a “hill” near the site. Difficult to imagine without access to a topographical map from the time. Consulting the 1887 Knaggs map, we can see the topography and “hill” that forms the ridge that “Cook’s Hill” derived its name from.

1887 Knaggs map detail of the location. Click for a larger view. See: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2013/04/11/newcastle-in-1887-the-knaggs-map/ for full map.

The overlay with 2018 Google Earth helps us to see the proximity of the location.

1887 Knaggs’ map detail overlayed with 2018 Google Earth. Click for a larger view.

It is important to note that there was a discovery of five Aboriginal skeletons, wrapped in tea-tree bark, in 1881 at the corner of Parry-street near the approach to the racecourse. The article noted that:

“Coroner, Mr. C. B. Ranclaud, having personal experience of the spot having many years ago been a general camping place and burial-ground of the blacks, no inquest is considered necessary.”
– Discovery of Aboriginal Remains Newcastle Morning Herald & Miner’s Advocate 9 June 1881 [p.2]

Overlay showing the approx. location of the Aboriginal skeletons discovered in 1881. Click for a larger view.

Read the full posting here: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2012/01/10/aboriginal-burial-ground-discovered-on-parry-street/

So, as best as we can ascertain, it is possible that King Bully was buried somewhere along this ancient dune system, that was within walking distance of a known Aboriginal camping ground, (on the former Gas Works site, now McDonald’s Fast Food Restaurant on Steel Street) as well as a Aboriginal Tool making Factory site at the former Palais Royale site, now KFC Fast Food Restaurant in Newcastle West.

As always, we welcome community input and further information and data that can assist.

Gionni Di Gravio
12 January 2018


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