The View From Mount Clarence

A look back at settlement along Western Australia's South Coast

Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 2

Originally Published 30 April 2015:

The 1840s


Candyup from the west side (640x480)

Above: The Lower Kalgan River meanders past Mount Boyle into Oyster Harbour and King George’s Sound reflecting the rural idyll of old Albany. Campbell Taylor’s childhood home lay on the upper part of the hill. Built in 1837 by his father Patrick, the living room gave commanding views, a sweeping landscape of trees, grass and water to the south and west. The Taylor property was given the name Glen Candy, while the hillside area itself became known as Candyup. Nobody knows if the name is of Aboriginal or European origin. Photo source also unknown.


Campbell Taylor was five when the family returned to the Candyup homestead in 1848.

Born at the Vasse River, he was brought to Albany with the rest of the family in October 1843 when he was just ten months old. After three damaging and dangerous years at Cattle Chosen his father wanted nothing more than to escape the Bussells and go back to a place that was both safe and his, but the Candyup house had fallen into disrepair and the grounds overgrown, so Patrick moved the family into the second of his town cottages, the one on the foreshore, Lot 23, Lower Stirling Terrace. Here Christina Capel Taylor was born and for reasons of proximity and economy the family ended up staying for the next five years.

Patrick’s spirit wasn’t quite broken but his dreams were in tatters and he faced the difficult prospect of raising his young family in the manner he had promised his prized wife, especially amidst a posse of pretentious yet formidable townsfolk who now possessed a great deal more than he did.

Reverend Wollaston later called Campbell’s father ‘a great hypochondriac‘. With the loss of his money and the poorly state of baby Christina, Patrick had once again become consumed by the Taylor proclivity toward dying young. But he did have reason. At least six of his own siblings were already dead, half of them younger than himself, and then, within his own family, 1847 visited tragedy when the health of three year old Christina  worsened dramatically and she died.

In the wake of her death, Campbell’s mother’s sister, Fanny Bussell, came down from Cattle Chosen to share in the sorrow while the family mourned. The remedy worked and soon after Mary Taylor announced she was expecting for the sixth time. Joy, surely, for all concerned.

The promise of a new arrival then prompted a decision. No doubt the risk of contamination from the town’s growing population, heightened by the number of visiting sailors, along with the cramped living conditions the cottage imposed, played a role, but the memory of their healthy eldest, Maggie, spending her first two years at Candyup (likely the happiest of Patrick and Mary’s married lives) might also have helped make up their minds to leave town.

Thus, the last of the Taylors of Candyup, Fanny Jane, was born at Albany in July 1848 after which the once again seven strong family moved to the house on the hill by the Lower Kalgan River, 12 miles to the north. Patrick turned 41 in March of that year while Mary’s 44th birthday came three weeks before Christmas. Eldest daughter Maggie was ten, Kate was nine, John was seven, Campbell five, and of course, little Fanny, new born.


Glen Candy House, Candyup, Lower KalganAbove: Glen Candy, the house on Mount Boyle above the river. This was Campbell Taylor’s childhood home, 12 miles north of Albany. The family returned here after an eight-year hiatus beginning in 1840 when Campbell’s father first discovered his finances had been ruined by a combination of neglect and fraud. I don’t know what year the photo was taken but the house is extended here. The original is described in Mary’s 1870’s diary, comprising the outhouse (where the gardner/groundsman lived) and (probably) the building to the right. Candyup Homestead burned to the ground in 1940, just over a hundred years after it was built.  Photo courtesy Kalgan Queen website.

The Town of Albany


The 1840’s saw much of the world economy in crisis, partially explaining the dramatic fall in the number of foreign whaling ships visiting the Southern Fishery after 1841, but for the settlement of Albany, which had struggled through the previous decade simply trying to gain an economic foothold, Stirling’s general efforts at promotion along with the depleted but still significant foreign whaling presence had drawn enough attention to the town for its population, and therefore its influence over the surrounding hinterland, to take hold.  In 1836 the population at Albany was around 150, by 1850 it had doubled but was still only 240 odd, with another 60 or 70 living in the hinterland of Plantagenet County. Nonetheless, the decade saw the amount of cultivated land multiply nine times, from 27 to 250 acres, and the number of sheep to rise to over 13,000.

I approached the subject of rural expansion, initiated by the Spencer wool growing enterprise on the Hay River near Mount Barker, in an earlier post titled Upriver.  It was a lonely business. There were plenty of land grants given (over 20, 000 acres, excluding those bought by Hassell – another 20, 000) but aside from the Spencers, John Hassell in 1839 and George Egerton-Warburton (who married Augusta Spencer in November 1842), nobody else actually settled in the area until the 1850s.

Importantly though, Captain Thomas Lyell Symers (see The Supporting Cast), another of the original Lower Kalgan settlers, bought 100 acres at Kojonup in 1840 as an assemblage of viable grassland locations became known along an inland strip linking Albany with the Avon Valley at York. At the same time as Symers sent his own (and others) sheep Peter Belches had shepherds squat there after landing 500 of his own from Sydney. Symers appointed a man known as George Maxwell, whom we shall learn a little more about as this post progresses, to import and manage his flocks there. Maxwell was a keen botanist who explored the area between Kojonup, Eticup and the Pallinup River south to Cape Riche, aiding the spread of Sandalwood cutting and eventually alerting John Hassell to the pastures at Jarramungup. In the meantime, a military barracks was established at Kojonup (known as Warriup at the time) to protect the overland mail route which used the location as a staging post, but only after the dreaded poison bush ruined Symers’ venture and drove off any further investment for the next fifteen years.


Livestock vrs Sandalwood 1840sAbove: By 1840 the Perth Road, a path running around 320 miles between Albany and the Swan River, via York, was coming into being. Edward John Eyre made a sizeable commercial drove in May of that year losing a large portion of his stock to flowering poison-bush around Kojonup where Thomas Symers had made pastoral investments on the strength of good grasslands and freshwater identified in 1837 by the Harris/Hillman/Taylor expedition, itself facilitated by the prominent Albany Aborigine, Kartrul. The Menang had begun to develop relationships with northern Noongar groups at Perth since Manyat’s visits in 1832 and subsequently through contributing to the overland carrying of mail destined for there, Kojonup becoming the main staging post in the process. Later that decade Sandalwood cutters began to make their way south from York. Following the waterways they arrived at Kojonup then ran south eastwards via the Gordon River to the head of the Pallinup River at the Stirling Ranges. George Cheyne’s port at Cape Riche then gave impetus to exploitation of the Pallinup River Sandalwood reserves running upwards from the South Coast. George Maxwell, Symer’s stock manager at Kojonup, was instrumental in the development of the Sandalwood tracks and therefore to the wider introduction of the Koreng and Wilman tribal groups to the presence of the Europeans who then commenced their coveting of the freshwater pools and adjacent hunting grounds. In the meantime, the Albany Aborigines were running into their third decade under the influence of European settlers who via the introduction of employment, vice and disease had also given rise to urban poverty, a form of economic denial and neglect previously unknown in Aboriginal culture.

As lack of growth had largely preserved the status quo during the 1830s, the 40s accelerated change for all concerned and its impact on the local Indigenous ended the so-called Friendly Frontier, a term coined by the historian Dr Neville Green in 1983 to describe the difference in early race relations between Perth and Albany. I wrote something about this in another post called The Friendly Frontier Vrs The Not So Friendly Frontier.  In mid 1838 for example, Albany Aborigines were engaged economically in delivering mail to Perth and well into the 40s they were still aiding coastal explorations to the east.


Albany Aborigines take mail to Perth - 1838Above: Perth Gazette Saturday, July 28, 1838 The visit of these three Albany Aborigines is probably related to the visit of 12 others to Perth three months earlier. Those 12 others also brought mail but were motivated to avenge the death of Patrick Taylor’s engaged help who was murdered on Garden Island in June 1837 (see Prelude and Postscript to a Wedding).

But relations did deteriorate as the Aborigines took to spearing stock in locations outside of town and stealing food supplies from within. This happened primarily because they were hungry. The self installment of the Europeans had had an immediate effect on traditional hunting and food gathering practices, which by the 40s meant over twenty years of negative influence in that regard. Alongside, the swell of resident Europeans demanded ever greater conformity from their native brethren. I think probably all the Albany Aborigines were prepared to engage with the whites in an economic manner but by then their suspicions as to what lay in store long term were equally evolved.

The Aborigines, slinky by nature, were quite prepared to play both games.

Leadership geared around the forming of alliances had set the tone for the town based Aborigines. Originally provided by Mokare and Nakinah, Dr Uredale, Manyat, Coolbun and the likes, there were still a few old timers remaining, but their influence waned as the new generation took hold. The early white leaders with whom the Mennag formed friendships, Captain Collet Barker and Dr Alexander Collie, were long gone too. Sir Richard Spencer’s aggressive and tumultuous six year tenure as Resident Magistrate eventually gave way to George Grey’s nine month cameo, in turn leading to the arrival of fifty year old John Randal Phillips, original settler at Maddington on the Canning River south east of Perth. In the period leading up to his appointment, between himself and his employees, Phillips had experienced the worst of native hostility and had it delivered back again himself.

From the Swan River Trust Precinct 19 Fact Sheet;

As with the entire Canning area, once the colonists began settling along the river there was antagonism between the two communities. One hostile incident occurred when John Randel Phillips was clearing his land on the south-eastern section at Stoke Farm (McDonald and Cooper, 1988). He was approached by a party of eight Nyungars and was speared because he was destroying the Nyungar livelihood. Unwarranted attacks were made by the settlers. For example, one of William Nairne’s labourers shot at a group of Aborigines to show his companion how ‘natives were treated in other colonies’. Later in 1839, the retaliations continued when 12 year old John Burtonshaw-Cox was killed by Men-dick while minding Phillips’ sheep and goats. Men-dick eluded the settlers for some time before being captured. He was hung and his body left as a warning to other Nyungars.


Things were different during the 1840’s. Times were moving on.


Kartrull possibly 001 (472x550)Above: Change brought consternation. The troubled look of an unknown Albany Aborigine born around the time of first settlement. Photo: Arthur Onslow 1858, taken from John Dowson’s Old Albany.


Consider the effect of growing frustration and increased levels of intolerance by the settlers as the town gained in density and expanded around the Aborigines.

Consider the sight of a functioning harbour, the steady import of sheep and cattle, herds and flocks mustered by men on horseback through the streets; buildings springing up, tracks broadening into roads, horses and wagons and their white European owners evermore assuming the place as theirs. Imagine the humoring of the Aborigines, the pointing of guns at them when they became frustrated and angry, the erection of fences to keep them away from areas they had always walked over or drawn water from and the laying of traps to maim them if they sought to take from a vegetable patch or market garden. Then think about the great many barrels of flour and rice, tea and sugar, salted pork, tobacco and liquor being rolled off the ships and into the commissariat, the merchant stores and houses, away from them. Consider this exclusion coinciding with the the mass hunting of kangaroos and the stockpiling of their skins, the stock piling of potatoes, onions and wool too, all for export. Think of the need for food and the failure of them being able to get it extending from hours into days. Think of the dramatic increase in sickness and mortality, the continued breakdown of the traditional way of life, the utter disruption to the old family structures and beliefs through the birth of children whose fathers increasingly were not just European, but jumpship Americans and African-Americans as well as imported Indian and Chinese labourers, most unknown and unwilling to be known.

Consider the sensations of loss and disorientation, the dispiriting, distressing and angering effect all of this would have had.

But the Aborigines did not just give up. Many of the originals were proud, strong and willing enough to compete, and if not to compete then to resist. The retention of their Aboriginal identities wasn’t about to fade. Some survived by accepting menial servant roles, falling in with the new way as best they could, while others sought alliances and pursued the economic route under their own terms, while others turned away with resentment, recognising the great disadvantage they were now at. Ultimately, however, most fell victim to the relentless physical and psychological effects of the invasion and died before their time.

It’s too easy to be general and make sweeping emotive summaries when reviewing a whole decade, especially one that wrought such destruction, but it wasn’t as if the Menang all of a sudden turned to mush and sloped off to die in the bush either. In fact, the number of Aborigines at Albany during this period steadily increased as people came in from the surrounding area, drawn by talk of what was happening there, by the need for food and essential group interaction. The Menang were moving about their wider country, regrouping, discussing what was happening and trying to find alternate ways to survive.


King Ya-nup Camps - ShellhamAbove: A cut from Tiffany Shellam‘s map of Aboriginal Albany (1827-1834) featured in Shaking Hands On The Fringe. The map shows main Aboriginal pathways and camps known at the time. Candyup isn’t named here and the eastward path is shown as crossing at the channel entrance to Oyster Harbour, which I would dispute, thinking it to be at fordable locations along the Kalgan River north of Candyup. Importantly however, the name Palerongup does appear. It was Mokare who told Captain Collett Barker of Palerongup around 1830, a place nine moons journey to the east where men in small boats were coming from. The name also occurs within the Bates genealogies as Palerongup and Balerongup, described as being the mouth of the Salt (Pallinup) River. This is the Bremer Bay/Doubtful Island Bay locality, east of Cape Riche, where Campbell Taylor later identified a change in dialect, further suggesting the range of the Albany Aborigines (the Menang) ended there. Albany town drew in the surrounding Aborigines linked with its locality as the settlement’s influence grew and as the Europeans extended their knowledge of the country outwards. The destructive effects of settlement steadily encroached on the traditional lifestyle of the entire Menang group, centering their attention on the presence of the newcomers.


At Albany the new generation of Aborigines, the boys of the military era and soon after, were growing into manhood, facing into a world swamped with transient whalemen hell bent on reveling, or else stern restrictive citizens waving their canes at them to either get away or set about gathering them firewood and drawing them water. Boys aged five and six when the Amity sailed in were now exiting their teens while those already in their teens were approaching their thirties. Many of these young men sought to exploit the new economy any way they could, all the while holding to memories, stories and beliefs relating to their heritage. And they did this as time ticked by, not in a sweeping decennary blur but hour after hour, day after day, month after month, collectively shouldering their predicament in an ever increasing state of imported poverty.

Naturally, attitudes hardened.

On the other side, and in keeping with the wider colonial view, Albany’s settlers in the 1840s upheld the notion enough time had gone by for the Aborigines to realise that change of ownership was complete. The Indigenous were banned from the town unless they came without spears and wore conventional European dress. Plans were made to separate children from their parents in order to Christianise and educate them. Food grants were withdrawn and made on a payment-in-kind basis, necessitating employment and therefore giving rise to the application of an indenture system which was neither understood nor compatible with the native pysche. The courts began to fill with cases of absconding employees, charges of stock spearing and theft, of vagrancy and drunkenness, the convicted shipped to Fremantle then incarcerated on Rottnest Island from 1839 when the Dempster farm there was officially converted to an establishment for the Aborigines.

Additionally, there was an increase in the number of attacks by more remote settlers as fear of their isolation took hold.

Donald Garden summarised in Albany: A Panorama of the Sound

The first instance of stock spearing occurred at Spencer’s property on the Hay in early 1838, with a bull and two oxen as the victims. After that the nmber of cases gradually increased, with periodic outbreaks throughout the 1840s leading eventually to bloodshed on both sides. June 1839 saw the first European wounding when a shepherd of Hugh McDonald’s was speared. Charles Newell, a shepherd of Hassell’s at Kendenup, (and brother to Jimmy and Dorothy mentioned in Part 1) was speared to death in September 1841. Cases of Aboriginals being shot ‘accidentally’ by Europeans defending their property pepper the 1840s, as do cases of Europeans taking the law into their own hands.


Around Albany Aboriginal attacks on stock are generally reckoned to have been the result of hunger and attacks on shepherds a response to transgressions of tribal lore (see Interlude Purused – Part Seven), rather than as a means of protest or a stance of war. Though there were instances of large group gatherings which appeared frightful and threatening to outnumbered settlers in more remote areas, none actually resulted in attacks on homesteads or whole families. Despite the breaking down of relations, the Aborigines for reasons relating either to their perceived understanding of who the settlers were (ie. returned spirits) or the knowledge that settler firepower was far more destructive than their own, do not appear to have organised militarily against them. This idea takes some getting used to, especially given the application of British Law over their own.

Garden also explained that;  ‘In the Victorian period the British were almost obsessively preoccupied with the sanctity and preservation of private property, and had a corresponding penal code.’ Using the January 1848 case of Gale & Eagan he highlights the disparity between sentences handed out for grevous bodily harm on an Aboriginal named Bandit (also spelled Baudit) and the theft of a single sheep by a separate native trio. Gale and Eagan got three years hard labour for an act of gross cruelty and near murder while Wombana, Kardakai and Whalebung, mentioned in the court records immediately below Bandit’s case, each got seven years transportation. i.e. Removal from the colony to Rottnest Island.

My point here isn’t just to highlight the sentencing injustice evident from a modern-day perspective, but to bring attention to the practise of cruelty which  seemed to evolve through a lack of Aboriginal retaliation. Cultural differences between the two groups are still difficult to understand for most non-Aboriginal Australians today. Within Aboriginal culture, it seems to me, there was always a tolerance of attack. Lives were taken within the Aboriginal world for many different reasons, most often simply the long held belief that the passing of one person must be avenged through the death of another by the relatives of the first. This allowed for attacks on strangers, outcasts, women and even, because there could be no repercussions from unrepresented persons, orphaned children. Death and suffering within the Aboriginal world was not looked upon in the same way as it was within the Christian settler community. The lives of infants, young children and adolescents of both genders, all appear to have been considered the same. Simply as a life. This was at great odds with European sentiment, but sympathies within the Aboriginal world were secondary. The habit of maiming or killing fellow human beings through their own ancient methods, whether a matter of honour or superstition, was thoroughly embedded in the Aboriginal mind.

Though attitudes towards death were much harder two hundred years ago, generally better-off settlers took pity and sought through the establishment of institutions to try and save or improve the lot of the injured and destitute, particularly children. This extended to the establishment of the lofty Aborigines’ Protection Society in London in 1837, a body which campaigned for native rights across the colonial world.  At ground level, however, the idyll didn’t quite match. Amongst the less moneyed or simply less Christian of the Europeans there were people who looked upon the prevalence of native suffering with blithe indifference. In fact, many took advantage of their perceived racial superiority to draw pleasure from it, inflicting their own cruelty through a range of measures. This reached from the use of forced or unpaid labour to the withholding of rations, to sexual and physical abuse, and beyond. That beyond isn’t a pleasant place to visit as the Gale and Eagan case illustrates, through a seeming mindset infatuated with the apparent tolerance for pain and suffering along with the cold-blooded view on vengent death held by the Aborigines, depraved acts of exaggerated desire became the practise of certain individuals.

Cruelty towards the Aborigines didn’t begin and end with the Gale and Eagan assault on Bandit. Campbell Taylor, aged forty, wrote to the Colonial Secretary’s Office more than 30 years later, deliberately by-passing Albany’s Resident Magistrate of the time, R.C. Loftie, so that he could bring the ongoing issue directly to the attention of the highest authority in the land (CSO 1446/8. CSO 1466/9). And there are other disturbing cases, which I cant verify here but which are buried in the archives, indicating a culture of cruelty and murder in the Albany hinterland which persisted into the 1930s.


Colonial Cruelty - SpanishAbove: Acts of gross cruelty by Christian conquerors are well known through history, and were not unknown in colonial times either, though perhaps comparatively tempered in 1800s Australia. It happened to differing degrees within the Swan River Colony, emerging in the wider Albany region in the form of neglect, physical abuse, torture and even depraved acts of murder. Image courtesy of


So, to the Europeans at Albany it may have appeared that the Aborigines were growing in number, but in reality diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid and influenza introduced by the earliest settlers had severely impacted. From the late 1830s equally destructive sexually transmitted maladies spread (mostly) by visiting whaling crews, infected and further diminished the overall population. Late in March 1843, the prominent Perth lawyer and publicist William Nairne Clarke wrote a long letter to Governor Hutt pointing out the degradation.

C.S.R. Vol. 116 Folio.224-229

My Lord I stated to him the startling fact that King Georges Sound was a great resort for American Whalers and the crews on their days of liberty ashore had connection with the native women around the settlement, and with very young girls tempted by the sight of what they call “white money”. His Excellency admitted that he had heard of this before, and yet writes to your Lordship that a protector is not required! I can assure your Lordship that great debasement exists amongst the female native population around Albany owing to their intercourse with sealers and whalers frequenting the Port, and that the males are getting gradually initiated into the vices of drinking and smoking being the wages for the prostitution of their wives and daughters.


The venereal disease has likewise been prevalent there amongst the Aborigines, owing to their intercourse with the scum of ships. . .  I can assure your Lordship that there is a numerous black population. . .


The numerous black population Clarke was referring to specifically were spread between King George’s Sound and Cape Leeuwin, but many, along with others from north and east of Albany, had made their way to town; drawn by the forces described above. The remaining old Aborigines of Albany, personified by the adaptive but by then aging Manyat, did what they could to cope.

Reverend Wollaston made an entry in his diary about Manyat in July 1848, soon after arriving from Leschenault;

“We have an old native to clean shoes & as hewer of wood & drawer of water. – This Black is quite a character – for years been employed by the Commissiarat – dressed in an old tarnished military coat & cap; with medal and buttonhole, and calls himself “Captain” – his pay from us is one pound of flour per day. – Makes a point of going to Church in full uniform; but they have taken no pains to explain to the poor savage the why and wherefore-.”


Here was Manyat, preserving the memory of Collet Barker (now nearing 20 years) through the wearing of a military uniform and calling himself Captain. Manyat, who had gone with Collie and John Henty up the Kalgan River in 1831 and to the Swan River with Gyallipert in 1832, and to Doubtful Island Bay with Roe and Stirling, Henty, Belches, Cheyne and Camfield et al, in 1835, one of the original Menang at Albany when the Amity sailed in, summarily considered by the newly employed Evangelical Anglican minister as ‘a poor savage.’

Wollaston held unshakeable ideas on the essentiality of Christianising and civilising natives, a pursuit of the lofty minded Christian elite of the time. These ideas were first put forward at Albany by Sir George Grey during his brief stint at the very beginning of the 1840s. In 1853, after helping establish Ann Camfield’s school for Aboriginal children at Albany, Wollaston again referred to Manyat, this time in the context of experimental native institutions now evolving;

 . . .  Our adult natives can never be weaned from their bush habits & wild licence nor kept from them without force.  The attempt will always end in desertion & disappointment. They may come when hungry for a meal of flour, but when  filled they are off again.


We had an old native at the Sound “Manyan” – who for many years had been trained as a servant in the Commissariat department and to whom the Deputy Assistant Commisary General gave a scarlet uniform in which he used to appear at Church. When he sickened he threw this aside, |& with no other covering than a dirty kangaroo skin retired into the bush to die. . .


Natives are exceedingly attached to the district (however wide) in which they were born, natural enough, & the whole of that district even a hundred miles square, is their Home.”


So Manyat died sometime prior to 1853, probably aged around fifty. Abandoning all that he had stooped for in order to try and find his place in the changed country, ultimately he returned to what mattered most, that wild licence of who he was and where he came from.


Bungaree . NLA NK118Above: Bungaree, the Broken Bay Aborigine who visited King George’s Sound with Matthew Flinders and Philip Parker King before the commencement of settlement in Western Australia, dressed in old scarlet military coat and hat. Reverend Wollaston described Manyat appearing about Albany in similar attire during the 1840s and 50s. There was a so-called Redcoat military presence in  Western Australia right up until the 1870s, with small contingents posted to King George’s Sound on government duty. Famous Albany redcoat settlers include  Richard Norrish, John Wellstead and Samuel Piggott. Painting by Augustus Earle. Image Courtesy National Gallery of Australia


But the disintegration of outlying groups associated with the Menang of Albany still led to more and more Aborigines arriving at the town and then, at the hands of the authorities, to their movement away again, back toward places where smaller groups could gather and either find employment or benefit in some way from pockets of seasonal economy. Hence the tendency of groups to gather and remain close to outlying settlements and stations, most notably at that time, Two People Bay, Cheyne’s Beach, Cape Riche, Kendenup, the upper and lower reaches of the Hay River and a host of lesser known localities on the outskirts of town. Only those prepared to go about spearless and to (minimally) conform to the required dress code could stay any length of time in the environs of the Albany settlement; a requirement not that difficult to meet but one which further conditioned those willing to the life of the European poor.

By the time the Taylors made their return to Candyup in 1848 there had been ten years of seasonal but nonetheless intensive coastal activity beyond the Kalgan River, most of the land parties involved crossing nearby to get to there. Land access to Cheyne’s place at Cape Riche was made going this way and from 1842 the sealer James Andrews (aka John Williams Andrews) looks to have established a base at Two People’s Bay. In 1846 a shore based whaling station had been established at Cheyne Beach, opposite Bald Island, as well. Candyup, now a small but well established community comprising the Taylor, Geake and Symers family operations, by dint of its location had become a thoroughfare to the whaling bays east along the coast, and it was this proximity to both them and the town which suggests an essentially permanent Aboriginal camp came into being there.


Candyup, TPB anmd Cheyne BeachAbove: Candyup was a crossing point on the Lower Kalgan River for those travelling to the whaling locations of Two People’s Bay and Cheyne’s Beach. Also, for access to the more distant Cape Riche where George Cheyne had established his private port from 1836. An Aboriginal camp at Candyup may have been permanently occupied from the 1840s through to the 1890s, combining the coastal economy with that of the small Kalgan and King River settler communities, which also provided opportunity to access town.


To Educate and Christianise


John Randal Phillips came to be Resident Magistrate in Albany for an important period between September 1840 and July 1847.  He arrived just as Patrick Taylor was discovering the extent of his missing wealth. Phillips acquired Taylor’s cottage, the one Patrick had bought from Morley, in a complicated lease/buy arrangement. When the Taylors came back to Albany in 1843 Phillips was still in it, but by 1845 ownership had reverted and Patrick Taylor Cottage was Patrick Taylor’s once more.

J.R. Phillips was direct successor to Captain George Grey who I featured in an earlier post called Taking Advantage.  Grey, during his nine months at Albany, wrote a ‘report on the best means of promoting the civilization of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of Australia‘. The one I mentioned in relation to Reverend Wollaston’s beliefs, above. The report was well received and circulated by the Colonial Office to the governors of other colonies across the New World. Grey’s argument was that the only way to save native peoples from extinction was to wean them from their tribal customs by bringing them under British law, making them Christian, educating their children in boarding schools and employing the adults among the white settlers. Phillips acted on the report by commissioning a school for native children at Albany very soon after his appointment. From Garden (pg 85)..

The ideal of the plan was to separate Aboriginal children from their parents and send them to live with white families as servants, where they would be taught European hygiene and manners. Each afternon they would attend two hours’ schooling in the three R’s and scripture. It was not until January 1843 that someone could be found to run the school. It was John McKail who agreed, but only on the condition he was appointed Post Master and paid £20 per annum. . .


McKail, perhaps, was seeking atonement for his shooting of Gogalee at Perth eight years earlier, it’s hard to know, but he wasn’t above using the situation to gain a double income.  By 1843 he’d reached 42 years of age, was married with two daughters, and determined to establish himself in town.

Phillips had had his own violent experience at Maddington and was perhaps also driven to make efforts to stave off future occurrences. As far as his correspondence is concerned he appears to have been genuinely sympathetic to the native presence at Albany, but  when it came to the school he was only able to coax a small group of children to attend by paying them (their parents) in flour. The below return to the Govt Store shows who those first pupils were…

C.S.R. Vol.119    Folio.68


Return of flour issued to the Aborigine Children Attending the Native School at Albany from the 1st to 31st March 1843


Names Number of Days Flour


















15 ½

13 ½

15 ½

15 ½

13 ½

15 ½

15 ½



JW McKail, Teacher

JN Phillips, Govt Resdt


The Phillips/McKail Anglican school faltered along for three years but records of its attendees are hard to find. Letters suggest the children learned well by rote, but that comprehension didn’t match. Phillips gave up on the idea when the opportunity came because the ideal was never met; no one in Albany was prepared to accommodate the children and try and bring them up in their houses as domestic servants. The gap, clearly, was seen to be too wide. Even for the schoolmaster himself. In April 1846  during correspondence with the Colonial Secretary’s Office in Perth, Phillips wrote;

First with regard to the issue of flour to the Children of the Native school, I have in my letter of the 24 March already expressed my opinion, and as the schoolmaster has written to the Native Protector relative to giving up the school and for the last two months only two children have attended regularly. Added to which it is the opinion of the inhabitants that this school has not been of any service, I have in accordance with the paragraph of your letter given the Master Notice that at the end of the Month it will be done away with.


Curiously, the Taylors arrived back in town after their three year hiatus when the school was six months in operation, so Patrick wasn’t one of the original supporters of the idea and with his family of seven jammed into the harbour-front cottage he didn’t offer to accommodate any of the native children either.

Six months later, however, Patrick proved his own subscription to the notion of education and Christianisation by penning a letter to the aforementioned Aborigines’ Protection Society established in London six years earlier and now a key political mouthpiece and potential avenue for funding. The society was concerned with native people from across the British colonies, not just Australia. In his letter, Patrick detailed the native vices and pitfalls he witnessed and expressed the need for civilisation, his words reiterating everything stated above about the inadequacy and failure of traditional Aboriginal culture in the face of colonisation. He called for the establishment of an institution at Albany, an industrial boarding school much along the lines George Grey had advocated.

By my reckoning the letter was as much an act of civic duty on behalf of the town as it was a plea for employment. In the event the Society acted on his recommendations and did provide funding, it reads as much a C.V. detailing his own suitability to head it, as it does a sympathy inducing reflection of his plainly inadequate financial status.

Patrick also drew attention to the fact Albany was now some twelve years a free settlement and still without religious representation. He had been away in 1841 when the Church’s original trustees had started collecting funds and building St John’s, but the money wasn’t enough and construction had stalled. The pressure Patrick felt, as a man who had once bragged of his willingness to personally support a clergyman to the tune of £200 per annum, and who was still so religiously minded, is evident in his wording. There is trepidation in his final paragraph though, a stuttering hint of reluctance; that cruel admission of his changed circumstance.


Patrick Taylor APS letter excerpt 1

Patrick Taylor APS letter excerpt 2


What is also telling in this letter is Patrick’s generosity toward the Aborigines. While most were exploiting their presence wherever possible, or else discouraging them from coming near, Patrick was going about it the opposite way. His attitude is typically superior, especially when communicating with the esteemed establishments of the day, but through it we can see a little more into his early explorations of the Albany area and of his expeditions to Perth and the Vasse. He shows empathy with the Aborigines, a genuine willingness to engage and give. His Christian virtues in that regard, shining through.


Patrick Taylor APS letter excerpt 3

Patrick Taylor APS letter excerpt 4


Nothing eventuated from Patrick’s letter other than it being published in the Society’s 1844 Annual Report.

In the meantime, Phillips’ opportunity to quit the ill performing school arrived in the form of a party of five Catholic missionaries intent on setting up their own. The priests were  out of Provence in Southern France, better known as  The Spiritans. After initial objections on the basis the missionaries were not Anglican, Phillips realised they weren’t looking for grants of land, just somewhere to go about their business. Thus, in March 1846, the costly and essentially fruitless Anglican Native School closed as the Catholic Missionary version, located at Dead Man’s Lake, two miles out on the Perth Road, commenced.

The French lasted nine months before relocating near John Hassell’s Kendenup station -indicating the concentration of people there- where they also failed. I tried to find out more about who these Frenchmen might have been but only came across two names; Father Thieses, recorded as attending the death of Dr Thomas Harrison at Albany in 1847, and Fr Thevaux, who along with Thieses signed a petition prepared by Patrick Taylor which was sent to Governor Hutt requesting emergency assistance following a storm in 1846 which devastated the York Street hill.

Dr Harrison - Fr Thieses 1847

Above: A cut from A Scottish Settler at the Sound by Bonnie Hicks 1964. Held at Albany Public Library. Hicks’s work is an optional thesis in local history she completed as part of her Teachers Higher Certificate. The full content of Patrick Taylor’s letter to Governor Hutt is reproduced within.

There isn’t any record I could find in the Order’s archives giving details of the five French men. I’m including mention of the missionary school here because much later one of their native students, well known to the Taylors of Candyup, was employed as a whaler; a relevant story I’ll get to when the time comes.

(Postscript 27.5.16:  I have since found a comprehensive document called the The Spiritans in Australia. Uploaded to the internet in 2012 by Mr Gerry Gogan the document details this Catholic group’s abusive treatment at the hands of Bishop Brady when they were sent penniless to Albany during the 1840’s.)

For an overview on the role of Evangelical Anglicanism and the way it played out in Albany during the 1840’s go to Dr Murray Arnold‘s recently released A Journey Travelled – Aboriginal-European relations at Albany and surrounding regions from first colonial contact to 1926  Dr Arnold’s publication comprehensively reviews Aboriginal-European relations over the entire century, from first settlement at Albany until 1929, contributing a swathe of previously uncollected references and analysis.


Patrick Taylor Stirling Trc - Chauncy 1851Above: A cut from Assistant Surveyor Chauncy’s 1851 Albany Town Plan available for viewing through the State Records Office AEON search tool. Patrick Taylor’s Lot 23, Lower Stirling Terrace lies between plots (possibly) owned by the sealer/whaler John Williams (aka John James Andrews) on the left and William Shapter, on the right.

Politics, Civil Service and Resistance


Reading back over the early history of the town it becomes clear that once Sir Richard Spencer arrived official relations between Albany and Perth deteriorated. Stirling and Roe had made a series of summer visits between 1831 and 1835, mostly concerned with promoting the South Coast as a place of settlement and appeasing those settlers who had decided to take up there. They saw good potential and directed dangerously scarce resources Albany’s way, but the uptake was low and the locality slow to repay what interest they were able to generate. King George’s Sound was really only important because of the harbours and the business of managing and supplying visiting ships had been competitively and jealously assumed by both a small band of profit-hungry business-minded settlers and the waged employees of the colony, most with a foot in each camp.

By the mid 1830s Albany was being criticised in the colonial press for failing to live up to expectation and a resultant derisory reputation for torpor came into being. This was made worse by the very public in-house fighting which took place between Spencer and various of the town’s leading settlers, namely; Cheyne, Sherratt, Belches and Taylor. After a while Roe and Stirling stopped coming, preferring to send other Perth based officials instead. Albany still held potential, but it was a bickering pit of viper-like bitterness when it came to getting anything done. Cheyne, as we know, left; preferring to conduct his business at Cape Riche, well away from town. But there was still the business of the surveyors department to conduct. Roe had to explore the surrounding area, identify attractive localities and map them. His job was to build the physical picture of the landscape, to plan for the town’s development, lay out roads, facilities, residential lots, decide upon their boundaries and any future directions they might take. There was a lot of work involved with individual land purchases in the outlying area and the people who did that for him were the Assistant Surveyors he appointed to the Department and then dispatched for residencies. Prominent amongst these at Albany were Raphael Clint, Ensign Robert Dale, Alfred Hillman, F.T. Gregory, and the writer, sketcher, amateur photographer and modeller/sculpturer as well as surveyor,  Philip Lamonthe Snell Chauncy.

Chauncy’s (second) wife was Susan Mitchell, daughter of Reverend Mitchell of Guildford whose domestic governess was Anne Breeze, by then married to Henry Camfield who had taken up the R.M’s post at Albany in 1848. (See Love and War – Henry Camfield’s View) The Chauncys spent twenty months in Albany between October 1850 and June 1852, during which time Philip carried out surveys in the Mount Barker, Stirling Range (Toolbrunup Hills), Jarramungup, Cape Riche  and Torbay/Wilsons Inlet areas as well as focusing much on the town layout itself. In fact, it is Chauncy’s surviving drawings of the old town which are most commonly referred to now days, and which I have used on multiple occasions in these pages.

Chauncy is relevant here because he took an interest in the Aborigines wherever he was stationed in Australia and Albany was no different. He wrote a memoir dedicated to his beloved wife, the premise behind it not his work and achievements but the relationship he had with her. Chauncy was a loving caring christian soul, interested in the well being of people. Consider some of what he had to say about his time at Albany, below;

In 1850 I began to build a new home on some land of my own, but was then ordered by Governor Fitzgerald to take charge of the Survey Department at King George’s Sound. Our new house was only just begun, when I had the contract with the builder cancelled. We proceeded to the Sound in the colonial schooner “Champion” commanded by Lieutenant Helpman, R.N., and were met and heartily welcomed by my dear Susie’s old friends, the Camfields. Mr. Camfield was resident magistrate there, and Mrs. Camfield had come to the colony, before her marriage, with Mr. Mitchell’s family in 1838. A deep attachment had always existed between her and my darling, as between a mother and daughter.


We had also several other friends at Albany — Archdeacon Wollaston’s family, the Belches, Taylors, Phillips, and Lady Spencer. We spent twenty months there, and my dear Susie accompanied me on several expeditions into the interior. On one of these we were encamped for two or three weeks at a place called Narpund, near the base of Mount Barrow (just outside the town of Mount Barker) We arrived there late one evening, having travelled on in order to find water. At Narpund there was a small supply of storm water in basins of granite rocks. My men were soldiers of the 99th Regiment, and were not long in putting up the tents. In the morning a tribe of wild natives brought us a kangaroo as a peace offering. Some time previously, two soldiers, whilst in search of water, were lost in crossing a dense scrub from this place to Mount Barker, and I have never heard that any trace of them has been found to this day. When the water in the rocks was exhausted, we moved on to a place called by the natives Nyindiup, where there was a little spring at the foot of a piece of open table land.


We spent a delightful time at King George’s Sound. My darling enjoyed the fine bold scenery and the beauty and profusion of the wild flowers. There were scores of aborigines there, one of the finest tribes perhaps in Australia. The men made first-class “pull-away” hands in the whale fisheries, and one at least was a “headsman.” They used to be much about our house, and Susie was always kind to them. At one time the natives left the settlement, as was their periodical custom, for an excursion into the interior, and left behind them a little orphan black girl about three and a half years old, named Quodginopat. Susie took compassion on this child, and after feeding it, spoke of it to good kind Mrs. Camfield, who took it in, clothed, fed, and adopted it ; and it formed the nucleus of what has since been ” Mrs. Camfield’s Native School ” at King George’s Sound, so well known in missionary circles. This took place in 1851, before the convicts were sent to the Sound.


There we knew Wylie the native, who having been taken to Adelaide by sea, returned overland in 1841 with Mr. Eyre, who was afterwards Lieutenant Governor in New Zealand, and subsequently Governor of Jamaica. Mr. Eyre and Wylie were the only persons who, even to this day, have passed overland from the one colony to the other. Three parties have just lately been organised to go across from the telegraph line at different points to Swan River. In pursuance of my official duties, I took a party out on a long journey beyond the Toolbrunup hills in a north-easterly direction, and then having passed through Hassell’s country, turned south to Mr. Cheyne’s settlement at Cape Riche, about eighty miles east from Albany, to which place I then returned. After this I visited Wilson’s Inlet and other parts, and about June, 1852, we returned to the Swan in the “Eleanora,” Captain Helpman, R.N.



Chauncy was in Western Australia from 1841 to 1853, mostly operating between Guildford and York, after which he and his family moved to Victoria where he became chief survey officer in the goldfields at Dunolly, and later Melbourne. Prior to Western Australia he was in South Australia where he landed from England in 1839 and where he married his first wife, Charlotte Kemis. His darling second wife, Susan Mitchell, also pre-deceased him, dying in 1870, after which he wrote and published his memoir of her from which the above account is drawn. Around the time he was writing that memoir Chauncy also contributed an appendix to a book about the Victorian Aborigines by Robert Brough Smyth, published in 1878. In this book Chauncy recollects his experiences with the Aborigines he had met over his time travelling between the various settled districts his work had brought him to across southern Australia. In it he speaks further of Anne Camfield’s school for Aboriginal children on Serpentine Road, of significance to 1850s Albany and something I’ll visit in my next post in this sub-series, but in it we also find some very valuable information relating to the decade we are concerned with right now.


Colonial Schooner ChampionAbove: The Swan River’s colonial government necessarily employed the use of a sailing ship for investigative, promotional and transport purposes. Between 1836 and 1851 it was the schooner Champion, commanded for short terms prior to 1840 by Lieutenants Peter Belches and Henry Bull, both of interest to these pages.  The Champion brought Assistant Surveyor Phillip Chauncy and his wife Susan from Fremantle to Albany for their 20 month southern residency between 1850 and 1852. Drawing by R.H.Shardlow 1995. Image; Maritime Heritage Association Journal Volume 6, No.4.


Now, foremost in the Victorian Aborigines book, we discover Chauncy had been to Albany before. In 1844 in fact, and that on the return sailing to Fremantle, also on the Champion, were a handful of local Aborigines apparently heading for the Supreme Court on various charges relating to stock spearing and the theft of food supplies. These men will have been located on deck and bound in chains, minimally dressed and fed bread and water as the vessel buffeted and bashed its way around the coast at the tail end of winter. Chauncy took interest.


Chauncy - from the Abs of Vic - 1 Chauncy - from the Abs of Vic - 2Above:  Excerpt from an appendix to The Aborigines of Victoria,  by Robert Brough Smyth The appendix, provided by Phillip Chauncy, commences on page 221.

It’s worth exploring this a little because Chauncy’s notebook, in which he recorded some notes from the trial as well as the likenesses he speaks of above, survives (in part) today. As do some fuller drawings of those Albany Aborigines.


Chauncy - 11 KGS natives from Abs of Victoria pg 259Above: Chauncy took the likenesses of what he said were ten King George’s Sound natives, seven of whom he says were on the colonial schooner Champion bound for the Supreme Court in Perth in 1844. These inked up versions were printed in the appendix Chauncy provided to The Aborigines of Victoria book published in 1878.


Chauncy doesn’t attach the men’s names to the drawings above, but from the originals in his notebook and from another inked-up sheet held at the National Gallery of Australia which collects the individual sketches, we know who they are.

  1. Cartool(1)  1852
  2. Nyan, (5) -1844 Prisoner
  3. Nimmajirl(6) – 1844 Prisoner
  4. Davey Walley(4) – 1844 Prisoner
  5. Webbinburt(9) – 1844 Prisoner
  6. Koron(8) – 1844 Prisoner
  7. Wylie(2) – 1852
  8. Gelgaran (3), Wylie’s wife 1852
  9. Dennin(9) – 1844 Prisoner
  10. Dedum(10) – 1844 Prisoner

In the notebook, Chauncy tells us there are 11 sketches, which there are, but they do not correspond to the above inked up engraving. The bracketed number alongside the names listed above corresponds with the individual sketches he made in the notebook.  Two are of the same man, Koron, one of which he dismisses as a poor likeness and redraws. The notebook also tells us the sketches were made in 1844 and 1852 and that numbers 4 -11 were the prisoners on board the Champion.


Chauncy - 11 KGS natives - 4-11 on board Colonial Schooner to be tried for various offences.Above: Image courtesy of  National Gallery of Australia


As background to this, it’s important to know there were various reports in the early part of 1844 highlighting the crowded and inadequate state of the gaol at Albany, it being very small and populated with both native and white offenders, many of the whites being whaling ship deserters. Correspondence between officials at Albany and Perth almost describe a period of boom in the town, certainly a period of high social activity probably caused by the whaling presence. This crowding of the town appears to have caused food shortages for the local Aborigines. They couldn’t get anything to eat because, by accounts, they were too busy partying with the whaling crews on liberty release to work. But the Aborigines, variously described as trading their women folk for alcohol and tobacco, were in fact desperately hungry. Thomas Yule, acting Protector of Aborigines based at York, had just returned from Albany in April 1844, whereupon he reported;

. . . the insufficiency of the Jail at Albany for the safe and wholesome lodging of. . . number of Natives as are now confined within it. . .   His Excellency will remember that there is but one cell about 12 x 8 [feet] for any number of Native Prisoners who may be thrust into it;


The result of this and other letters to the Colonial Secretary’s Office in Perth was the holding of a special court session in Albany to deal with the backlog of charges and then with the transfers of prisoners to Fremantle for trying in Perth, the ones Chauncy says he met on the Champion. Lets look a little closer at the seven men Chauncy drew, remembering he says in his notebook that they were numbers four to eleven.

(4) Davey Wallay/Walley/Wallung.  This man was recorded as Walley in a list of Aboriginal names taken at Albany by the Protector of Natives, Revett Henry Bland, in 1842, when Bland came overland from York to investigate earlier cases of cattle spearing. Other than that I can find no specific mention of him elsewhere.  (Possibly Wallabung, sentenced 7 Jan 1846 for stock spearing, later at Bunbury.)

Note: The Noongar surname Walley is thought have originated in Bunbury (Tilbrook: Tree 22A) but could be associated with this man. There was a Henry Whalley (aka Robert Wallen) of Kangaroo Island, a well known sealer of the 1820s (probably American origin) who consorted with James Everett and John Randall, both of whom were in the environs of King George’s Sound when Lockyer first sailed in. The English tag Davey Walley may indicate some association. Davey Walley appears to be wearing some form of head dress in the Chauncy sketch and is the only one of Chauncy’s ten to carry an English forename. See further down for more about the Bass Straight and Kangaroo Island sealers who came to Albany.

Alternatively, Davey Walley’s name  may also be derived from Nind’s Toolingat Wally (Barker’s Tulicatwale). There was some conjecture that Dr Isaac Nind left behind a child once described by Barker as Nindaroli, though in 1844 Nindaroli could not have been more than 16 years old.

(5) Nyan  Probably Nyin recorded by R.H. Bland as being at Albany in 1842. Also Nyan, elderly, English name Charlie, at Lynburn Station, Thomas River, 1898 with family. From Ration Returns document submitted to the Protector of Aborigines 1899.


Chauncy - Wallong and Nyan original sketchesAbove: Image courtesy of  National Gallery of Australia

(6) Nimmajirl  Nothing known.  (Possibly Nunugul from Bland’s 1842 list)

(7) Koron (Failed likeness/dismissed)


Chauncy - original sketch of Nimmagirl and KooronAbove: Nimmajirl (6) and a false/dismissed likeness of Kooron (7) Image courtesy of the National Galley of Australia

(8) Koron  According to Chauncy’s notes Koron killed and ate part of a sheep belonging to Thomas Meadows Gillam. I could not find his name in any other documents, although likely Korungul from Bland’s 1842 list.

(9) Webbinburt. According to Chauncy’s notes Webbinburt helped kill a bull calf belonging to Henry Tully. This was at Davey Youngs place (Marbelup). Others present were Minun alias Jack, Dennin and Joondereen. We know Webbinburt was convicted because he was at Rottnest in May 1845, described as old and suffering severely from inflammation of the lungs. Presumed died at Rottnest soon after. (CSR vol. 139, pg 227, 10 May)  Minun/Minan alias Jack was also convicted and sent to Rottnest, given a free pardon 4th April, 1846.


Chauncy - original sketch of Kooron and WebbinburtAbove:  Kooron/Koron (8) and Webbinburt (9) Webbinburt fell ill and never returned from Rottnest. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia


(10) Dennin  also known as Denny/Denning/Teynning.  According to Chauncy’s notes, Dennin was with Webbinburt at Marblup when Tully’s bull calf was killed. He was also at Mr Warburton’s place when sugar and some money was taken. The notes suggest this robbery may have occurred at the St Werburgh’s property at Mount Barker which Warburton had bought the year before. In company with him there, Chauncy’s notes reveal, was another Aborigine by the name of Nornon.  Nornan was also said to be present at another robbery Dennin was associated with, that of four cwt of biscuits (about 200kgs) from Hugh McDonald who also held land near the lower Hay River at the time. Dennin is recorded in the Bates genealogies where he is shown as being the husband of Wabinyit‘s daughter, Tetigan, and that he was from the Denmark area.


Chauncy - original sketch of DenninAbove: Dennin (10) Image courtesy of the National Gallery of  Australia

(11) Dedum. Chauncy’s notes describe Dedum as a Fremantle man, apparently unrelated to the Albany Aborigines. Dedum could have come to Albany as a result of the early trips to Perth made by Katrul. In his notes Chauncy records Dedum giving Aboriginal names to places along the Swan River from Fremantle to Guildford. Dedum’s wife was  Dewar, from near Dgeerin (Guildford). He said Yagan was the name given by white men to the leader of the Perth Noongars. I could find nothing else about Dedum in the records. See National Gallery of Australia records for his page notes here and here.


Chauncy - original sketch of DedumAbove: Dedum (11) A Fremantle man in Albany. Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

I also searched for documents relating to the trial which Chauncy said took place in the Supreme Court in Perth during October 1844, but couldn’t find anything digitised. There was, however, an article in the Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal dated Saturday, September 14th, 1844. The article comments on the recently held (Sept 7th) Quarter Sessions at Albany courthouse, disgruntled that the judiciary had to sail down at great expense for what were considered minor offences.


Albany Aborigines on trial - 1844 Quatersessions - Chauncy -Champion etc


According to the report, which predates the Perth trials by a month, there were three separate cases relating to alleged native offences carried out in the Albany area.

  1. Regina Vrs Yammit, Nanwar and Norn in which the accused pleaded guilty to theft from Mr G.E.E. Warburton in April of that year and were sentenced each to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour

Yammit/Yammilt was described by Thomas Yule in his Protector’s report of 1844 as being at Cape Riche sometime previous, associated with sheep stealing from Cheyne’s flocks and now in custody for it. This may be Yarmwert sentenced to 7 years in 1844 and who died at Rottnest, February 1845.

Nanwar may have been Nowart, sentenced to 1 year transportation, 29th September 1844. May also have been Manyar or Mangar, at Rottnest in 1846, pardoned 25th December that year (CSR Vol 150, pg 262)

  1. Regina Vrs Neill’s Bobbyin which the accused was found guilty of assisting in the theft of food from Mr G.E.E. Warburton in May of that year and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.  (See below for more on Neill’s Bobby/Manwirtand Gordon’s Bobby.)
  1. Regina Vrs Daveyin which the accused was charged with burglary from the house of James Lee, private in the 51st Regiment. Insufficient evidence, accused discharged. This will have been Chauncy’s Davey Walleyor Wallung, possibly Walbung.

In his contribution to the Victorian Aborigines book Chauncy says the men he met were from outlying districts and barely acquainted with the European presence, something which is partially supported by the spearing of Tully’s bull calf taking place at what is now Young Siding on the Lower Denmark Rd, and the likelihood of one of the other offences having occurred at George Egerton-Warburton’s place, St Werburgh’s, near Mount Barker. But Dennin, although from the Denmark area, was well known at Albany where he was variously known as DennyDenning and Teynning. His presence there is indicative of the draw the town was having on the Aborigines from the wider area. Yammit, we can see, had been as far east as Cape Riche. Equally, Nornan or Norn, who was with Dennin at Warburton’s place when the sugar and money was taken, and also at Hugh McDonald’s when the biscuits went missing, was an Albany Aborigine. We know this because Norn is the much noted Norgern alias Tommy (sometimes Jimmy) King.  So we can see the Aborigines of this time were not stationary but moving between places and groups of people they knew.

We know a little more about these food thefts and who was involved because Resident Magistrate J.R. Phillips reported on them to the Colonial Secretary’s Office in a letter written in May of that year. In it he records Dennin’s name with a variety of spellings and also introduces a number of other local Aborigines similarly involved, including Norn. Phillips’ letter reads as follows;


C.S.R. Vol.130   Folio 63

Residents Office
Albany 20th May 1844




It is with great regret I have to inform you of several depredations committed by some four or six Natives within the last Month or six Weeks and which Natives baffle every attempt of the Constables in taking them. There were Warrants against these Natives prior to Mr Yule the Protector leaving this District and I suggested that Mr Drummond or Esther[?] should be sent down to this Place for a couple of Months. The allowing these Natives to be at large only tends to induce others to become Thieves and hardens them in their daring attempts. There not being a Native Constable on whom we can depend since the death of Paddy, is a great draw-back to the White Constables on this place.


On the 11th April Mr Belches store was broken into by digging under the foundation and 100Cwt of Flour stolen therefrom, the foot marks of Norn & Bobby were identified also Denny alias Teynning[?]


On the 26th April Mr Townsend at the King River had his House broken into, while the Native Whylie pretended to show him where the Natives had been eating a Sheep of his, the foot marks of Teynning, Bobby, Norn and Whylie were identified and a bag of Flour, some Sugar, and Knives[?] taken away besides other Articles.


On the 2nd April Mr Townsend was robbed of some Sheep by Anivare[?], Neill’s Bobby and Gordon’s Bobby and another whose name is unknown to Mr Townsend.


On the 1st May Mr Belches Store was again broken into altho’ every precaution had been used to secure it & taken therefrom 1 Bag of Rice and a second dragged under the Cill[?] of the Store, but the Parties being disturbed the second Bag was not taken off but 20 or 30 lbs of Sugar was taken. The footmarks of Norn, Denning alias Teynning, Neill’s Bobby, were identified and were traced by the Policeman who came on their Fire at which they were boiling a feast of the Rice and recovered the Major part of a Bag of Rice but owing to a heavy hail storm he was not enabled to track them further.


On the 13th May Mr McDonald had stolen from his premises 4 Cwt of Biscuits on this occasion the footmarks of Denning, Bobby & Norn were identified, the Police Man tracked them for a considerable distance but was not enabled to come up with them owing to the Native he had with him refusing to go any further.


From the above I hope His Excellency will see how desirable it is this Gang of Natives should be broke up more especially as they are those who know our habits, and are more civilized from having been so much with the Europeans, and will therefore sanction Mr Drummond being sent here for the purpose of taking the natives.


I have the honor to be Sir,

Your Obed. Servant


J.N. Phillips

Government Resident


From the letter we can see that there was a cluster of thefts carried out, more or less, by the same group. And they didn’t stop there, a week later Philips was forced to write again.


C.S.R. Vol.130  Folio 64

Residents Office, Albany
31 May 1844




Since last writing you about the depredations committed by a Gang of Natives, I have to report to you that the same Gang on the night of the 27th May entered first Mr Warburton House and stole there from a small box containing Money. They then enter’d Mr Sherrats House and stole provisions after which they enter’d Mr Taylors Store and stole flour. I therefore thought it necessary to offer rewards to the natives and constables for their capture. Besides sending out a party of natives with the Constable and one party of Natives have [..] bought in Norn one of the principal leaders. I rewarded then with a bag of rice. . .


I have the honor to be Sir,

Yr Obed, Serv.


J.N. Phillips, Gov Resd


Clearly, something was happening here. The thefts the King George’s Sound Aborigines were tried for during 1844 were serious, but more than that they seem planned, perhaps enacted as some kind of rebellious show of malcontent? The frequency of the raids is dramatic, so much so commentary on the spate formed part of an inspired polemic called Noongar Resistance Along the South Coast written in 2008 by the late Albany Noongar historian and activist, Bob Howard.

While the displacement of kangaroo by cattle and sheep, exacerbated by the hunting and export of kangaroo skins, forced the Noongar to depend upon the colonists’ largesse, in 1841 and 1842 another threat emerged. American whalers arrived en masse on the south coast and decimated the population of Southern Right Whales[66]. The coastal people had opportunistically exploited strandings and, latterly, the waste of the whalers as a source of food. In April 1844 the Government Resident wrote, “this season this source has failed them”[67]


The consequences were quickly bought home to the residents of Albany. Norn, Denin, Bobby and Wylie (the latter on a native constable’s rations for his assistance to Edward Eyre) staged a series of raids over a period of six weeks on every available store of food in the town[68]. So effective was this action that there was only rice available by August. Local trackers refused to co-operate and the Resident was forced to send to York for Mr Drummond, the feared ‘protector’ of natives.[69]. However the ringleaders had given themselves up before he arrived, cheerfully admitting in court to their part in the various crimes. Denin cheekily told the court that he was ‘asleep during the robbery of sugar from Mr Warburton’s station but another man put some of it in his mouth’[70]


Although various terms in Rottnest were meted out, it is clear that the Noongar men involved were aware of the political implications of their action.



Now, within Chauncy’s notepad, and part of the same series, you will remember there were three more sketches. The notepad says these drawing were made in 1852 but Chauncy says in the appendix to the Aborigines of Victoria book that he took the likenesses in 1846. It’s difficult to know which year is right, other than that there is no clear evidence I can find of him being in Albany in 1846. Still. . .


Chauncy - from the Abs of Vic - 3 Chauncy - from the Abs of Vic - 4Above: Excerpts from Chauncy’s appendix to The Aborigines of Victoria, 1878, pages 247/8, submitted when he was in Melbourne about thirty years after after making the sketches.


(1) Cartool  Chauncy’s notes show Cartool went by the English alias Handsome, describing him as being nearly six feet tall. Cartool was also otherwise known as Kartrul or Jack Handsome. He went with Patrick Taylor on the 1837 Albany to Perth expedition led by Harris and Armstrong (where they noted the grasslands at Kojonup, described at the time as Warriup) and was probably among Taylor’s foremost Noongar aids. Kartrul, may also have been the ‘headsman’, one of the fine ‘pull aways’ on the whale fisheries Chauncy described in his memoir to Susan Mitchell. But Cartool, Chauncy says, ‘died in a consumption’, soon after he took the likeness.  Maybe he was mistaken here as well, because the name Jack Handsome appears in the whaling records between 1861 and 1871 at various locations along the South Coast.


Chauncy - original sketch of CartoolAbove: (1) Cartool alias Handsome – This man was about six feet high. Image courtesy the National Gallery of Australia


(2) Wylee  This is Wylie. The drawing shows him as significantly older to the boyish image sketched by Robert Neill, soon after Wylie and Eyre made it back to Albany from their long walk in 1841. Wylie was said to have been appointed native constable soon after, but by 1844 he was certainly not acting in that capacity. There is no known record of Wylie/Wylee/Wily at Rottnest Island. He was later reappointed as native constable in January 1847. I’ll talk more about Wylie a little further on.

(3) Gelgaran  Chauncy notes Gelgaran as Wylee’s wife.  Nothing else is known.


Chauncy - original sketchs of Wylie and GelgaranAbove: (2) Wylee and (3) Wylee’s wife, Gelgaran Image courtesy the National Gallery of Australia

The only names we haven’t investigated yet are those of  Neill’s Bobby and Gordon’s Bobby. Chauncy doesn’t mention them in what survives of his notes but they are clearly described in Philips’ letter and the case of Neill’s Bobby is carried in the Perth gazette article of September 14th.

Neill’s Bobby looks like he was Manwirt, possibly Mankulwort on Bland’s list as the below reference from the Southern Australian newspaper shows.


Neill's Bobby - Manwirt - SA 1.2.1842Above:  Cut from an article titled Western Australia, General State of the Colony, published in the Southern Australian, 1st February 1842 Note: The initials attributed to Neill  (D.A.C.G.) denote his government position; Deputy Assistant Commissary General.


Robert Neill worked the government stores as Deputy Assistant Commissary General at Albany from at least 1841 to at least 1846. It’s possible Manwirt (descibed as Neill’s faithful servant above) and Manyat (who is said by Wollaston to have worked at the Commissary store for many years)  are the same person, especially as the name Manyat does not appear in Bland’s 1842 list. It could therefore have been Robert Neill who gave Manyat the old military uniform Wollaston spoke about. It seems unlikely however, that Manyat joined in the food thefts of 1844 given his reliability and dedication to his employer and job, unless of course circumstances changed or he did it out of some form of general protest.

Four of Robert Neill’s children with wife Helen Story were born in Albany. Robert Neill is noted (amongst other works) for making three drawings included in Eyre’s published account of his punishing overland journeys of 1840/41. One sketch is the characterful image of the boy Wylie which I’ve shown before and which is featured again below. Robert Neill, frequently mistaken for James Neill, was later recognised as an important artist of his day.

Gordon’s Bobby was likely engaged by someone of similar position within the town, probably Andrew Gordon who owned town allotment B39, one of the Duke Street blocks running down to Stirling Terrace. Gordon had been living in Albany from at least 1834 when he was one of those who petitioned Stirling for the importation of convict labour. he was also a committee member on the original Town Trust established in 1843. Little else is known about him.

Up until recently I had thought the name Bobby had been used by officials as an English alias for Aboriginal men who served as native police constables. The name Bobby being derived from the London Metropolitan Police establish in 1820 by Robert Peel whose cousin had invested heavily in the Swan River colony just south of Fremantle. Later I began to think Bobby might have been a general term, one local officials in towns like Albany gave to Aborigines they knew by sight but didn’t know or particularly want to know what their tribal names were. Now I think it is a name settlers applied to male Aboriginal domestic servants. There were other Bobby’s, I’m sure, but  I think the general application was to loyal servants or employees of settlers as per Neill’s Bobby and Gordon’s Bobby above. I think this because there are numerous other examples within the historical records.

Another well known Bobby of the early era at Albany was Candyup Bobby or Blind Bobby.

Candyup Bobby & Marbellup Jenny 001Above: Blind Bobby also known as Candyup Bobby, with Marblup Jenny photographed near Albany. The iamge is thought to have been taken by the Shaw brothers, possibly in the Denmark area, the original being held in the Battye Library in Perth. The photo, captioned ‘Blind Bobby’ was awared 1st prize in an 1898 competition held by The West Australian newspaper under the category ‘A Study of Beauty’. Bobby died soon after this image was captured. I scanned this version from my much referred to copy of Dr Tiffany Shellam’s Shaking Hands on the Fringe. (note; ‘Marblup’ farm originally owned by Henry Tully, sold to David Young, locality of Marbelup, West of Albany.)


When Candyup Bobby died in 1898 the Albany Advertsier (9.8.98) ran a sympathetic piece on his passing.




The aboriginal known as ” Blind Bobby ” or as “Candyup Bobby,” died in his mia along the Perth-road on Friday night. He had been in bad health for some time and was attended by Marbellup Jenny. Bobby was well known from being led about the streets of Albany by the other natives and used as a means for attracting charity. He must have been a very old man, for middle aged-men born in Albany remember him as long past youth when they were children. In his early days he went to sea and travelled a good deal and then engaged in whaling. He worked as a whaler for the late Mr. T. Sherratt and afterwards for Mr. John McKenzie. It was only in recent years that he lost the use of his eyes. He had the reputation of having been a warrior in his younger days among the local natives and he was suspected of being concerned in more than one tribal custom. The Natives are dying out fast in the district and in a few years they must become extinct.


Candyup Bobby was with a group of men who speared Kockalet at Oyster Harbour in  May 1865, so rumour of his being involved in ‘tribal custom’ appears true.

Was Candyup Bobby also one of the Bobby’s described in Philip’s letter of 1844, perhaps Neill’s? Not if Neill’s Bobby was Manyat, as Wollaston tells us Manyat died about 1853. So Candyup Bobby was someone else, perhaps Manwirt or Mankulwort, if that person was not Manyat himself.

The first of all the Aborigines mentioned in Mary Taylor’s Candyup diaries (1873/4/5) is Bobby. He is mentioned across all three years as coming and going, often bringing gifts of kangaroo and fish, letters and news. He isn’t dispatched with messages or tasked in any way at any time by the Taylors, but is clearly well known to them. One mention, on March 7th 1873, is interesting in that Mary notes something specific related to the activities of Campbell, who by this stage is three years at Thomas River. The diary states; “Bobby came out but brought us no letters; he is afraid to go to town as Mr McGill is said to be in Albany.”  Stewart McGill was a settler who drove livestock eastwards with the Kennedy brothers, their station being near Eucla. McGill was noted for abuses against the Aborigines and was associated with killings at Mundrabilla Station which Campbell Taylor objected to.

Gordon’s Bobby was still around in the 1870’s too. Mary is specific in distinguishing him from the other.

March 25th Tuesday, 1873  The morning was fine and we proceeded with our wash; Jeany helped and tho’ there were showers during the day we managed to get the things dry. No signs of Keetowl yet. Bobby Gordon came out and told us that Keetowl had been speared.



In 1842 Revett Henry Bland was the appointed Protector of Natives at York. The position was created upon the arrival of Governor Hutt, the colony’s replacement leader for the retired James Stirling who had previously installed the Superintendent of Natives position, in 1832. The role Hutt created differed from Stirling’s, falling inline with an improved British attitude toward native welfare in its colonies. There were in fact two positions, one based in Perth, occupied by Charles Symmons into the 1870s, the other based in York with responsibility for the South West region, including the South Coast. R.H. Bland took on the position at York after the first incumbent Peter Burrows left the colony. In 1842 Bland visited King George’s Sound and compiled a ‘List of Natives inhabiting the neighbourhood of Albany’. I haven’t seen the original document but there does not appear to be any indication of age or sex attributed to the individuals. After Bland resigned the following year came Thomas Yule and after Yule, whose position was acting, came John Drummond. Bland, Yule and Drummond are all relevant to the 1840’s period along the South Coast. Bland’s list of names follows. Those highlighted in yellow equate to the individuals discussed above, plus one other, Lindol. (For more on Revett Henry Bland see Quartermaine Country)


Arakin Dokkinbut Kenok Marwekin Nyin Weban
Badjip Dondap Kenuk Mengorit Padikin Wenabit
Bandopert Doolagite Kiangwort Mobelit Paillakul Werowil
Bandung Doorean Kiik[?] Mollit Pedikin Werowil
Bebinin Dorrigin Kiliput Momagin Peliakan Wiaman
Benjakun Dowelit Kinening Mookit Penwort Wiley*
Berat Dowery Kodaan Mopy* Petun Winawort
Berokin Durin[?] Kolgonit Morabun Pollit Windigit
Bomit Durung Kollit Moretin Pongonan Wirkar
Boongarum Dwortum Komenit Mottin Pulbean Wobenit
Boorwoot Dyingit Konalul Mowanum Purnakin Wokoburt
Borawort Ealum Konapiar Mularwoit Quatigan Wordamit
Borilol Elipit Konatun Mullen Quatindun Wotwar
Bunningit Elup Kondegin Mullinan Quegan Yamit
Caratol Ematwol Koorite Mumakite Roberun Yammur
Dabarit Ematwol Koribit Mumbearn Snooks Yarnwool
Dadgep Erat Korien Mungarwort Talbean Yedit
Dalbean Goondagen Korning Munockut Talwort Yeliet
Dallin Ionine Korungul Myenit Tannitan Yenat
Danearan Kailbean Kotteelman Nakarit Tondeaput Yenbar
Darmiuk Kaitpilar Kumbap Nalibit Tondup Yenbut
Darrakul Kakatin Kuneakun Nambin Towlit Yengakan
Datik Kallingbut Kunelan Nanyarit Towlit Yengyan
Debilun Kapatin Lindol* Narrian Trear Yetelan
Dilburon Karamit Mandabut Nendong Twollyatum Yokamit
Djakerit Karkin Manding Nokobur Wainbit Youngul
Djakkint Kartakul Mangit Nookey Walley Yowenin
Djakkup Kartewort Manint Norupin Wanawar*
Djinalum Keanung Manitch Nowtar Wantingie
Djobut Kenapurt Mankulwort Nungaret Warring
Djulgar Kenit Maranan* Nunugul Warrup


The greatest frustration facing researchers trying to piece together the identities of the early Aborigines is the variance in the recording of names. Very often there are multiple interpretations of the same name but spelled so differently  it’s impossible to know for sure if it is who you think, or hope, it might be. I’ve said it before and it deserves saying again, this kind of work is painstaking, fraught with an almost obscene difficulty and wide open to mistake. However, windows appear and doors do open, often just the tiniest amount, but enough for the really persistent to learn from, squeeze through and press on.

Wylie, Rossiter and the French Connection


Wylie - old engraving (412x550)Above: Wylie as a boy aged about sixteen. Engraving from a drawing by  Robert Neil  Source: Waterless Horizons by Malcom Urens  and Robert Stephens


The mysterious Wylie is probably Albany’s most famous Aboriginal son. The Menang boy, born around 1825, who went with the Overlander E.J. Eyre to Adelaide in 1840 became a national celebrity.

I wrote about Wylie in three previous posts;

Taking Advantage

Wylie, Who Was He? and

The Gun

Wylie’s trans-Nullabor adventure may have been extraordinary, but at that time it wasn’t anything new. Aborigines from the east coast had come west on ships (some voluntarily, others not) certainly as early as Matthew Flinders visit to King George’s Sound in 1802 with Bungaree aboard. As we know, there had been plenty of local exploration by 1840, almost all of it led by key figures from within the Menang.

Wylie doesn’t appear in Eyre’s records until after he left Albany but I wonder when they first met and when he was asked by Eyre to join him?  Or did Wylie volunteer, was it Wylie who asked Eyre instead? So much remains unknown about their relationship.

It’s too much of a coincidence to think that Wylie was a South Coast Noongar who just happened to join a team that would within nine months attempt an overland journey from South to Western Australia. To my thinking Eyre was planning the expedition before he first got to Albany in January 1840 and that his mind was made up when he met George Grey on arrival. This is because Grey had his thoughts on the practicability of an overland stock route between South and Western Australia published in a South Australian newspaper before Eyre arrived back in Adelaide with Wylie in tow. In that letter, Grey even predicted an attempt by ‘an experienced bushman‘ would very soon be made. Also, a month after Grey’s article appeared another regarding the prospect of stocking Western Australia via an overland route was published under Eyre’s name. This one intended to ‘not prove uninteresting to some of your readers now that the public attention seems to be directed that way. . .’

So it’s pretty clear Wylie was engaged by Eyre for the purposes of making that crossing and that Wylie knew all along what they were going to do. More so, and here’s the bombshell, Wylie wasn’t the only one. We know that Eyre arrived in Albany in 1840 with Joey and Yarry, his Murrumbidgee boys, but when he arrived back into Adelaide on the chartered schooner Minerva on May 9th, there were five native boys aboard.


Eyre and five blackboys on Minerva - CutAbove: Cutting from the South Australian Register, Saturday 16th May, 1840


So who were the others?

One may have been Lindol, sometimes referred to as Sindol or Sindool. Lindol’s name appears in Bland’s list, so he was in Albany in 1842. He’s also mentioned by Wollaston in his journals as a noted whaler, something born out in 1850 when he was cited as Governor Sindol in a newspaper article describing a lengthy celebration he staged after claiming his whaling wages. But before all that Lindol was in trouble with the authorities for cunningly stealing sheep from George Cheyne out at Cape Riche. The same sheep stealing business, by the looks, Yammilt got his seven years on Rottnest for. Charles Symmons, lead Protector of Aborigines in Perth, when talking about the incident understood Lindol had previously been interstate where he was engaged by the South Australian Police.


Lindol in SA Police - CutAbove: From the 1842 report of  Charles Symmons, Protector of  Aborigines. The Inquirer,  Wednesday, 18 January 1843


More is known about Lindol, in fact Chauncy tells a story about him gleaned from his association with the aforementioned Revett Henry Bland.

Chauncy on Lindol - from Abs of VicAbove: Excerpt from Chauncy’s appendix to The Aborigines of Victoria, 1878, submitted when he was in Melbourne 35 or more years after the narrative described above.

I couldn’t find any record of Lindol being at Rottnest for taking part in the killing of the boy or any other offense, but yet Lindol was involved in an organised stealing of upwards of 100 sheep from George Cheyne at Cape Riche during 1842. This was subsequent to the killing of the boy and reflects again both the early Aboriginal attitude toward avenging death along with what is now a very clearly established association between the Aborigines of Albany and those who lived more permanently in the area of Cape Riche and Doubtful Island Bay.


Lindol - Cheyne robbery 1842 -1 Lindol - Cheyne robbery 1842 -2Above: From the 1842 report of  Charles Symmons, Protector of  Aborigines. The Inquirer,  Wednesday, 18 January 1843


What the revelation of Lindol and his avenging companions (Yammilt likely one of them) arriving at Cape Riche from Albany seems to suggest, is that not only did they have family connections there but that the practise of stealing sheep did not originate with the Bardocks coming down from the north but from the familiarity of the Albany Aborigines with the practise of the settlers keeping domesticated animals. That is, the Albany Aborigines, fed up with starving and the strictures placed on them by the administrators of the town, took matters into their own hands in areas where policing could not reach them. They may have acted out of hunger but by driving off large numbers of sheep (at least at Cape Riche) those stealthy organised actions become more like the kind of resistance Howard was espousing in his polemic.

Anyway, perhaps Wylie, Lindol and the other (maybe Yammilt?) were all engaged by the Police during the time they were in South Australia?  Perhaps they were with the newly appointed Commissioner Major O’Halloran at Lacepede Bay? Perhaps they had all arrived in South Australia at Eyres request after Eyre had the Minerva anchor at Cape Riche for a spell? Perhaps Eyre brought the three West Australian ‘black boys’ from there?

Perhaps. . .

Postscript 04 August 2015 : See Part 3 of his subseries – following- (Bob Gamble, John Bailey Pavey and Black Jack Anderson), for detail on Yanki-Yanki, the Bunurong boy from Western Port (Mornington Peninusla, Victoria) abducted by sealers in 1833 and mistakenly brought to the Swan River the following year. Yanki Yanki was six years at the Swan, working mostly at York where, it would appear, he met Eyre in 1840. Yanki Yanki left Albany in the Minerva with Joey, Yarry, Wylie and Eyre in May that year, accounting now for the fourth of those ‘five blackboys’ aboard. Was Lindol the fifth?


Postscript 09 November 2015: I’m sure now that it must have been Lindol who went with John Eyre on the Minerva. I found evidence of this in a letter written in November 1850 by the ex Albany Resident Magistrate turned Sub-Guardian of Aborigines, J.R. Phillips, who was reporting on the festivities at Albany following that year’s whaling season; in particular James Daniell’s Barker Bay station at Whaling Cove (Quaranup). That same season, Wylie was at Cheyne’s Beach with Captain John Thomas’s crew. Both stations were successful and by separate accounts both Wylie and Lindol were paid well; Lindol said to have received a £13.00 lay. I’ll write this up separately in a future post but for now it is the Phillips report which tells us Lindol not only went to South Australia with Eyre but was also employed as house servant to George Grey on his return (1840) but this is not possible because Eyre did not leave Albany until May that year and had not been there before. Therefore, Lindol must have been Grey’s Bobby (house servant or orderly) sometime between August 1839 and March 1840 when Grey and his wife (Eliza Spencer) left the colony.

Lindol - 12Nov50 - 1

Lindol - 12Nov50 - 2Above: Excerpt from  J.R. Phillips report to the Colonial Secretary, 12 Nov, 1850, respecting the behaviour of some of Albany’s Aborigines following the whaling season that year.  Phillips says Lindol not only went with Eyre to Adelaide and spent time in the mounted police there, but on his return was employed by George Grey as a house servant.


Back with Eyre’s expedition.

Wylie was eventually sought by Eyre from the South Australian whaling locality of Fowlers Bay after Eyre was first unrewarded by a long trek into the interior. That northwards struggle didn’t include Wylie because the boy was sick when the time came for the expedition to set off, we know this from what Eyre says in his journals. This means Wylie was clearly the one King George’s Sound boy Eyre wanted. There is no mention found of the other two anywhere in Eyre’s writing. By the time Wylie was well again Eyre was a hundred miles away. Thus, Wylie was left to his own devices from July 1840 until January the following year. We know he was sick for a while, but what he did during that time remains unknown, except that he was ‘missing’ when Eyre first called for him from Port Lincoln in November.

Wylie arrived at Fowlers Bay on the second instruction. This was when Eyre was about to set off across the Nullabor with just three others; the same two Aboriginal boys he had brought to Western Australia 12 months previous, the not-yet-teenagers from Wiradjuri country (Murrumbidgee), Joey and Yarry, and his trusted overseer, the burly, gruff and noted drinker and widower, John Baxter. Wylie continued west with Eyre when the group fractured violently on the edge of the Bunda Cliffs three months later, the result being the shooting dead of Baxter. Joey and Yarry went their own way and Wylie and Eyre theirs, the latter eventually arriving back in Albany in August.

I found a newspaper article from 1925 recounting a story told by the Parliamentarian and Newspaper man  Sir John Kirwan of a coastal voyage he made between Albany and Eucla that year. Kirwan was a politician in the Eyre electoral district who lived in Kalgoorlie, he was a big supporter of the Norseman/Esperance rail link and loved the beauty of the coast around Esperance, campaigning for its development. The south coast from Bremer Bay to Eucla forms part of the Eyre electoral district and Kirwan made the 1925 journey as part of his official duties. Eighty-five years after Wylie and Eyre, he found the story being told by subsequent native generations.


Kirwan- Eyre 1925 1 Kirwan- Eyre 1925 2Above: Albany Advertiser, 18th April 1925

What’s most interesting about Kirwan’s brief account (outside its inaccuracy) is the revelation he picked up the story from an old Aborigine living at Alexander River, a narrow faltering waterway midway between Campbell Taylor’s Thomas River property, Lynburn, and Rossiter Bay, where Eyre and Wiley found the French whaler Mississippi anchored offshore. Alexander River is a long way west of the point where Baxter’s death occurred and in this we have further example of the coastal relationship between the Noongar Aborigines of South-West Western Australia and the Mirning of the Nullabor Plain, ie. Campbell Taylor’s Shell People (see Interlude Pursured – Part Eight) and of their westward drift. Also curious here is that Kirwan, one of the most noted journalists and public servants of the day, couldn’t recall and wasn’t bothered finding out Wylie’s name.

Anyway, after coming across the whaling ship Eyre and Wylie spent two weeks aboard recuperating. During that period Wylie met local Aborigines with which he could converse. That is, with whom he shared the language. It’s worth looking at what Eyre had to say about that encounter.

Eyre on Mississippi 1

Eyre on Mississippi 2 Eyre on Mississippi 3 Above: Excerpt taken from Eyre’s Journals of Expeditions of Discovery e-book courtesy of University of Adelaide


As I expected, my boy Wylie fully understood the language spoken in this part of the country. . .


Without reading too much into a single sentence, Eyre knows they are still upwards of 300 miles from Albany yet there is no doubt in his mind the Aborigines of the Recherche Archipelago speak the same language as those from the far South West. How would he have known this if he hadn’t already learned the extent of the Shell People’s range?

I think Eyre probably scouted the South Coast on that 16 day sail back to Adelaide on the Minerva and that two of this three West Australian ‘black boys’ might have been from Cape Riche, or even further east than that. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that Eyre knew quite a bit more about the South Coast than anyone has so far given him credit for. Eyre was categorical when he said Wylie was an Albany Aborigine and yet equally confident in his assertion that Wylie would be able to speak the same language as the Cape Arid people. Between his knowledge of the maritime activities along the South Coast and his general interest in and ability to win the confidence of the Aborigines wherever he went, Eyre probably concluded well ahead of time that the journey needn’t be perilous at all.

Postscript 09 November 2015: The Minerva Blackboys, or Minerva 5, were: Joey and Yarry – Eyre’s  Wiradjuri boys from the Murrumbidgee river near Gundagai, N.S.W. Yanki Yanki, aka Robert Cunningham – a Bunurong boy from Western Port Bay (Melbourne) who had been abducted by sealers, brought to Bass Strait and Tasmania and then to Western Australia where he spent four years, mostly in the York area. Eyre must have met him there early in 1840 and helped him with his plans to get home. Wylie and Lindol – two Menang Noongar boys from the Albany area.

Interesting to note here too that Wylie told Eyre he didn’t give too much away to the Aborigines who came aboard regarding their movements, and that Eyre thought that prudent. Despite his language capacity, Wylie will have known of the dangers of being a lone Aborigine that far from home.

Also, I’ve often wondered did one of those local Aborigines return and join the Mississippi‘s crew for a spell, even if it was just while they were at Rossiter Bay? In the process he may have acquired the tag ‘Captain’, keeping the name as a totem like association.

1841 was the peak of the off-shore whaling boom, the year it is reckoned upwards of 150 ships worked the West Australian coast, the great majority being out of the American ports of New Bedford and Nantucket. Among the throng were British and French owned vessels and also some from Hobart and Sydney. The Mississippi was French owned although American built and commanded by an Englishman returned.

Thomas Rossiter was the son of a British Navy gunner serving at the British Loyalist settlements on Long Island, New York. He grew up there, becoming a product of the American Whaling Industry’s most prolific period, when it expanded dramatically to supply ships and crew for its own fleet as well as those of the French and British who were vying for supremacy in the southern oceans. Nantucket merchant whalers, the Rotch Family, had been active in France, supplying ships and crews since the 1790’s, and it looks as if Rossiter arrived in Dunkirk or Le Havre around 1824 where he began his career as a lowly harpooner on a lay of 1/120 (meaning he got 0.8% of the voyage’s profits, before personal costs). Eleven years later, under the employ of the French Fisheries Department, he became Captain of the Mississippi and led the French fleet, for the first time, to the highly profitable Bay of Islands area at New Zealand. The ship’s voyage that year took it along the South Coast of Western Australia, west to east, and via Hobart. By 1841 Rossiter had traversed Western Australia’s South Coast four times.


Captain Thomas Rossiter 1873Above:  Captain Thomas Rossiter, formerly of the French whaling vessel, Mississippi.

That first year, 1835, Rossiter is noted for having taken the Maori native Nayti (or Naiti or Neti), son of a local chief around Cloudy Bay, from New Zealand back to France (and later to England) where he spent around two years before returning on the New Zealand Company’s settlement ship, Tory, in 1839. That precedent gives credit to the idea Rossiter was open to Australian natives joining his crew. Especially if one or more of his own absconded.

In the Bate’s genealogies there is man known as Noyti. Being from between Jarramungup and the Russell Range near Israelite Bay, he is mentioned here in the Interlude sub-series. Bob Howard made a connection between Noyti and the name Captain Jack, known around the Doubtful Island Bay area in the 1840s. Captain Jack went with Lieutenant Helpman of the Champion and the Gregory brothers surveying for coal at the Fitzgerald River in 1849 (Bignel pg 54). By my reckoning Noyti was born around 1830, so it is possible the two names belong to the same man, though in 1841 Noyti could only have been a sub-teenage boy, no more than nine or ten years of age.

It is probably co-incidence, but Noyti and Nayti, Rossiter’s 1835 Maori passenger, are very similar sounding. Was the name Noyti picked up this way?

I’ll pick up on Captain Jack a little further on.

Use of the English alias Captain was not uncommon. Cooigar (died July 1897 at Rottnest), also from the Israelite Bay area, was known as Captain too, as was Gnamangarrah (named at Thomas River in 1898), as was William Davidson, cited by Jan Goodacre. Indeed, as we know, old Manyat called himself Captain too. Over time many ship’s captains touched off the South Coast.

Rossiter made multiple whaling voyages to the South Pacific in the Mississippi, returning for the second time in 1838 with a number of other French owned ships, one of them  L’Harmonie. The Harmony never made it to New Zealand. Instead, she anchored at Two People’s Bay where the whaling was so successful she returned to France full. So Rossiter was not only instrumental in early Australian history by way of helping out Eyre and Wylie, but by way of introducing the French Whaling Fleet’s short-lived affair with the waters of Western Australia’s South Coast.

Incidentally, L’Harmonie lost crew members at Albany, two of whom were Charles Francois Tondut and Loius Langoulant. Both deserted. Tondut went on to become a prominent early settler in South Perth, growing grapes and making wine. Due to these and probably other desertions elsewhere, L’Harmonie may also have recruited a Noongar whaler during 1838 and returned with him when she resettled at Two People’s Bay in 1840. Perhaps this is how Nebinyan  (see Part 1) acquired the alias Bony or Bonaparte.

Postscript 9 November 2015:  Two Albany Aborigines journeyed to (Isle de France) Mauritius in either the Arpentuer in 1847 or (more likely) the Emma Sherratt in 1848. One of these may have been Nebinyan.


William Owen - Arpenteur and Alb AbsAbove:  The Mr Owen  named above was the South Australian businessman and politician William Owen  who owned the Arpentuer and a contentious half share in the brig Emma Sherratt. built at Torbay for Thomas Brooker Sherratt of Albany. The script above is an excerpt from a report by J.R. Phillips, sub-Guadian of Aborigines at Albany to the Colonial Secretary made in November 1850. The Arpentuer sailed to Isle de France in 1847 and the Emma Sherrat the following year. Incidentally, it was the Arpenteur which brought Wylie the gun  John Eyre sent him from New Zealand in 1848. The script above reads as follows; “Two natives who had been taken by Mr Owen to the Isle France on their return took off the French manner and immitated the French language well, were received by their relations. . .”


Rossiter is also known to have whaled at Coffin Harbour (named after the previously mentioned Captain Coffin of the Samuel Wright) near Port Lincoln in South Australia. In fact, Rossiter had provided information regarding coastal access to the region between Port Lincoln and Fowlers Bay to officials at Port Lincoln which Eyre had borrowed from before even setting off with Baxter and the boys.

Rossiter was compulsorily retired by the French when he turned fifty and subsequently bought his own vessel, Wave of Goole, which he sailed back to Australia in 1859 with his wife and family. Rossiter settled in Sydney, eventually dying there in 1875.


Lucky Bay by Dan ParisAbove: Lucky Bay, just west of  Rossiter Bay in Cape Le Grande National Park. Mississippi Hill, out of view, lies to the left of the picture. On a still bright day much of the coast in the area looks as pristine as this. Photo courtesy Dan Paris Photography


I made a summary of the latter stages of Wylie and Eyre’s journey, from the time they left Rossiter’s ship all the way to Albany. It took them two days short of three weeks during which time they passed inland of Cheyne’s place at Cape Riche, sighting the coast near Many Peaks.

18-June. Begin from camp, a peak near Cape Le Grande, 4 miles to end of large lake

19-June. Swampy country, Viewed Mandurbanup (Frenchman’s Peak), camped near the coast, took bearings on bay islands.

20-June. 12 miles past salt lakes and a five mile beach stretch. (Esperance) Viewed large sand drift at a distance..

21-June. 16 miles through mostly sandy coastal heath.

22-June. 16 miles, crossed north of Stokes Inlet over Lort and Young rivers. Rocky islets viewed off the coast.

23-June. 18 miles, over Torrudup River. Mostly encountered salty ponds and dry rocky ground. East Mnt Barren sighted in far distance. (Oldfield River)

24-June. 11 miles to small lakes, one a mile in circumference (around Lake Shaster)

25-June. 16 miles, salty ground.

26-June. Rest Day. Eyre notes they are 134 miles west of Rossiter Bay which they left eleven days previous.

27-June. 13 miles to salt lake between coast and east Mnt Barren. Camped 30 degrees south of it.

28-June. 13 miles to north-south stream emtying into a narrow lake. Between coast and lake thick scrub. SW of East Mount Barren, NE of Mid Mount Barren.

29-June. 11 miles, north of Mid Mnt Barren. Camped with West Mnt Barren to the South West. Scrub land everywhere.

30-June. 25 miles, a long day, in the evening sighted the Stirling Ranges almost due west.

01-July. 8 miles to large fresh river with steep ridges. Stirlings still 4 degrees south of west.

02-July. 17 miles, Pallinup River below, Cape Riche to the south west.

03-July. 30 miles, past Pallinup River at 4 miles, had to go eight miles up to find crossing.

04-July. 13 miles, through Many Peaks, sighted Bald Island at 15 degrees west of south.

05-July. 18 miles to fresh water swamps. (Two People’s Bay area)

06-July. 12 miles, 8 to Candyup River (Kalgan) and four more to King River.

07-July. Reached Albany.

The Wylie/Eyre survival feat made both of them famous and is now one of the most powerful symbols of historic race relations between the Aborigines of South West Western Australia and the settling Europeans.


Mandurbanup by Dan Paris 2


Above: Looking out from Mandurbanup Hill, otherwise known as Frenchman’s Peak, at Cape Le Grande. Mandurbanup is a sacred site to the Wudjari and Ngadju Aborigines of the area. Image courtesy Dan Paris Photography

Rogues in the Mix

Due to the already lengthy nature of  this post I’m going to publish the stories of the sealers who came to the South Coast separately. Please see Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection Part 3, which will follow shortly.

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