The View From Mount Clarence

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

Quartermaine Country

Originally Published  30 November 2015:


Warning: This post is concerned with Indigenous family history and carries the names of many deceased persons. Content addresses heritage relating to the Noongar branch of the Quartermaine family and by extension many others. Some assumptions may challenge existing beliefs. I should also point out that the Noongar branch of the Quartermaine clan shares the same paternal ancestry as the Non-Noongar branch and therefore this post may contain information sensitive to non-indigenous family members who are not familiar with the beginning West Australian generation.


For Daryl ‘Djaye’ Quartermaine – Born 21st January, 2014

Djaye in cap - Qrtrmne Country


New Noongar names and their often misty origins


History runs through the West Australian Quartermaine family wide and deep, as does the life blood of the old Aborigines. Like all Aboriginal families today, the story of the Noongar Quartermaines is one of rebirth and regeneration under an entirely new guise. Still mysterious and painful in many respects, it is now 140 years since the birth of  Grandfather Timothy Quartermaine at Yowangup homestead near Katanning, in Western Australia’s Central Great Southern region. The Quartermaine name is French in origin, became Anglicised via the Saxon raids of post Roman England, then turned Australian on the back of the great Colonial invasion. The story of the Noongar branch is central not only to the beginnings of Katanning town but to the story of the Perth-Albany Road, the Wheatbelt and Great Southern Railway. Also, to the stories of many other southern Noongar families who survived the 19th Century early settlement period only to face the social and economic abyss which lay beyond.


Untitled by Les QuartermaineAbove: ‘Untitled’ by Les Quartermaine and G.Q. Woods. The painting, which is in the Carrolup Style, was made on a cell wall in the old Fremantle Gaol in 1991. Author David Whish-Wilson commented on it in his acclaimed 2013 publication; Perth  Wilson said; “…the last time I saw it I was taken by surprise -tears flooded my eyes. It was a gloomy winter’s day and the cell was darker than usual, and yet the painting’s radiant light completely overwhelmed me.”  My experience when I first saw this painting in March 2013, though it was a bright warm day, was similar. It is hauntingly beautiful.


I referred in an earlier post, Interlude Pursued -Part Six, to the birth of my neice’s second son, Daryl Quartermaine Junior, or Djaye as he’s better known. The mention was part of a wider conversation relating to the difficulty most Noongar families have in tracing their ancestry, especially when researching the earliest days of settlement when the introduction of written records crossed over with the strictly oral practices of the Aborigines. In that post I was exploring the background to who-was-who relative to the Aborigines caught up in the Cocanarup killings (the Interlude sub-series being entirely concerned with that). Tracing family lineages is fascinating and hugely rewarding, but with regard to the Noongar experience the process is fraught with difficulty, meaning mistakes are not only easily and often made, but outcomes are all too frequently left unresolved.

Colonial record keepers preserved a great many traditional Aboriginal names while simultaneously putting an end to their continuity. Aboriginal people, as far as the colonists were concerned, were far more easily identified through the application of English language monikers than by attempting to reproduce sounds they had great difficulty hearing. Where the colonists tried and the same person’s name was recorded on two or more occasions, the spellings are usually different and therefore difficult to impossible to match.

This process meant many of the more notable Aborigines took on social tags often tied to the names of settlers, or locations attributed to the settlers, with which the record keepers associated them. Some of these settler/Aborigine relationships were purely employment related. In others there were women involved but no known or recorded children, while in others again where there may have been children those children were sadly claimed only by their mothers.  In these cases the children may still have adopted the settler’s name as it was applied by their mothers or closest relations who understood who the father or associated landowner was.

Of course settlers made genuine bonds as well, these men often remaining true to their Aboriginal partners and children across many years, happily bestowing their names to the families we know today. In these cases the European origin patriarch was either dedicated to his Aboriginal partner or had two families for which he took responsibility, one white and one black. In many cases, through the role of oral record keeping, matriarchal Aboriginal names have been preserved by Noongar families. The names of some main patriarchal figures also survived and have since been paired with the various written genealogies gathered over the last hundred or so years and which are now generally accessible.

In the Quartermaine case, almost everything is known about the father and his English origin family, but next to nothing about their mother, despite her large family.

As we have seen and as is all too well understood in the Indigenous community today, a great many people have come and gone either without recognition or were mistakenly identified as someone else. Indeed, many changed their names at the behest and beckoning of related class conscious white (or part-white) families who wanted to put distance between them. Because of this and because of the historical difficulty in accessing and maintaining reliable records, there is still a very strong desire among many families to sort out persistent questions relating to identity.

One of these questions relates to the Quartermaine clan. The modern identity of this now old West Australian family gained prominence at Katanning via tumultuous beginnings at the Avon Valley. Because of the centrality of Katanning to the entire South West Aboriginal grouping and because of its continuing relevance to the Aborigines of the South Coast, and because my grand-nephew bears the Quartermaine name, I thought I’d spend time researching in the hope it might make things a little more clear while bringing us closer to what was happening inland from Albany during the crucial 1830 to 1880 period.

It is vital to say at this point that I could not even attempt such an undertaking without help. To that end I have to thank in advance Mr John Chandler, Great Great Grandson of Kitty Notuman, a central Aboriginal personality of the early Katanning era.


Jack Maher, Bordenan and NgalanganAbove: John Maher Jnr with wife and daughter. But which John Maher Jnr and which wife?  Image drawn from Lois Tilbrook’s valuable Nyungar Tradition book.



Postscript; 15 Oct, 2020: The following paragraphs relating to John Jack Maher and family have been updated to reflect new information brought to life since this story was first published.


For a long time the man in the above photograph was thought to be John Jack Maher, a friend of Elijah Quartermaine Junior whose father, Elijah Senior, established at Yowangup, Katanning, during the 1840s.  Records show Maher was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1827 and that he arrived into W.A. a convict aboard the Phoebe Dunbar in 1853, soon after applying to marry Bordrian (Bordenan) at Albany, with whom he is thought to have had at least one child. At that time the colonial government was trying to encourage interracial unions and offered ten acres of land to Aboriginal women who took on such a challenge. Three other men made similar marriage applications between 1855 and 1860, each of the women, except one, being brought up in the Camfield school for Aboriginal women at Albany. The one woman who wasn’t was employed as a domestic hand at Candyup by Patrick and Mary Taylor. The problem here is that the photo wasn’t taken until at least the late 1890s which discredits the subject’s identities. By then John Jack Maher was in his 70s, which the man in the photo clearly is not.

Recent investigation undertaken by his descendants reveals Maher had at least one child, a son, with Bordenan, whom he may have called John but whom was known among the Katanning Aborigines as Ngurabirding.

There was another John Maher Snr in the district at the same time too. By almost farcical co-incidence this man was also born in Co. Limerick in the west of Ireland two years after the convict John Jack Maher.  The second John Maher (John Maher-2) was a pensioner guard stationed at Kojonup during the 1860s. This John Maher married catherine McGough, daughter of an Irish soldier also stationed at Kojonup barracks. The ceremony took place at the Catholic Cathedral in Perth during 1866. The couple had five children, including in 1869 a boy they called John Maher Junior.

There is a Jack Maher at Katanning listed among the Bates genealogies. The Aborigines at Katanning in 1907 knew this Maher as Ngurabirding, a man from Jeramungain (probably relating to the locality of farms where his father had earlier worked – Eticup). Bates’s genealogies show Ngurabirding partnered an Aboriginal woman from the Katanning district known as Waiaman. Their daughter was called Rachel (Toovey). Some descendants of John Jack Maher-1 believe this photo is of them.

However, some descendants of John Maher-2 and Catherine McGough say the photo above may be of an Aboriginal son their ancestor had with  an indigenous woman they name as Kitty Grover, and that it was taken at New Norcia mission and the woman in the photo is Emily Maggs, John Maher Jnr’s registered wife, and the girl is their daughter Maria Louisa, born c. 1901. If true, this means the man in the photo is John Maher the cricketer, a member of the Invincibles, the famous New Norcia all indigenous cricket team of the 1880s and 1890s.

Perhaps one day the truth will be known.

Use of this story digresses from the immediate Quartermaine one but there is a connection here which we will return to much further on. For now the story serves to illustrate the sort of confusion that has thwarted many Noongar family researchers attempting to trace their genealogies over the years. Nowdays, however, with digitisation, the power of the internet and popular pursuit of genealogy among many old Australian families, much more information is available and a lot of it becoming less tangled. Perhaps we will learn at some point whether Mary Wartum/Wantum, grandmother of the Noongar Quartermaines, was a York woman as has been held by oral tradition all down the line, or that as there is no physical evidence of her coming from that direction she may in fact be related to the Aboriginal wife of John Jack Maher-1, Bordenan.

This line of enquiry is simply that and no more. In the meantime we go back to England and commence with a look into the indentity and back-story of Elijah Quartermaine Senior and the young wife who came out to the Swan River Colony with him, Elizabeth Dickenson.


Elijah Quatermaine of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire, England


There’s a reasonable amount of information on the origins and heritage of the Quartermaine name available on the internet through the many commercial and privately managed genealogy sites, including this onethis one and this one.The name can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of the 13th century and is most associated with the middle England counties of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Northampton.

Elijah Quartermaine of Farthinghoe, Northampton, arrived into the world 31st July 1814. His wife, Elizabeth (Eliza) Dickenson, was born 9th May, 1819. It’s difficult to establish what took place in the couple’s lives before they left for Australia, suffice to say it looks as if Elijah was a horseman or shepherd who had found his way south of Northampton into Wiltshire where he took up employment under Dr Samuel Waterman Viveash. While there it seems likely Quartermaine met Elizabeth Dickenson, probably also indentured to the Viveash estate as housekeeper. The couple married on 30 November 1837 at Garsington, Oxfordshire, very probably in the knowledge they were about to embark on a great foreign adventure.  Elijah was 24 years old and Elizabeth just 19 and in an advanced state of pregnancy when the Viveash household sailed. Their first child, Charles, was born 29 August 1838, at sea.

Dr Viveash and his wife will have been considering a move to the colonies since his brother Charles had emigrated with another prominent early Perth settler, William Tanner, in 1830. Both the Tanners and Viveashs were  established middle-class Methodist families from Calne, Wiltshire, which had been related through marriage for at least two centuries. William Tanner settled on the Swan River at Guildford (living at James Stirling’s Woodbridge Cottage but owning land at Bassendean which he called Baskerville), while Charles Viveash lived at Midland. The pair and their families were part of an influx that boosted the Upper Swan’s population from about ten to about one hundred between 1830 and 1831, in the process dramatically increasing tensions with the resident Wadjuk Aborigines.

Soon after Samuel Viveash’s cousin William Tanner arrived in 1830, Ensign Robert Dale, who has come in for various mentions in these pages for his surveying activities at Albany, discovered the Avon River valley during the winter of 1830. Delighted to hear of its fertility Governor Stirling had it opened up to settlers within months. Thirty four grants covering over 100, 000 acres were issued, most allocated to absent landlords; that is, Stirling’s military cronies and settlers who had invested in the colony and who were still entitled to land grants under the Governor’s original scheme but had little to no capability (or willingness) to improve them. This meant only a few brave souls, including Revett Henry Bland, who we also know through these pages for his 1841 list of Aborigines in the Albany area, were prepared to travel the sixty odd miles inland over the Darling Scarp and actually commence the business of agriculture. That adventurous few did this by September 1831 and thereby established what became the town of York.


Avon River mapAbove: York, 60 miles due east of Perth, was first settled in 1831. Elijah and Eliza Quartermaine arrived there eight years later, in 1839, after the first settlers experienced an intense period of conflict with the offended Ballardong Aborigines whose home boodja it remains. Map Source; Wikipedia Avon River


Seven years later, in 1838, William Tanner decided to charter the Britomart in order to bring out more Methodists to help bolster the labour pool and to offer opportunities to other willing emigres. Dr Samuel Viveash, his brother Robert and brother-in-law John Frederick Smith, were one such party. On arrival they couldn’t find agreeable land anywhere along theSwan River and therefore looked further afield.  Collectively, they leased one of those early untended York lots, called Woodlands, then, in June 1839, bought almost 12000 acres closer to Beverley, in Avon Location H, from James Walcott Esq. This property they called Yangedine (sometimes spelled Yangerdin) though it may be more easily recognised these days as Gilgering.

Samuel Viveash kept a diary for the first few years of his time in Western Australia, including the outward voyage. The shipboard entries are particularly detailed, offering deep insight into the nature of emigration sailings to the Australian colonies at the time. Viveash’s diary also provides important information regarding the movement of himself and his employees during their early establishment.

For another comprehensive assessment of Elijah and Elizabeth Quartermaine’s movements between Guildford, York, Beverley and then Yowangup at Katanning, see Merle Bignell‘s 1981 work; A Place to Meet : A History of the Shire of Katanning, Western Australia


Viveash refers to Qtrmaine

Above: This transcribed entry from The Diary of Dr Samuel Viveash is dated 28 November 1838 when the Britomart was just five days out from Fremantle. The entire shipboard component of the diary reveals the difficult nature of such voyages, particularly the complex and sometimes dramatic social outcomes generated by the close interaction of crew, cabin and steerage passengers. The Quartermaine’s first child, Charles, was delivered by Dr Viveash at sea a month into the four month journey. In this excerpt Viveash describes Elijah Quartermaine as ‘my man,’ confirming the formal relationship between the two prior to arrival.

From Swan River to the Avon Valley

In the two month period between arrival and arrangements at York being made, Elijah Quartermaine (as well as Viveash’s other indentured men) worked for the lawyer and Noongar language interpreter George Fletcher Moore,  at Guildford. Moore was part of the September 1831 exploration and settlement party at York and also a land owner in the Avon Valley. Moore, Francis Armstrong and Robert Menli Lyon had spent most of the 1830’s befriending and defending the rights of the Aborigines of the Swan River from exclusion and punishments meted out by the colonists for the resistance they put up to the usurping of their traditional country; including the shooting dead of Gogalee by John McKail in February 1835.

By the time The Viveash party arrived at Moore’s place, the Swan River had been largely ‘pacified’ and the frontier of violence moved eastwards to the Avon Valley and South to theVasse River. Perhaps Elijah Quartermaine learned something from his experience with Moore and took it with him to Yangedine? A little further on I’ll spend some time noting various incidents that took place at or near York in an attempt to elucidate the sense of fear many of the settlers felt, but it’s sufficient to say here that Elijah Quartermaine does not look to have been troubled by Aboriginal frustrations either at York/Beverley or later at Katanning.

Other passengers aboard the Britomart included John Fleay, who also went to the Avon Valley, as did another indentured servant to Dr Samuel Viveash, Richard Strange. The Fleay family story entwined with the Quatermaine’s in later years, while the Strange family history, like the Quartermaines, also branches into the indigenous arena.  Along with a just a few more men of this era, including Cornwall, Humphries and Smith, descend a number of other Noongar families closely associated with the Quartermaines.

A contemporary descendant of Richard Strange, Denny Prussian, produced in 2007 a thesis for Southern Cross University which explores the journey of his 19th Century ancestors from English agricultural laborers to mixed-race identities in modern Western Australia. Prussian’s research and deep felt application to his work has been useful in helping me piece together not only this particular post, but to deepen my own understanding of the relationships which existed between the earliest settlers and their new found land. Prussian’s work is a warm and close examination of the past relative to today. Insightful, informative and intelligent, it’s called Strange and you can read it here.
York Beverley Bonzle MapAbove: Elijah Quartermaine and his sons were long associated with Yangedine farm near Beverley. They are also linked to the Avondae and Addington properties. Quartermaine became a well known flock master in the area. Sometime prior to 1852, Elijah Quartermaine had been led one hundred and twenty five miles south to an area of native grassland known as Yowangup. The grassland was east of the army barracks at Kojonup on the Perth Albany Road and had almost been purchased by John Hassell. In later years Yowangup gave way to the settlement of Katanning. Location image courtesy of Bonzle maps.


So, from the winter of 1839 Elijah and Eliza Quartermaine, beholden to the wishes of their employer, worked between Woodlands at York and Yangedine, fifteen odd miles further up the Avon River toward the locality of Beverley. In 1842 Dr Viveash left the partnership and moved back to the Swan Valley, in fact to William Tanner’s Wexcombe house at Midland, which he bought, and from where he concentrated on being a medical practitioner rather than farmer. The Quartermaines, required by the ongoing ownership of Yangedine by Smith and Robert Viveash, remained.

The terms of the Quartermaine’s indenture to Dr Viveash are difficult to establish but can probably be reckoned to amount to around five years. This was common for servants attached to emigrating households and covered the terms of their passage and care on arrival.  This suggests terms might have been renegotiated as part of the Doctor’s departure back to the Swan Valley and it’s possible Quartermaine became a free man. In any case, by the time Dr Viveash returned to the Swan Valley, Elijah Quartermaine looks to have  either acquired or leased his first land holding as Viveash recorded that his brother-in-law John Smith had arranged to have it ploughed for him. Quartermaine then sowed and harrowed his own wheat.

Elijah and Eliza were at Yangedine when the property (or another part of it) was leased to the prominent settler, horse breeder, John Taylor around 1852.  As far as I can make out this looks to have been that half of the property owned by John Frederick Smith. The Quartermaines look then to have had some association with Avondale Park, originally James Stirling’s own 5000 acre grant near the confluence of the Dale and Avon water courses, in the same general locality. The couple’s tenth child, Frederick Quartermaine, is registered as born at Avondale in 1857. By this time Elijah Quartermaine was a successful and prominent tenant farmer whose eldest sons were also making their way as sheep men.

Elijah Quatermaine may have been a stablemaster back in England but he became a shepherd, or flock manager when he got to Western Australia. In the early days of sheep farming, especially during the pre-convict era, labour was short and skilled men could command good wages. The shortage of reliable shepherds was caused by the rapid increase in sheep numbers. In 1836 there were only 8000 in the entire colony, 5000 of them at York, but by 1841 the overall number had risen to 45000. Remember, Edward John Eyre brought his two shiploads to Albany in March 1840 and overlanded them to the Avon Valley. Quartermaine was well placed.

By 1842 York flock owners were driving their sheep deeper into the southern valleys and plains in search of grass, returning in the Spring for shearing.

In 1843, the York settler Henry Burgh said his head shepherd was paid £4 per month, tobacco and a daily ration of tea, sugar, two pounds of meat and two pounds of flour. His other shepherds were paid £3 per month and the same keep (Fyfe; The Bale Fillers; pg 13). Responsibility was great too, especially prior to the identification of poison bush which wreaked havoc up until the mid 1840s. (Eyre lost around 200 of his 800 to poison bush around Kojonup).

Now, records show that Elijah took up his own lease at Yowangup Spring in the Kojonup District, one hundred and sixty miles south, and was officially grazing there from 1852. Quartermaine acquired at least some of his beginning stock from Dr Viveash and probably later from the lingering Robert Viveash/John Smith partnership on a share basis. He also contracted his shepherding services to other flock owners. Dr Viveash recorded that he had paid Quartermaine three ewes with lambs as early as January 1842.

Substantiating the nature of paying (or part paying) stock managers, William Tanner wrote in a letter in 1843;

Shepherds often undertook the care of a flock under an arrangement whereby at the end of the season the owner would retain perhaps two in every three of the natural increase and maybe half the wool, the remaining sheep and wool were going to the shepherd as payment for shepherding during the year, washing and shearing the sheep, and picking the wool.

The Quartermaines explored and eventually took up land over a hundred miles to the south but were recorded as still living in Beverley in the census of 1859, a record of which is available on-line through the State Records Office’s Aeon Investigator tool. You can find the Quartermaine entry here.  It shows the impressive extent of Elijah’s prowess, built up over twenty years.


Elija Snr at Marracoonda Spring - Bignell Pg 21

Above: Excerpt from Pg 21 of Merle Bignell’s Katanning; A Place to Meet. Bignell indicates Viveash’s 6000 acres were auctioned but the sale does not look to have proceeded.

Trouble at Home


Robert Viveash retained half of the original 12,000 acre Yangedine property and it looks as if Elijah ran it for him. In the census return of 1859, Elijah had listed his and Elizabeth’s ages as 42 and 37 respectively. Two years less than they actually were. He also listed his entire family to that point (nine children) plus twelve other persons as belonging to the establishment. This included shepherds, hut keepers, farm labourers, a tutor and housekeeper. Neither total acreage nor the name of the property are given, but 166 acres were said to be under crops and another 15 were cleared and ready. Quartermaine listed his stock as amounting to 3300 sheep, 160 pigs, 40 horses and 3 goats.

Quartermaine still had his family living there in 1864, despite having built a house at his southern lease. We know this because Elijah was badly wounded by one of his employees at Beverley that year.

34 year old William Graham, a conditionally pardoned convict transported on a manslaughter charge, shot Elijah late one night after Elijah returned home ‘unexpectedly.’ Giving evidence during the Supreme Court trial which resulted Elijah said the land he was living on at that time was owned by Mr Viveash.


Avon District 7 - Cut QC MapAbove: Cut taken from the Avon District Plan 7 – Tally 510262 uploaded to the internet by the State Records Office in August 2015. The map is dated 1882 indicating Robert Viveash and J.F. Smith retained split ownership of the once 12000 acre Yangedine estate during the time Elijah was shot and in fact until well after the death of Eliza Dickenson Quartermaine in 1873.


Newspaper reports of the incident and trial reveal Graham had been employed as a shepherd (over a hundred miles distant) and as ‘a bird stuffer’ and appears to have been in some kind of  romantic tangle with Eliza. Graham arrived as a life-sentenced convict aged 28 years in 1858, but was given his ticket of leave around April 1861 after which he burnt lime about Fremantle for a time before heading to the Avon Valley to tend a small plot of land. Graham was a farm labourer and balladeer from Cumbria, north west England, and was fully ten tears younger than Eliza. I suspect he was charismatic and possibly afflicted with a mental health condition. He was intelligent and clearly soulful, but prone to violence. You can read much more about him and his surviving traditional Cumbrian ballads here.

Graham was said to be living in a hut on the Yangedine property at the time of the incident. By 1864, the house at Yowangup (Katanning) was two years built and Elijah Snr had probably been spending long periods of time there, allowing for the relationship between Eliza and William Graham to grow. It’s worth bearing in mind too that Elijah had probably spent a significant portion of his time away from the family home while he was building his wealth.

In any case, the story goes that William Graham was in Elijah and Eliza’s bedroom when Elijah was supposed to be away in Perth. When Elijah returned ‘unexpectedly’ Graham tried to flee and shot Elijah on the way out. The shot was fired from close range and penetrated three inches into Elijah’s left side. Any other angle would have resulted in his lungs and or heart and or major arteries being damaged. According to the doctor, he was very, very lucky.


Quartermaine robbed by Graham 1864Above: Excerpt from The West Australian Times, 31 March 1864. The notice reads; Graham, t.l. (ticket of leave) was heard of about one hundred and sixty miles from York. He robbed Quartermaine’s station there; young Quartermaine laid an information at York to this effect on Saturday morning.


Graham went on the run after the incident on March 3rd and was reported at the end of the month to have called at Yowangup. ‘Young Quartermaine’ (probably Elijah Jnr, aged 22) took the news to the York police. The trial took place six weeks later after Graham was apprehended at the Fitzgerald Riverusing Aboriginal help. What’s most curious here is that Eliza, though summonsed to court, did not appear.

Graham once again got off lucky, Elijah did not die and the attempted murder charge was downgraded to one of an attempt to do grievous bodily harm, of which Graham was convicted and received a life sentence.

William Graham very cleverly escaped from Fremantle prison with two other men three years later and was on the run again for some time afterwards, reportedly calling on the Quartermaines at Yowangup again where he told them he had, “been in hell the last three years and did not intend to go back to Fremantle again.’  He was eventually tracked to land east of Yowangup where he was wounded in an affray with the police. He gave himself up to one of Elijah Quatermaine’s shepherds soon after.

Richard Quartermaine, last of the births registered to Elijah, arrived 29 June, 1864. The infant did not survive and was buried two days later. Tellingly, his death certificate lists the boy’s father as Elijah Quartermaine and the mother as ‘Unknown’. There is general recognition that Richard may in fact have been the son of William Graham, that he was born at the home of Charles Quartermaine (eldest son of Elijah and Eliza) where Eliza was seeking refuge and that Charles, in order to disguise the perceived disgrace, manipulated the records.

A William Graham, sheep farmer aged 70 years, is recorded as having passed away from natural causes at Hill River, Dandaragan, on 1st October, 1891. It seems this may be the same William Graham. Dandaragan is about 120 miles north of the Swan River at Perth and is regarded as being part of the Wheatbelt.

Trove keeps newspaper articles on the Graham trial here and here. There is also mention in the Journal and Proceedings of the W.A.H.S. (Vol 2, Oct 1939) under an article by C. Treadgold; Bushrangers in Western Australia; Incidents of ’67 along with various other newspaper clippings available through Trove.


Quartermaine Family by Grt Sthn PIoneers - Rastric

Above: The family of Elijah Quartermaine and Elizabeth Dickenson as detailed by Ted Rastric at his Great Southern Pioneerswebsite. Elijah Quartermaine Junior was sometimes referred to as Elijah Nigel. There were two Henry Quartermaines, the first passing away aged two in 1846. Somewhere along the line Elijah Junior picked up the tag Elijah Nigel but there does not seem to be any reason for it.


So, between 1840 and the disastrous year of 1864, Elijah and Eliza brought a further twelve children into the world, all in the Avon Valley district between the Addington, Avondale and Yangedine homesteads. After March 1864 it isn’t known whether Eliza and Elijah remained together. It seems to me they did not. It seems to me Elijah Quartermaine effectively cut off all association with Eliza and dismissed her from his life. I haven’t seen a divorce record but from 1863 such cases were heard in the Supreme Court at Perth so there’s every chance the archives hold that part of the story.

Elijah looks to have moved permanently to his southern homestead at Yowangup at this time, leaving Eliza either in the house at Yangedine or with one or other of her sons, Charles or Alfred, both of whom were married by then. As mentioned, it seems she was with eldest son Charles in the immediate post incident period, but how long this lasted is difficult to determine.

Eliza Quartermaine, nee Dickenson, died in November 1873, aged 54 years, probably from blood poisoning caused by an infection resulting from a double-g burr ingrained through a finger. Her death certificate bares a misspelling of the Quartermaine name and her place of burial is unknown. Though there appears to have been mounting concern over the state of her health, and that Elijah was made aware, Eliza was unable to secure medical help in time. Following her death, it would appear the management and cost of Eliza Dickenson’s passing was not taken up by her ex-husband.
Eliza Qrtrmaine Death Notice I&CN 3.12.1873Above: Buried deep in the columns of the Inquirer and Commercial News, a single unannounced paragraph describes the unremarkable passing of the wife of an old settler. Eliza Dickenson Quartermaine died 23 November 1873, probably at Beverley.


Eight Boys!

Of Eliza’s thirteen births ten survived, and of those ten, eight were boys. Elijah Senior will have been pleased, to an extent, with the labour his sons will have offered as they grew into men, but he will have been deeply concerned for their prospects too. On Elijah’s mind will have been the question of how they were going to provide for themselves when the division of his accumulated wealth would not be enough. To that end it seems he looked toward what he had learned in his own experience, that his best assets were his work ethic and capability along with a growing understanding of land and stock management and of the land grant and exchange systems and how they could be exploited. It meant sacrifices, droving over and occupying crown land ever further away from the established areas, but the reward for the willing and capable was the opportunity to buy or claim land of their own; something beyond most indentured servants if they’d stayed in England.

Comparisons here can be drawn with the Dempster family who I haven’t touched upon much in these pages yet as they didn’t impact the South Coast until the 1860s. Though there were fewer of them, the Dempster sons were also growing up in the York district and faced the same set of circumstances, eventually deciding to exploit land around Esperance. This was something which impacted to a very great extent on the Aborigines of that area. The Dempsters were a moneyed family as well, while the Quartermaines were not. At least not in the same way. The Quartermaines did not have the resources to charter boats, influence government officials, rely on other moneyed families for interim support, accumulate large flocks and associated horses, cattle and men, and drive them hundreds of miles overland to a pre-selected destination where they could immediately set about building accommodation and setting up home. The Quartermaine challenge, earlier than the Dempster one too, was to build flocks through their own organic means and through the work they did for others, then to find suitable ground open to droving, squatting, or else licensed depasturing (which cost a minimum of £10) in order to raise lambs and gain wool.


Looking South

The Perth-Albany Road


In order to understand more fully the circumstances the Quartermaines might have faced at the time they moved south, it’s important to look at the uptake and exploitation of land in the area between York and what became the town of Katanning. This occurred first along a route linking Albany and York upon which a military barracks was established at a point known as Kojonup Spring. This location is vital to the history we are interested in as it predates the establishment of other settlements along the route (specifically Beaufort River) by fifteen years and Katanning by sixty.

The Perth Albany Road was heavily influential in the opening up of grazing land inland and southwards of the Swan River itself. The route was always there, an Aboriginal pad (bidi) linking water sources and kalas between wider tribal groups, but it was first (roughly) marked out on paper by the enthusiastic but ultimately unhappy Bannister expedition of 1831 (Garden:  Albany: A Panorama: Pgs 24/5).  Bannister said of the land in the Williams District around the Beaufort River;

In many places of a park like appearance, not possessing more timber than was sufficient for ornament, and covered with an abundance of the finest grass fit for sheep and cattle, from the summits of the hills we commanded a view for miles the picturesque and fertile appearance of which surpassed our most sanguine expectations… The grass which was in large patches was yellow at this season, and at a distance did not look unlike ripe corn.


Anonymous Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia -Hunting - The Finish - ca. 1949Above: In many places of a park like appearance, not possessing more timber than was sufficient for ornament, and covered with an abundance of the finest grass. . . Thomas Bannister 1831.  The painting is by an unknown Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia. Called “Hunting – The Finish”, it was made around 1949. Image courtesy of Colgate University Flickr Page.


In the twenty years that followed Bannister’s troubled hike,  a southwards cross-country track following the water courses (such as they were outside winter) was etched by drovers, shooters and wood cutters operating between York and the South Coast. This enormous tract of country was extremely sparsely settled until well into the 1860s, which meant the Aborigines only had to deal with the seasonal presence of the newcomers, and in such few numbers they were not troubled or aggrieved to anything like the extent seen along the Swan, Avon, Murray and Vasse Rivers.

However, a more specific north-south route came into being as well, essentially plowed by the mail carriers ferrying international, intercolonial and domestic communications between the preferred port at Albany and the administrative center at Perth. The primary link points of this route were Kojonup Spring, Williams River and the town of York. This route (or most of it) became known as the Perth Albany Road, eventually becoming Albany Highway.

In 1939, the Great Southern Herald  newspaper (based at Katanning) published a summary history of Albany Highway.  The road is central to Katanning’s pre-existing neighbour settlement Kojonup and therefore, by extension, Katanning itself. You can read the full article here.  I have abbreviated (and made additions) to create the following timeline.

14 Dec 1830 – 4 Feb 1831: Over the summer of 1830/31, Captain Thomas Bannister led the first group to overland from the Swan River to King George’s Sound. Among them was George Smythe of the Surveyor General’s Office. The group took 52 days to make the trip, naming the Frankland and Forth Riversat the time.  Because of the wayward navigation of the journey, the expedition is generally not regarded as part of the history of the Perth Albany Road.

November 1835:  In an effort to encourage inland settlement, a party led by Governor Stirling and Surveyor-General John Septimus Roe surveyed a route joining Albany with York via Williams with the focus of the journey being the route south of the Hotham River. On the way down they traversed country immediately to the east of Katanning (Ewlyamartup) and on the way back country to the west (Carrolup), noting ‘grass as high as our knees’ and ‘very fair sheep country’. That year Roe’s Survey Department zoned and lotted the so-called Williams district.

July–September 1836:  Assistant Surveyors Alfred Hillman and D. Smith started road surveys at Government instruction. Hillman from the Albany end, while Smith concurrently commenced from Perth.

February 1837:  Alfred Hillman accompanied a group that made the trip to Perth in 12 days (as opposed to Bannister’s 52) journeying along the surveyed route via Chorkurup, Thokokup, Mount Barker, Lake Matilda, Kojonup, Arthur River and Williams. This group was led by Joseph Strelly Harris, and included Lieutenant Armstrong with eight soldiers of the 21st Fusiliers stationed at Albany at the time. During this trip the area around Kojonup was described as Warriups (now Warrenup). Patrick Taylor and the Albany Aborigine Kartrull (Handsome) and Dr. Thomas Harrison were also in the group. A newspaper article detailing the journey can be found here.

April 1838: Four bridges were built near Albany by the South Coast settler John Young. Some reports indicate the presence of a short-lived military post at Kojonup Spring.

1839:  Governor John Hutt ventured to Albany on an official visit, travelling through Williams and Kojonup. Also, Joseph Strelly Harris drove sheep from Albany to the Williams River, where he took up land, in November. (Harris’s presence at Williams had a major influence on the York farmers looking for more grazing country.) Very late in the year J.S. Roe set out overland for Albany once again.

1840: Assistant Surveyor Hillman led a large group of Albany settlers to Perth, via  Joseph’s Wells (Warkleup Spring, Kojonup), Balgarrup and Mandalup; whilst in the same year Edward John Eyre shepherded a large flock of sheep and some cattle from Albany to York. A small group of Albany settlers began grazing at Kojonup.

June 1841: A monthly mail route was set up travelling from Albany to Perth via Kojonup and Williams. Tough conditions along the route saw a different contractor providing the service each year. The 51st Regiment probably took up at Kojonup this year as well.

January 1845:  A detchament of the 96th Regiment at Albany was dispatched to Kojonup (to replace those of the 51st) where they built a stone barracks, the oldest surviving structure in Kojonup. This building replaced the wooden hut used by previous soldiers stationed there.

1847: The Perth–Albany route was adjusted, so that the mail would travel from Albany to Kojonup, then head west to Bunbury on the coast, and subsequently up to Perth via Rockingham and Fremantle.

1851: Investigations of a more direct route (excluding Bunbury and York) began with convict labour intended to build the road. Assistant Surveyor Augustus. C. Gregory reported the direct route would be 57 miles (92 km) shorter than the route via Bunbury, and 40 miles (64 km) shorter than the York route.

September 1852: Construction was recommended after the mail contractor George Maxwell completed a journey along the newly proposed route.

1853: Construction commenced and fifty miles (80 km) had been completed by October. A police outstation was placed at Beaufort River around this time and Pensioner Guards, whose duty it was to supervise the convicts, began taking up residency at the Kojonup Barracks. The whole road took ten years to build and was finished in 1863. During this time the number of leases around the Beaufort River expanded significantly, drawing down from the Avon Valley pastoralist businessmen, the sons of indentured settlers (such as Elijah Quatermaine and John Fleay) as well as some of the more ambitious and capable shepherds and labourers, who came to establish today’s more historic farms. At this point we should also note the names Bennet (Bennet’s Bridge) and Cornwall for later reference.

The road served as the main link between Perth and Albany until the 1880s, when the Great Southern Railway opened.

Kojonup Spring, Kojonup Grass and Kojonup Barracks


Now, with regard to known settlement and the taking up of land around the Kojonup barracks. The beginning was interrupted by the effects of the so-called Poison Bush and needs to be discussed.


Williams Beverley DistrictsAbove: The Williams and Kojonup Political Districts. Williams District was zoned and lotted in 1835, Kojonup District in  1840. A.C. Gregory surveyed what became the Kojonup  to Katanning route in conjunction with John Hassell in 1846. Kojonup townsite was surveyed in 1840 by  Alfred Hillman.


In 1839/40 Roe had made another of his overland journeys to the South Coast, this time instructing Alfred Hillman at Albany to draw up a town plan then journey on to Kojonup and survey it. At this news opportunistic Albany based settlers Peter Belches and Hugh McDonald drove flocks that far in order to squat on the land. Thomas Symers bought 100 acres (Kojonup Lot 2, immediately north of the spring) and leased the townsite (surrounding the spring), bringing his and other stock he contracted to raise to the locality by the end of the year. Symers employed George Maxwell as his stock manager.

Poison Bush had destroyed over 200 of Eyre’s sheep in March/April of 1840 and the Albany settlers within twelve months had experienced similar or worse percentages. As quickly as they took up at Kojonup these men pulled out.

Now, as we know, John Hassell arrived back from England in 1839 immediately acquiring the Cheyne and Morley grants at Moorilup, which he called Kendenup.  In 1841 he applied for another 2800 acre holding on the nearby Hay River as well as a further 1200 acres at Kendenup soon after. (See UpriverGeorge Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery and/or Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 3)  Simultaneously, Hassell witnessed the effects of poison bush ruin those first graziers at Kojonup and heard of other disastrous tales north of there, but he was always ready to further increase his land holdings if the right opportunity arose and, almost certainly heartened by the identification of the Gastrolibium species as York Road Poison by the Agricultural Society at Guildford (aided by J.S. Harris and the Botanist James Drummond), by 1843 began suggesting he might take on the risk and commence grazing at Kojonup himself. Two years later Hassell had taken up a lease next to Warkleup Spring, a short distance south east of Kojonup Spring, and was considering other options inland to the north and east.

Importantly, Kojonup was made a military post from 1838 in order to protect the vital government mail link between Albany and Perth and as a general measure of support for settlers in the vast area surrounding it. Details of the occupation are scant but according to various sources it was originally, but only briefly, staffed by members of the 21st Regiment of Royal British fusiliers led by Lieutenant Charles Armstrong. Curiously, Lieutenant Armstrong died suddenly in September 1838 while carrying out duties at the troubled Vasse River region occupied by the Bussell family. Armstrong’s obituary is here. For some reason the barracks was then abandoned. Re-occupied by 1842 by a detachment of the 51st Regiment (The Inquirer 2.3.1842), it wasn’t until 1845 when a detachment of the 96th Regiment was sent up from Albany to take over and the lasting structure was built.

Despite the sketchy nature of the military presence at Kojonup, some of the soldiers who spent time there subsequently accepted land grants and took up farming. One of these soldiers was Corporal Richard Norrish (see Thomas Norrish of Broomehill – AHS Collection, Albany Library).

Apparently, Norrish had been landed in Albany from Van Diemen’s Land just a day when he was given the task of leading an eight man detachment of his 96th Regiment group to Kojonup. They walked, as did his sons a few weeks after him while his wife and younger children rode in a cart driven by the earlier described bridge builder John Young and his son David.

Now, there were a couple of incidents involving Kojonup Aborigines which the Norrish family became involved with. I’ll go into these further on, but for now its important to know that Norrish was present. After the 96th Regiment was transferred to Perth at the end of 1848 and then advised in 1849 it was bound for India, Norrish applied for and was granted a discharge. He worked for Soloman Cook in Perth for a few months but suffered a serious work-related back injury which forced him to leave. Partially crippled, Norrish packed up his family and went back to Kojonup where he took up townsite lot number two and then bought Hassell’s abandoned nearby Warkelup Spring property. Hassell, early in 1849, decided his interests lay at Jarramungup and Kendenup. Warkleup had a hut built on it in which his shepherds had lived. Norrish bought the lot for £10 but on two year terms that demanded he pay back £20.


Norrish KojonupAbove: A cut from the Dept of Lands and Surveys location chart of the Kojonup District. The map features the Kojonup town site and John Hassell’s original lease neighboring Warkelup Spring. The map was compiled sometime after 1890 from the field notes of Assistant Surveyor Augustus C. Gregory who explored the region during 1845 and 1846. You can view a high resolution image of this map at the SRO’s on-line facility here.


Sandalwood and Wider Exploration of the Emerging Wheatbelt


On we go. From the early 1840’s York landowners and pastoralists were making forays in search of grass south of Beverley, following the Avon and Dale Rivers. In 1842 one of those men “took a native and rode to the hills.
Landor 1842 from Brookton and districts HSAbove: Excerpt taken from the Shire of Brookton Municipal Heritage Inventory. Henry Landor’s letter is referenced to the Brookton and Districts Historical Society and also quoted in newspapers of the day. Henry was one of three Landor brothers who established near York during the 1840s, setting out to become ‘sheep kings’.


From Landor’s letter (announcement, rather) we get a very clear sense of how the Wheatbelt began to be colonised southwards from York. By 1842 pastoralists were running sheep as far as Brookton and we can see how, using Aboriginal help, the path was cleared for them to commence seasonal occupation of the best watered ground. Landor ‘took a native’ because he needed safe access and communication. The ‘very superior grazing country’ of course had a name (in this case Wabbing), as did every other landmark and location out there.

You can read a very useful article from a 1913 edition of the West Australian newspaper which makes much of Landor’s exploration south and east of Beverley, discussing the Wheatbelt as an entity with just eighty odd years behind it. The article is here.

Now, one thing crucial to understanding the motivation of both the moneyed and unmoneyed pastoralists at the time was the costs associated with exploiting crown land. Prior to 1844 squatting was entirely free, so long as you get away with it. When Henry Landor was talking about the country around what became Brookton, he was referring to it as Crown Land. In 1842 Landor was free to find and use whatever grass he wanted so long as it wasn’t on land privately owned by another settler. The government didnt like it but the cost of preventing him was too great. This suited smaller scale stock owners such as Elijah Quartermaine too. All Elijah had to do was drive his stock out into open unclaimed country far enough away not bother anyone and look after them via the employment of a shepherd.However, in 1844 things began to change.

The 1840’s was a very difficult time for the new colony, more people were leaving than arriving and it was only the number of births greatly outweighing the number of deaths that prevented the actual population figures from decreasing. There was no money in the economy, all the cash had been used to buy imported goods, including livestock. This caused the price of stock to collapse and gave impetus to stock owners to pay their shepherds and shearers in either wool or animals; often both. In order to raise more money the government introduced Depasturing Regulations. This meant anyone who was using crown land to graze stock would have to pay for it. It meant buying a licence at a minimum cost of £10 per year for a minimum of 4000 acres.

The regulations took some time to come into force though, especially in outlying areas which had not been surveyed. The Survey Office had zoned and lotted the Williams and Kojonup Districts by 1840 but apart from surveying the Kojonup town site and sections of the proposed Perth Albany Road, none of the land had been mapped in any detail. This therefore made it impossible for the government to charge licence fees. Theoretically, from 1844 Elijah Quartermaine would have been facing costs, or else running the risk of a minimum £10 fine and/or imprisonment, but he also knew so long as he had his application lodged government could not begin charging him until the location had been surveyed and that the deeper the land was within unmapped territory the longer it would take for that to happen.

If by this time Elijah had found Yowangup Spring it would have presented itself very favorably to him by virtue of its isolation alone. Being deep inside the otherwise uninhabited Kojonup zone, it could take years before the survey department found it worth their while going there.

But depasturing wasn’t the only use the land was sought for, additional commercial forces acting for exploration of the land south of York came in the form of Sandalwood cutters. These men followed the main watercourses as far as Kojonup townsite. One of the main Sandalwood contractors during this period was The York hotellier, wool merchant and land owner, John Henry Monger. Over the period employees of Monger and other men scoured the country all the way to the Gordon River in the southern Kojonup district. From there, others picked up the mantle and ran with it along the Gordon through to the Pallinup Rivercatchment all the way to the coast around Cape Riche where George Cheyne kept his private port. (See George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery and Campbell Taylor and Cape Arid Connection – Part 1 for detail.)

For three years from 1845 Sandalwood exports boomed and Elijah Quartermaine, by that time building some economic momentum, got in on the act applying for licenses for two timber cutters in 1847. These men were likely based out of York but could have been operating as far south as the Kojonup District if Elijah was grazing down there by then. However, tumbling export prices and prohibitive distances between sources and ports quickly rendered the practice impractical. Only along the South Coast, within low cost reach of exporting ships (including whalers) did the business persist. Nonetheless, the mid 1840’s boom will have seen men and wagons trundling along the water courses uprooting Sandalwood trees in less numbers but with the same impunity the sealers employed when they tore through the rookeries of Australia’s southern littoral forty to fifty years earlier.

The Historian Pamela Statham-Drew contributed a very useful paper on the history of the Sandalwood industry in Australia and it is available here.

George Cheyne’s port at Cape Riche gave impetus to exploitation of the Pallinup RiverSandalwood reserves running upwards from the South Coast during the second half of the 1840’s. George Maxwell, Belches stock manager at Kojonup, was instrumental in the development of the Sandalwood tracks in this vicinity after further explorations he made in 1846 with the Botanist James Drummond (initiated in 1843 from the Avon Valley). By accounts (Bignell; The Fruit of the Country) Maxwell had a happy rapport with the Aborigines and was therefore influential to some extent in the wider introduction of the Koreng and Wilman tribal groups to the presence of the Europeans.


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. Much of the country had been surveyed and lotted under the Williams and Kojonup districts between 1835 and 1840 though little of the interior detail was known and therefore taken up. The presence of poison bush ruined Kojonup’s original exploitation and probably significantly hindered further investment in the Swan River Colony at large for some time.


John Hassell and the Kojonup-Katanning Connection


Sandalwood aside, John Hassell was still waiting in the wings looking for more good grazing country. According to Bignell in A Place to Meet, Hassell had written to the Survey Office with regard to land he was interested in east of the Kojonup townsite as early as 1843. In April 1846 Assistant Surveyor A.C. Gregory, who had been in the district the previous year mapping the Balgarup River west and south of Kojonup town, went eastwards, with Hassell in tow, in the direction Hassell had indicated. The question here is whether or not Hassell had simply heard of the good land (and water) east of Kojonup or whether he’d actually been there and seen it himself already. In any case exploring with the Assistant Surveyor will not only have given him first hand knowledge but perhaps a certain leverence within the Department if and when it came to officially securing the resource in the face of it being occupied by squatters.

The expedition gained positive results and the locality of Yowangup was officially identified in Gregory’s field books, which means it was then subject to a Depasturing Licence. But the opportunity must have had its drawbacks as Hassell was in no hurry. The indication here, therefore, is that either no one else had an application lodged or there was a very evident squatter presence.

It took until December 1848 for Hassell to finally act, applying for the minimum 4000 acre depasturing licence around Yowangup Spring. According to Bignell, almost immediately he sent equipment and supplies to commence the set up while the survey department requested from him a more detailed description of the boundaries.

The question now is why Hassell did that when he knew John Septimus Roe was making his way to the South Eastward exploring country that for various reasons might suit him a whole lot better? Cartage costs were exorbitant and wool needed to be got to a port to be exported. Yowangup was as far from the coast as anyone had yet been. Hassell might have been prepared to stump up £10 on a year’s licence in order to hedge his bets, but surely would only do so if the land was under threat from someone else. Had the Department queried the boundaries because now there were others to consider? And were those others the York merchant J.H Monger and/or a Beverley farmer named Elijah Quartermaine?

I think so.


Gregory Field Note -Corner Cut 1845-6 Kojonup

Left: Header from Explorations in the Kojonup District 1845 & 6 by A.C. Gregory – Assistant Surveyor


Below: Another cut from the Department of Lands and Surveys (est 1890) Exploration Plan of the Kojonup District. The plan was drawn some time after 1890, having been compiled from Augustus Gregory’s original 1845-6 Field Books. Previous to Gregory’s survey the Yowangup Spring area had only been passed through by J.S. Roe in 1840. The map features place names (and original spellings) given to Gregory by the Aborigines inhabiting the area at the time. John Hassell was with A.C. Gregory during the exploration. Leases taken up by settlers are marked in red ink but they are not an accurate depiction of the Survey Office’s records as at 1846. This is because the map wasn’t made until around fifty years after the actual exploration. The leases and land purchases shown here represent the earliest official records of settler use but vary in time from 1843 (Hassell) to 1858 (Drolf). We can see here that the grasslands at Yowangup Spring were first taken up by J.H. Monger and E. Quartermaine (1852), and that J. Hassell and S. Drolf held leases at Warkleup Spring and Eticup respectively. These markings do not reflect the apparently dramatic nature of Hassell’s claim for Yowangup and then, once Jarramungup was discovered, his swift and permanent withdrawal from the district altogether. You can view the State Records Office high resolution image of the map here.


Gregory Field Note Survey 1845-6 Kojonup


Hassell will have known Roe had begun his  Expedition to the South Eastward of Perth in September. Generally motivated by the desire to locate reported coal deposits along the South Coast, that excursion led Roe well east of Yowangup and the more southerly Stirling Ranges where (eventually) he came across the Jarramungup grasslands. Word of those grasslands quickly made its way to the attentive Mr Hassell waiting at Albany. Hassell knew the coast well enough and probably thought Jarramungup to be accessible via the Gairdner River (which Roe named at the time), the mouth of which was probably accessible via the shelter and fresh water spring at Doubtful Island Bay. Shipping wool, equipment and supplies by sea was much more convenient than running it to-and-fro overland from Yowangup to Fremantle or Albany, plus it was virgin territory; neither squatter nor wood cutter within coo-ee.

Very quickly Hassell financed a coastal excursion in which others set out to try and identify and peg out the coal deposits Roe had also enthused about, while his long time maritime associate, the sealer Bob Gamble, went up the Gairdner River to investigate. (See Bob Gamble, John Bailey Pavey and Black Jack Anderson)  Once Gamble reported back to Hassell favourably, Hassell immediately wrote to the authorities withdrawing his Yowanagup application and sent his men to retrieve his stores and equipment, thus leaving it to the drovers and squatters he’d no doubt rather not have to contend with. Hassell’s men were almost at Yowangup when Roe arrived at Carrolup Pool (Gregory spelt it Karrallup) in January 1849 on the return leg and coincidentally the two parties met up. The squatters hut turned out to belong to Hassell’s men indicating Yowangup was almost certainly occupied by someone else.

The Shire of Brookton’s Municipal Heritage Inventory document, on Page 4, takes a reference from  John Bird, The Last Coach, Perth 1979 pp 10, ll, suggesting Quartermaine acted in conjunction with other York settlers to take up land south of the Avon Valley, but not until 1852.

In 1852, John Seabrook had joined ‘Yorkites’ Edward Hamersley, Elijah Quartermaine and John Henry Monger in the quest for good grazing land in the central Great Southern region.

Elijah Quartermaine did not register and pay his depasturing fee for the land he claimed around Yowangup until 1852, eight years after the government first proposed the tax, which ties in with the above statement, but it does not mean he wasn’t squatting there prior to that.

The 1850s is a key period in this story in that during this time other leases were taken up along the Perth Albany Road between the Williams River and Kojonup, most notably atBeaufort River and Arthur River. During this time a raft of settlers arrived, including Edward Hamersley, J.H. Monger, William Cornwall and George Kersley.

In 1852 the well known York merchant and pastoralist John Henry Monger secured a lease on the Arthur River some 6.5 miles west of the old York Road Crossing. During the next two decades Monger’s sheep were grazing over scattered leases from the Hotham to the Beaufort Rivers. After his arrival in 1858, William Cornwall became a commanding personality on the Albany Road from Williams to Kojonup. He made his base the Beaufort Station and later expanded his business interests to both Williams and Kojonup. John Taylor from York (formerly leasing J.F. Smith’s portion of Yangedine) joined them, as did John Fleay, Elijah’s ex shipmate and fellow Viveash employee.

The arrival of these men impacted on the Aborigines whose kalas comprised the various waters north of Kojonup Spring which the pastoralists now assumed as their own. During this time we see the emergence of mixed-race children from this area bearing new European names, including Fleay, Cornwall, Humphries and Riley.


Katanning locations

Above: Historic watering locations around Katanning, central first to the local Aborigines and then to the settlers who came to occupy them from the 1840s. One theory is that Quartermaine had been invited to Yowangup by Aborigines he knew at Beverley. If so, those Aborigines must have been attached to the area as they themselves would not be welcome if they weren’t. This re-introduces the issue of kinship and social boundaries within the Aboriginal world which we explored in some detail in Interlude Pursued – Part 7: Background to Violence and which we’ll explore further as we progress. Image taken from inside cover of Merle Bignell’s 1981 history of Katanning; A Place to Meet.

Quartermaine - 12000 aces Kojo PGIJPN 9.4.52


So, folklore aside, there we have the background to the arrival of the Quartermaine family (and settler associates) into the emerging Katanning area.

Right: Elijah Quartermaine’s Yowangup lease was originally granted in 1852. Source: PGIJPN  9.4.1852

In summary, Elijah Quartermaine was a farmer on the Avon River who explored land southwards from the early 1840s after the Williams and Kojonup districts had been zoned and lotted. Almost all of the land within those districts was unoccupied until the 1850s, exploited until then only by itinerant Sandalwood cutters, kangaroo shooters and landless shepherds in search of grassy areas, of which Quartermaine (his sons and/or shepherds) was one. Wealthy landowners, including Joseph Strelly Harris, John Seabrook, Edward Hammersley, John Henry Monger, William Cornwall and George Kersely were the first to buy or be granted land southwards beyond the Avon River. This mostly happened during the 1850s as convict labour improved and extended the Perth Albany Road, but key watering sites were officially occupied from 1839 at Williams, 1840 at Kojonup, 1846 at Brookton, 1852 at Yowangup (Katanning) and 1854 at Arthur River. The most significant settlement was at Kojonup, when from around 1838, between the military, shepherds and coachmen, there was a permanent presence. The road from Albany to Perth went via York and, though the country was almost completely unoccupied, there was reasonable and regular movement of settlers to-and-fro along the route from at least 1841. Quartermaine took up his first lease at Yowangup in 1852 and went on to buy a ten acre parcel of it in 1855, building steadily thereafter.

Honing in on Yowangup

Folklore tells a story


Curiously, this has it that Elijah had been as far as the locality of what became Katanning as early as 1840. This would be just a year after he commenced work for the Viveash/Viveash/Smith partnership in the Avon Valley and seems unlikely to me. Much of the early months and years will have been taken up in clearing the land and building living accommodation. We shouldn’t forget either that Quartermaine’s employers had the job of improving two properties; Woodlands, which they occupied in exchange for its use, while working on the previously untouched Yangedine at the same time.

Also, in 1842 first born son Charles will have been going on four years of age, second son Alfred was two and Eliza was due to deliver their third, Elijah Junior, in the spring. Nonetheless, Elijah may have employed a shepherd for the flock he was building and if so, perhaps this shepherd was, or was assisted by, an Aborigine?

It’s hard to play down the folklore too much. Memory may not be precise but it is like smoke, where it exists there has to be some kind of fire. The below newspaper extracts are anecdotal but nonetheless point toward the truth, presenting a less visible, less traceable, but equally legitimate claim on the actual reality. This is a reflection of how things were for the second to third tier settlers who exhibited champion qualities. They succeeded in what they set out to do but had to go about building their assets and identities taking a lengthier and much more difficult route.


Yowangup legend - Grt Sthn Herald 2.9.1936 Obit of Eli QrtrmneAbove: Taken from the obituary of Eli Quartermaine published  in the Great Southern Herald, 2 September, 1936

Elija lambing at Yowangaup - legendAbove: Excerpt from The West Australian, Friday 18 June, 1937, Pg 29

Elijah depasturing as early as 1840 - legendAbove:  Excerpt from The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954),  mFriday 4 March 1938, page 168. Titled Katanning Jubilee

Elijah Beverly Mnt Barker droves 1840 - legendAbove: Excerpt from the Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), Thursday 5 June 1952, page 49

These stories help substantiate the Quartermaine legend, that the family grew up in the Avon Valley and that over an approximate twenty year period Elijah and his employees and sons drove their sheep from there down to the Katanning area where the ewes had their lambs and from where the improved flock slowly wound its way back to Beverley in time for spring/summer shearing.

Given the situation regarding despasturing licences and John Hassell’s coinciding interest, it’s quite possible Quartermaine was doing this by 1846, though much more likely from 1849. It wasn’t until 1852 though, when eldest son Charles was turning fourteen, that lease No. 250 for 12 000 acres in the Kojonup District was issued to E. Quartermaine for eight years, with first option to buy.

Folklore says he’d been around the place a decade by that time, but it wasn’t until 1852 when the first official record documents Elijah’s presence in the area.

Elijah Jnr and Yowangup Homestead


The entire decade comprising the 1850s appears a gaping hole at this point, at least by way of knowing what Elijah’s eldest sons were doing. It’s clear the family’s established place of living well into the 1860s was Yangedine where Elijah was a so-called tenant farmer living in the cottage or house he himself had built. Perhaps, for a term, he and the family lived at Avondale but either way their base looks to have been Robert Viveash’s southern half of the original estate, and it seems clear to me Elijah felt very much a part of it.

Sons Charles, Alfred and Elija Jnr went through their teens in the 1850s and in the absence of any substantiating evidence it isn’t unreasonable to think they spent much of this time on those long seasonal droves between Yowangup and the Avon Valley. Perhaps they also contracted to drive the sheep of others too, John Henry Monger for instance, perhaps Henry Landor? Or perhaps Charles and Alfred held jobs in York, working for the merchants or other local farmers and it was young Elijah who went off with the shepherds and the sheep on the droves?

Knowing what was happening during this period would add much to the story, particularly with regard to understanding third son Elijah Jnr’s position in the family and how he came to differ from the rest.

In any case it was 1855, the year of the birth of Elijah’s sixth son, John, that the 12,000 acre lease was qualified by an associated purchase.  An 1893 newspaper clipping regarding the execution of Elijah Snr’s will by his youngest son William C. Quartermaine, lists his land purchases which amounted only to 170 acres. The original, Location 11, was just a handful of acres around the spring, but enough for them to build a home on. Five years later another forty acres (Kojonup location 31) was added and in 1862 another forty acres added at the same price of ten shillings (half a Pound) per acre. In the meantime Elijah was sub-letting John Monger’s adjoining Yowangup lease which was eventually advertised for sale in 1867. At other unknown stages Elijah added a further two 40 acre lots.



Wm Qrtmne transfers ownershipAbove: The West Australian Friday, 12 May, 1893, Pg 8, Column 3


At this point its worth looking at the costs of land leases around that time. The following details were taken from the 1881 census, so 30 years out from the time of Elijah’s first Class B lease at Yowangup, but it still gives an indication of the size of leases granted and their financial cost. Also, within the leases we can see how smaller lots, which would have been around prime watering sites and therefore of major discouragement to rival farmers, were encouraged to be purchased outright.

  • For Pastoral purposes, the Crown Lands are divided into Class A and Class B; and in the North and East Districts, into Classes A and C.
  • Class A lands are let for one year only, under Depasturing Licenses.
  • Annual Rent 2s. per 100 acres. And no license fee. (1 shilling = 5 pence)
  • No License issued for less than one pound. (1000 acres)
  • Full annual rent to be paid on application.
  • Holders of Land in Fee Simple, of not less than 10 acres, within a Class A License, have a right to run gratuitously within such license one head of great stock for every 10 acres so held, and so long as said land may be let for Pastoral purposes.
  • Lands in Class B are situate outside of certain defined Boundaries, and are let on Pastoral Leases of eight years. These Leases are not renewable, but the lessees thereof have a preferable claim for renewal.
  • No lease to contain more than 10,000 acres, but any number of Leases may be granted to the same persons. The rent for a Lease is £5, and 10s. per thousand acres for the Land contained therein. (If the rent was an annual amount – which I couldn’t determine- then it is more than 5x the cost of a Class A licence. If it is a one-off fee then it is about a third cheaper than a class A licence over 8 years.)
  • Leases are granted without competition. (First in, first served)
  • These Leases contain pre-emptive rights of purchase of any portion of the Land (not less than 40 acres) during the 1st year. (Hence Elijah’s 40 acre lots)
  • After the 1st year of a Lease, all unsold land is open to general selection for purchase.
  • Homesteads may be selected by Lessee during the first year, at the rate of two acres for every acre of run, with a right of purchase of any part thereof within the first three years.
  • Purchasers of Lands within B Leases have the same right of depasturing cattle as in Class A Licenses.

Throughout this period, and from much earlier, Elijah Quartermaine Snr asserted his claim over Yowangup and its surrounding farmlands with repeated purchases and lease applications, signalling to researchers one hundred and fifty odd years later his determination to remain.

I make the land owning point here because Quartermaine was an indentured servant when he left Wiltshire a little over 20 years prior to building at Yowangup. Previous to his arrival at York Elijah might not ever have believed he could come to hold land as his own. To him, ownership would have been the achievement of a state of independence, release from the bind and humiliation of having to work for someone else simply to survive. Just as the Aborigines found it difficult to understand and conform to the ways of the Europeans, Elijah Quartermaine was unlikely to have been able to grasp the traditional Aboriginal concepts of custody and share. To the arriving indentured settlers who well understood the workings of the European economy, coming to call a piece of land their own represented the attainment of freedom, the realisation of self determination, escape from the enslavement of legally bound labour and traction on the road to becoming moneyed themselves. Once on their way, nothing but accident and their own degree of competence could hold settlers like Elijah Quartermaine back.

This quest for wealth was inextricably tied to social standing. Being wealthy also meant conforming to the standards of the day. Education, civic duty and moral/religious certitude were central tenets of the ruling class. Elijah will have wanted this for his sons and known they will have had to work very hard for it. His rise from indentured servant to land owning independent farmer was more than commendable but there still wasn’t enough money to send his children or grandchildren away to be educated and the houses they built were no grand mansions. Elijah’s quest to climb the social ladder and find acceptance in the higher ranks of colonial society is evidenced by the scale of his household, as detailed by the 1859 census entry and  more particularly by the presence of a tutor within it, but the family’s reputation will have been damaged by the public nature of Eliza’s affair, which I think at least partially explains his permanent shift to Yowangaup.

Despite everything he was able to achieve in his initial twenty-five years in Australia, Elijah will have realised he was still only beginning. The entire Quartermaine family, except for Elijah junior, married into a European origin community that was on the same social journey. The decision of Elijah’s namesake son to father an Aboriginal family didn’t happen until twelve years after the house was built (1874/5) and, in the eyes of the onlookers will have been seen as another set back. The pressure on Elijah Junior to bring up his indigenous children as members of the colonial establishment will have been immense and the burden on those children to conform, probably unbearable. With the birth of his first child, Timothy (a near enough relation of the Aborigines camped at Yowangup from time immemorial), Elijah will have been compelled to impose upon his mixed-race family the social standards of British Imperialism. An enormous and near impossible ask, given their isolation from the main colonial population centres and proximity not only to an extended Indigenous family but to a steadily increasing body of  Bates’s so-called wandering natives.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

As we can see, Old Elijah was not ruthless. He did not fence off his land and arm himself against the perceived Aboriginal threat. There is no evidence of any hostilities, raids or outrages in the newspapers or court records. On the contrary, Aboriginal memory speaks of accommodation and assistance. The Quartermaine presence at Yowangup appears to have been peaceful, if not genuinely amicable.

In or around 1860, Quartermaine and his sons started work building the Yowangup homestead and one senses a major shift in the family dynamic. Elijah completed the York census returns in 1859 and was still living in the district in 1864, but after William was born in 1860 Eliza’s next two births failed and there were to be no more children. Around this time Eliza had her affair with the ticket of leave man, Bill Graham, which resulted in Elijah being shot in March 1864. Elijah had closed in on fifty years of age by then too and will have been even more focussed on having his daughters married off and his sons well on the way to managing their own lives.

Prior to 1864, I’m not sure Elijah Quartermaine Senior intended on living at Yowangup. I don’t think he was able to reconcile his wife’s affair and the resultant actions of her lover. I think before this, however, he may have foreseen himself and Eliza living out their days in the more populous Avon Valley with those other ‘Yorkites’ and that Yowangup and whatever other land he might be able to lease and eventually own would become the places of his sons. Unfortunately, the period between 1864 and the passing of both Eliza and Elijah Snr is characterised by lack of detail relating to both. All we really know is that Elizabeth died in November 1873, aged 54 years, from an infection caused by an ingrained double-g burr (a prickle). She is thought to be buried at Beverley but there doesn’t appear to be a known grave. Elijah Senior died at Yowangup in 1888, aged 74 years, and is buried there.

Heritage Council of Western Australia documents show the Yowangup Homestead was completed in 1862, made from bricks mixed and fired on site and incorporating local granite stone in the foundations. By the time it was standing and habitable eldest son Charles was 24, two years married and a father, while second son Alfred was 22 and himself in the process of tying the knot. Charles married 17 year old Ellen Wright in 1860, while Alfred married 21 year old Mary Ann Knott in September 1862. Both girls were the daughters of York settlers and were born in the new country.


Family of E Quartermaine 1852, 55, 62


Elijah Jnr was 20 years old in 1862, and Emily was 15. Emily would soon marry Henry Fleay, son of John Fleay who had come out with Elijah on the Britomart also as an indentured servant to Dr Viveash.  Henry Fleay and Emily Quartermaine moved to the Williams River in 1863 and then further south, to Wedgecarrup, near the Beaufort River. The other Quartermaine children were all younger again but would still grow and marry. Fourth son Henry Quartermaine married Corporal Richard Norrish’s daughter Matilda in 1875, Elizabeth Quartermaine married Edward Smith, the son of a retired 51st Regiment soldier once stationed at Kojonup and then a shepherd of John Hassell’s at Warkleup. Eli Quatermaine also married into the Smith family taking Ellenore for his bride, while his younger brother John married Jane Tondut, daughter of none other than Frenchman Charles Francis Tondut who jumped from the whaler L’Harmonie at Albany in 1836. Frederick Quartermaine married Fanny Andrews, daughter of a shepherd made good from theWilliams River while the last of the Quartermaine children to survive, William, married Elizabeth Smith, baby daughter of the above mentioned soldier William Smith, making the tie ups between the Smiths and Quartermaines three in total and reminiscent in some respects of the relationship between the Dunn and Gillam families of the Porongurups.

So, all but one of Elija’s children officially married back into the white settler community. That is to say, they all had church weddings to European origin women. Only Elijah Junior took a different route, and by folklore account, through Aboriginal memory, only after a traditional European romance left him bruised and broke. Elijah Jnr then took up with the woman who has become accepted as the mother of the Noongar Quartermaine family, Mary Wartum.

But there are many questions of detail and accuracy relating to Mary Wartum which remain unanswered. To reduce that history to a few summary paragraphs, as the majority-community-commissioned histories by Donald Garden and Merle Bignell do, is to deliver it yet more injustice. Being a Quartermaine or a Smith, a Rodney, Punch, Hayward, Krakouer or Ring (to name just a few), goes way, way beyond a few token paragraphs. There is enough pain, struggle and hurt in just those families to fill a thousand sorrowful novels, it’s just no one got to learn how to read and write so they kept it to themselves.

The Aboriginal Connection

What the Noongar Quartermaine Family Says


Elijah Junior’s story, as told from the Noongar side, is published in Nyungar Tradition: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914.  The information for this invaluable document was gathered from a wide body of  Aboriginal sources between 35 and 40 years ago. Nyungar Tradition was published in 1978.  In it there are three written entries and two family trees (10A and 12) relating to the origins of today’s Quartermaine clan.Noongar family names associated with the original Quartermaine group include Smith, Rodney, Punch, Woods and Krakouer.

So, lets look at what the first entry has to say:


Elijah Nigel from Nyungar TradtnAbove: Excerpt from Pg 161 of  Nyungar Tradtion: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914 by Lois Tilbrook

The first point to make here is that this story relates to Elijah Quatermaine Junior. Stories of both Elijah Senior and Elijah Junior are entwined but the distinction between the two is the middle name, Nigel, which is applied to Elijah Junior. The story introduces Mary Wartum, a part Aboriginal woman, and attaches her to Elijah Junior. In turn, Mary Wartum’s story has two strands. We’ll return to this because, as the text above says, it’s likely both Mary Wartum stories contain elements of the truth.

What we can say for sure, as far as Aboriginal memory is concerned, is that the introduction of the Quartermaine name to the Katanning area  may be attributed to Elijah Senior via the establishment of the Yowangup sheep station, then passed to his third son, Elijah Junior, who took over from him at that place. Memory from the late 1970s states the name Quartermaine was introduced to the Noongar world via the birth of children to Elijah Junior and Mary Wartum. We shall look closely at this.

The memory is also determined to attach the Rodney and Hayward names to the family.

Curiously, both Elijah Quartermaines lived for almost exactly the same length of time. Elijah Senior died 14 days after his 74th birthday while Elijah Junior died 8 days before his. In many respects the stories of this father and son are the same. We will explore that relationship in detail, but before we do we should look first at the earlier connections and how it might have been that Elijah Senior found Yowangup in the first place.

That very question is given answer in the second text relating to the Quartermaines, this one focused on Elijah Senior. Let’s look at it baring in mind it is folklore, the written outcome of an oral history published in 1978. There was little to no reading and writing among the Aborigines for many, many years after settlement commenced and the oral tradition of preserving memory through story continued.


Elijah Jnr from Nyungar Tradition 1 Elijah Jnr from Nyungar Tradition 2 Above: Excerpt from Pg 159 of  Nyungar Tradtion: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914 by Lois Tilbrook

This story is partially substantiated by Merle Bignell in her history of Katanning; A Place to Meet. Bignell met members of the non-Indigenous Quartermaine family during her research around 1990 and the two stories generally correspond. Elijah Snr was led, in fact invited, to Yowangup by a Beverley Aborigine. What Bignell could not bring herself to say was that Elijah Senior set up home with or alongside that Aborigine’s relatives.

Elijah Quartermaine did not only not fence off the water source and chase the Aborigines away, he reserved a sizeable area for their own use and actively encouraged them to stay.

This is what the Noongar memory says.

As we have come to learn through these pages, the new economy driven by the settlers appealed to many independent minded Aborigines and some were not only willing to work but quite prepared to risk their safety in bringing settlers to places they thought would appeal; that they thought would result in them gaining something themselves. In this instance, it would appear, Elijah Quartermaine Senior brought a positive experience to the Yowangup Aborigines.

Even through contemporary eyes, Aborigines who helped the settlers are often seen as collaborators and traitors, especially if those Aborigines spent time working for the police, but I think most were just economically conscious and wanting a slice of the improvements settlers could offer. That subject is huge and hugely emotive in its own right and a distraction at this point, but it is always worth remembering that the Aboriginal world at that time, especially in areas where resources were not so scarce, was open to influence. In almost all cases, the Aborigines did not shun the arrival of the settlers. In almost all cases, they cautiously welcomed them. Resistance only took hold once the cultural differences became obvious, the ill effects of the invasion took hold (fencing off water sources) and the Aborigines began to realise they were being duped. But by then, of course, it was already too late.

Before we look into who that Beverley Aborigine who brought Elijah Quatermaine so far south might have been, we cannot go past the last entry relating to the Noongar Quartermaines in Lois Tilbrook’s immense work, Nyungar Tradition.


William Quartermaine from Nyungar TraditionAbove: Excerpt from Pg 160 of  Nyungar Tradtion: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914 by Lois Tilbrook

Now this is fascinating.

The first thing we will log is that a child of William C. Quartermaine is believed to have been killed by the Aborigines. Why? Was it tribal? The child will not have been guilty. What did William C. Quartermaine, his wife or close family member do to invoke the traditional law of death against himself or one of his kind? Remember what we learned about male domination, kinship lore and the road to inter-racial violence in Interlude Pursued – Part 7. This is significant.

Second, remembering we are dealing with oral tradition here, the legend says Elizabeth Smith was part Aboriginal and that she had relatives in York. The belief is that William C. Quartermaine married in to a part Aboriginal family. This does not agree with other records. We’ll go further into this a little later on but for now, and much more importantly, this story appears to be describing the death of Elizabeth Quartermaine, Elijah Snr’s wife. It also refers to the affair with a younger man and to Elijah being shot. This is what I mean by smoke and some kind of fire. When it comes to folklore, accuracy may vary but the core truth somehow remains.

What we see in the story above is preservation of the memory of Elizabeth Quatermaine, nee Dickenson, wife of Elijah Snr.  For reasons that may become clear later, this memory is held up by the Aboriginal arm of the wider Quartermaine clan and is attached to a branch that either adopted or married into the Smith family (or, more likely, families).

This is highly significant for two reasons. Firstly, from an Anthropological point of view, it illustrates the nature of oral history and the evolution of folklore and what eventually becomes legend. The story surrounding the identity and death of Eliza Quartermaine has been blurred but the kernel remains. Elizabeth Quartermaine must have been regarded with affection among the Aborigines. She could not be helped in time of sickness and died as a result, telling as she slipped away of her affair with a younger man and the shooting of her husband. The sad romantic nature of her lonely death is what remains and the legend of Elijah’s remarkable survival is embellished.

Second, the legend of Elizabeth Dickenson Quartermaine is attached to the family of her youngest son, William Charles Alfred Quartermaine, who married Elizabeth Smith. This suggests the oral history descended through this family, the first deviation possibly occurring with the misinterpretation of Elizabeth Dickinson Quartermaine with Elizabeth Smith, wife of William C. Quartermaine OR that the Elizabeth Smith who married William C. Quartermaine was not the same Elizabeth Smith who the Aborigines remember. I say this because the story asserts that Elizabeth Smith was from York and was part Aboriginal.

Now, we know that two other Quartermaine siblings married into a Smith family as well.  Eli Quartermaine married Ellen Barron Smith and Elizabeth Quartermaine, second daughter of Elijah and Eliza, married Edward Smith. Edward and Ellen Smith are siblings, recorded as children of William Smith of the 51st Regiment and Mary Ann Barron of Perth. These same official records also show that Elizabeth Smith who married William C. Quartermaine was from the same family. That is; Edward, Ellen and Elizabeth were all children of the European couple William Smith and Mary Ann Barron.

Such are the contradictions facing the vast majority of Noongar genealogies.

For the purists and to satisfy my own interest, the following paragraphs examine the complex integration of the Smith name with that of the Quartermaines during this early period. It is essential to do this.


William Smith of the 51st Regiment


It is no wonder there is confusion. Three different men named Smith conspired to tie their names with the descendants of Elijah Quartermaine Senior.We should talk first about William Smith of the 51st Regiment, husband to Mary Ann Barron, and by official documentation father of Edward, Ellen(ore) and Elizabeth Smith.

According to available information, William Smith (1821-1862 ) was a so-called Red Coat soldier who arrived as a nineteen year old member of the 51st Regiment, 2nd Yorkshire, West Riding, Light Infantry which landed at Fremantle, after touching at King George Town (Albany), via a stint in Tasmania, aboard the Runnymeade, in 1840.


Smith, William from WA Dict BiogsAbove: Excerpt from Friends of  Battye Library, Dictionary of  Early West Australians – S. It’s not clear but this looks like digitised images of the West Australian Biographical Index compiled by Rica Erickson.


Smith was probably stationed at Kojonup as the 51st had a detachment there from as early as 1842. (The Inquirer 2.3.1842) He is believed to have afterwards taken a job as shepherd to John Hassell (possibly at Warkelup until that property was sold to Richard Norrish in 1849). The 51st Regiment sailed for Bengal in 1846 but William quite obviously decided not to go. This was (at least in part) because in August 1845 he had married Mary Ann Barron (b.1828), daughter of Edward and Jane Barron, original 1829 settlers at Perth. (Edward Barron was from Donegal county in the north-west of Ireland and became a Colour Sergeant with the 63rd regiment).  As a form of dowry Edward Barron gave his daughter 50 acres of land in the Williams District. This land was in a place just to the east of the Perth-Albany Road, between Kojonup and Arthur River, which the Aborigines called Wedgecarrup. I don’t know if William and Mary Ann lived there, it doesn’t look like it, but their son Edward did from the 1860s as I mentioned above.

Details relating to the family or families of William Smith are about as sketchy as those relating to the early occupancy of the Kojonup barracks itself and I was unable to find anything relating to his activities within the 51st Regiment when he got to Western Australia. However, by looking at the activities of another prominent South Coast settler of the time, John Wellstead, who was also a member of the 51st, we can perhaps get some idea of his potential movements. (Ref: Heritage Council – Wellstead’s Homestead Group.)

In June 1840, John Wellstead (b. East Sussex, England, 1820, d. Albany, 1896), then known by his stepfather’s surname of Pullen, arrived at the Swan River Colony as a Private in the 51st Regiment, with which he served at York, Albany and Kojonup. It is believed he commenced his pastoral activities at some date during this period when he ran sheep on the (Albany) town common. Following his discharge at Kojonup in 1845, when he changed his name to Wellstead, he engaged in sandalwood cutting, and explored some of the country between Kojonup and Albany. In the late 1840s, while working as a carter, John Wellstead tendered successfully for the mail contract between Albany and Perth, and then pioneered a new route. He carried passengers as well as mail, and became well known during this period. He is believed to have commenced squatting activities at Bremer Bay c. 1848-49, following the exploration report of Surveyor-General J.S. Roe, who named the bay and John’s Cove after Captain John Bremer in 1849

Now, when we look at the children variously attributed to William Smith and Mary Ann Barron we find the following;

William George Smith b. 24th July 1846. died Nov 1866, who married Ann Gibbs.

Edward Smith b.16th May 1849, d.17th March 1925. Married Elizabeth Quartermaine, August 1877.

Jane Elizabeth Smith b. 3rd July 1851

Elenore Barron Smith,  b. 18th Dec 1853 d. 12th Aug 1897. Married Eli Quartermaine also in 1877

John Joseph Smith b. 20th/26th July 1856,. d. 10th Feb 1883

James Barron Smith. 10th Feb 1859

Elizabeth Smith b. 21st Jan 1862 at Williams Bridge, d.26th Aug 1918, married William C. Quartermainein 1883.
These names tally with those registered in the state records and can be found via the SRO Pioneers Index and when we look at the marriages between Edward, Elenore & Elizabeth and the respective Quartermaine siblings they also tally.

However, when we look at Aboriginal memory we get a different picture. In Family Tree 10A of Nyungar Tradition: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914,  we see first of all that the wife of Edward Smith is named as Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Quartermaine. Use of the familiar tag ‘Betsy’ is possibly significant. Also listed under the Smith/Quartermaine banner on Tree 10A are the following Smith names;


Even given the likelihood of error due to the many years since these people were alive (as evidenced above with regard to the Eliza Quartermaine story) things look very different here. There appears to be linkage between Edward and Elizabeth Smith (who married Quartermaine siblings) but there is no memory of Ellen Barron Smith here, the wife of Eli Quartermaine. With regard to the other names on the Noongar list, none appear to equate with any other of the official Smith children, even when taking into consideration middle names and shortenings.

I’m not prepared to make any definite assertions here as it’s a risky and foolish business to do so, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that Aboriginal memory is telling us William Smith of the 51st Regiment had a second family with an (at present) unknown Aboriginal woman during the time he was at Kojonup, OR there was another man known as Smith who entered the picture around the same time.

Running with the assumption that William Smith had two families, it may have made it easier for his son Edward Smith to do the same.


Smith - Aboriginal MemoryAbove: Cut from Family Tree 10A in Nyungar Tradition by Lois Tilbrook


Edward Smith, who married Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Quartermaine, according to Aboriginal memory also had a family with a woman known as Sarah Punch. The SRO Pioneers Index shows Edward had nine children with Elizabeth Quartermaine (between 1878 and 1889) but none with anyone else. However, the Aboriginal Smith family remembered the names of eleven children on their side. The one difference in their memory though is that their Edward was called ‘Ted’.

Of course there are no official records of Ted Smith’s children with Sarah Punch because the births were never recorded, but it does remain possible that Ted and Edward were the same person and that Edward Smith’s relationship with the Aborigines of the Katanning/Kojonup area continued on from that of his father William’s.


Smith - Quartermaine - PunchAbove: Cut from Family Tree 10A in Nyungar Tradition by Lois Tilbrook


John Smith & Randal Egerton-Warburton of the South Coast


However, if we go on the assumption there was another man known as Smith, there is much to discuss. I searched the Great Southern Pioneers index and came across a John Thomas Smith who was thought to have had a family with Dinah, an Aboriginal woman apparently born at Gnowangerup. There are no further details. However, the children listed to this couple are given. They were;

Edward John Mowan Smith b.1878 d.1963 Katanning
Jessie Smith b.1882 d.1973
Sophie Smith b.1884 d.1939
Emma Smith b. 1886 d.1937
Robert Smith b. 1888
Thomas  Smith b.1890 d.1974
Tilly Smith b. 1892 d.1934

Some of these names are the same as those given on Tree 10A in Nyungar Tradition and strongly suggest they are the same family.

Now, if we start at the top and ask who John Thomas Smith might be we discover there are a John Smith (1830-1898) and Emma Smith (1886-1937) listed by as interred at Albany Memorial Cemetery. The dates of Emma Smith’s life span tally with those given in the Great Southern Pioneers index indicating they are most likely the same person. If so, it would mean John Smith, her father, didn’t begin his family until the birth of Edward John Mowan in 1878, making him 48 years of age at the time.

Curiously, there is no mention of this John Thomas Smith (among the many John Smiths) in the meticulously researched Dictionary of Early West Australians. This makes me wonder about two of the very first John Smiths to come to Albany. These were convicts during the period of the military occupancy. One John Smith (alias Hicks) escaped twice, the two together the second time. This was about a month before the withdrawal of the military detachment back to New South Wales early in 1831. The latter ‘break out’ comprised eight men in all but apparently only seven were recaptured. Duncan West gives details in Chapter 13 of The Settlement on the Sound. Maybe, just maybe, John Smith the escapee had fallen in with the Aborigines around Albany and had a child who also became known as John Smith?

A long shot, but worth mentioning.

In any case, the Great Southern Pioneers Index gives more to go on. Edward John Mowan Smith is listed as the husband of Sarah Warburton Jangian Punch and we see from their union a list of children which equates to those given in the above cutting from Nyungar Tradition Family Tree 10A.


Jangian and Mowan GSP Index

Above: Details of the family of Edward Mowan Smith and Sarah Warburton Jangian Punch as provided by Philip Gregory Mouritz to the Great Southern Pioneers Index.  There are eight girls and two boys here. Tree 10A in Nyungar Tradition lists seven girls and four boys. Cross-referenced, six of the names fit exactly and two more loosely. Only two boys are listed above versus four in the Nyungar Tradition tree, and of the boys only one name is an exact match.

Given the names of all seven girls, plus one of the boys, match, it’s obvious enough we’re talking about the same family.

What the GSP Index also tells us is that Sarah Punch is given as the daughter of Randal Edgerton-Warburton and Kapugal, an Aboriginal woman from the Gordon River area. (Randal Egerton-Warburton, 1860-1939, was the seventh son of George Egerton-Warburton -of the same 51st Regiment- and Augusta Spencer (second daughter of Sir Richard) who settled at St Werburgh’s on the Hay River just south of Mount Barker in 1842. Randal had four children registered with his European wife Evelyn Hester.)

Luckily, Sarah Punch’s information in the Great Southern Pioneers Index ties in with the genealogies of Daisy Bates, which we will be looking closely at in a minute, and certainly makes sense of the wider Smith-Quartermaine relationship.

At this point I think we can say that the Edward Smith who married Elizabeth Quartermaine does not appear to be the same Edward ‘Ted’ Smith who married Sarah Jangian Punch, and that is significant.

The information provided to the Great Southern Pioneers website came from Philip Gregory Mouritz who has uploaded a great deal of local genealogy to (See Philip Gregory Mouritz Family Tree – You’ll need to be a member to gain access.

So, lets turn now to the Bates genealogies and see what’s there. Instantly, we find that Jangian is given as the daughter of  Kapugan (f) and Ngarderit (m) whose pedigree shows their families originated between the Lake Muir area and a place Bates calls Yeraminap.


Jangian Parents - Bates typed

Above: Cut from Daisy Bates’s typed genealogies. Book 2, South Western Australia, Pg 15.  The informant was Kapugan, Jangian’s mother.

Lake Muir was settled by Andrew Muir  around 1865 while his brother Thomas located at a lease called Deeside a little closer to Manjimup in the 1850s. The Muirs -and Moirs- were related to Grizel Melville, the wife of George Cheyne. See George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery and Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 1)

Lake Muir Survey Map 1876Above: Cut from the Kojonup & Hay 8 Cancelled Public Plan, uploaded to the internet by the State Records Office in August 2015. The map is dated 1876 and shows the boundary of lands owned or leased by Andrew Muir around the locality of Lake Muir, west of Mount Barker. You can find the complete high resolution image here. The map covers the country along the Frankland River illustrating the extent of the Hassell, Muir, Moir and Warburton leases concentrated in that area, most notably about the junction of the Frankland and Gordon Rivers at Yeriminup Hill.

The information shown by Daisy Bates reveals Ngarderit (m) was ‘about 60’ when interviewed by her. This positions his birth around 1845. Ngarderit had three wives before Kapugan but none bore any children.

Kapugan, whose age was given as ’50 or 55′, was also known as Queen Ann (GSP Pioneers), which means she must have been well known to the English speaking settlers of the time.Bob Howard’s combined genealogy of Kapugan also agrees with this. Looking at the information she gave Daisy Bates, Kapugan was born the sixth child and only daughter of a mother whose kala was located on or between the Muir properties west of Mount Barker towards the Blackwood River.

Kapugan said she had relationships with two men; Wirdin and Ngarderit. Bates records Kapugan had two children with Wirdin, both born at a place she calls Yeriminap. These children are named as Barbil (m) and Yerdinan (f). Both inherited their father’s moiety but neither their mother’s (woil) nor father’s (wej) totem. Instead they were simply said to be ‘young’.  Bates asserts that where there is an irregularity in a marriage (does not conform to traditional lore) there is irregularity with the passing down of totems. Importantly, both children are tagged as half-caste. (However, from my reckoning Bates uses the term half-caste to describe any degree of mixed-race except where she knows specifically.)

When we look at what Bates says about the children ascribed to Kapugan and her first partner, Wirdin, we see they are given as half-caste, meaning (because Bates was too loose with her terms) we can’t be sure one parent was wholly European and the other Indigenous, only that at least one of the partners was not wholly Aboriginal.


Jangian Wirdin ChildrenAbove: Details of Jangian’s two children with Wirdin. Wirdin was born at Yiraminap. Cut taken from Pg 15 of Bate’s typed Genealogies, Book 2, South Western Australia.


Once again, this is what Aboriginal families are dealing with when attempting to determine their genealogies. It is an immensely complicated procedure punctuated and compounded by all manner of uncertainty.

Nonetheless, what we see in this tree is the clear emergence of a mixed-race group at a place Bates describes as Yeraminup, and I think we can say that part of this group became part the Smith family of today.

Now, for something else of interest. Ngarderit’s pedigree indicates he was a traditional Aborigine whose father was from around Lake Muir (between Manjimup and Mount Barker). After three tries Ngarderit eventually ended up  in a productive relationship with Kapugan at Yeraminup, the place where his mother was born. By this time he was probably not a young man.

Bates met Ngarderit and interviewed him but only so far as to determine his heritage. Detail of his and Kapugan’s children came from Kapugan herself. Still, the indication is that Ngarderit was not a white man. On the surface of things it appears there was no clear blood relationship between Kapugan and Ngarderit, but there was something wrong as the relationship was forbidden.

Looking closer again we see that both Kapugan and Ngarderit were not only Manitchmat, of the same moiety, but shared the same totem too. Both were Woil (wallaby). This made their union mootch or wrong way. How this came about I can’t easily see, and it’s not my business anyway.

Bates actually referred to Kapugan and Ngarderit when discussing the inheritance of totems in the South-West in one of her papers.

She said:


Kepugan and Ngarderit - mootch marriageAbove: Excerpt from Daisy Bates Paper V 1a, Totems  South Western Australia. Located at Daisy Bates Digital Archive at the University of Adelaide.


Importantly, Bates says neither Kapugan nor Ngarderit were able to leave the close vicinity of the white settlers in their district because of security reasons. How true this was I don’t know. Bates’s view is that the couple were open to attack is they strayed from their own group. It is therefore reasonably safe to assume Bates met them at the place she calls Yeraminap.


Yerriminup Hill SRO Map 1876

Above: Yeriminup Hill, where the Frankland and Gordon Rivers rise. This area was leased by George Egerton-Warburton formerly of the 51st Regiment based at Kojonup. Egerton-Warburton’s son Randal, who married into the Hester family who held leases to the north and west close to the Blackwood River at Bridgetown, may have been the father of Sarah Jangian Punch. Image Cut from Cancelled Public Plans uploaded to the internet in August 2015 by the State Records Office –  This map is Kojonup Hay 8 Tally 50551, part of the same map dated 1876 showing Lake Muir.


Bates didn’t meet Kapugan until around 1907 when she was 50 or 55. This positions her birth at around 1845, when the 51st Regiment, led by George Egerton-Warburton, was at Kojonup.

For what it’s worth, I’m not sure the children listed to Ngarderit and Kapugan are correct. Bates lists Jangian as half-caste and her children with Ted Smith (who she says was quarter caste) as one eighth.  I think Jangian may have been the adopted daughter of Wirdin and someone else (possibly Kapugan herself) and that Wirdin was the Aboriginal name given to Randal Egerton-Warburton. I say this because  Ngarderit could not have been Randal Egerton-Warburton or Bates will have either noted it or simply disregarded anything he had to say.

Remember, Bates was at Katanning in 1907 and will have known of the mixed-race children to Elijah Quartermaine, but yet she did not record anything about them. On the whole she was not interested in the progeny of white men unless the information came to her from an Aboriginal source and was of use to her in determining wider Aboriginal ancestry. In most cases where she writes up mixed-race children Bates either abbreviates or neglects to add their traditional heritage detail altogether.

Eric Hedley Hayward speaks of Yeriminup in chapter three of No Free Kicks.  He recounts a story his mother, Lily Underwood, told him about how her mother (his grandmother) was a housekeeper to the Egerton-Wabrurtons at various of their properties, including Yeriminup. Hayward said Yeriminup was a big and important camp for Kaneang Noongars (Blackwood River people). In fact, it is the names in Bates’s genealogies that Hayward gives English identities to. He speaks of Mowan Underwood, Ruby Williams and her sisters Lily and Thelma. He speaks of Ted Smith, of the Krakouers, Wallams and Williams families.  I can’t be sure, but it may be that Eric Hedley Hayward’s grandmother was Kapugan.

Everyone should read No Free Kicks. It is not only a vital document in the history of Noongar families from the wider Katanning (Central Great Southern) area, but a very well written and genuinely moving story of one man’s life negotiating the incredibly difficult transition era.


Yerriminup - Blade shearing on Yerriminup - SLWA_b3433069_1Above: Image and details drawn from SLWA Catalogue. Blade shearing on Yerriminup, property of Philip Egerton Warburton near Kojonup. The property is described in the Western Mail, 9 July 1915, p.42. On the back of a print of this image found in the Elsey Family Collection (BA2362) the photographer says that the man sitting at far right is Philip Egerton-Warburton and the man standing behind at left is Mr Pich. Randal Egerton Warburton (1860-1939)  was younger brother to Philip (1856 -?)


Now, what about Jangian and Edward ‘Ted’ John Mowan Smith?


Jangian Sarah Punch - Bates TypedAbove: Cut from Pg 15 of Bates’s Genealogies, South Western Australia, Book 2, Kapugan.


Bates (who was active around between 1907 and 1911) lists six children, two unnamed boys plus Janey, Ada, Violet and Doris. These children equate in part to the eleven children named under Family Tree 10A to Ted Smith and Sarah Punch. This means there is detail missing but that we are on the right track. According to the GSP list Jangian and Ted Smith  were having their family at the time of Bates’s interview with Kapugan and Ngarderit.

Now the GSP Index also shows that Ted Smith had a second marriage, this time to Bessy Punch. There are no details given as to who Bessie Punch was. Presumably, therefore, we might take it she was sister to Sarah. When we go back to the Family Tree 10A in Nyungar Tradition we see that Edward Smith’s second wife there (to which there are no children attached) was Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Quartermaine. So, what we may well be seeing here is the confusion, or inter-relationship, of the Quartermaine and Smith surnames as they descend through time.

This is what happens in a world where strict written records are not kept and people move and relationships change and time marches on inexorably. Memory passed down through oral tradition becomes folklore and then legend. In the scheme of time minor details are forgotten but the core truth remains. What we can say here is that today’s Noongar Smith and Quartermaine families are bound by a multitude of relationships, probably across more than one original Smith grouping. From what we can see at this point, the non-indigenous binding of the Smith and Quartermaine families looks to be co-incidental to the indigenous one and it is only the written record which makes observers and researchers question. Within the families themselves, there is very probably clear understanding.

Therefore (and the families have always understood this) we can say that Edward ‘Ted’ Smith who married Sarah Punch and then Bessy/Betsy Punch/Quartermaine was categorically not Edward Smith, son of William Smith, who married Elizabeth Quartermaine, second daughter of Elijah and Eliza.

Elizabeth Smith of York


Now we should go back to that part of the story where the memory of Elizabeth Dickenson, wife of Elijah Senior, who died from an infection caused by a double-g spur, found its way into the family of William C. Quartermaine.

We know that William was the youngest child of Elijah and Eliza’s surviving ten. He was born in 1860 and was just four years old when the marriage of his parents came undone. Between that time and his marriage to Elizabeth Smith, youngest daughter of William Smith of the 51st Regiment, in 1883, next to nothing is known publicly about the the life of the last of the original Quartermaine children.

What we can say, is that from 1864 Elijah Quartermaine Senior is no longer associated with York, after this time he is believed to have lived at the newly built Yowangup homestead where, in all likelihood it was he who paid to bring a female school teacher out from England to educate his youngest children.


Elijah cuts off Eliza 1864 ICN 25.5.1864Above: Inquirer and Commercial News 25 May 1864


Alongside that, it’s reasonable to assume Eliza was living in disgrace. After a very public incident in which her husband narrowly escaped death at the hands of her escaping lover (an ex-convict with a history of violence) the entirety of the York-Beverley settler community will have known of it.

Now, Elijah may have dismissed Elizabeth Dickenson from his married life, but could he dismiss her entirely? After all, she was still mother to four of his children who were twelve years of age and under. I think so, because Eliza was pregnant in 1864 and even if Elijah didn’t know back in March of that year when the incident occurred, it will have become increasingly obvious as time went on. Was this the reason Eliza didn’t present herself at the trial?

The question is, did Elijah take the youngest children from Eliza at that time and bring them down to Yowangup, literally leaving Eliza destitute in York? The divorce papers, if there are any, would give a much clearer picture.

One story is that Eliza was in the care of her eldest son Charles when baby Richard was born at York in September. If so, how long did she stay with Charles? In 1864 Charles was married four years to Ellen Wright of York. They had had all three of their only children by then. Two boys survived but their first, a girl named Elizabeth, passed away after just five months. Eliza Dickenson’s son, Richard, suffered convulsions and died very soon after birth. What a terrible time this must have been for poor Eliza.

The legend of Eliza’s passing nine years later suggests she was living with the Aborigines and is buried in the native cemetery at York. That there is no known grave belonging to Eliza Dickenson Quartermaine supports this. Even under the surname Smith, which she may subsequently have become known, there is no listed grave.

The point I’m trying to arrive at here is that young William, or the family of young William, looks to be the bearer of his mother’s memory when it comes to the Noongar branch. Remember, he will have been just 13 when she died. A very impressionable age. The legend says word was got to old Elijah to ask about amputation once the infection turned septic and that Elijah rode to York, but that when he got there it was too late. Did young William C. Quartermaine make that journey as well and did Eliza confess to him what had happened to her marriage with his father?

What’s also interesting here is that William C. Quartermaine was made sole executor of old Elijah’s will. This suggests the two had a close relationship, as does a family photograph of the pair believed to have been taken in 1888, not long before Elijah Senior’s death. However, it may also be that the reason for William’s appointment as executor was no more than that he was at Yowangup at the point when old Elijah realised he was dying and made the will.

William will have been 28 years old in 1888; married to Elizabeth Smith (daughter of William Smith And Mary Ann Barron) and living at Yowangup where his fourth child was born that year. Critically, the couple’s first child, Eli Elijah, born 1883, died in January that same year as well. This is probably the child mentioned in Nyungar Tradition who was said to have been killed by the Aborigines. If the killing was tribal there would have been a reason for it. The newspapers carried nothing about it other than the child’s death notice, the place of death being given as Yongup (probably Yowangup).

1888 was another tragic year for the Quartermaine family.

Was the death of five-year-old Eli Elijah Quartermaine in any way related to the activities of his father? Also, did this cause a division between the neighbouring all-white family of William C. Quartermaine and mixed-race family of his older brother Elijah Junior, and if so, how is it the Noongar memory of Eliza Dickenson still became attached to the memory of William C.?

Did William C. Quartermaine have an Aboriginal family as well?

There was an Elizabeth Smith associated with the Yowangup Aborigines. How she attained the name I don’t know but Anthropologists acting for the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) Research Unit state that her Aboriginal name was Minjinan. When we go to the genealogies we find that Minjinan was the granddaughter of Woorgum, probably the Aborigine responsible for leading Old Elijah to Yowangup in the first place. I’ll go into this later on. The genealogy lists six children between Minjinan and her Aboriginal husband Borndil, otherwise known as George Riley. (The genealogies show the Aboriginal Riley’s as of Ballardong -Avon Valley origin).

But if this Elizabeth Smith had a relationship with William C. Quartermaine, surely the memory would have been retained?

The railway was opened the following year and the remainder of William Quartermaine’s children to (his legal wife) Elizabeth Smith were all born at Katanning town, presumably under medical supervision. That they were born at Katanning indicates William was at Yowangup or nearby during this period.

Meanwhile, Elijah junior had started his family in 1875 and by the close of 1888, according to family records, had six of his children, all believed to have been born at Woodanilling (a few miles to the north of Yowangup). Does this mean William C. had taken charge of Yowangup and young Elijah was living elsewhere? The small town of Woodanilling is located on an old railway siding that was initially known as Round Pool; in 1895 it was renamed to Yarabin and finally changed to Woodanilling in 1896. Heritage Council of Western Australia documents give the following detail on Round Pool.

The pool provided fresh water for early pastoralists, shepherds and their flocks of sheep. They were also a source of water for sandalwood cutters and carters in the early days of European settlement. The Quartermaine family had from the mid 1860’s held huge pastoral leases on the Boyerine Creek. Extending northwards from their base at Yowangup, some 65,000 acres were held in this manner up to William Andrews’ holding around Norring Lake. In 1868 Elijah Quartermaine (Junior) took the northern leases over in his own right and after freeholding land at his home at Boyamine secured permanency at the creek pools by buying 40 acre blocks surrounding Boyerine Pool (1873), Ngeatalling Pool (1878) and Dolapin Pool (1879). The original Quartermaine lease (555) surrounding Round Pool was converted to Williams Location 281 in 1890. A surveyor’s sketch show tracks crossing from Boyerine and Yowangup from the two Quartermaine homesteads. The building of the Great Southern Railway brought the first official use of the name Round Pool. The Police Commissioner in seeking a more direct link for the mail coaches between the railheads asked John Chipper (mail contractor) if he knew anything of the road from Arthur River to Round Pool.

Quatermaine Country - colour codedAbove: Image of a redundant Kojonup and Williams land division map from the 1870s. The map shows the sub-divisions within parts of lots S18, S19, S24 and S25 and their respective owners. I have colour-coded those subdivisions under the control (at the time) of the Quartermaine family. They are as follows: Yellow: Elijah Junior, Black; Elijah Senior, Green; Charles, Purple; Henry and Blue; Alfred. The map does not represent the entire Quartermaine estate. It does, however, illustrate the level of activity by Elijah Junior in particular,  also the  proximity of the holdings relative to each other, as well as giving an indication of the family’s prominence within the William’s District.The map covers about 70 km east to west by about 50 km south to north, approximately 3500 square kilometres, of which the Quartermaines managed around 700; about 20 percent.

The unknown events surrounding the death of William C. Quartermaine’s son, Eli Elijah, in January 1888 are potentially very significant to later relations between the Noongar and much larger non-Noongar branches of the Quatermaine family, as well as between the Katanning Aborigines and the Quartermaine family at large. Whatever took place probably relates to the lack of information on the Noongar Quartermaine ancestry by Daisy Bates (as we shall a little further on discover). Thus, with relatively little to go on, what’s important at this juncture is that around 1978, when Lois Tilbrook was gathering what information she could on Noongar family histories, memory of  Eliza Dickenson’s sad passing came to via the descendants of her youngest surviving son, William C. Quartermaine.

This is strong indication to me that William either worked to pass the memory of his mother down the Noongar line OR that he had an Aboriginal family himself, OR or he had at least one child of Aboriginal heritage through which the important memory of their grandmother was retained.

Was there anyone else William C. may have partnered up with?

Family Tree 12 in Nyungar Tradition shows a fragmented link between the Elizabeth Smith associated with William C. Quartermaine and ‘Ted’ Smith, husband to Sarah Jangian Punch. The fragmented line indicates a tenuous link, not strong enough to assert anymore than that Elizabeth Smith was part-Aboriginal. The other frailty here is that the story of Elizabeth Smith ties her to York rather than the upper Gordon and Frankland Rivers.


John Smith Yangedine labourerAbove: Friends of Battye Library, Dictionary of  Early West Australians – S


The Avon district was practically awash with Smith landholdings at the time. A glance at the old survey maps reveals this, as does a perusal of the cemetery listings at Beverley, Gilgering, York and Northam. If William C. Quartermaine did have a relationship with another Elizabeth Smith prior to his marriage, she could simply have picked up the Smith surname by being associated with one of those properties, including Yangedine, which was part owned of course by the Viveash’s brother-in-law John Frederick Smith. Alternatively, she could have been the part-Aboriginal daughter of another man named Smith.  I found a John Smith in the archives who had worked as a labourer at Yangedine in 1870.

There is nothing concrete by way of official record in any of this, but then once again, this is what we are dealing with in attempting to trace Noongar genealogies arising during that period. However, there are too many instances of Noongar memory retaining core elements of family history to dismiss them and why would you when memory was the traditional form of record keeping in the Aboriginal world in the first place?

To my mind, there’s a very real probability William C. Quartermaine was not solely father to Elizabeth Smith (daughter of William Smith of the 51st Regiment) with whom he had ten children between 1883 and 1897.  I think it’s possible some children attributed to Elijah Quartermaine Junior by the Noongar Quartermaines might be those of William C. We’ll look again at this a little further on.


Axe and Mia - Anonymous Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia Untitled ca. 1949Above: What happened to cause the death of five year old Eli Elijah Quartermaine at Yowangup in January 1888?
Painting by anonymous Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia. ‘Untitled’ ca. 1949. Image courtesy of Colgate University Flickr Page.


Just to think for a minute. Investigation into the beginnings of the Noongar branch of the Quartermaine family reveals potentially powerful tensions between family members. It reflects the iron-hard attitudes of the day, held by both Aborigines and settlers. I’m thinking about the apparent rejection of Eliza Dickenson Quartermaine by her family, about the likelihood of sibling rivalry among the Quartermaine brothers (particularly the older ones who managed to establish themselves as land owners and the younger ones who had much more difficulty), and about the nearness of William C. Quartermaine and his ‘respectable’ white family at Yowangup to his brother Elijah and his mixed-race entity a few miles north at Round Pool.

William C. Quartermaine will have been fifteen years old when Timothy, Elijah junior’s first child with Mary Wartum, was born. This means William C. will have had eight years of close Aboriginal association with his brother’s family before he married Elizabeth Smith.

Also, William C.’s mother will have experienced terrible indignity amongst the settler community after being outcast by her family. She will then have suffered terrible pain during the course of her illness and death. Her infection will have commenced as a small but painful wound, over a week or two swelling and growing to became a pus-filled abscess consuming the entire finger. As the infection ate deeper into her flesh her hand will have become inflamed, heavily swollen and dreadfully sore. The infection will have begun to gnaw away at her blood vessels, after a period entering a returning vein where it will have circulated via the heart through-out her body, beginning its work in her blood as septicemia, reducing the capability of her vital organs and making her very, very sick. She will then have arrived at a point where her bodily functions were no longer controllable, where her temperature soared, heart rate sped, blood pressure sank, breathing turned ever more quick, shallow, harsh and painful. Her whole body will have felt like a Strep throat, and there was no relief. There is no escaping the nature of her death, without modern medicine it will have been slow and agonising until she, what we say today, crashed; suffering toxic shock syndrome, multi-organ failure, and death.

There is nothing to say Eliza didn’t have people around her who cared and did their best, and it may still have happened if she and Elijah were together at Yowangup as it was such an isolated place, but at least then she will have been surrounded by her family. Eliza Dickenson’s passing will not have been easy for her or those attempting to care for her, even in those days.

Now, the death of a child is something that should never happen and when it does no one suffers more than the parents, especially if it is sudden and unexpected. Even in a time when far more children died from what we would describe today as poor safety awareness and general lack of medical knowledge and treatments, the death of a child was no less painful to the loved ones. The death of his son will have taken a toll on William C. Quartermaine, no doubt about it. Even if William and his brothers had a very good understanding of traditional Noongar lore and behaviors, it’s likely an event of that magnitude will have changed attitudes between himself, his immediate family and the family of his brothers and sisters towards the Aborigines.

But yet the death looks to have been accepted. As far as I can make out, it was not treated as a crime. This introduces the possibilities of accident or tragedy, placing doubt on the notion of a tribal killing. But then, equally, why would that memory be retained and why would those who were asked to speak for the Noongar Quatermaines around 1978 decide to include it in their history?

What we don’t know is what or how it happened. All we know is that the Noongar Quartermaines remembered the boy’s death as a killing, and all we can think now is that there must have been some sort of reason for it. What is for sure though, is that the killing (if it was as deliberate as the text suggests) indicates the Aborigines involved were still very much subject to traditional lore and codes of conduct. Even though the Quartermaine presence at Yowangup was as much as 46 years strong by the time it happened, it’s clear something went wrong which called into play a severe practise the Aborigines must have known would divide them from the settlers and bring about potentially disastrous consequences.

Yet it happened.

Let’s go back again and see what was going on in the Aboriginal world around that time. By trying to establish how it was Old Elijah ended up at Yowangup in the first place and looking at what was happening around Kojonup in particular during the 1840s, we might get a sense of the mood amongst the Aborigines at large. Remember, old Elijah Quartermaine’s presence at Yowangup was seasonal and didn’t impact heavily on the Aborigines there until at least the 1860s when the house was built and probably not until the 1870s when Elijah’s sons began to have their own families in the area.

Postscript 30.3.2016 Non-Noongar Quartermaine family descendants say the child Eli Elijah died from Diphtheria while the Noongar branch say this is probably true but that the Aborigines may have felt responsible because they invoked magic to bring about the death, a feeling which persisted through to generations which gave the 1970’s account. Reading Ethyl Hassell’s ‘My Dusky Friends‘ gives a strong sense of old Aboriginal spiritual beliefs, some of which remain today.


Arthur Trimmer, Revett Bland and Richard & Thomas Norrish


Nyurgap & Woorgum


The first port of call is the 1842 List of Natives Generally in the Employ of Settlers in the York District compiled by the same man who a year earlier had compiled the invaluable (but yet ridiculously inadequate) 1841 List of Natives at Albany. As with the Albany one the York list does not distinguish between men and women, nor give any indication of relationship between one person and another or what age they were. Of course its very useful to have the names, but just imagine what progress could have been made in our understanding of who these people were if just a little bit more effort was made by those whose duty it was to make the records.

In 1841, thirty year old Revett Henry Bland was appointed Protector of Natives at York with responsibility for all areas to the south as far as the coast. Bland was given the position by incoming governor John Hutt on the basis of his “thorough knowledge of the native character, acquaintance with their languages, great firmness combined with mildness of temper, long experience as a Magistrate, and a high reputation for integrity and respectability…”  Hutt, as it happens, decided not to include here Bland’s willingness to defend himself against the perceived native threat, for Bland five years ealier had shot and killed a York Aborigine for what he called ‘trespassing.’

It was Revett Henry Bland who as a token gesture of his work compiled the 1841 and 1842 names lists.

Bland had led the original settlement party to the Avon Valley on behalf of James Stirling in September 1831, with the express purpose of setting up a government farm. That job petered out after a while but Bland’s reward was a 1000 acre grant and his appointment as a local magistrate (Justice of the Peace). By 1834 he was a noted young settler at York and business partner of another young early-settler known to these pages, Arthur Trimmer. Trimmer went to York in 1831 and took a large grant there with his brother William but afterwards left under something of a cloud to go to Albany where he knew George and Grizel Cheyne.

Arthur Trimmer, incidentally whom the Arthur River is named after, married the eldest of Sir Richard Spencer’s daughters, Mary Ann, at Albany in 1836. Trimmer was the youngest of six brothers, three of whom came to the Swan River. The son of William Kirby Trimmer and Jane Bayne, who appear to have had ties with both the Cheyne and Spencer families who had connections at Albany, both of Arthur’s brothers died in Western Australia as young men (Spencer, aged 41, from illness, at Bunbury in 1844 and William, also aged 41, by drowning in the Swan River in 1836) George and Grizzel Cheyne at Albany adopted William Trimmer’s orphaned daughter after the tragedy. I don’t know the full story but you can go to George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery for more on the Cheynes.)

W.B. Kimberley offers the following on Bland and Trimmer from Chapter 11 of his now digitised History of Western Australia. He is talking about the years 1834/5.

The town locations of York were fifty acres each, and were surveyed near the base of Mount Bakewell. Messrs. Bland, A. Trimmer, and Heale were the largest settlers; the two first-named possessed a flock of 1,500 sheep. Sir James Stirling states that at the end of 1835 these gentlemen were in a most prosperous condition, and opined that did Mr. Bland live he would become a man of great wealth.

Edward Landor, one of three Landor brothers to take up at York a little after the arrival of Elijah Quatermaine and the Viveash household, was a Perth solictor. His brother Henry was the Landor who first jubilantly reported the grass find around Brookton in 1842. Edward Landor wrote an account of his time as a colonist and published it as The Bushman: Life in a New Country in 1847. The book is still regarded as a fair assessment of the attitudes colonial settlers and officials brought with them. It’s quite reflective in that regard, sometimes even beguiling by way of conscience, but still forcefully expresses the religious attachment and evident traits of what was later termed Social Darwinism, and is also guilty of reflecting a quick and dismissive high-mindedness which made sport of anything he (Landor) considered himself above  (e.g. ‘Savages’ and the lower classes). Landor heard of one of those frontier violence incidents that took place east of the Swan River prior to his arrival and wrote about it.

Green Mount, six miles from Guildford, is famous for a desperate skirmish which took place some years ago between a large body of natives and Messrs. Bland and Souper, at the head of a party escorting provisions from Perth to the infant settlement at York. Whilst slowly ascending the hill, a thick flight of spears fell among the party, wounding several of them. No enemy was visible, and the greatest consternation prevailed among the men, who hastened to shelter themselves under the carts. This induced the natives to rush out of their ambush, when they were received with a shower of balls; and at length driven back, after losing a good many men. Mr. Souper had several spears sticking in his body, and others of the English were severely wounded, but none mortally.

So Revett Bland knew well the dangers of living in the colonies newer settlements at the time. It’s clear each foray by the settlers into new country soon caused problems with the Aborigines and there was a very real threat to life and limb. Whether they realised it and simply pressed on regardless probably depended on the individual, but the quick-fire fencing off of waterholes, occupation of prime living sites and interference with women by the settlers was not something the younger male Aborigines could easily accept. When the time came, leaving York to visit the benign southern outposts as Protector of Aborigines must have seemed like something of a holiday to a man whose career and wealth was progressing steadily.

At the end of his first full year’s duty as Protector (after ten previous years in York), when he had journeyed as far as the South Coast and back along that fledgling York-Albany mail route, Bland made a report on the conduct and condition of the Aborigines under his care. Most of the report is concerned with what was happening at Albany and Cape Riche (Lindol, back from his stint with Eyre and Wiley in Adelaide, had just effected the first large scale sheep pilferage in the Albany jurisdiction), but also contained comment on the general travel and communication between the South Coast and York and on the friendliness of the Aborigines whose country it was the settlers were passing through.


Bland 1842 York Albany RdAbove: Excerpt from Bland’s 1842 Report printed in the Inquirer (Perth, WA : 1840 – 1855), Wednesday 18 January 1843

So we can see, the general emptiness of the Kojonup and Williams districts with regard to settlement combined with the transient nature of those who used the road (a monthly mail service had been in place about two years), made negligible the impact on the Aborigines whose kalas comprised the region. Bland had nothing to worry about there. What concerned him were the problems in the so-called settled districts, not so much where the Aborigines were in need of his protection, but where he thought the settlers might be at risk. One of these places was Kojonup and though Bland didn’t have much to worry about in 1842, something quite frightening happened five years later.

Infact, there were three incidents of note at Kojonup and we should now look at them. Two occurred in 1847, about five years after a detachment of the 51st Regiment led by George Egerton-Warburton had marched to Kojonup and built the stone barracks there.

We know the earliest command at Kojonup was interrupted by the untimely death of Lieutenant Armstrong at the Vasse River in 1838 and that details of the occupation are scant and sketchy, but by at least 1842 the presence looks to have been once again permanent. We know too that the Kojonup soldiers carried out support duties related to the west coast as far as the Murray River at Pinjarra. Kojonup was not only a link station to the north but to the West Coast as one mail route branched that direction and went across the Blackwood River at (later to become) Bridgetown towards Leschenault (Bunbury), then north to Perth. Bare in mind too, that the Aborigines at Kojonup and Katanning were centrally located. They had relatives coming from all directions and will have heard tell of the growing presence of the settlers and of the way they were behaving; from the  north via theSwan and Avon Rivers, from the west via the Murray, Williams, Colllie, Vasse, Blackwood and Gordon Rivers, and from the south up the Hay Kalgan, Pallinup and Gairdner.

Corporal Norrish of the 96th Regiment, who I mentioned earlier, arrived at Kojonup with his fellow infantrymen in January 1847 to replace the 51st. Norrish’s son, Thomas, kept a diary and speaks of what happened that Easter. . .


Aborigines at Kojonup Barracks 1847 Norrish 1

Aborigines at Kojonup Barracks 1847 Norrish 2

Aborigines at Kojonup Barracks 1847 Norrish 3Above: Excerpt from Thomas Norrish of Broomehill, Albany Library, 1966


Yet another instance of certain Aborigines joining ranks with the newcomers.

Why the Aborigines gathered in such numbers to attack Bimbert, George and their women is open to interpretation but a long held theory among descendants is that the Aborigines did not want any of their people to associate with or aid the soldiers. This may have had to do with the contamination of blood lines or with the growing number of stories of deprivation and violence against them. The Aborigines were not about to attack the soldiers because they will have been well aware of what had happened at the Swan and Vasse Rivers, at York and Pinjarra, but it’s abundantly clear something was not acceptable to them when it came to Bimbert, George and their women and children.

This show by the Aborigines presents as an instance of organised resistance.

Organised resistance began to manifest itself in the 1840s as a response to growing levels of mistrust and anger towards the settler presence but also, I think, as a reaction within the Aboriginal world to levels of acceptance and tolerance toward cultural changes they were finding very difficult to deal with. The resistance wasn’t necessarily directed at the settlers but fought out among the various groups themselves. I’m certain there was  much greater unseen conflict within the Aboriginal world than was ever noticed by colonial onlookers.

Only the most obvious expressions, such as the above, were recorded. And only then, really, as luck would have it.

But there were others. Remember the food thefts in Albany discussed in Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 2? Also, Lindol’s slow pilfering of George Cheyne’s flock at Cape Riche around the same time. There had also been shows of numbers at the Kendenup (Hassell) and Hay River (Spencer) homesteads a little to the south.  Now, at Kojonup five years later, was what looks to be a mass-demonstration.

At this point I would refer back to the mootch marriage of Kapugan and Ngarderit, who were born about the time of the Kojonup barracks demonstration. My feeling is that one or more soldiers were ‘engaging’ with the Aborigines, probably exchanging alcohol or other goods for time with their women. Remember, by 1847 Albany’s reputation as a den of degradation was well advanced. The show by the Kojonup Aborigines probably coincided with a general gathering or corroboree which would be traditionally associated with initiations and the arrangements of marriage. It seems likely to me there was something wholly disagreeable to that gathering regarding the association of Bimbert, George, their women and children.

It seems to me Kojonup, which Merle Bignell in First The Spring spends almost a whole chapter discussing the drinking culture which evolved there as a result of the soldier presence, had a corrupting effect on more than just the soldiers.

I would even suggest there was northward migration of corrupted Aboriginal families graduating with the spread of settlement upwards from Albany from earliest times. By corrupted I mean families including mixed-race children from more than one father or mother. We’ll look at this more closely using the Bates genealogies a little later on but it isn’t difficult to visualise at Albany from the very beginning a growing number of mixed-race children whose origins lay in the so-called labouring classes and many visitors to the town by sea. These children were unattached and uncared for by the established settler families and therefore found their footing in the traditional society which did recognise them but which subjected them, at least in part, to traditional lore. Especially where those connections extended out of town. In many cases it would have been safer for these children to stay attached to the white presence, however they could. Being unattached in the superstitious old Aboriginal world was very dangerous and very often led to death. (Read about Lindol in Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 2.)

Bignell summarised Kojonup at the close of 1846 as:

… a district of large grants with passive absentee land-owners, one resolute non-resident pastoralist (John Hassell), an occasional shepherd, wandering travellers, sandalwood cutters and Aborigines, and a military outpost manned by a handful of desolate soldiers. (pg 45 First The Spring)


Not much was there but by 1847 there was 12 years of movement between the Swan Riverand Albany which had targeted Kojonup as the essential mid-point location. Lieutenant George Egerton-Warburton had been six years in charge of the military stationed there (based at Albany himself) and made the journey many times. There were farms north of Albany at Narrikup (1836; Spencer), Mount Barker (1842; George Egerton-Warburton), Kendeneup and Kojonup (1840 and 1843; John Hassell). These farms necessitated labour which was drawn from Albany. Between the labour, the transport and the soldiers Kojonup was a focal point. More Kaneang country that Willman or Koreng, it was marginally more associated with the Blackwood River people than the Aborigines of Yowangup Spring and those north and east.

Bare in mind that in 1841 Charles Newell had become the first shepherd to lose his life to native violence. This happened at Kendenup, 50 miles south of Kojonup. Documents show that Newell had remonstrated with about 40 Aboriginal men who had ‘taken some items from the Hassell Homestead.’ What documents don’t show is that Newell had already fathered at least one child (Thomas Newell) to a local Aboriginal woman and the spear he received could have been aimed fatally high because of it. (Nyungar Tradition; Family Tree 11A)

Murray Arnold takes a moment to look at what happened there in his recent publication, A Journey Travelled:


Charles Newell Spearing - Murray Arnold Charles Newell Spearing 2 - Murray ArnoldAbove: Excerpt from pages 242/243 of A Journey Travelled by Dr Murray Arnold. I think it’s worth noting here that Hassell only took up physical management at Kendenup  (40 miles from Albany) in March 1840 when he was the first to graze stock north of the Spencer Farm on the Hay River (Narrikup) and that the spike Arnold mentions  here has probably got everything to do with that. Prior to 1840 there was settler ownership  of land (by grant) but no physical presence in the area at all.


Norrish says around three hundred Aborigines came to the barracks at dawn searching for those who were living with the soldiers, and that many of them carried small personal fires. This is a very large number. The fires may have been glowing banksia cones or small kindling fires lit by the cones, in any case the number of them will have made quite a sight in the low-lit early morning. The Aborigines will have been well aware of the power of the white man too, his guns and horses and willingness to punish. Their approach to the barracks (Norrish calls it a house) in such numbers invited a response from the soldiers, could so easily have been interpreted as an intended attack on them. Fortunately, at first encounter the soldiers didn’t panic and the gathered Aborigines were able to communicate their intentions before dispersing, so there was no shooting. But the Aborigines came back that night just as determined and succeeded in dishing out their punishment. In this part of the country it would seem the onus was on the Aborigine not to involve himself with the settler occupation and Bimbert and George, their wives and child, had crossed a deadly line.

And yet, if we accept the folklore, Elijah Quartermaine was squatting over at Yowangup Spring watering his sheep without consequence. Equally, John Hasell’s men were at Warkelup. William Smith, recently discharged from the 51st, was shepherding for him there or a little further south at the Hay River or Kendenup. It wasn’t just the white presence, it was the particular nature of it that caused problems.


Anonymous Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia Untitled, ca. 1949Above: Scene evocative of the night the Aborigines came to Kojonup Barracks. Painting by anonymous Noongar child artist of the Carrolup Settlement, Western Australia, Untitled, ca. 1949. Image courtesy of Colgate University Flickr Page.


The second thing that troubled Corporal Richard Norrish occurred in August that same year, soon after he returned from a stint at Pinjarra where he had been sent for three months to support the police there.


Norrish reports on shepherd tortureAbove: Excerpt from Page 3 of  The Norrish Family 1847-1979 held at Albany Library


This of course is the famous case of the shepherds John Gale and James Egan, employed by John Hassell at his Kojonup station. Murray Arnold wrote of it most recently in his important contribution to the literature on early Aboriginal-European relations around Albany, A Journey Travelled.


Arnold on Gale and Egan 1 Arnold on Gale and Egan 2Above: Excerpt from A Journey Travelled by Dr Murray Arnold


The third incident of note recorded by Thomas Norrish in his well written diary was the occasion he first met Cunningpan, an Aborigine known about the Eticup area who had journeyed westwards from his more usual place of living around Jarramungup. I haven’t got access myself but Norrish’s diary has been picked apart over the years and while Merle Bignell identified the relevant passages the dates must be hard to determine as it isn’t made clear when this actually happened, although it looks to be around 1850.

In any case, Thomas Norrish tells the story of his own bravery when one day he is away from home shooting roos so that he may gain a few shillings from the sale of their skins. With a few Aboriginal friends he’s camped by a water hole close to Eticup. At this time Eticup is occupied by the lone settler Soloman Drolf and may have been subject to grazing by roaming shepherds but there was no other homestead until the 1860s. They, Norrish’s friends, are outside the hut he has partially (but almost completely) constructed when he hears the arrival of another Aborigine and quickly determines the man to be a foe. Norrish waits quietly while it becomes apparent the visitor is reproachful of his fellow Aborigines associating with a white man in Koreng country and wants him dead. Cunningpan begins to chant and sing in an effort to bring himself to the point where he can convince his friends (and himself) to go through with the dastardly act. Norrish knows the language however and understands what’s happening and when the singing and chanting builds and he begins to fear for his life he takes up his gun, goes outside and holds it to the base of Cunninpan’s neck and says in clear Noongar language, ‘I’ll kill you first, Blackman’ or words to that effect, at which point Cunningpan’s cunning plan falls apart and young Thomas Norrish emerges the victor. Not only that but Cunningpan becomes Thomas Norrish’s unwaveringly loyal friend for many years afterward, only Norrish can only imply that. It’s enough for him to say that Cunningpan was a good hunter and reliable shepherd. (Bignell; First the Spring; Pg 52)

I distrust the telling of the story because it smacks of self aggrandisement, but am prepared to think something like that did happen. John Hassell had taken up at Jarramungup around that time and it could well have been in the aftermath of the native outrage there that who ever it was (the name Cunningpan doesnt appear in the genealogies) arrived at Eticup all het up about what had happened, in time to find a vulnerable white man alone in native country.  (Collet Barker met that fate.) My point here being, the arrival of the settler was not unanimously accepted. There was defiance, it wasn’t confined and it did continue. Particularly when it came to young men.

Anyway, by 1847, five years after the appointment of R.H. Bland to the position of Protector of Natives at York, two incidents relating to the Aborigines of the Kojonup and Katanning areas occurred. The first, a large-scale organised demonstration. The other, an example of settler cruelty which Arnold implies was tolerated at Albany and which I touched on inCampbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 2

So, even when we include the Cunningpan incident, we can see the Kojonup/Katanning Aborigines, while informed and wary, were not really troublesome at all to the very few unimposing settlers located near them. Albany too, despite its reputation for drunkenness and debauchery, was still essentially peaceful, while York, on the other hand, was jittery.

The York district had taken on and quelled the brunt of what we now call frontier violence but which I think is often better described as Aboriginal Resistance, by 1840. The worst of it was over by the time Revett Bland took on the position of Protector, but it was hardly happy families all round.

Consider the following incidents set out below. In just a few punchy paragraphs they give a sense of what it was really like on the ground during the post Pinjarra period (1835-1840) and in the lead up to the time Elijah and Eliza Quartermaine arrived in York. The first paragraph is an interpretation of events involving Bland and Trimmer by Historian Dr Murray Arnold, whose context is the provision of background on the character of the Albany settler Arthur Trimmer, while following is a dated sequence of the same situation taken from the Wikipedia page Timeline of Aboriginal history of Western Australia. The dated sequence gives the Aboriginal interpretation.



Trimmer at York- from Arnold - A JourneyAbove: Excerpt taken from Dr Murray Arnold‘s  important 2015 publication on the history of Aboriginal -European relations at Albany; A Journey Travelled


July 1836: Settlers along the Avon had fenced all of the permanent summer waterholes and were shooting at natives seen inside these fences.[9] Lieutenant Bunbury is transferred from Williams to York, and becomes involved in killing local Aborigines. His diary records that in this month he “shot a few of them one night”.

August 1836: A massed attack on the Waylen household in Toodyay, defended by four settlers and two soldiers, left four Aboriginal men dead. Bunbury tracked one wounded Aboriginal man into the bush and shot him through the head. Bunbury also recorded the names of another 11 Aboriginal men he killed during one campaign.

September 1836: R.H. Bland, another York settler, shot and killed another Aboriginal “trespasser”.

December 1836: The brother of the man shot by Bland, took revenge upon Knott, an old man living alone about 5 kilometres from York. Payback shootings and reprisals continued.

1837: Stirling warns the York settlers to have no dealings with Aboriginal people, trying to “impress on every European the necessity of keeping arms in [working] order”. As a result, Heal, a local “settler” set his dogs against a group of women trying to access what had been their waterhole. The women were obliged to seek safety in a deep pool. A reprisal spearing of Heal, obtained whilst working with his partner, Mr Burns, was prevented from becoming fatal by Mrs Burns threatening the attackers with a gun. The new Government resident in York arrested the two men supposedly involved and sent them to Perth for trial. One died along the way as a result of the brutality of his treatment in white hands and initiated a new round of violence.

Peter Chidlow and Edward Jones, were speared by Balardong Noongar, who had believed they had been deliberately tricked into taking lime instead of flour.

Woods, a York settler, left a poisoned damper for Aboriginal people, and other gifts of poisoned flour were the cause of another round of reprisals.

So, by reading the Aboriginal account we get a sense of the trepidation Trimmer must have been feeling, but we only get to see what he did in response through Arnold’s inclusion of what the priest Giustiani said. Having been attacked by twelve Aborigines in the past were Trimmer’s nerves shot? (The incident occurred in June 1835). Living in dread Trimmer resorted to base human behavior; did something of questionable sanity. From Arnold’s analysis we don’t know why that initial attack against him happened. The inference therefore is that Trimmer was victim before turning aggressor. However, as the Aboriginal account tells us, Trimmer was attacked because the waterholes had been fenced off and their food supply depleted. The Aborigines were responding to their being excluded from traditional living places by carrying out retaliatory acts of aggression themselves and by stealing food they were being deprived of. And therein, of course, lies the kernel of all European -Aboriginal conflict, all over Australia, during the period of colonisation.

If there is anything these pages are concerned with most it is a wider, more inclusive and therefore more balanced interpretation of events. I am trying here, as with all previous posts, to be as informed and mindful of the Aboriginal position at the time as I am of the Europeans. I am not out to damn the settlers and paint the Aborigines as poor victims, except where it seems the circumstances are deserving of it, and even then I’ll consider how the settlers arrived at the point where they did what they did. For example, we saw at theVasse River how relations deteriorated in 1837 when John Bussell left the troubled Cattle Chosen homestead to his younger brothers and violence ensued, and how Lenox Bussell ended up losing his sanity in the fallout. (See Love and War – Henry Camfield’s ViewPrelude and Postcript to a Weddding and An Australian Story for background.) Trimmer makes many appearances in the records of Albany around this time, so much so Donald Garden inAlbany: A Panorama of the Sound 1826-1976 concluded he was

‘. . . probably an alcoholic, but between drinking bouts. . . remained one of the prominent citizens of the district. .



It seems to me Trimmer may have been traumatised by his early experiences and left York in an attempt to preserve his mental health. He wasn’t so badly damaged he was put off gaining land though.  After a period helping manage the Spencer farm on the Hay River, Trimmer acted as Sub-Protector of Aborigines at Albany. He then went on to take up farm land called Pootenup near Cranbrook, mid way between Kendenup and Kojonup.

Cranbrook, when we look at the map, is very close to a crossroads on the Albany Highway. To the west are the rising points of the Gordon and Frankland Rivers near Yeriminup, to the east the head of the Pallinup River, close to what became today’s town of Gnowangerup. Critically, not far north of Pootenup was Goblup, the first farm to be established in the area from the Albany direction. Registered owner of Goblup (after the death of his older brother Hugh, also by drowning)  was Edward May Spencer, inheritor of the Spencer estate from his father, Sir Richard. Also present during the 1860s was William Henry Graham (grandson of George Cheyne’s sister) at the neighbouring ‘Fairfield’ property.

Anyway, Trimmer’s marriage to Mary Anne Spencer yielded a family of nine children, seven of whom were girls. One, Sophia Jane (1841-1890) was to marry another senior official at Albany, only a little bit later, in 1871. This was Alexander Thomas Cockburn-Campbell who, via Sophia, inherited part of the Trimmer Pootenup estate as well as the neighbouring Spencer property. This was Goblup, the original Eticup farm, which I’ll expand further upon a little later.


Goblup - Eticup History Westn Mail 7.9.1939Above: Cut taken from the West Australian Newspaper 18 June 1937, page 29.

Also noteworthy at this point is the link between Edward May Spencer and his younger brother Joseph who also took up land in the area. Joseph Spencer had Balgarup property ten miles south of Kojonup, and at one time is said to have leased  40 000 acres in total. This Spencer family link also extends to George Egerton-Warburton who we already know held land at Yeriminup and Mount Barker (Forest Hill).  Egerton-Warburton married Augusta Spencer, the third of Sir Richard and Lady Anne Spencer’s daughters (the other, Eliza Lucy, married George Grey). Between the Spencer sisters, their local husbands and families, there was a number of farms extending from Albany to Mount Barker to Yeriminup to Kojonup and Eticup/Broomehill. Along this line would have travelled a number of shepherds and farm labourers engaged by one or other of the family members. One of these labourers was Jack Maher, the man I mentioned in the opening paragraphs whose identity was confused with his son’s. Maher was in the employ of either Edward Spencer at Goblup or Joseph Spencer at Balgarup in 1855 when he took an Aboriginal wife, Bordenan.

We’ll rejoin this part of the story later on.


Katanning Tribes MapAbove: A cut from the Horton Map of Aboriginal Languages in which we can see Katanning’s position at the confluence of the Willman, Kaniyang and Goreng tribal language groups. As settlement and transport spread south along the coast from Perth, eastwards from the Vasse River and Pinjarra, southwards inland from York and northwards inland from Albany toward Katanning, Aboriginal people carried stories of what was happening from kala to kala. Until the arrival of the Railway and discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie in the 1880s, few Katanning Aborigines had actual experience of what was happening in the settlements, but the stories they heard would have come from all directions.

So, in 1842 Trimmer’s friend and former business partner R.H. Bland made a names list of natives generally in the employ of settlers in the York district. Like his Albany list it is rudimentary, literally a list of names written in ink on a loose sheet of paper and hardly the work of anyone genuinely interested in the identities of those under their protection, but nonetheless remains all we have to go on.

List of employed natives at York 1842 - R H BlandAbove: Protector of Aborigines at York 1841-1848  R.H. Bland was second in authority to the Protector of Aborigines on the Swan River, Charles Symmons. On Bland’s 1842 list of York natives were two which had firm link to the tribes of the south. Woorgum’s and Neericup’s genealogies revealed links to the Katanning Aborigines whose kalas included the Yowangup water source. Document courtesy of  John Chandler private files.


Over the years many researchers have examined these names while in search of clues relating to Noongar family histories and origins. This was done by trying to match the names with others in the various genealogies created in the beginning decades of the following century. Most notably Daisy May Bates.

A number of names on the list are of interest to us because they tie the Avon Valley Aborigines (Ballardong) to the south. Bates says the Ballardong referred to the southern Aborigines as Menang, so when she ascribes that term to someone from the Ballardong she doesn’t necessarily mean they were from Albany or the South Coast, just that they were southern. For instance the well known Ballardong Aborigine Geejup who was associated with the Dempster property Buckland at Northam, had wives (sisters) from Esperance. This may have had something to do with the movement of the Dempster brothers between  the South Coast and Avon Valley but nonetheless reflects the acceptance of long distance marriages.

More specifically, two names from Bland’s list which stood out were Neericup and Woorgum.

Woorgum’s genealogy, recorded by Daisy Bates during her visit to Katanning in 1907, shows that he took a local Aboriginal woman named Yungurt as his wife and with her fathered four children, chiefly among them a daughter named Notum, or Notuman, a son named Yagong, aka Mulyal and another son named Ngugan. It was Ngugan’s daughter with with wife Nganberan (otherwise known as Ann Williams), who was given the Aboriginal name Minjeran but became known as Elizabeth Smith. As we will later discover, other new Noongar surnames associated with Woorgum and Yungurt are Penny, Morrison, Ring, Rodney and Woods.

Now, Neericup is believed to be the Aborigine Nyergap, also found in the Bates genealogies of the same period (1907-1910). Nyergap is shown to be Menang but there is nothing to connect him with people further south than the Williams River. Other evidence indicates Neericup was probably known as Jack Nuricup and that he had a daughter called Jane. Jane Nuricup married Falkland’s born Englishman John Ring, a shepherd or labourer whose brothers were associated with the Aborigines at Yowangup, which we will also look into.

Such relations, so it seems, lent themselves to the smooth transfer of the Quartermaine interests southwards out of York/Beverley (in the period between 1840 and 1864) to the more isolated grazing lands of the largely unsettled Kojonup District.


Nuricup - Bates Tree

Above: Nyurgap, aka Neericup, was married with Dongulyan, one of Winjan’s people from the Murray and Williams Rivers. Cut from the Bates Noongar Genealogies held at the University of Adelaide and on line at here. Nyurgap is recorded as being Menang, from the south, but not necessarily from the South Coast.


The Neericup on Bland’s 1842 York list is shown in the Bates genealogies as Nyurgap, husband to Dongulyan of Ngargajin. Stay with me for a minute as I go through this, it’s important (and brief).

Dongulyan’s sister had a daughter named Irinyan whose third husband was Yaburgurt. This is significant because Yaburgurt ‘s genealogy is perhaps the widest and most comprehensive of all those Bates gathered while in Western Australia.

Yaburgurt was son of Winjan and Kaler, so one of Winjan’s People from Mandurah. The breadth of Yaburgurt’s genealogy, which is fundamentally Murray River (Pinjarup), introduces relationships from the Yabaru (northern country) and Minang (southern), once again reflecting the relationships and movement of people across significant distances.

Nyurgap is described as being from Walwilyap Hill in Menang country, the south, as was one of Irinyan’s husbands, Jilyain. It’s hard to make out much about him as he marries into Dongulyan’s family and all the detail is associated with her relations. What’s interesting though is that Ngargajin, the place where Dongulyan was born, Bates says is Northam. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Walwilyap Hill is a mystery, so exactly how far south Nyurgap and Jilyain came from isn’t clear.

Getting a fix on Nyurgap’s age isn’t easy either. Yaburgurt was said to be about 75 when the interview took place, meaning he (Yaburgurt) will have been born around 1835. Yaburgurt had many women in his life, at least six, so may have been quite old when he was with Irinyan. All in all, it’s enough to say that in 1840 Jack Nuricup was probably a boy somewhere in the region of ten years of age.

On a more definite note, Woorgum offers a great deal more to work with.


Woorgum - Bates handwrittenAbove: Woorgum’s genealogy in raw note form taken by Daisy Bates while at Katanning probably in 1907.
Document image courtesy John Chandler.


When it comes to Woorgum, Bates’s interview subject was actually his daughter, Notuman. Bates came to know Notuman (who she at first calls Notum) during a measles outbreak which occurred when she was at Katanning in 1907. Bates interviewed Notuman at length and wrote about her in various papers and articles. Notuman was also known as Doyet and Kitty. She is amongst Bates’s most prolific informants, furnishing her with whole notebooks on Noongar language and kinship terms. Notuman not only knew virtually every Aborigine alive in the Katanning region at the time, but their relatives and where those relatives had their own kalas. Through that information Bates began to recognise the westward drift of the Aborigines from as far away as Eucla.

More recently Notuman’s name has become tangled with that of Mary Wartum (or Wanton or Mary Quartermaine) but this needs to be looked at. As far as I can see, Bates made no connection between Notuman and that of Mary Wartum (Wajeraan) in any of her writings. Of all the people Notuman knew at Katanning, Mary Wartum was either not one of them or between Bates and Notuman a decision was made not to record the detail.

Katanning Town


At this point a brief history of Katanning since Elijah Senior finished building his house at Yowangup in 1863 is essential. This will give us some some idea of the kind of place Bates found when she got there 45 years later and of the effect the railway had on the Aboriginal population there, particularly the siding established at Round Pool where Elijah Junior had built the second Quatermaine house probably around 1875.

The first thing to recognize is that there were only a handful of settlers in the area until the 1880s. Even though police stations were installed at Eticup and Beaufort River from 1865, this was because of the concentration of land ownership and flock numbers in those areas along with the verbal hankering of their owners to the authorities. By the late 70s  there was still only fifty or so settlers within a 65 mile radius of  the Kojonup barracks. The Aborigines greatly outnumbered settlers.

But even though the take up of land and the building of permanent homes was slow up until the railway was agreed and construction started, shepherds attached to the sheep men from York and Albany pressed inwards and began camping around the springs and pools, themselves and their employers steadily acquiring control. Yowangup, Ewlyamartup, Indinup and Eticup in particular. Also, from the 1860s the Sandalwood trade boomed for a second time and there was increasing activity along the waterways from York right the way down to the South Coast at Cape Riche.

Documents show that Sandalwood was an important source of income to the Quartermaines and that cutting was significant along the Boyerine Creek well into the 1890s.

Pre-railway, the European presence around  Katanning wasn’t concentrated but it was persistent, and from an Aboriginal point of view insidious. Most of the old Aborigines, after a while anyway, gave in to the continuing corruption of the stricter tribal ways. They couldn’t hold back the introduction of more and more European blood into the mix, they welcomed changes in diet and subsistence practices, they adapted their language to cater for the new universal English being spoken and slowly, in the face of pastoralist opposition, they accepted the halting of grass and bush fires which had created that ‘park-like appearance’ so admired by the first European observers.

The pre-railway scene is described well by Dr Anna Haebich whose publication, For Their Own Good, details the effects of the 1905 Aborigines Act in the face of overwhelming population increases and land development programmes initiated by the Government around the turn of the 20th Century. Large sprawling lease-holds of tens of thousands of acres comprising multiple sheep runs, such as the Quartermaines had, gave way to much smaller scale farming, a shift in emphasis from wool to wheat and and the introduction of fencing. The Aborigines, under the initial style of exploitation, had relatively little to contend with. Shepherding and some labouring jobs was about the extent of their involvement. They were able to move about freely and to congregate in large-ish numbers when circumstances warranted. This provided for the upkeep of more traditional living practises. Post railway however, things were very different. Smaller farms could only employ small numbers of workers, which they did mostly to help clear the land, but on the whole these smaller land owners didn’t like the Aboriginal presence once the job was done. Once fencing was in place too, shepherding jobs were eliminated. In the space of 50 years, let’s say from 1880 to 1930, the world of the old Aborigines became virtually unrecognisable.

The authority of the mysterious settler with his clothes and his language, his house, horse and gun drastically changed the way the old Aborigines had been living, but perhaps not before at least one great show of disapproval.

That 300 strong gathering which came to the barracks at Kojonup over the Easter of 1847 looks to have been a challenge to the Koreng, Willman and Kaneang groups to go no further. Whatever the family consorting with the soldiers did, it was enough to bring an aggressive show of disapproval from around fifteen to twenty other family groups. Maybe more. Jesse Hammond wrote in Winjan’s People, which covers the period between 1860 and 1930, that the largest native gathering he ever encountered was between 300-400 (curiously, at a point just west of Wagin). There is no doubt in my mind the Kojonup confrontation was a very significant moment in history of the old Aborigines of this area. It was a point at which they recognised the coming of the white man and the dangers he represented. I think the statement being made was that it was not acceptable to break with traditional lore (largely breaches of moiety rules in sexual partnerships) and then seek protection by associating with the white presence.

Things did not change overnight though, especially in the more remote areas. The process was multi-generational. In the context of a human lifetime, it was slow. There will have been time for many disputes over what to do to flare and settle as the Katanning Aborigines tried to handle the ever growing influence of the station owner come smaller scale farmer.

My belief is that at this point in time the Aborigines were doing as much as they could to adapt to the new presence. I think many still mixed willingly, sought alliances and may even have welcomed the idea of mixed marriages. The Aborigines were still ancient in many of their beliefs and practices but were accommodating the change as best they could. I think they largely accepted what was going on around them, realised they needed to adapt in order to compete, but yet at them all the time was the honor of traditional lore.

Gaining some understanding of how the Aborigines thought in relation to spirituality and the unexplained can be got by reading Ethel Hassell’s book My Dusky Friends. Mrs Hassell compiled stories taken from the Aborigines who lived at Jarramungup during her time there in the 1870s and gives invaluable insight into the old ways of thinking about spirits and magic.

How does a race of people forget and give up on what they have been taught and understood for tens of thousands of years? The psychological disturbance this will have caused between groups and between generations should never be underestimated.

An example of the kind of differences the two groups faced is illustrated by the idea that in the 1840s and probably for decades afterwards, some of the arriving European men were recognized as returned lost sons; ‘Janga’, the colour stripped dead brought back. In fact, there is a notion that this is what may have led to Elijah Senior’s ‘invitation’ to Yowangup and his ability to stay. The suggestion is that Elijah was recognised as Janga and brought home by either Woorgum or Nyergap. Probably Woorgum.

It is certain Elijah Quartermaine Snr will have been given an Aboriginal identity; a name, a moiety and totem, though knowledge of these has been lost. That his memory survived the transition from those days to these in positive form indicates he didn’t cross laws and didn’t abuse. Yowangup homestead appears to have peacefully coexisted with the Aboriginal camp by the spring at least until the second house was built at Round Pool and continued untroubled until Elijah Senior was into his seventies, by which time young Elijah was in his mid-forties and William C. in his mid-twenties.


Elijah and William C. QuartermaineAbove: Elijah Senior with youngest son William C. Quartermaine C. 1888. This is the photograph thought to be taken in the same year as Old Elijah passed away and William C.’s eldest son Eli Elijah was killed. William C. Quartermaine was sole executor of Old Elijah’s will. Image taken from Nyungar Tradition: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914


It’s useful here to consider the Quatermaine presence at Yowangup versus the Bussell presence at the Vasse River. The Bussell group was much larger as it included women, children and other supporting families. They built a complex, a commune of sorts, effectively ringed it off and policed it. They were under economic pressure, took a defensive stance and were much more demanding of their circumstances. By comparison, the Bussell arrival in northern Wardandi country was provocative. It was confrontational and invasive. At Yowangup, the Quartermaines made no such claims. For a period of at least ten years they built no more than a seasonal shepherd’s hut. Their base was in Beverley. The Quartermaine approach was slow, unassuming and gentle. Probably even friendly.

Over time, the Quartermaines provided comforts and gains, luxuries even, in exchange for very little. However, over that time the Aborigines of the greater Katanning area, whilst still living on their traditional grounds, still gathering and consuming bush foods, still moving between groups and staying safe within their wider family structures, also became dependent on blankets, on flour, sugar, tea and rice. I think they will also have come to shoot their game rather than hunt by stealth and spear as before.

And where traditional marriage laws were seriously breached (i.e. Kapugan, Ngerderit and the Egerton-Warburtons at Yeriminup), those people and their new families were forced to stay close to their origins under what Daisy Bates repeatedly referred to as ‘the protection of the white man.’ Here I am reminded again of what Richard Norrish experienced at Kojonup in 1847 and what might have happened to the son of William C. Quartermaine in January 1888. There must have been many, many instances of conflict and aggression.

Throughout the southern districts stealing was regular. Regardless of principle it occurred on an organised basis at Albany, Cape Riche, Mount Barker, Kojonup and Jarramungup; anywhere and everywhere settlement took hold. We know that within a year of settling at Kendenup in 1840 and within months of establishing at Jarramungup in 1849, John Hassell had trouble with the Aborigines. This is because Hassell was a businessman. Unlike the Quartermaines, he sent his sons and employees in with strict rules and demands for an immediate return. The scale of his occupation was much larger and the approach aggressive and defensive by comparison.

Hassell’s venture at Jarramungup was preceded by George Cheyne’s presence at Cape Riche too. I haven’t got to that yet, but it’s coming. Cheyne made enemies amongst the Cape Riche Aborigines and may have been the first settler to use poison in his quest to rid them from his properties. Like the Bussells, the Hassell presence would have been invasive; immediately confronting. The eastern Aborigines which we learned so much about in People of the Wild Cherry were aggressive in their resistance too. Their living was harsh and the arrival of the settler was seen as far more threatening. Across the more newly discovered grazing country (south-east of Katanning), shepherds were at risk; not just of losing sheep but of having severe action taken against them for their interference with women. Along the south coast, east of Cape Riche, both John Moir and John Dunn were to lose their lives this way.

The Great Southern Railway


Now, during the latter half of the 1880s the Great Southern Railway was built by the West Australian Land Company who contracted to lay and run the railway in exchange for huge land grants. Even though the business venture was a failure the change it wrought was massive and irrevocable. We know that in the lead up to the tracks meeting quite near to Yowangup in 1889, William C. Quartermaine lost both his father and eldest child. We also know that Elijah Junior was based just a few miles to the north at Round Pool where by the time the railway was completed he and Mary Wartum had a family of about six children. I say about because it’s not clear how many children Elijah actually had. The smallest number touted is seven, the largest twelve. We’ll look more closely again at this in just a little while.

The arrival of the railway brought an influx of settlers not only to the immediate Katanning townsite but to the region at large. This impact caused the Aborigines to leave their kalas and begin gathering in larger numbers, seeking places of refuge.

It seems such an easy thing to say, to string the logic together and announce matter-of-factly that this was the scenario as if a great migration was sweeping across the interior, the Aborigines moving en-mass toward more central locations. That image may help build an idea of what happened but in reality there were so few Aborigines no one but the longest settled farmers will have noticed. But yet this  period was a hastening of the end for the traditional Central Great Southern Aborigine.

The presence of the settler had been installed in their minds almost sixty years, the physical presence slowly gathering and building around them. The coming of the railway was the time when the old permanent and untroubled way of life ended. It marked a tremendous acceleration in the pace of change.  No more the small-group open living, no more the walk to the tribal gatherings to settle marriages and business, no more the sole reliance on daily hunting and gathering, the building of shelters, on the making of axes and spears, the trading of stones and artifacts from far country, the lack of awareness regarding clothes and blankets. None of these things was the same anymore. They were conducted under different conditions, in a different atmosphere. In modern political parlance, all over the South-West, Noongar customs were being forced underground.

The shift from traditional Aborigine to post-traditional Aborigine in the South West cannot be reduced to a single point in time but it can be seen to have been more heavily influenced by particular occurrences. The (relatively) massive invasion of the Kojonup and William’s districts by land speculators and farmers whose competitive drive forced them to buy up the water sources and secure them for their own purposes between 1880 and 1920, was a repeat of what happened elsewhere all-over Australia.

As it happened over such a short period, the Aborigines were still very close to their ancient ways when it came to language and lore, but were giving in all the time to the pressures of survival. Tensions will have been high as the groups were forced to adjust. Traditional rule breaking, especially under times of particular stress, will have led to harsh actions by some of the aggrieved as they struggled to accept the change. And don’t forget, the biggest impact of the arrival of the settlers was sickness. Disease. Going on within all of this, people were dying in greater numbers and sooner than ever before.

The map below illustrates the extent of the land-railway exchange agreed by the government. Construction began simultaneously at both ends. Separate lines of track ran north and south, linking the most favoured springs, pools and grasslands between Albany and Beverley; the meeting point being the 122 mile-mark (half-way), Katanup Spring, four miles south of Yowangup.


GREAT SOUTHERN RAILWAY MAPAbove: The Great Southern Railway ran between Beverley and Albany. Built and run by the West Australian Land Company, the operation relied on selling its granted land to repay capital investment. This failed and the government took over the company in December 1896. Image taken from page 47 of The Coming Colony. Practical notes on Western Australia … Second edition, by Philip Menell. Original held and digitised by the British Library. Copied from Flickr.


By 1889 the railway was complete, bringing with it all manner of profit-hungry businessmen, some as ruthless speculators, others more committed to the people and places they sought to exploit. Frederick Henry Piesse, who with his brother Charles had come down from Northam to Williams first, where after a stint with the post office they opened a trading post then followed the railway construction southwards carting and trading along the way, was one of those men. The year before the railway linked up, Piesse used the locality of Elijah’s house at Yowangup as security to store “three cart-loads of goods and a heap of sandalwood.”  I think that Sandalwood might have been the property of Alfred Quartermaine who wasadvertising it for sale and collection at the time.

Piesse’s decision to act for Quartermaine, in the knowledge a railway depot would soon be built nearby, probably reflects his decision at that time to make Katanup Spring his future base.

The building of the central depot at Katanup Spring, with shunting yards and goods sheds to be manned, marked the completion of the railway itself. With the driving home of the final spike on June 1st 1889 (at Beverley), the company town of Katanning was born. Two years later there were 123 settlers registered as living at Katanning. Ten years after that the number was 353 living in the town and over 3000 in the surrounding district.

Also, from 1885 gold fever had been building in Western Australia but this wasn’t to impact the South West until 1892 when seams at Coolgardie and then Kalgoorlie were discovered. At this point the tide of settlers swelled and flowed like a river in flood. In ten years the state population virtually quadrupled (Approx 50,000 to approx 200,000). Settlers poured into Albany, rode the train north or else bought carts and wagons and drove them up the Perth Road to Cranbrook, then eastwards via Broomehill (Eticup) through the lower Katanning area toward the Goldfields, while at Perth the government did all it could to channel the flow through there, denying port developments at Esperance, routing  as many vessels as they could past Albany directly into Fremantle, reaping the taxes and investing evermore in an infrastructure that would secure its own economic superiority. The West Australian gold rush was a local boom but national issue, it galvanised the push for federation. Katanning was to benefit, but only in a peripheral way.

In quick time Piesse built his business base at Katanning from where he bought land, invested in wool and cereal crops, established a brickworks and constructed a flour mill. The mill was Katanning’s great step forward and the fledgling railway depot developed into the region’s primary population centre. By the time Daisy Bates arrived in 1907 the number of people in the now designated Katanning electoral district was upwards of 4000 (5,500 in 1911 census). Frederick Piesse had planted vineyards, built a winery and mansion house which he called Koobeelya, and gone into politics.

To his credit, and in keeping with the essentially benign presence of the Quartermaines, whose combined land holdings made them the pre-eminent farming family in the district, Piesse also recognised the Aborigines in a respectful way. This is evident in the Bates files and the corresponding Aboriginal memory of Koobeelya remains positive and strong today. In fact, among the Aborigines you could say Piesse assumed the role of benign benefactor which Old Elijah might be given the honor of initiating at Katanning. Piesse saw the cultural disparity, understood the insurmountable barriers facing the Aborigines, watched the progress of the State increase its powers against them and did what he could to help. The Katanning Aborigines were not unwelcome on his land.

Indeed, Piesse looks to have become the new Messiah and Quartermaine the old. But what was it that changed things, swung the pendulum away from the Quartermaines towards the Honorable Mr Piesse? The shear arrival of Piesse himself and the generosity he displayed, or the passing of old Elijah?

Probably both.

One theory is that William C. Quartermaine banished the Aborigines from Yowangup when his father died, reneging on an agreement the Aborigines thought they had. What seems clear is that Piesse appears to have picked up where old Elijah left off. Perhaps this is why there is no detail on the Quartermaine family in the Bates files? Perhaps, after the death of William C. Quartermaine’s five year son in January 1888, by accident or otherwise, and the death by natural causes later that year of Old Elijah, there was a parting of company between the Quartermaines, both black and white families, and the wider Yowangup Aboriginal group?



Katanning 1904 - lost katanning

Above: By the time Daisy Bates got to Katanning in 1907 it looked something like this. The photo is thought to have been taken in 1904, just fifteen years after the north south tracks joined nearby. The Katanning Aborigines met with a dramatic acceleration in change from 1889 when the settler population quickly began to climb. The 1891 censusrecorded 123 settlers in Katanning town. Alongside the figures officials noted; “. . . the recent springing up of a rival town alongside of the railway line—Katanning. This town, of mushroom growth, already consists of 123 persons, numbering amongst them some of the most enterprising of our agriculturists.” The following census, in 1901, recorded 353 living in the town and over 3000 in the wider agricultural district. Yowangup lies just west of the railway line about 4 miles north of Katanning townsite. Image courtesy of Lost Katanning dot com.


In any case, as time went on the Katanning Aborigines (and their eastern relatives) either attached themselves to farming properties, doing as much as they could to eek out some kind of economic benefit, or merged into larger camps formed closer to the towns and settlements where food and blankets could be sourced; where there might be help with the ongoing problem of sickness and disease.

These camps were the origins of the forthcoming Native Reserves. Problems associated with alcohol and vice increased as a result. By the turn of the century over 200 Aborigines were given ‘wandering’ status at Katanning and the estimate was that more than half the Aboriginal population of the South West was mixed-race (see; Aboriginal Western Australia and Federation).

The authorities didn’t like it either. The Aborigines were an eyesore and the lower reaches of white society were to blame. The Government decided to take control, to make a concerted effort to change things once and for all. Cue the Aborigines Protection Act of 1886, the Aborigines Act of 1897 and the updated Aborigines Act of 1905. The true Aborigines were free to stay as they were but only out in the wilds away from civilisation. Everyone else had to conform. Mixed-race children, commonly referred to as half-castes, were only regarded as citizens if they lived with white people and according to European tradition. Otherwise they had to stay away from colonial contact or they would be taken from their parents and brought up in religious run institutions.

The 1830’s civilising theories of George Grey, seized upon and put into practise on the South Coast by the likes of Reverend Wollaston and Anne Camfield, finally found their way into legislation and the great crime of Colonial Australia entered its second infamous phase. In 1915, after the opening and closing of various reserves and a steady worsening in relations between the Aborigines and general population, Carrolup Mission was taken over by the government and renamed Carrolup Native Settlement. The Katanning Aborigines were effectively rounded up and escorted out of town.

But the Aborigines didn’t capitulate. I’m reminded here of Eric Hedley Hayward and his recounting of Mowan’s great deeds of Aboriginal prowess which he recalled in his humble and heartfelt autobiography No Free Kicks, of Thomas Norrish’s telling of how Cunningpan had come up from Jarramungup to take exception at his (Norrish’s) accepted presence among the Kojonup Aborigines, and of the fact that the vast majority of Bates’s informants were women. Through all of this there was an awareness among the men of what was happening and ongoing frustration, resentment and anger at it.

While the number of Europeans grew, more and more kalas came under the influence of farmers. Group attachment to the ancient ways lessened and lessened while at the same time the settlers held up cultural barriers that ensured the distance between black and white societies remained insurmountable.

As far as the South West of Western Australia (Noongar Country) was concerned, proud Aboriginal men had been observing their disregard from near and far. Over the years they witnessed growing misery among their people, heard tales of cruelty and exploitation, and when they tried to challenge were met with denial, the application of European law over their own and, except for a few maverick magistrates, came up against a largely dismissive body of white jurymen whose only interest in Aboriginal cases lay with the protection of their own interests.

Increasingly marginalised, increasingly regarded with disdain, Aboriginal independence and optimism suffered setback after setback. Over successive generations poverty and hopelessness began to take hold.

Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren came into the world. Women, still under the assertive authority of their men, stayed local and raised children while the men took various paths. Some were persuaded by the settlers and their economy and worked for them, some even as police. Others adopted a defiant, aggressive stance and between activities related to pure survival, fought. Others again went solitary, taking their families into remote places seeking peace and survival before anything else.

And within all of that lay many dark secrets held by Aboriginal families whose parents carried the burden of shock and injury caused by the changes. Internal family issues related to sex and violence were borne and concentrated over successive generations. See Our Greatest Challenge; Aboriginal Children and Human Rights by Dr Hannah McGlade for indepth detail and conversation.

Once again I recommend going to Eric Hedley Hayward’s account of  what happened to his people during this time. The book is called No Free Kicks, published by Fremantle Press. Hayward puts what I am saying in much of the above into actual events, speaking of friends and family involved. He’s able to tell real stories where as an observer I can only sum them up.

Between 1838 and 1889, half a century, the pace of change around what became the town of Katanning was slow but persistent. Then, between 1889 and 1922, a period of just 33 years, you could say that virtually everything fell apart. A great trauma beset the Aborigines and like what happened in Tasmania with the declaration of martial law and subsequent Black Line occurrence of 1830, the opening of the Carrolup Native Settlement  followed by its closing and the transfer of all personnel north to the Moore River camp finally broke the spirit of what remained of the traditional Koreng, Kaneang and Willmen tribes.

It was in process, but from that point on everything was changed. The Passing of the Aborigines had effectively taken place and it was by any description nothing other than rebirth and regeneration that followed.


Carrolup Style - Reynold Hart -A Native Corroboree-, ca. 1949Above: In the Carrolup Style, Reynold Hart’s “A Native Corroboree”, ca. 1949 Image courtesy Colgate University Flickr Page


From the Timeline of Aboriginal History of Western Australia Wikipedia page.

The sixty years from 1881 to the 1940s can be neatly divided into two by the passage of the 1905 Aboriginal Act, which created institutionalised racism and created what amounted to Aboriginal “concentration camps” in which the Aboriginal people were to be confined until the race became extinct. It began with the Fairburn Report which first drew attention to the “Aboriginal Problem.” This institutionalised racism. . . reached its peak in the 1930s. The “final solution to the Aboriginal problem” was to take all children from Aboriginal parents. . .” This. . . continued. . .  well into the 1970s.


It is said that when Daisy Bates first got off the train at Katanning in 1907 she went in to the offices of F&C Piesse where on the wall she found hanging a very large photograph featuring the Piesse brothers; Katanning’s first Resident Magistrate, W.K. Adams; and some of Piesse’s white employees in amongst a crowd of Aborigines (men, women and children) carrying spears and wearing traditional dress. Bates’s eyes lit up. She sought the identities of these Aborigines, found out where they were and promptly went to live with them.

But where exactly were they?

In 1907 I can’t be sure, somewhere close to Katanning town.

According to Haebich (For their Own Good) there was a typhoid outbreak amongst the Katanning Aborigines in 1898 a small isolation hut was built on what was called Reserve Land (No 4681), The hut was maintained as a ward for sick Aborigines until 1906 when the Roads Board had it shut down.


Katanning Town Plan - Native Reserve 1898Above: Cut from the Katanning town plan 1898 featuring the railway station and location of Reserve 4681. Note also the well in the station grounds, this would be Ketanup Spring from which Katanning probably took its name. A full high-resolution image of the map can be found using the SRO’s Aeon Investigator resource. The location is here.


There doesn’t appear to be an official camping area in 1907 and Bates only goes so far as to say; There was a native reserve in the Katanning area.


Right: Kobeelya, built by Frederick Piesse in 1902

Almost all of what Bates wrote about Katanning and the Aborigines she met there involved the people in the Piesse photograph. When she arrived measles was rife in the town and an outbreak occurred in the camp soon after she got there. Of course the Aborigines were not allowed to take up valuable hospital beds so Bates hunkered down with them and much to her credit saw the epidemic through without a single loss of life. At this time Bates regularly visited Frederick Piesse at the Kobeelya mansion and built a strong rapport with him.

By accounts, Piesse helped where he could.

Frederick Piesse achieved a great deal during his relatively short time on earth. He died 29 June 1912 after suffering a major stroke. He was 59. After his passing things steadily worsened for the Katanning Aborigines, something he may have been able to influence but probably not halt. Too much was going on all around.

At times it seems almost criminal to be speeding through this potted history of Aboriginal Katanning as there are a thousand-and-one individual stories passed over; tales of rejection, deprivation, anger, remorse and tragedy, but also tales of acceptance, challenge, endurance and triumph; of sporting victories, employment achievements (shearing in particular) and social recognition. Many people reading this blog belong to Aboriginal families and remember the Carollup/Maribank Reserve. Most are just a generation or two away from the time when Katanning town came into being. Only this month (January 2016) Eric Krakouer (born 1930) passed away. Though more associated with Yeriminup and Mount Barker, Mr Krakouer was someone of terrific social standing within the wider group we’re looking at here.  He was born out of everything laid out above, a man of local heroic standing who, like Eric Hedley-Hayward, proved through personal dignity how tough an individual he was. I said this before, in Interlude Pursued – Part 8, sometimes those far away days of old are really not so far away at all.

A cursory look at what happened regarding the introduction of so-called native reserves and camping grounds around Katanning is given by the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Reserves in the Narrogin District Timeline which I’ve edited and laid out below. Reading it feels like a gross simplification and cutting of corners but there’s only so much you can go into in a single blog post.


1897: First “Reserve in Katanning”: the purpose was “hospital for Aboriginals” following a Typhoid outbreak.

1899:  A total of 30 Aborigines in Katanning were employed by white employers and 200 Aborigines in Katanning were wandering.

1903: Native Camping Reserve at Katanning proposed.

1905: Native Camping Reserves opened in Katanning, Pingelly, Beverley, and Narrogin.

1906: Katanning Native Camping Reserve was closed.

1909: Racial tension in Katanning.

1911 to 1913: Racial tension worsened between groups of Aborigines. Population on Reserve increased from 40 to 200 people. A push for total expulsion of the Reserve by whites.

1914: Inhabitants of a number of south-west camps met at Katanning to develop behaviour laws. In June a teacher at a school for Katanning Aborigines resigned.

1915: Carrolup Settlement opened. In January the Aboriginal population of Katanning were removed by foot by police to Carrolup Settlement. In April the Katanning Reserve was declared a public utility. In June a Superintendent was appointed in Katanning.

1916: Carrolup Settlement renamed Carrolup Reserve.

1917: Katanning Reserve cancelled.

1922: Carrolup Reserve closed. (Occupants forcefully transferred to Moore River). Another Katanning Reserve opened.

1923: Katanning Reserve closed.

1925: Native Camping Reserves opened in Katanning (the first reserve in Katanning opened for the second time) and Williams.

1936: Carrolup Reserve opened.

1940’s: Carrolup Painting Style emerges.

1951: Methodist and Baptist Churches controlled Carrolup Reserve.
Kitty Notuman & Daisy Bates


If you can bare it, we’ll go back to our discussion of Woorgum’s daughter Notuman.

In 1911, Daisy Bates gave Kitty Notuman’s age as ‘rapidly nearing the seventies’. This means she is likely to have been born close to 1840, indicating her father Woorgum will probably have been in his thirties, an elder, when Elijah Quartermaine Senior first arrived at York. She herself will have been an infant when Quartermaine eventually got to Yowangup. It was, perhaps, her people who recognised Old Elijah as one of the Janga.

According to the information Bates collected, both Woorgum and his wife Yungurt (also called Yejan) were Jiukwuk. That is, their totem was Jiuk. They were People of the Wild Cherry. This is interesting as it would imply that the Wild Cherry totem was either in multiple use around the South West corner of Western Australia, or had traveled westward from Ngadju country east of Esperance well ahead of settlement. Bates asserted the Jiuk totem originated East of Esperance but it was in very wide use across Noongar country by the time she was taking notes and may possibly have become associated with the movement of people (acting something like a passport), allowing relatives access into distant kalas by way of general recognition.


Katanning - Bates's Recovered Measles Patients 1908Above: This photo was taken in July 1908 at Katanning outside the offices of F&C Piesse. It was requested by Daisy Bates after a lecture she gave on ‘The Aborigines’ at the Katanning Institute. The photo was first published in The Western Mail, Saturday, 25 July, 1908 and gives a more modern perspective to the imagery of the period. Daisy Bates is on the left hand side and Notuman believed to be the large women standing holding her hat. A high resolution version of this image is available at the University of Adelaide Daisy Bates Digital Archive. The inscription on the back of the photo reads; Natives all recovered from measles. 40 patients at once and no help from Katanning as measles was raging there. Dr and nurses all required, lost adults and children daily at Katanning. I did not lose one of my 40 patients!!! and so am giving them a feast at the Katanning store – everything they asked for.


I mentioned earlier that Bates got to know Notuman very well during her time at Katanning and wrote about her here and there. In fact, Notuman invoked kinship lore and effectively adopted Bates as her younger sister. In an article published in The West Australian, Saturday, 25 November, 1911, Bates said of the matriarch;

An old identity of the district, whose native name was Notuman, and who embodied in the bulky form all the cunning and devilment of her own race, coupled with an uncanny knowledge of the shady character and mean vices of those low white people with whom she came in contact in her wildly adventurous career. Notuman had a handmaiden named Jurian, who fetched and carried, begged and borrowed, fought and palavered for a mistress who was as tyrannous and thankless as she was gluttonous, and from whom I never heard a single word of approval for all the devotion shown to her by Jurian. Notuman was unfortunately my sister both of us being Manitchmat – although she is rapidly nearing the seventies, and I am well, no matter, I wasn’t complimented by the relationship, anyhow. Needless to say, Notuman used the kinship between us for all it was worth, and whether it hailed, rained, or the sun shone, I, being the younger sister, was at her beck and call at all hours. I had to subdue the unpleasant results of over feeding by special medicines, or by taking over a cup of my own gwabba (good) tea, and a dainty slice or two of bread and butter, or a-tin of fish, or some such delicacy, all of which I cheerfully performed until the measles came, and then Notuman had to take a “back seat” so to speak.

But by the time Bates and Notuman became friends in 1907, the newly established railway town of Katanning was approaching twenty years existence and Elijah Quartermaine Senior was dead pretty much as long. His youngest son, William C. was 47 years old and living in the original district homestead four miles north of town, his brother Elijah Jnr was a few miles to the north at Woodanilling (Round Pool), while his other siblings were scattered here and there still further to the immediate north, north-east and north-west.

Other local settlers, including Eric Hedley-Hayward’s ancestors, and many shepherds and labourers also took Aboriginal brides, but Daisy Bates didn’t like it. The old Aborigines had been and still were dying by the day. Their ancient daily lifestyle by that time just a remnant of what it used to be. This is how Bates arrived at the title of her most famous work, The Passing of the Aborigines. She was concerned with the old people, the old ways, who was around and what it was like before the settlers came.

And so we have what she gathered and left behind.

Daisy Bates knew a great deal more than most settlers but still struggled to make sense of the Aboriginal world. This was because the old Aboriginal world had been effectively destroyed by her time. She might have imagined it to be something like a Mallet forest (Swamp Yate), all bark stripped, ghostly and dying. By 1907 the damage was done and Bates knew it so well she didn’t even attempt to hide it. In fact she willed it on because it gave impetus to her campaign; provided money for her existence. The old Aborigines were passing, that was the tragedy she could sell. The new ones however, to her, weren’t really Aborigines at all.


Bates -Aborigines doomed to perishAbove:Excerpt from Bob Reece’s book Daisy Bates; Grand Dame of the Desert, page 59

Bates struggled, no doubt, but did her best to gather as much useful information as she could. Metaphorically, enough to inscribe a monument stone with all the names she could find. And she did this with integrity, gave it all the time she possibly could while the paymasters stood over her saying the headstone was too big, the writing too small and complicated, that it was taking too long to complete, and in the haste and poverty and finger-pointing inferiority she was subjected to she made mistakes. But, and I say this again, she cared. Daisy Bates cared enough to give her life to it – lock, stock and barrel – and if it wasn’t for her there would be far, far less to work with.

Give me Daisy Bates over Revett Henry Bland any day.

Seven years ago, Bob Howard wrote a piece called Daisy Bates in 1908 – Her Year of Living Dangerously which gives a very good insight into Bates’s time in Western Australia. Her existence was as precarious as any.

Now, lets look at Notuman’s family chart which she gave to Daisy Bates. Remember, Bates was at Katanning during the measles outbreak there in 1907,  and again at the invitation of F.H. Piesse the following year. Notuman was in her mid-sixties at the time.


Notuman Tree

Above: The family tree of Notuman as recorded by Daisy Bates. Bates spent time with Notuman at Katanning in 1907 and 1908, interviewing her at length. Document courtesy of John Chandler.


From the chart we can see that Bates heads the document Notuman or Doyet and asserts that hers is a Ketaning or Ketanup pedigree. She says that Ketaning is Notuman’s own family’s own group area. Bates is being specific about Notuman being a local woman.  She says that Notuman is the fourth child and only daughter of Woorgum and Yungurt and gives her birthplace and that of her father’s as Naualangin, about three days walk north east of Katanning. (On one page Bates names this place as Dalyabup). Bates’s wider detail indicates Yungurt’s parents were from Beaufort Inlet, mouth of the Pallinup River. Notuman gives her totem as Jiuk, inherited from both parents. She said she had two husbands. The first was called Nuelbinan, the second named Wubanaitch.


Notuman sons by NuelbinanAbove: Cropped  cut from the hand written Notuman Family Tree by Daisy Bates


Notuman had two sons to Nuelbinan, who was Menang, from the south. Nuelbinan carries the Gij totem, a type of spear used for fishing, making him one of the Shell People. Another Bates reference shows that Nuelbinan was born at Warperup Creek, near Borden. This reflects the inland connections that followed the waterways. Her two boys were called Gunin and Narderit, both born at Yauangap (Yowangup). For some reason Bates gives them the Wej totem (emu), rather than their father’s Gig or mother’s Jiuk. Remember, Bates asserts that where there is an issue with the marriage the totems disagree, so assuming she hasn’t made a mistake, there will be some anomaly there. Nonetheless, from this information it is clear that Yowangup lay upon the kala of Notuman and her family. She was indeed a local woman.


Notuman cropped 1Above: Cropped cut from the Notuman Genealogy by Daisy Bates

Michael and John Ring


Notuman’s second union was with Wubanaitch, a man born at Yauangap (Yowangup), four miles from Katanning. Bates records here that Notuman had two girls with Wubanaitch. Their names were Karinan and Yelingan, both of whom inherited their father’s totem the Wej or emu.  She says her first daughter, Karinan, married a man called Yerapwar or Daina, that he was from a place called Wejin (Wagin?) and that his totem was Yongar, the kangaroo. Scribbled with this information are two notes, one saying Karinan afterwards married a white man, and another saying Karinan’s husband (Yerapwar or Daina) was a white man whose European name was Ring, and that together they had six children.

This man was Michael Ring, one of four sons born at the Falkland Islands in the 1850s. The boys father was Chelsea Pensioner Guard Mark Ring Snr (b.1811 Kilkenny, Ireland) who brought his wife and young family to Western Australia probably in 1860.

Pensioner Guards started arriving in Western Australia with the convicts. Their job was to supervise both during the voyage and while the convicts served out their sentences. The term ‘Pensioner’ can be misleading suggesting retired soldiers in their sixties or older, but Pensioner Guards were just returned British service men, many of whom were fit, healthy and not at all old. They were offered a much better prospect in Australia than they could have hoped for back in England so many came out to make the country their new home. Having said that, Mark Ring Snr was invalided at sixpence a day and clearly ailing. He died at Perth in 1869 aged just 45.

A number of Pensioner Guards were stationed at the Kojonup barracks, which from the time construction of the Perth-Albany road commenced around 1850 was given over to management of convict labour.

Mark Ring Senior, who was retired in 1846, first took up Pensioner duties in the Falkland Islands where his children were born, then came to Perth, as I mentioned, probably in 1860. I don’t know if Mark Ring was ever stationed at the Kojonup barracks, it doesn’t look like it. The Ring brothers were all born in the 1850s. Their father died when they were all young to very young men, leaving them poor. John Ring took on shepherding work in the Williams District. Mark and William Ring married the daughters of other Pensioner Guards.


Kojonup Military Barracks, Barracks Place, Kojonup, Western Australia
Kojonup Military Barracks, Barracks Place, Kojonup, Western Australia: Image courtesy of  Studia Photos


Michael Ring (aged 23) was stationed at Esperance as a telegraph linesman in 1876 where descendants think he may have met Karinan. This is interesting as it once again highlights the linkage of the Aborigines between key places of settlement. The children of Michael Ring and Karinan are named by Bates as Alice, Bill, Mark, Cissie, Maggie and Maudie. Bates’s details match family records which date the births between 1880 and 1892.

John Ring, Michael’s younger brother, is named on a surviving marriage certificate as a shepherd employed at the Williams River. John Ring married Jane Nuricup at St Peter’s Church, Beverley, on February 8th, 1876. The marriage certificate names the bride’s father as Jack Nuricup. This is Nyergap whose name appears on Bland’s 1842 York list of native names.

Postscript 16 June 2016:   Ring family descendants contribute the following.

Pensioner Guards were also called Chelsea Pensioner’s, men often suffering from illness and wounds from service overseas and pensioned off to the colonies. They were unpopular with the convicts and the settlers who had to pay the guards wages. Mark Ring and his children’s ages were altered also as Mark Ring Snr would have been too old to be sent to Australia as they had an age limit for Pensioner Guards. Mark Ring Snr left the Falklands as a private but arrived in Australia younger and promoted to corporal. He couldn’t read or write so must have had help higher up. Mark Ring Snr’s army records state he was born 1811 but when he died in 1869 he was still only 45 years old. His age is correct in his records until  he was sent to Australia from the Falklands. If he had been sent back home to England they would have had to pay his pension, so it was a commercial decision (to re-route the family to Australia) I believe.


Henry Rodney, John Penny and Samuel Morrison

Notuman’s second daughter was Yellingan, also known as Yaaling and Maggie Yelham. Looking at her details it appears Yaaling’s life connections also ran south and east of Katanning to Jaramungup and the coast between Cape Rich and Doubtful Islands Bay.

Yaaling’s first husband was an Aborigine Bates called Nerdonbaron, later spelled Ngerdongbarong. According to Bates, this man’s people were from Cape Riche, once again introducing links to the South Coast around the mouth of the Pallinup River. According to the Bates genealogy the couple had three children; two boys, Dalungart and Kwelangit, and a girl; possibly Ngoweruk.  Ngardongbarong was at Katanning in 1907 when Bates arrived there. She listed his English name as Davy and alongside it wrote in brackets ‘old man.’

Members of today’s Penny family believe Ngardonbarong to be David Henry Penny, son of a whaler known around Albany as Charles Beach Penny (see Tilbrook’s Nyungar Tradition, Pg 124.)  According to Penny family understanding, Charles Beach Penny was born in 1806 and arrived at the South Coast as an 35 year-old at the height of the off-shore whaling boom in 1841. The suggestion here is that Charles Beach was very likely an American Jumpship. In any case he married in to the Aboriginal world and fathered four children, these being David, John, Charles Jnr and Lucy. The Penny boys appear to have become farm labourers and shepherds. Dave Penny, aka Ngardonbarong, making his way to Katanning out of Cape Riche, which after the departure of George Cheyne became the property of the Moir family who also ran sheep at both the top and bottom ends of the Pallinup River.

Yaaling looks to have died relatively young but not without having three partners. There is some confusion over her second. Mongel or Mongalwar, who appears to have had the tag ‘Pretty Boy’ attached, is generally accepted as the man. The couple’s daughter was known as Gracie and their two sons as Wenyil and Togur. Bates talks about Togur as being a boy in 1907 when she was at the Katanning camp. Togur was also known as Samuel Morrison. The confusion here is that the English surname Morrison, which enters the Noongar world here, is also linked to another near family. According to Bates, Mongal was born near Jaramungup and was also at the Katanning measles camp where Bates listed his English name as Tommy. Elsewhere, Mongal was recorded by the English name Tebi Morrison.

Yaaling’s third husband was Warilyit, also known as Henry Rodney. Henry Rodney was the son of a part Maori man, possibly Thomas Rodney, and Wirijan. Together Yaaling and Henry Rodney had two daughters, Girbagen and Majen, otherwise known as Laura and Florrie Rodney.

Henry Rodney (probably after Yaaling died) also married Fanny Quartermaine, daughter of Elijah Junior and Mary Wartum. The only child shown to Henry Rodney and Fanny Quartermaine in the Bates genealogies is daughter Emma. There is a photograph of Henry Rodney with daughter Emma on page 161 of Nyungar Tradition. The photograph is said to have been taken in the 1920s.

Henry Rodney is closely linked to the Quartermaines from this time. There is another photograph taken in the 1920s on page 21 of Katanning; A Place to Meet, claiming to show Henry Rodney with members of  Eli Quartermaine’s family. Eli (born 1852 at York) was younger brother to Elijah Junior.


Sports Carnival - Perth - 1910 - Bates - Nebinyan Kaiar Warin Wstn Ml 12.2.1910 pg 28

Above: A group of Aborigines brought to Perth by Daisy Bates in February 1910 to compete in the Perth Carnival (forerunner to Country Week). The back row (standing) features Nebinyan (3rd from left) and Kaiar, aka William Morrison (2nd from right). Photo: Page 28, Western Mail, Saturday 12th February 1910.


Now, Henry Rodney’s mother, Wirijan, also partnered another man. This was Kaiar who we should talk about for a moment.

The above photograph was taken in Perth in February 1910 during an athletics carnival to which Daisy Bates brought two groups of Aborigines to compete; one from the north and one from the south of the state. Those from the south included Kaiar, Warin and Nebinyan, all of whom were at Katanning when Bates was there in 1907. You can find the sports carnival article on Trove here. It was reported on page 28 of the Western Mail newspaper on 12th February 1910.

In some of Bates’s notes regarding who won what at the carnival she mentions the names Kaian (not Kaiar) and Penny, a few times. It’s confusing as these are just scribbled notes for her own purposes but what we are seeing is the linking of the name Penny with Kaiar and his brothers. Looking at the Bates’s genealogies Kaiar’s own brother, who Bates calls Buyarit, is clearly given the English name Penny. This is John Penny, grandfather of the Noongar Penny family, but yet Kaiar has since been attached to the English name William Morrison.

Now, Kaiar and Buyarit also appear to be related to Togur, or at least the name Morrison which binds both families. Confusing, because as I said above Kair has since been called William Morrison. Togur, according to various sources was the son of Yaaling and Mongalwar, which in this association doesn’t make automatic sense if Kaiar was a Morrison as well as a Penny. But yet, there must be some strong link. This is because Sammy Togur Morrison enlisted in the Australian Army at Katanning in 1916, during the course of World War I. He died by drowning in the Swan River in February 1971, aged about 75. The obituary given by the army states that his father was Dave Penny and mother Maggie Yelham (Yaaling/Yellingan). Elsewhere, Sammy Morrison’s father’s name was given as (possibly this) William Morrison.


Arthur Morrison and family27022016

Above: The Morrison Family C.1915 Image; Dr Anna Haebich‘s; For Their Own Good, Pg 45. The photograph caption lists the persons as (L to R): Child; Arthur Edward Morrison, Baby; Jane Morrison, Seated; mother Nelly Morrison (nee Orchid) Child; Olive Morrison, Toddler (on father’s arm) William Morrison, Standing; Samuel (Togur) Morrison.


John Penny29022016Left: Buyarit or John Penny c. 1932 Image, page 52 No Free Kicks

(The names Penny and Pickett are very closely linked too, as Buyarit’s wife, Minnie Penny, was also thought to be Maggie Pickett (see Tindale and Bob Howard genealogies for clarification)). The Pickett, Penny and Morrison surnames are all associated with early Avon Valley settlers.

The Morrison family tree in Nyungar Tradition shows the father of the Katanning Morrisons as William (Family Tree 21) and that the mother’s name was Rodney (possibly Mary, sister to Henry and Ted). This may not be absolutely correct but what we can say is that the Rodney, Penny and Morrison names are very closely linked and all originated at Katanning more or less at the same time. Kaiar’s estimated birth year was 1885. Pre-railway. The ancestry Kaiar provided Daisy Bates with shows his father as Giniwar (also known as Metwart) and his mother as Boredaning.

Now, Kaiar (William Morrison) and John Penny had a sister, Waiaman. According to Daisy Bates, all three were born at Yauangap (Yowangup). Waiaman was first married to Yagon. This is Yagong or Mulyal, Notuman’s brother. There were no children to the union as far as the genealogies show but it is interesting to note that Waiaman’s second husband was Ngurabirding. This is Jack Maher the son of John Maher who I mentioned at the very top of the post and afterwards as being linked to the Spencer brothers; Joseph and Edward May (More likely Edward at Goblup from around 1854/5). Waiaman and Jack Maher’s daughter was called Rachel. It isn’t clear but it looks as if Rachel may have been born either at Yowangup or, more likely, Elijah Junior’s new home at Round Pool, Woodanilling. Rachel later married Joseph Royal, also known as Joseph Woods.

To round this off, and to further illustrate the very wide connections stemming from the Katanning area, we should also say that Notuman’s mother’s brother (her uncle) was called Jinumbulip who, according to Notuman, had two mixed-race sons. The first, called Banyaitch, was also known as Larry Williams. The second, named Ilyit, was called Hughie Williams.

Also, as mentioned further above, Notuman’s brother Ngugan married Nganberan, who was known as Ann Williams. Their children were a girl called Minjinan, who became known as Elizabeth Smith, and a boy called Ninjer who became known as Robert Benjamin. Elizabeth Smith (Minjinan) married an Aboriginal man named Borndil whose English identity was George Riley.

So what we see in this grouping is the very point where people bearing traditional Aboriginal names were mixing in the new white society as it took hold in the Katanning area, thereby acquiring English language identities. As I said at the outset, some of these names reflect genuine settler parentage and some reflect employer or friendly associations. What’s interesting in the context of this discussion is that they do not appear to represent any landowners. Not from around Katanning anyway. The only Aboriginal families descending from land owning settlers in the Katanning area were the children of Elijah Quartermaine Junior and the son and daughter of William Henry Hayward of Ewelyamartup; Eric Hedley-Hayward’s paternal ancestors.

Both Wirijan (Henry Rodney’s mother) and Yellingan (Yaaling – Notuman’s older daughter) are shown seated in the famous photograph Bates found hanging in the Piesse offices in 1907. Also in that photograph is Notuman’s son, Ngarder, and Warilyit (Henry Rodney) himself. Another is called Burbal who may be Barbil, one of Kapugan’s children and a half-brother to Sarah Jangian Punch.

I have posted the photograph below. It is perhaps the most striking of all the early photographs featuring Aboriginal groupings.


Piesse Aborigines Katanning 1896 - UnlabelledAbove: The extraordinary Piesse photo, taken in 1896, features a group of Aborigines in the company of six white men, two of whom are the Piesse brothers Charles and Frederick. The photograph ties the old Aborigines of Katanning to the Noongar families of today, offering rare visual insight to the identities of key family members. Image taken from the inside cover of  Katanning; A Place to Meet by Merle Bignell.


Warilyit and Ngarder are the first and second Aborigines standing on the left, but from the way Bates listed the names it isn’t clear which is which. Logic would suggest the younger (taller) man at the end is Warilyit (Henry Rodney). Yagong (aka Mulyal, Notuman’s brother) may be the last Aborigine on the right, and Mongal (Tebi Morrison) husband to Yaaling, may be the 2nd last Aborigine on the right.

Bates wrote the names of the Aborigines in the Piesse photograph on a piece of paper which somehow survived and was found in the state archives by Notuman descendants researching their family history some years ago. Positioning the names correctly is difficult however as Bates divided the standing men into back and front rows, neither of which is clear.  My personal reckoning is as follows;

Women sitting. Left to Right: Nyaman, Borner, Weelaban, Wurijan, Yaaling, Naabee
Men standing. Left to Right: C. Piesse, Warilyit, Ngarder, Baujer, Woolingburt, Unknown whiteman, Burbal, Kooramurra, Bardit, Meegarit, John Ring, Miamurruk, Michael Ring, Mindung, Mongel, W.K. Adams, Mulyal, F. H. Piesse.


Notuman and Elijah Quartermaine


Back in 1864, when recorded as Master at Yowangup after the shooting of his father at York, Elijah Junior turned 22 years of age. At the same time Notuman will have been about 30. At that age, as a pure blooded traditional Aboriginal woman, Notuman will in all likelihood have been through her marriages. Her surviving children, two of whom were born at Yowangup, were probably then aged between ten and fifteen.

From the time she was a young girl Notuman will have known both old and young Elijah and in all likelihood young Elijah’s brothers and their shepherds and labourers as well. After 1864 and the split up with wife Eliza Dickenson, old Elijah is thought to have taken up residence at Yowangup and remained there, bringing William C. into the fold at that place and establishing Elijah Junior a few miles away at Round Pool around 1875. Almost all her life Kitty Notuman will have been familiar with the Quartermaine presence on her home kala.

Over recent years Notuman’s name has been increasingly associated with the Quartermaines but she remains a resolute individual by way of heritage and conduct. In my reading of the early stages of the New Noongar Age it became clear there were certain women who were held in high regard over large districts. Not an easy thing to do in a traditionally male dominated society, especially one imposed upon by white settlers equally biased toward the male gender, and at a time of great hardship. For such a matriarch to emerge it required not only a commanding but enduring personality. In my reading Notuman stands with Ngailbaitch, Jakbam and Fanny Harris as towering female figures, women who brought leadership and organisation to their families, as well as comfort, hope and love.


Notuman- Bates's Recovered Measles Patients 1908Above: Cropped image featuring the characterful and enduring Notuman. The photo was first published in the Western Mail, Saturday, 25 July, 1908.


Mary Wartum and Elijah Quartermaine


And so now to Mary Wartum and the Quartermaines themselves.

This is the part where I once again take a very deep breath and consider the risk and foolishness of attempting to dissect and reassemble already dodgy genealogies. I am hugely conscious of the effects of stepping in on long held beliefs. Beliefs that have tied individuals and families together over multiple generations and beliefs that may also have kept others apart. In stepping in on this territory I fully acknowledge the pain it may cause. If there is one thing this post has really brought home to me it is the pain with which many older Indigenous people look back on their heritage. This ties in with the nature of some of the ‘fathers’ of the new families and their lack of commitment along with the general attitudes of society toward those families. The early times were extraordinarily difficult in a pure social context; all the pitfalls of poverty and exclusion came to bear, in particular indolence, alcoholism and violence. Amongst that, the exact nature of a great many relationships between people simply weren’t known and can never be proven. Let sleeping dogs lie, the saying goes. Some bonds, whether factual or not, are better left undisturbed. But yet, I know there is a powerful yearning to dig deep and try and find out more.

People want to know about their past, about what happened. So here goes.

The difficulty here is knowing where to start. The legend of Elijah Quartermaine and Mary Wartum says that Mary came to live with Elijah as housekeeper in their two roomed cottage. This will therefore have been Elijah’s place at Round Pool, not the Yowangup homestead. Mary was said to have teamed up with Elijah after an ill-fated romantic episode involving an English school-teacher that left the unfortunate Elijah Junior some £200 worse off (approx A$35,000 today). That’s a fair chunk for a thirty-year-old colonial bachelor with a two room cottage and associated land-leases and farming costs to have available. Did she steal the money? There is no record of Elijah Junior being officially married in the colony and no records in the papers of any court cases seeking damages or claims of any kind. And none relating to Elijah Snr either.

In any case, presumably this happened around 1870 when Elijah Jnr was around 30 years of age. I’m only guessing here because there’s no evidence I can locate which adds to the story. Part of me wonders if the school teacher wasn’t brought out by Elijah Snr who may have decided after the acrimonious disintegration of his marriage with Elizabeth Dickenson to try and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by bringing someone out to Australia that he could marry and who could then act as educator to the youngest of his existing children and to any additions the two of them might have had.  I think that because it seems more likely than Elijah Jnr seeking to recruit someone in the same way; mostly because Elijah Snr is far more likely to have had that kind of money available.

In any case it doesn’t really matter because the English school teacher only had an incidental bearing on the history we are interested in. Everything we are interested in rests with Mary Wartum and the question which remains to this day is, of course, who exactly was she?

The question remains because there is no recorded ancestry obviously attributable to the woman most commonly known as Mary Wartum. Nor to the children she bore to Elijah Quartermaine Jnr.


Mary WartumAbove: Mary Wartum (C.1850-1914) as young mother with child. (unsubstantiated; no further details.) Image taken from No Free Kicks by Eric Hedley Hayward. The new Noongar families which emerged from the Katanning area were all closely bound on the Aboriginal side, except for Wajeran. Mary Wartum does look to have been from a local family.


The legend says Mary was of Aboriginal and European descent and that she was living at the Aboriginal camp (probably still at Yowangup) either with two existing children or as a means of escape from an impending unwanted tribal marriage.

Even if the ancestry of Mary Wartum can never be satisfactorily established, that element of the legend is solid enough to begin with. Mary Wartum had a European father but yet was still subject to traditional Aboriginal lore. Mary’s mother’s family, probably her uncles, intended for her to marry Noongar way, but Mary ran away.

Mary’s father will have been someone who had been present in the wider Katanning area for around fifteen years but whose association did not bring with it a known or easily identifiable English name. That man will have been in the area from around 1860. He could have been been associated with the Quartermaines and their Beverley/York links as the names Fleay, Cornwall, Humphries, Pickett, Penny, Riley and Morrison were, or was someone who came up from the south coast; a maritime explorer such as the Maori Thomas Rodney, a soldier or policeman such as George Egerton-Warburton or Constable McGlade, another land owner such as Joseph or Edward Spencer, or perhaps someone working for the likes of the Spencers such as John Jack Maher. What’s clear is that who ever this man was and who ever Mary’s mother was, they were not closely related to the Yowangup Aborigines. If they were the Bates genealogies, which are quite comprehensive, will have shown it up.

Mary Wartum came to the two room cottage at Round Pool /Woodanilling some time before or around 1875. She may not initially have sought to establish a relationship with Elijah Junior but she did, in all likelihood, prefer to stay closer to her European origins than her Aboriginal one on account of what lay in store for her if she accepted the Noongar way. That much, I think, is clear. In the language of Daisy Bates and of the Noongar Quartermaines who told their story to Lois Tilbrook in 1978,  Mary fled her home camp in search of ‘white protection.’


Mary Wartum legendAbove: Excerpt from the legend of Mary Wartum and Elijah Quartermaine Junior, as gathered by Lois Tilbrook and published in 1978 in Nyungar Tradition: Glimpse of the Aborigines of South Western Australia 1829-1914.


For one reason or another, despite the length of time she was at Katanning, Bates did not leave anything, even in her scribbled notes, which indicated she participated in a single conversation about the Noongar Quartermaine family. By that time, 1907, the youngest of Mary Wartum’s children will have been eleven years old, the oldest in his early thirties. The family was long established, quite large and without doubt very well known in and around the town. Mary Quartermaine, in fact, was alive and well and somewhere not too far away.

But 1907 was just two years after the introduction of the 1905 Aborigines Act.

I think the concept of protection offered to Mary Wartum fully extended to her children and that the first generation of Noongar Quartermaines were very much under the influence of the wider Quartermaine clan, even though Elijah himself, until the time came for him to make his last will and testament, was never officially married and failed to register any of his children with the birth registrar. Nor did he publicly acknowledge them in any legal document. Even in his will, Elijah Quartermaine did not name the mother of his children.

Elijah Quartermaine clearly struggled with his decision to raise a mixed-race family, at least with regard to how he handled it legally. Across forty odd years he preferred for them to remain outside official  channels. Was this because he feared what might happen if he did? Was he afraid of the financial obligation or the reputation of the wider Quartermaine family? Or was there a secret he wanted to keep, a story he didn’t want let out?

The photographs argue against his financial concerns. The Quatermaines were as well groomed and dressed as any settler household in the entire colony. Equally, perhaps Elijah imparted these standards to his children in order to drive a separating wedge between them and the traditional practices of the Aborigines which may or may not have taken the life of his brother’s child in 1888.

It is well known that Bates did not like the union of settlers with Aboriginal women and did not consider their children in the same way she considered ‘true’ Aborigines. Throughout her genealogies there are gaps relating to mixed-race births where detail could have been provided. There are many instances where she names children (such as those of Michael Ring and Karinan), where she marks them as half-caste, possibly giving their moiety, then leaves it at that. Where the line of true Aboriginality ended would generally appear to be the point at which Bates reckoned her work ended too. But yet we saw her be quite specific about the children of Edward (Mowan) Smith and Sarah Jangian Punch.

Why was that? Did Daisy Bates look at the children of Elijah Quartermaine Jnr and not see them as Aboriginal at all? Did she see them as successfully integrated into the new European origin community and therefore not relevant to her work?

I wonder if the Quartermaine children were even allowed to associate with the other Katanning Aborigines?

I think that something happened which (at least temporarily) separated the Rodneys, Morrisons and Pennys from the Quartermaines and I think it probably had something to do with the death of William C. Quartermaine’s five year old son in January 1888 and the passing of Old Elijah later that year. I think that the Yowangup Aborigines might have left Yowangup then, turning their loyalties to the new local leader Frederick Piesse, and that the Quartermaines were left to negotiate a path much more closely aligned to the white world of the time. If so, they will have been bound by standards of social conformity equivalent to that of Mary Wartum having to wife an Aboriginal man she did not want to, only on the other side. Being Aboriginal in the wider white world will not have been easy either.


Quatermaine children C. 1920Above: Quartermaine family members in about 1915. The image is taken from Nyungar Tradition in which the caption suggests Helen ‘Nellie’ Quartermaine, 1896-1980, is seated on the right with the child on her knee. Nellie Quartermaine married Henry Rodney in 1920 after her sister, Fanny, died. Fanny had earlier married  Henry Rodney in 1907.  Louise Quartermaine, 1893-1942 is thought to be the woman standing back left. In 1915, Louise Quartermaine married Oliver Ward from Sth Australia. This may be one of the wedding photographs. Note the grooming, dress and background elements of the set.


Perhaps the family of Elijah Quartermaine and Mary Wartum saw themselves as part of a new group, one of a growing number of mixed-race families merging the economic pursuits of the Europeans with the hardy nature of the indigene? They were certainly among the earliest settlers to provide a degree of certainty to their children, to stand behind them and offer some kind of social stability, especially to such a large group. But they weren’t alone either. Remember, by the turn of the century almost half of the Aboriginal population was reckoned to be mixed-race. The Quartermaines at Katanning will have been a leading example, mostly because of the nature of the family but also because the authorities demanded it. In order to stay together, to prevent them from being collected by the authorities and sent to live with other white families, the children and grandchilden of Elijah Quatermaine junior will have had to show that they were living as white people. That was the law.

When you look at the Quartermaine family photographs of the time the grooming, dress and staging of the images is all in keeping with the landed settler families of the day. I know photographs taken during this time were rare and probably expensive, a big occasion in which people took time to look the way they wanted to be seen, but if you consider the difference between the various Quartermaine family photographs shown in among the text here with the one of John Maher (Ngurabirding), his wife Waiaman and daughter Rachel, at the top of the post, you’ll see what I mean. I think it’s safe to say that the first generation, at least, of the Noongar Quartermaines was much more closely aligned to the settler world than than those who found themselves rounded up at Katanning and brought in to the Carollup Reserve in 1915.

As it turns out, subsequent generations had to endure much the same as everyone else of Aboriginal heritage; the denial of employment opportunities and social rights, the payments made to change surnames, the segregation and separation of children from their parents, the downwards spiral into economic despair as the white world prospered and progressed at every turn around them. For the Quartermaines that would have been especially difficult to endure.


Mary Qrtmne Wadgerann WontonAbove: In July 1939 the Commissioner of Native Affairs Mr A.O. Neville wrote to the Protector of Natives at Katanning to inform him that the Quartermaine family sprang from a full-blood Aborigine named Wonton or Wadgerann. He probably did this as local memory was confused by a combination of changing local officials and the deaths of older Aborigines. Sergeant Buttle at Katanning had probably asked for information on the family of Louise Ward (nee Quartermaine) after having come into contact with them and not known of their social status.  Notice the language used and reference to the 1905 Aborigines Act. Neville’s Department of Aboriginal Affairs had a file upon file of intelligence on who was who in the Aboriginal world.  Mixed race children had to be living as white people otherwise they could be taken into government custody.


The Aboriginal name Waajeran/Wajeran/Wajerein came to be associated with that of Mary Quartermaine through documents made by the Native Affairs Department. I only have one reference but the belief is that mother of the Noongar Quartermaines was known as Mary to the white population at Katanning, most importantly the authorities. But as with such matters, hardly anything is consistent.  During her lifetime and for the immediate period afterwards she was probably known as Wajeran, Wartum or Wonton to those who knew her best.

In any case Mary Quartermaine was involved in a court case concerning the accidental death of woman known as Beenan in January or February 1906.  The incident occurred at Jackaneedup Pool, a watering source for Thomas Norrish of Kojonup, for whom one of those involved was employed as shepherd. (Elijah Jnr’s younger brother Henry, b 1849, married Matilda Norrish in 1875. There was one child, Hannah Marie, born the following year, but the union didn’t last.) There is no reason given why Mary and members of her family were there, the inquiry simply reports they were camped at the pool. During the hearing Mary Quartermaine named her son Clarence and daughter Louie (Louise) as being with her. When Clarence (then aged about 25) was asked what occupation he had, he said he was; ‘a labourer working for Mr Quartermaine, near Woodanilling’. Curiously, Mary Quartermaine was never asked what her relationship to Mr Quartermaine was. In 1906 Louise Quartermaine, Mary’s ‘little daughter’ will have been going on thirteen.

You can read about the case here.

Four years later a Mary Quartermaine was recorded as in being in receipt of welfare at Katanning. Her age was given as 60 and her reason for being allowed rations; too old to work.  This is interesting because settlers cohabiting with Aboriginal women and who were known to be the fathers of their children were responsible for their welfare. Men were tracked down and gaoled by the authorities for leaving women and children destitute. There was no such thing as welfare in those days, not as we know it today anyway. Rations, such as blankets and bread, were given to destitute people but not much else. Everything had to be strictly accounted for and where there was someone who could pay they would be found. Surely there could be no question Elijah Quartermaine was known to have had an Aboriginal family? In 1910 Elijah’s youngest child, daughter Nellie, was turning twelve. Was he really so aloof to it that the authorities weren’t sure?

The Aboriginal name Waajeran/Wajeran/Wajerein came to be associated with that of Mary Quartermaine through documents made by the Native Affairs Department. There may be more but I only have one reference (above), which shows the authorities knew her Aboriginal identity nearly twenty five years after she’d passed away. The name Mary will have been employed for logistical purposes, ease of settler memory, but also because it reflected settler relations. Being known as Mary Quartermaine associated her with Elijah and the wider Quartermaine clan. This was also convenient because, as the point has been made a couple of times already, names associated with land owners as many times as not were simply employment related. Did Elijah Quartermaine Junior, during the course of his association with the town of Katanning (1889-1915) do what he could to pass off his entire family as employees?

As we have seen, the authorities did know. But as far as the people of Katanning were concerned it’s not beyond the realms of reason to think Elijah kept things very close to his chest.

Since the discovery of the names Wadgerann and Wonton linking Elijah Quartermaine to the Aboriginal legend of Mary Wartum, every attempt has been made to discover the Aboriginal identity of Mary Quartermaine through the various genealogies. The one that caught everyone’s eye, for obvious reasons, was that of Waajeran.


Waajeran- hand - excerptAbove: Bates’s refined hand-written copy of her notes on the Aboriginal woman Waajeran. At first glance this looked very much to be what everyone was searching for, especially when Waajeran’s sister looked to be the woman Beenan who was accidentally killed at Kojonup in 1906. But then the holes began to appear. Bates seemed clear as to who Waajeran was and who her children were. Her notes directed the association away from Elijah Quartermaine toward a Kojonup man named Jack Milbung. Could Wajeraan have been mother to two large families?


In the genealogy containing Waajeran another woman named Moebenan was listed as her sister. Moebenan was, I suppose conveniently, accepted as Beenan, the woman who was accidentally struck a blow on the side of the head after a fight at a shepherd’s camp near Kojonup in 1906.  The link is all the more harder to disregard given Moebeban was born at Arthur River and that she died suddenly after the birth of just her first child. When considering all the evidence it’s still very hard to dismiss this even now, it’s just that it also seems too much to believe that Bates knew all this about Waajeran but nothing about her association with Elijah Quartermaine Junior. This Waajeran, as it turns out was also known as Minnie Humpries, as Minnie Yorkie, Little Yorkie and Alison Ellis. Could she also, realistically, have been Mary Quartermaine?

What seems not quite right is the timing of matters. Beenan must have been a whole lot younger than Mary Quatermaine if she died after the birth of her first child. In 1906 Mary Wartum Quartermaine was in her mid fifties while Beenan (if she was Moebenan) could only have been a teenager. That’s how it was back then. Girls became mothers young. I don’t think Moebenan and Beenan were the same person, not if Beenan died a young mother of one at Jackaneedup Pool in 1906.

But there is another Wajeran in the Bates genealogies. At least there is a Wejeran and a Waganan who help make up an under-informed but yet very interesting genealogy. The informant was Jilandit, an old man of about 70 who was born at Yeriminup. This positions his birth at about 1835, roughly the same age as Notuman. Whether he was anywhere near it or not is another matter, but Jilandit will have been about twelve when those 300 Aborigines gathered at Kojonup to take down Bimbert, George their wives and families for transgressing traditional lore.


Wejeranand Waganan hand - excerptAbove: Part of the genealogy given by Jilandit, an old man born at Yeraminup around 1835. The tree reflects a large family with multiple non-indigenous associations. The names Wejeran and Waganan appear as women. Bordenen, who was once with John Maher around 1855, is a member of the same family.


Jilandit named eight children to a couple whose origins ranged between Yeriminup and Binjibap, both places later occupied by George Egerton-Warburton. Binjibap was the Hay River farm better known as Forest Hill. At one end of the tree Jilandit named Bordenan as a daughter to Yurian (f) and Mindin (m). Bordenan was for a time legally betrothed to John Jack Maher of Limerick, Ireland. The application for their marriage was made in 1855.

John Maher in the service of Mr Spencer has begged me to apply to His Excellency the Governor to be allowed ten acres of land on the same terms as James Egan should he marry an Aboriginal girl named Bordinan 2 Jul 1855 CSR 317-58

At the other end of the tree Jilandit lists a women named Waganan who was married to an unknown white man. Waganan’s nearest sister, Narian, had two daughters. One was named Wejeran, the other was identified as half-caste but her name was forgotten. Across this family there are multiple associations with non-indigenous persons. Through it you get the sense of a family as much bound to settler relations as Aboriginal. Did John Maher help lead the family of his Aboriginal wife Bordenan through the extending farmlands northwards from Albany to Mount Barker, Kojonup, Eticup and Katanning, in the process delivering his son and the niece of Bordenan, Wejeran, to Katanning where Wejeran sought protection from a forced traditional marriage by taking on the job of housekeeper to a friend of her wadjela relation Ngurabirding (John Maher Jnr), first at Yowangup and then later at Woodanilling?


Bordenan and half caste Annie hand - excerptAbove: The opening end of the tree informed by Jilandit features Bordenan who was associated with John Jack Maher of Limerick, Ireland.  Here, Bates shows Nalanan (possibly also known as Ngalangan) as Bordenan’s sister where as elsewhere it was thought she was her daughter.


What is also compelling about this genealogy is the note Bob Howard attached to Wejeran when he spent the countless hours he must have put in to assembling his combined genealogies around ten years ago. Howard noticed something in the archived colonial files he’d been reading and noted alongside Wejeran’s entry;

. . . possibly ‘Rationed at Williams (with measles).Waijeran with 2 boys and 4 girls from 13 years to 18 months’ AA 353/1898
Perhaps these were some of the children of Elijah Quartermaine Junior?


The Children of Elijah Quartermaine Junior


There is quite a lot of uncertainty over how many children Elijah Junior had. I mentioned earlier that that the highest number is reckoned to be twelve, the lowest seven. That we don’t know and probably never will is testament enough to Elijah’s cunning when it came to representing himself and his Aboriginal associations during a time when it was effectively social suicide among the aspiring white community to even speak of it. Reading the newspapers of the day there is a very clear switch in language as the new century closed in. The words Aboriginal and Native were substituted for Nigger and Blacks. Western Australia had lost its tolerance for the native people, had turned on them and pushed them away. As mush as Elijah looks to have conformed to the attitudes of the day and denied his family ties he must also, secretly perhaps, have given what he could of himself to help his children cope with what lay before them.

In the various documents I’ve seen the children are listed in roughly the following order;















I’m not prepared to speculate on the actual parentage beyond indicating that I don’t think it’s beyond reason to suggest either Elijah Quatermaine Senior or William C. Quartermaine could have contributed.

In old age Elijah Jnr made an official Will in which, as I mentioned, he did not name a wife or mother but in which he named seven children as his own. These were; Timothy, Clarence, Edwin, Lillie, Lucy, Nellie and Fanny. Three girls; Lavinia, Meena and Winnie are not listed but equally their dates of death are not known so it’s entirely possible they all died before Elijah made the will and so were not included. The only names missing are Caroline, who also died before Elijah, but whose early birth year suggests the reasonable possibility of an alternative father, and Philip which I can’t explain.

These appear to be the children of Elijah Quartermaine Junior and probably Mary Wajeraan Wartum.


Elijah Qrtmne Jnr - Last WillAbove: Cut from the last will of Elijah Quartermaine in which he lists seven children. Document courtesy of John Chandler.

33 responses to “Quartermaine Country”

  1.  Avatar

    Need to speak to my nan, Some of you information needs to be corrected. My grandmother Helen Quartermaine and Henry Rodney’s daughter. My great grandparents. Got more photos of all Elijahs junours children as young kids and adult pictures with families……..

    1. Ciaran Lynch Avatar
      Ciaran Lynch

      Thanks. Contact me anytime at

      1. Karen Slade Avatar
        Karen Slade

        Good Morning I came upon this information of the viewfrommountclarence when I was doing geneology on my maternal grandmother Alice may Adams -whose mother is Rachel Maher h er parents are John Jack Maher born in Limerick and Kitty Bordrian.In this a book, if so I would love to buy one as it has family members in quite a few times, as well as photos .

        1. Avatar

          Hi Karen, not in book form just yet. Maybe in time. The blog is up to stay though, so you can always refer back to here. Glad to be of help. Best wishes, Ciaran

        2. Carolyn Davis Avatar
          Carolyn Davis

          Hi Karen, just having a bit of a search online searching my family history and see that we have the same Grandmother. Alice had 18 children and my mother was the youngest. I have a bit of information that I have collected over the years, happy to share.

    2. Corinne Fordschmid Avatar
      Corinne Fordschmid

      Dear anonymous, Not sure if this message will reach you four years on but I’m looking for photos of Mary & Elijah’s children and would love to get in contact with you. I’m most likely related to the child of Mary’s that she had before becoming Elijah’s partner so all of their children would have been his half siblings. All the best, Corinne

  2.  Avatar

    Been reading through your articles with great interest. Much information I have looked into is hard to find or difficult to get hold of or on the flip side confusing in the most. I agree with you that John Jack Maher Snr will have had children from other Aboriginal Women. After all it was not uncommon.

    In the same instance John Jack Maher Snr, it appears, has had two sons with the name John Maher. The first John Maher (1863 to 1943) will have been the son of Kitty Bordrian the first wife of John Maher. The second John Maher (1869 to 1942) is the second John Maher and first son of Catherine. I am convinced of this because there are death records of the 1st John buried in the Claremont Cemetery (this may well be the Aboriginal John) and a death register of the 2nd John in Narrogin WA.

    My Mother insists her Great Grandfather John Maher was a white Irishman. It is likely the photo is the 2nd John Maher with Emily Maggs. The young John may well have visited New Norcia to see his elder brother John Maher.

    Most every Family Tree fails to realise the significance of this and list only one John Maher when there are two (2). I know this may not be helpful but hopefully it will steer you in the right direction as to the nature of the John Jack Maher Snr being Ngurabirding.

    The location for the information I have is here pid=013461&pfn=john&pln=maher&ppl=&year1=&year2=&ord=0&p=0&m=0

    1. Avatar

      Thank for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it. There is ample information to conclude both the John Maher’s you cite above as accurately identified. After that it’s speculation. Like you, I think John Maher senior most likely had other children as well, probably with another woman. I’ll be investigating further in the posts which follow those on Mokare and the original Albany Aborigines. Hope to get closer then.

      Best wishes,

  3. Stephen Hunter Avatar
    Stephen Hunter

    I have had the good opportunity to at least look into this question about John Maher Snr and Kitty having other children and this they did. These are the very Waddean Rachel Maher who married a John Adams and William Smith and the other, a girl called Jeelukan (Mary Oricle or Marr Maher/Harrigan). She married a Robert Edwards (aka Eejil) and a Tom Ford. As for Jack Maher marrying a Waiaman and having a daughter by the name Rachel it makes sense because this the name of his sister. Still I am short of saying that Jack Maher is Ngurabirding but, given the information contained herein who is to say he is not.

    I am impressed at how well you do especially being based out of Ireland as you are, I’m sure it makes very difficult a smooth flow of information from various archives.

    I would like to ask your permission to use your information in compiling my own family tree and writing a book of my own for my family. Your information is rather rather comprehensive and in depth and for me it confirms much of the information I am gathering at any rate. I will cite your work as means to acknowledge your work by any measure.

    1. Ciaran Lynch Avatar

      You’re welcome to use the information Stephen and thaks for asking. It’s important the work of others is recognised. I received help in compiling this Quartermaine history and could not have done so much without it. Certain information can be found easily enough via internet searches but insight and specific direction could only ever come from within the wider Quartermaine/Penny/Smith famIly itself. Thank you also for what you’ve contributed here. I’d like to use your knowledge too as I pick up the strands of the Ngurabirding search and see how close it brings us to discovering the true identity of Waajeran/Wejeran, Mary Wartum/Wantum. Stephen, my email address is Could you just message me there and I’ll take things up with you as we go along. Best wishes, Ciaran

  4. Brian Rodney Avatar
    Brian Rodney

    “…and Philip which I can’t explain.”

    I would suggest that you have conflated two separate people in your 1885-1942 dates for Philip.

    In John Bird’s book ‘Round Pool to Woodanilling’ (2nd ed, 2007, pp.243-244) he has this to say about the EQjr children:

    “Four of Elijah and Mary’s children died at an early age. The eldest child Philip was burned to death. His parents were clearing the land and the wind caught the flames of a burning pile of sticks the child was standing by and he was engulfed by flames. Another son was later named Philip and he died on the train in 1942. Two girls Winnie and Lavina died as babies and another daughter Meena died of dysentery […] She had been grape picking at Trimmings and became ill through eating too many grapes. These three girls were buried on the farm at Boyaminning as was their mother after her death from pneumonia in about 1910.”

    Regarding Phillip, I think John Bird has confused two people of different generations. A newspaper article (‘Death in a Train’, Great Southern Herald, Wed 26 June 1942, p.2 – TROVE) records the 1942 death of a Philip Quartermaine, age 31. His age alone would indicate this Phillip is not EQjr’s child, and certainly not with Mary Wantam. However, EQjr’s eldest child Timothy Quartermaine’s 1956 death certificate states he was married to Lizzie Cornwall in 1908 and their second eldest child was Phillip, who at the time of Timothy’s death was recorded as deceased. These would be the more likely parents of the deceased 31yo Philip born about 1911.

    This indicates to me that the Philip born in 1885 was the child that was burned to death, and the Philip that died in 1942 was the second eldest son of Timothy.

    1. Avatar

      Thanks Brian, that is a great help. Really useful. This post has been read more than 2000 times by family members and interested people all over Australia. I’ll look closely and make necessary changes in due course. Good on you, Ciaran

    2.  Avatar

      My Mother Blanche Quartermain parents Timothy and Elizabeth. Mum was taken at the of 3 placed in Mugumber Mission. Never knowing her dad, my Pop. I can still rember the old tin shack in Woodnalling , when Mum got to take us to see her mum my Nan and brother Charlie my uncle.

  5. Caroline Martin Jnr Avatar
    Caroline Martin Jnr

    Hey there, interested in locating a Paddy Qautermaine, do you know of him? I believe his born in the 1940’s…. great research by the way!

    Caroline Jnr

    1. Avatar

      Hi Caroline, sorry I cant help there. FGlad you found the history helpful and I hope your search turns up positive. Best wishes…

  6. Fran Avatar

    Do you have the books on this please as I would like to buy

    1. Avatar

      Hi Fran, there is no book. Just the internet post. Dont worry, it’s not going anywhere..

  7. Maureen Roberts Avatar
    Maureen Roberts

    John Maher the convict who married Bordrain AKA Kitty Grover did not marry Catherine McGough . Her husband was John Maher a Pensioner Guard and Police Officer you will find the reference to their marriage in The Bicentennial Directory of Western Australians “MAHER. John, b . 1829, son of David, arr. as an Enrolled Pensioner Guard, m. 9 . 4.1866 (Perth) Catherine McGOUCH b. 1840, dtr. of Michael & Jane, she arr. 12.6.1864 per Strathmore. Chd. May (Mary) b . 1867 (Perth RC), Margaret. Sgt. of 94th Regt. Fremantle. Police Constable 1873-4. York 1876. Northam 1877, Toodyay 1877, AIbany 1878, Roebourne 1884-6. 1Son labourer at Roebourne (1887- 9 Alm)”

    1.  Avatar

      Thank you Maureen, I will be re-editing both this post and the Ngurabirding ones shortly. I appreciate very much your input. Kind regards, Ciaran

  8. Joylene McDonald Avatar
    Joylene McDonald

    Hi ciiaran im wondering if you have any information on Notuman parents and their family links ?

    1.  Avatar

      Not beyond what’s written up here Joylene, I’m sorry. Best wishes, Ciaran

  9. michael ernest kiddie Avatar
    michael ernest kiddie

    have you got anything on the kiddie family in katanning ??? good read !!!
    mick k

    1. Avatar

      Afraid I don’t Mick. There’s so much to cover. If they do turn up on my travels I’ll take a close look though. Cheers, Ciaran

  10. Lesley Hampton Avatar
    Lesley Hampton

    There are a lot of Quartermaines around. When I was growing up on Earaheedy station north east of Wikuna in the 50s the station was owned by Maitland Quartermaine who had a son or sons farming in the Katanning area. I’m wondering if these other Quartermaines are all related.

    1. Avatar

      I can’t say with 100% certainty Lesley, but I’d nearly put my house on it. Lol..

    2. Fran Puckridge Avatar
      Fran Puckridge

      Maitland Quartermaine lived in Perth and he owned the station at Earaheedy. He worked on the railways with his brother Syd. Syd died from a brain tumour. Very young.
      Brother – Lewis live on his farm at Dumbleyung.
      Brother – Andrew had a farm on the outskirts on Katanning
      and worked his own farm and helped others. He had 2 sons Ford who was killed in plane crash after the war and Loyd had a jewellers shop in Katanning.
      Sisters – Lena – Mrs Hanna, farmed east of Katanning
      Pearl – Mrs Arthur Gilbert, Katanning, Denmark
      Laura – Mrs Jack McIndoe. Lived in Perth.
      Nita – Perth (Nedlands)
      Hope this is some help to you

      1. Fran Puckridge Avatar
        Fran Puckridge

        Sorry I forgot to put my Grandmother on the page to Maitland Quartermaine
        My grandmother was Ruby Quartermaine- Married Laurie Le Hunt Bolt

        1. Avatar

          What I like most about the Quartermaine Country post on The View From Mount Clarence is its appeal to both sides of the extended family. Quartermaine Country is the most frequently visited post on the blog with literally thousands of hits from across Australia and many other locations around the world.

  11.  Avatar

    Stop fuckin’ around with our family trees’, the Maher’s and Morrison’s are none of your business. When is enough a enough for you white people, just want to keep stealing when will it stop… for fuck sake sake leave it alone and stop riding off the backs of black fella’s are you fuckin’ desperate or what. Just stop you moreon.

    1. Avatar

      Hey, thanks for your input. I get that some people dont like it. You are entitled to your opinion and in a way I get what you mean, there is an argument that no good can ever come from white people writing about black history which in a broad sense I accept. But you know, I’ve made it clear on many occasions this work is primarily for white people so they can can build some idea of the history. So they can get to know the indigenous side of their families. I’m sorry that you find it painful and offensive. It’s not meant to be. A lot of work goes into these posts and nothing gets said lightly or without due respect to the descendants. Also, I did the Quartermaine story because my grand-nephew belongs to the Noongar branch of that family. Its meant for him so he can see his wadjela side respect and admire his indigenous side.

  12. Lee Masters Avatar
    Lee Masters

    Well written, balanced and researched.

    I am currently researching my ancestors, who lived in the Katanning area from the mid 1860s, and I found some of the historical time-frames useful in regard to leases and land ownership.

    Thank you.

  13. Sue Avatar

    Hello there

    I am looking for information about by Nanna born Millicent Quartermaine in 1923 at Katanning to Elsie Veronica, daughter of Florence Margaret Quartermaine. My Nanna was in foster care and there is no father listed on her birth certificate. She later worked as a Nurse maid at “Swaine convalescent hospital” under Sister Swaine.
    Do you have any information on who the mysterious father was or any idea as to why a father was not included ? Many thanks

    1. ciaran Avatar

      Hi Sue, thank you for your message and apologies for the delay in replying. Unfortunately, I don’t have any further information on this story. There are so many individual stories of people’s lives that are not yet, and may never be, properly told. Things happened which we don’t know the specific reasons for, other than these were very difficult times for families emerging from the union of traditional Aboriginal culture and the new European way. Times of confusion, frustration, deprivation and anger, which led to divisions between individuals and families, a terrible legacy which continued down through the generations as well. Of course, not all of it was bad, there are many positive tales as well, but there is no denying the time of Elijah Quartermaine establishing at Katanning and the following fifty years (and more) were particularly hard; what I call the social and economic abyss. A wasteland in which not even memory can be found.

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