Commissioner J.T. Bigge inspects the Newcastle penal settlement.University of Newcastle timeline)

Newcastle and later Port Macquarie (1821), adopt an official system of using Aborigines as guards and trackers to prevent the escape of prisoners. Commandants identify Aboriginal leaders and give gorgets as rewards for their services and as proof of their status. Around 1821, trackers, Morningal and Yarrowbee are “decorated by the commandant with a brass crescent-shaped plate” to confer on them the rank of “chief”. The work is dangerous and at least one Aboriginal “king” is killed apprehending convicts. “King Burrigan” is fatally knifed by John Kirby, one of two convicts who escape from Newcastle. The men are captured almost immediately by Burrigan and his people. Unfortunately, Burrigan is stabbed by Kirby the following morning when the men panic at the sight of arriving soldiers. (NMA)

In the late 1820s, numerous central coast Aboriginal men become famous for their assistance to the colony, particularly as trackers of runaway convicts . In the late 1820s, numerous central coast Aboriginal men become famous for their assistance to the colony, particularly as trackers of runaway convicts . They incude M’Gill, Jemmy Jackass and Bob Barret from Newcastle:

“The Newcastle natives, and all the coast tribes northerly, are docile, obliging, and very willing to do occasional work, if it be not hard; but Johnny M'Gill, and Jemmy Jackass, from the Newcastle settlement, are certainly a remarkable exception to the general body, as these individuals cleared ten acres of heavy-wooded land for the missionary at Reid's Mistake as well and as quickly as could be done by white people. These two natives, and another named Bob Barret, accompanied Captain Allman, the former humane commandant of Port Macquarie, to that settlement, where he had been despatched to establish a penal station; and they proved of eminent service to him as bush-constables in tracing and apprehending runaways. Certainly three more powerful intelligent men he could not have selected, and such good marksmen were they…Their names having been given to these three men by the whites, they, like all our blacks, are proud to be known thereby, - the first request they make of a white, being, to name them. A brass or tin plate with an inscription, is also a great desideratum in their eyes, to hang round their necks, giving them much additional consequence in the estimation of their tribes; but, as I have already said, no one possesses authority farther than what his own arm or greater intelligence can command”. (NMA)

Death of King Burrigan of the Newcastle tribe, from injuries sustained in the recapture of convicts. (University of Newcastle timeline)

Three convicts are flogged for “Inhumanely ill treating and cutting a black native and intimidating him against bringing in bushrangers".(University of Newcastle timeline)

Trial and execution in Sydney of James Kirby for the murder of King Burrigan. (University of Newcastle timeline)

Governor Macquarie makes his second tour of Newcastle. He meets Bungaree at Wallis Plains (Maitland).

John Howe and Ben Singleton collaborate in an expedition commissioned by Governor Macquarie. After numerous failed attempts, they successfully reach the tidal limit of the Hunter River at Maitland (Wallis Plains). Their route becomes the first road north from Sydney. It opens officially as a road in 1823 and becomes known as The Bulga Road. It sets a route for travel from Windsor to the Hunter Valley, crossing through the heart of Darkinung country. Howe and Singleton’s success may be attributed to some extend to the skills and efforts of four members of the Richmond tribe who accompany the expedition: Mioram, Woolaboy, Jelmarey and “Lazy Jack”. Governor Macquarie rewards Mioram (“Myles”) with a breast plate and Howe promises that he can keep a musket. It is possible that “Myles” the outlaw became “Myles” the guide when Howe needed him, like when Hume needed Duall (Georges River people) before him. Duall was outlawed, transported and pardoned to become a guide when Throsby wanted him. (Ford p128-9).

Blanket lists reveal the following snippets of information for these four Darkinung men: Moran alias “Miles” 1833 (41yo), Mioram alias “Miles” 1834 (42 yo) Wolloboy alias “Jack” 1833 (31 yo), 1834 (32yo), 1837 (31 yo), may have been Mullaboy Gilmeroy [Jelmarey?] 1837 (31yo) plus for the Macdonald R, another Gilmeroy alias “Jack” 1837 (32) Gilmeroy alias “Lack Jack” 1833 (33yo), 1834 (33yo), 1837 (36yo)

While Aboriginal people “annoy” the first farmers at Paterson’s and Wallis’ Plains during the corn season “when they steal large quantities”, they also assist to bring in the harvest. (Harris to Bigge, 17 Jan 1820 in Lucas, 49)

1820s Aboriginal women of the Merriwa district wear loose kangaroo and possum skin cloaks “with no little neatness” while “Chief Jerry” at Ogilvie’s property at Merton wears a possum skin rug with strips of fur extending down around his waist. These important animal food and raw material resources are scarce and increasingly difficult to access by Aboriginal people in the Hunter River region from the 1820s. (Lucas 41)


John Laurio Platt is the first recorded free settler in the Lower Hunter River area. He receives a grant of some 2,000 acres on the Hunter River at Newcastle near the BHP site.

Governor Macquarie gives three more land grants in the Central Coast area. The total population of Aboriginal people in the area is estatimated at between 180-210. There is initially little conflict because the first wave of settlement is confined to the shores of Brisbane Waters district and various inlets: Cockle Creek, Erina Creek and Narara Creek. Because of the heavily timbered area there is little place for agriculture and grazing. Timber getting, boat building and gathering shells for lime become the industry of the area. (Bennett in Blair, 2000, 11).

The Central Coast becomes a refuge and base for people engaged in illegal activities such as illicit cedar cutting, illicit distillation, smuggling and moon shining for absconding convicts and ticket-of-leave men. These men often interfere with Koori women and take punitive action against men when they object. (Bennett in Blair 2000, p11)

Governor Brisbane inspects the Newcastle settlement.

1821c. Lieut Edward Close (48th regiment) arrives in Newcastle as engineer. He is tasked with developing the port of Newcastle. He puts down mooring chains and removes dangerous shoals from Newcastle Harbour. He also builds a fort near the signal station and erects an iron beacon in which a large coal fire is lit each night at sunset. Close sketches these developments and a shift in power relations between Aborigines and Europeans as Governor Macquarie transforms a small penal colony into a bustling free settlement.

1821c During another inspection of agricultural development on Wallis Plains (Maitland), Governor Macquarie is entertained by “Chief Bungaree” and his “tribe”, much as he had been by Burigon in Newcastle three years earlier. The Governor records not only the growing farming settlement, but also the mobility of Bungaree on whom Macquarie conferred the title of “King” and installed him on a farm at George’s Head on Sydney Harbour during 1815: “there being 11 separate Families now settled on their Lands in that District [Maitland]…we arrived at the Government Cottage, which Major Morisset had built…on the summit of a pretty Eminence…besides the large Creek I named Wallis’s Creek, and Commanding a fine view of all the Farms on Wallis’s Plains. Here I found Bungaree, Chief of the Boan Native Tribe [Broken Bay] with all his own Family, and 30 more of his Tribe, waiting my arrival, having come on purpose to meet me….we had rather a late Dinner…Bungaree and his Tribe entertained us with a Karaburie after Dinner, and we did not go to Bed till 11 o’clock”. (Lucas, 51)

John Blaxland junior follows Singleton and Howe through the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges. His “journey [is] somewhat perilous the Blacks being numerous”. (Ford 114)

There is a significant number of fatalities among Aboriginal children at the Native Institution. Rev Hill suggests these tragedies prevented the Institution from recruiting any “addition at the last annual conference with the Native Tribes”. (Ford p148)

Rev William Walker arrives in NSW to commence a Mission to the Aborigines. (Colwell 114)

The Story of Biraban (name during his youth, We-Pohng. English name “Johnny M’Gill”) Biraban rises in prominence in the Brisbane Waters district. From boyhood Biraban is servant to an officer at the military barracks, Sydney, where he learns to speak English fluently, and is given the name John McGill. In 1821, Jemmy Jackass, Bob Barrett and Biraban accompany Captain Francis Allman when he is instructed to establish a penal outpost at Port Macquarie. Surgeon Peter Cunningham notes that “Certainly three more powerful intelligent men he could not have selected, and such good marksmen”. Biraban tracks escaped convicts. He returns to Lake Macquarie and as Biraban he assumes ceremonial leadership among his people, becoming “tribal king” of the district under Governor Macquarie. He becomes an “almost daily companion” for Rev Threlkeld for many years at his mission on Lake Macquarie. He works with Threlkeld to establish the mission, translate his language and interpret Aboriginal evidence in court cases. Biraban marries Patty, who is “pleasing in her person, black but comely, kind and affectionate in her disposition, and has a strong faculty of shrewdness in the exercise of her intellectual powers” which she uses well to manage her husband. A caricature painting of “Magill” by convict artist Richard Browne, about 1819, shows him in corroboree stance. He is also drawn by artist with the US exploring expedition. (ADB, Biraban by Niel Gunson; Blair, 2003, 50-54; Threlkeld, 1850, p88-89)


1822c Wesleyan Rev Walker visits South Creek where “girls out of the Native Institution, who have lately been married to the wild men, have settled”. Walker reports that “the black town” is: “exceedingly delightful…I found several huts, whose inhabitants were instantly out of doors at our approach….I went from house to house…All were pleased…I…gave one frock to a little boy who was prancing around his mother…I deemed it most prudent to address myself to the Chief first, but he seemed even the most ignorant. Indeed to all my questions, the general answer was ‘Don’t know, Sir’; and to all my explanations or illustations, I received an unmeaning assent…I shall perhaps go and live among this tribe” (Colwell, 174).


The Government promises to patronage Rev Walker and the Missionaries establish a seminary for the instruction of Aboriginal youths. (Colwell, 175).

Cattle is moved from Richmond through Putty and Bulga to Singleton. While settlement progresses by land upstream of Wallis Plains, local Aborigines live in dread of war with the Kamilaroi, who migrate down the heads of the Hunter. (Ford 451).

Sarah Wallace and convict (ticket-of-leave) Lewis Ferdinando live together on the Hawkesbury River. Sarah is Lewis’ “house keeper”. Their daughter Elizabeth is born in 1824 and their son John is born in 1827. (Ford, 2012)

1822-23 The penal settlement at Newcastle is transferred to Port Macquarie and Newcastle is declared a “free town. Within two years an inland road connects Newcastle to Maitland and by 1836 the Great North Road links Sydney to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

Governor Brisbane sends Henry Danger to survey the Hunter Valley. He works northwards until he reaches the “unsettled” Upper Hunter River district and crosses the Liverpool Range to the plains beyond. His reports caused an immediate rush of applicants for land. (ADB Dangar)

Betty Cox’s son Tommy is born at the “black town”. His father is Johnny who has adopted the surname given to his wife. Johnny’s Eastern Creek clan name is recorded as “Warrawarry”, “Wooreswoor” and “Warrawandy”. In 1824, Betty and Johnny are living at the “black town” with “Thomas”. Tommy is placed into the Black Town Native Institution in 1828 but his father promptly removes him and refuses to return his son. Johnny later guides the Quaker missionary James Backhouse while his older brother Simeon Cox guides Rev Richard Taylor. (Brook, 1st edit, 28-29)


The Bridle path along Howe’s route is opened to settlers.

Aboriginal Rock Carvings at Peates Ferry. An unnamed European displays his interest in Aboriginal rock carvings near Peates Ferry, Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River by carving his own commentary on or near them. Well known Sydney photographers, King and Kerry photograph this commentary (graffiti?) decades later. The carvings depict Stingray Rock and a bird under a cave recess “on a sloping floor off old road near Peates’ Ferry”. They bear the initials of the commentator and the dates of his or her work.

Rev Walker’s first report on his Mission for the Aborigines is grim: “I have sustained a very serious loss…Two of the most promising native youths I have met with, are gone into the eternal world…One was the son of the renowned Ben-il-long,” whom I baptized…The other boy was Jemmy. As soon as he fell sick, he went into the bush, and in a few weeks died. [many others fled from the Mission House in fear]…I am left with two boys, and…must go out to collect more children…” Twelve months later, the Parramatta Institution, was abandoned and moved to Blacktown. Colwell, 177)

Singleton is district constable for the Hunter River settlement at Patrick’s Plains. Ford p113).

The coastal section of Brisbane Waters District is increasingly granted to Europeans. Large grants are given to men of “means and standing”: Frederick Hely, Superintendant of Convicts tenders for land at Narara Creek, while the first Magistrate of the district, Willoughby Bean selects land at Erina Creek. (Blair, 2003, 21).


Bungaree invites French visitors Dumont d’Urville and Rene Lesson to a “great gathering of tribes” at the old Brickfields ground in Sydney. This includes Aboriginal people from Windsor on the Hawkesbury River, Broken Bay and the Hunter River. Each group is painted in distinguishing designs and each is headed by a “Chief”. The guilty stand trial by spear and club. There is “general fighting…with admirable order”. (Karskens, 446).

Australian Agricultural Company (AACo). A company is formed in Britain for carrying on colonial settler's pursuits on a gigantic scale. Agriculture and stock breeding are the chief objects, although mining for coals is added. The capital of the association is raised in shares. As private parties obtain their grants of land, so this public company applies for a grant, and has several grants given to it to the extent of a million and a half acres. The first grant, containing 1 million acres, was chosen by Mr Dawson, the original agent, in the neighbourhood of Port Stephens. (Braim, 1846: 62). The land originally provided for the Worimi and Gringai, and the lifestyle that evolved through tens of thousands of years, was swept away through the issue of a new land title.

In reality the Gooris on the newly acquired property of the A.A Co. continue to live as best they can with increasing constraints placed upon them. Their experience mirrors that of Gooris elsewhere and their response is varied. Unlike the Port Hunter clan of the Awabakal they are not for many years confronted by a burgeoning town and dense living conditions. Rather the immediate needs of the A.A.Co. are vast tracts of sparsely wooded lands for grazing, and resources such as timber. This along with fast growing flocks of sheep, inadequate labour supplies and imbalance of males to females led to a demand for Gooris on its property. (Heath, 1997: 51, Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association, ACRA)

A London Missionary Society deputation (Revs Daniel Tyerman and George Bennet) A London Missionary Society deputation (Revs Daniel Tyerman and George Bennet) inspect the Hunter River.

A list of all Aboriginal natives tried and convicted before the Supreme Court of NSW between May 1824 and Feb 1836 records that of 21 names, 16 (76%) are known to be from the Brisbane Waters area. This is when conflict is at its most intense. Although not considered as citizens, they are tried in Colonial courts under British law. There is strong public debate during the 1830s regarding the legitimacy of trying Aboriginal natives in an English court, when the defendants are unable to understand the proceedings or the language.

The impact on the local community of the removal of these men must have been significant and have had a fundamental bearing on the social structure of local people. Administrative records reveal that during the 1830s, a group of young Aboriginal men were arrested and sent to Sydney for trial for mainly unstipulated offences. They received sentences including incarceration in Sydney gaols or deportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Whip um up, Little Dick, Charlie Muscle/Myrtle, Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong Jemmy, Toby). Some were condemned to be hanged (Monkey, Tom Jones, Mickey Mickey, Charlie Muscle/Myrtle, Hobby, Charley). Charges laid ranged from “putting in fear” to murder. 16 of the 21 people in the list below (some replication) were mentioned in the local magistrates’ registers: Jacky Jacky, Little Dick, Whip em up, Monkey, Charlie Muscle (Myrtle), Little Freeman, Leggamy, Major, Currinbong, Jemmy and Jack Congo Murrell. (Blair, 2000, 13-14)

Maria nee Yoo Colby is married by the Native Institution to convict Robert Lock.

Maria Lock of the Hawkesbury region provides an example of the practice of settlers not recognising Aboriginal names and bestowing common English names upon Aboriginal people born after the arrival of British settlers. Common names for men are Tommy, Dicky and Harry, or in remote locations Myles (myall and wild). Female names include Kitty, Biddy, Tilly, Fanny, Molly, Peggy. This has enormous implications for familial identity, culture and family history.

Rev Lancelot Edward Threlkeld takes up land near Ebenezer on the Hawkesbury River in the country of Aborigine Yellomundy. There he preaches at the Ebenezer church and learns some of the Darkinung language at Portland Head Rock. Threlkeld refers to his “black teacher” (unnamed) from whom he is getting words while publishing his first treatise on Aboriginal language (published 1827). (Ford p327).

Bungaree hosts a “Great Gathering” of tribes near Sydney Cove at which Koori people from the Hunter River, Liverpool, Windsor, Emu Plains and the Five Islands at Wollongong attend.(W477)

Timbercutters advance into rich rainforest creeks running north from the Hawkesbury River. They move up Mangrove Creek over the ridge into the Yarramalong Valley.

The first settlers move into areas along Cockfighter Creek near Wollombi. MWPA, 91.


10,000 acres of land are reserved at Reid's Mistake (Awaba) for the Aboriginal mission station run by Rev Threlkeld under the auspices of the London Missionary Society. Governor Macquarie had written to the Wesleyan missionaries four years earlier: “on the subject of forming an agricultural establishment...Your pious and humane proposal of directing your labours…is highly praise-worthy, and demands my best acknowledgment…I am every way disposed to give all possible facility to your pious endeavours for civilising the poor degraded natives of this country” (MMS : Australia 1 ) ( Heath, 1997: 54). (Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association, ACRA)

Threlkeld and the local Aboriginal community work hard and collaboratively to establish Bahtahbah mission on the eastern ocean side of Lake Macquarie near present day Belmont.

John M’Gill (Biraban) guides Rev L.E. Threlkeld to Reid’s Mistake and becomes his constant companion. Together with Dismal and others, Biraban helps Threlkeld clear the land for his family’s home and mission farm: “Our workmen accompanied the natives Mac’gill Dismal and another one went to fall trees to make room for the erection of our house and prepare for planting some Indian corn. The natives appear anxious for our settling out here” (Threlkeld’s account of Mission to Aborigines of NSW, 16 October 1824, in Blair, 2003, p50).

Biraban becomes Threlkeld’s principal assistant, and a friendship based on mutual respect and affection develops between the two men. Biraban teaches Threlkeld his tribal lore and language. Threlkeld has genuine interest and appreciates his tutor’s patience and skill: “One advantage has been obtained in an Aborigine [McGill], who attached himself to us from the first, and whose knowledge of the English language is sufficient to render him highly valuable, and the pains he takes that my pronounciation may be correct, affords a convincing proof that they have an equal share of intellectual power with others of the human race”. (LMS Report, December 1825; in Blair, 2003, 51)

Biraban assists Threlkeld to interpret in court cases involving Aboriginals, and would have been sworn in as interpreter in his own right had the oath not precluded this. (Gunson, ADB Biraban) Biraban and Threlkeld were called upon in the cases including Charley August 1835, Jackey August 1835, Hobby and Maitland Paddy also in August 1835. (Supreme Court Information, State Records T40, T38, T41; in Blair, 2003, p52). Threlkeld records Judge Burton’s impressions of Biraban’s intelligence and demeanour during a court case in 1837: “With respect to the natives in civilization, I beg to state a fact which occurred…when I was required to attend the Supreme Court as interpreter, on the trial of an Aboriginal [Long Jack]; the dialect spoken by the prisoner, was different from that which I understood; and I could communicate with him only through an Aboriginal named M’Gill, who when questioned by Judge Burton, as to his knowledge of God – on the nature of an oath – of truth – and of future punishment; his replies were so intelligent, as to induce the Judge to enquire, if I had baptized him; to which I replied, that I had not…” (NSW Legislative Council, Votes and Proceedings 1834, in Blair, 2003, 52).

Biraban also shares with the Christian missionary his own belief systems and laws: Threlkeld reports to superiors: “The Aborigine, who assists me in obtaining their language, informs me, that there is a being, in the Sugar-loaf Mountains, resembling a man but taller in stature; with arms, legs, face, and hair, very long on the hair, but the feet are placed contrary to the face being behind; and the body hairy, like an animal…He is fierce, devouring men, and often pursuing the Aborigines in the mountains”. (LMS Report 1852 in Blair, 2003, p52).

As Bahtahbah increasingly provides Awabakal with refuge on a violent frontier, Biraban also keeps Threlkeld informed of violence towards wider clan groups across the region: “M’Gill…told me the other day that he remembers a white settler (one I know, and I believe the fact) shot a native who was stealing indian corn…he then hung him up a tree with a cob of corn struck between his teeth! And left him there until he rotted off the branche of the Tree” (LMS Letters 1826, in Blair, 2003, p53).

Awabakal women also turn to Threlkeld at times of need. One young woman runs to Threlkeld and asks if he will go and see her bury Dismal’s deceased sister. The community’s grief is amplified by a fear of body snatching. Threlkeld finds about thirty native men and women sitting in groups with a small fire to each party. The mother and grandmother are weeping. Naked women are digging a hole in the sand…Dismal is very “sorry” for his sister. Another struggles with broken English to beg Threlkeld not to disclose where the body is laid. They are afraid that white fellow will come and “take her head away…The exposure of New Zealander’s heads for sale at Sydney no doubt is one of the causes of their fear”. (Threlkeld’s report for 3 June, quoted in Blair, 2003, p135).

1825c John Luke Barber, is a Darkinung man. He is born in the Macdonald Valley near Wiseman’s Ferry.

Aboriginal people work on farms throughout the Wollombi district until the early twentieth century. (Memorial to Darkinjung at Wollombi Museum)

1825c Margaret is born at “Waiong [Wyong] near the Hawkesbury River”. (Blair, 2003, 70).

Darkinung Aborigines retreat into the ranges to Putty after a killing at Greig’s farm “Craytonshaw”. T after one of the “outrages committed by the Natives of the Hunter River district that Governor Darling reported to Earl Bathurst during 1826. After killing two white men on Greig’s farm, the perpetrators together with other “Wallumbi Natives” including women return towards Richmond. This is a period when Aborigines are randomly shot by isolated shepherds. A ‘punitive party’ of soldiers despatched from Windsor, attack a friendly group of Aborigines who are not involved and shoot Aborigines in the vicinity of Putty. It does not report the casualties it achieves (Despatch to Earl Bathurst 6 October 1826 in HRA vol 12; Magistrates Report in Ford 437, 456-7).

Frontier violence increases at Lake Macquarie. Threlkeld records: “The alarm of the Aborigines not only for the heads of their deceased friends and relations, but also for the personal safety of the living, was not without good reason. There are many stock-holders who have suffered severely from the depredations of the Aborigines, and….infuriated against the blacks…Not far from Newcastle, in one of the upper districts, a Settler saw a black stealing his growing corn….he caught the culprit, hung him by the neck….stuffed a corn cob into his mouth, and left his body to putrify as a scar-crow…to keep them away from his standing corn!...My black tutor [Biraban] saw the suspended body…Numerous cases of a similar description occurred about this time, all calculated to drive the Aborigines to madness, who retaliated upon the unfortunate settlers, created a bitter animosity, which increased the mischief. Our house [on Lake Macquarie] was surrounded by blacks as a place of safety. And about sixty of them belonging to two distinct tribes [Tuggerah Beach and Newcastle] were at this period employed by me…The blacks assembled to fight, we employed them, and the waging of war was postponed”. (Threlkeld’s remincences in Blair, 2003, 22).

Violence towards Aboriginal women is also increasing. Threlkeld observes many instances of runaway convicts, stockmen and settlers abducting Aboriginal wives or female children, which creates much resentment and terror in the Aboriginal population: “There are now two government stockmen, that are every night annoying the Blacks by taking their little Girls, and I am now waiting…to get them apprehended, but then, as was the case once before, the evidence of the Black cannot be admitted…they are really terrified to speak. My wonder is, that more Whites are not speared than there are considering the gross provocation given”. (Blair, 2003, 23).

Surveyor Richards receives orders to proceed to the northeast arm of Brisbane Waters where there are many applications for land to mark out farms (Blair 2000, 12).

One constable is based at Gosford. 65 Aborigines are recorded. (Blair, 2000, 12).

Sydney Gazette publishes two “Australian Aboriginal Song[s]” by Threlkeld, being the first publication of an attempt to capture the Awabakal language in writing. 1827 publication of Threlkeld's Specimens of a Dialect of the Aborigines of New South Wales (University of Newcastle timeline)

Biraban is initiated as a “headman” or as a koragji or perhaps both. Threlkeld relates this important part of Biraban’s life: “He [McGill] went to the mountains with upwards of 60 spears to exchange for  a possum cord made of the fur, and also to engage in some superstitious ceremony…It appears that Berah-bahn [Biraban]…slept with two other Blacks on the grave of [a] girl…from sunsetting to sun rising for the purpose of obtaining ‘The Bone’, the mystic bone used in the mystic ring, and supposed to be in the abdomen of certain persons skilled in curing sickness and in knocking out the teeth with the bone without pair to the sufferer…A few weeks back Be-rah-bahn returned from a ceremony performed in the mountains, which has initiated him into the rights of an Aborigine. – It appears that they burn a large part of the country, then hunt kangaroos, feast upon the shank bones only, after which they pipe clay themselves all over and then everyone must rush at once into the water and bathe themselves clean. They then return to the women, who are not admitted to see the ceremony, but who are kept at some distance in the charge of an old man” (Gunson, Australian Reminiscences & Papers of L E Threlkeld Missionary to the Aborigines, 1824-1859, 1974, p308, note 31, 206; Blair, 2003, 53).

Biraban, however, did not receive the gift of the Bone: “M’Gill the Black, informed me that he slept one night on the grave of a then recently buried Aborigine, in order to obtain the gift of the Bone which is supposed to enable the possessor to work wonders, especially in the art of the Physician. But, M’Gill was not favoured with the gift of the much coveted Holy-Bone”. (Letter from Threlkeld 31 June 1856, in Blair, 2003, 54).

There is a lot of fighting with settlers. Several of our mobs go to Yengo, Jerry’s Plains and Wollombi. As the violent frontier pushes many of our mob north, some find Tingha a “safe haven”. (descendant of William Bird “Little Breeches”, Gavi Duncan. See video)

Aborigines, disease and land hunger in the Brisbane Waters region. Charlewal and Dick guide an unnamed “excursionist” – a seeming land speculator – to Brisbane Waters. The party meets a group of Aboriginal people near Terrigal who are recovering from a terrible sickness. While all the survivors have to varying degrees suffered from the illness, one man tells that he is still “murri budgel” or very sick. The rest are young and plump. The visitor publishes his account of his travels with Charlewal and Dick, and his effusive evaluation of Brisbane Waters: “certainly there never was a lake that presented so many eligible sites for building on…the inexhaustible body of sea shells, offer a valuable manure for generations to come. It is difficult to believe the common opinion that these shells have been deposited by former natives, because it implies a populousness which the present state of the blacks would hardly warrant. We added to the heap, by prevailing on our blacks, Charlewal and Dick, to dive for mud oysters, and when roasted at the bush fire, they were excellent”. News of the visitor’s presence spreads far and wide. Before long, many Aboriginal men and women from “neighbouring tribes” gather around him. While some come from Wollembi, others walk longer distances. They ask for “bacco”, possibly in exchange for the resources he has taken (“Journal of an Excursion to Brisbane Water”, The Australian, 20 December 1826, with courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).


"Long Jacky” of the “Grengai Tribe” is one of the “original wild blacks” living in the Gresford area when the Boydel family first arrive in 1826. (Maitland Mercury, 26 April 1894, courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).

Two Aboriginal men are apprehended by Lieut Lowe of the Mounted Police on suspicion of their involvement in a murder at Putty. They are sent to Newcastle. (Maitland Mercury, 17 August 1826, compliments of Ian Webb, Maitland Historical Society).

Principal clerk in the colonial secretary's office, James Atkinson publishes in London his illustrated Account of the State of Agriculture and Grazing in New South Wales. This expansionist treatise flags Wollombi as a place of “fine valleys, well watered”, the First Branch of the Hawkesbury River as providing “fresh water” and the lower Hunter valley as “open elevated Forest Country”. (Atkinson, 1826).

Frontier conflict in the Hunter region. Approximately two years after the “Bathurst Wars”, frontier clashes mount in the Hunter region. In September 1826, Rev Threlkeld observes that: “war has commenced … against the Aborigines of this land. Yesterday a party of 40 soldiers were ordered to the interior…three families have suffered by the blacks but the particulars I cannot yet ascertain” (Threlkeld, September 1826, courtesy of Wollombi Historical Society). Two years later, Threlkeld puts detailed particulars on record: “The list given consists of 15 Europeans killed by the Aborigines from 1832 to the present year 1838…whilst a secret hostile process has been encouraged and carried on against the Blacks by lawless Europeans…the loss of upward of 500 Aborigines within the last two years” (Threlkeld, Concluding Remarks 1838, 145, courtesy of Wollombi Historical Society).

The Great North Road. Wealthy settlers of the Hunter Valley petition Governor Ralph Darling to survey a fit place and direction for a Road from Parramatta to Hunters River. By mid-1820s, most of the good land around Sydney and out to the west is taken up. Between Sydney and the Hunter River is a maze of sandstone mountains with deep gorges and razor-back ridges that end suddenly in towering bluffs. Settlers swim their stock over the Hawkesbury River and make their way along rugged creeks. Thousands of convicts are employed to build the Great North Road over nearly 10 years. Construction commences with a workforce of 63 men at Castle Hill. The majority are convicts in chain gangs.

Richard Wiseman establishes an Inn at the head of the Wollombi. MWPA, 91

Painter Conrad Martens produces two paintings of the Hawkesbury River near Wiseman’s Ferry to mark the completion of the Great North Road. When viewed together, these two works tell a before-and-after story that celebrates colonial improvement of an Aboriginal “wilderness”. (NLA and NGV)

Aboriginal uprisings in the Hunter. Shortly after an Aboriginal frontier uprising in Argyle County to Sydney’s southwest when many Aborigines gather to retaliate against stockmen forcing their affections on Aboriginal women, around 200 warriors gather at William Ogilvie’s new farm on Patrick’s Plains to seemingly demonstrate against his annexation of their land. Fearing trouble, Ogilvie’s wife Mary talks to them and gives them food and tobacco. Apparently happy with this exchange, the Aborigines go to a neighbouring farm where stockmen refuse their requests. The Aboriginal men kill and spear four men including the overseer, plunder huts and enrage settlers who are already frustrated with Aborigines who burn their grass, spear their cattle and threaten to destroy their wheat harvests. Like attacks in Argyle that lead to government sending troops to “pacify” the region, Governor Darling orders the Mounted Police to the Hunter Valley on 24 June 1826 to quash Aboriginal uprisings. With a reputation for action, the Mounted Police led by Lieutenant Nathaniel Lowe carry out a “campaign of terror”. The death toll amounts to five or six Aboriginal killings, all while in custody. The brutal shooting of Jacky Jacky outside the military barracks near Government House on Wallis Plains provokes public outrage and pressures a Governor inquiry. Lowe is charged with the murder of Jacky Jacky. He stands trial in the Supreme Court. After a court case that centres on the legal status of Aboriginal victims and affirms that “natives of this colony are within the protection of the laws”, the jury comprising seven military men take five minutes to deliver the verdict of not guilty. The courtroom breaks out in applause. Lowe’s acquittal creates a problem for the courts. It upholds the ideal of individual protection rights for Aborigines, but the acquittal of Lowe discounts that protection within the context of an expanding Hunter Valley frontier. (Chaves, “A solemn judicial farce, 2007).

Outrages are committed by Natives in the District of Hunter’s River. (despatch of Gov Darling to Earl Bathurst (Ford p77)

Putty (Bootty) people to the west of Wollombi Brook and Wollombi people travel in concert near Jerry's Plains as far north as present-day Creigs Creek. (Darling’s despatch to Bathurst). (Ford p77)

Early settlers from Mangrove Creek travel north up the valley. This includes the Woodbury branch of the Everingham family. (Ford p77).

The customary Aboriginal group of the Glendon region has close connections with Maitland Aborigines. Aboriginal men work gathering grapes on Glendon Estate during the nineteenth century. (Lucas, 35)

This “census” indicates that Aboriginal people living in the Hunter Valley and Hawkesbury-Hunter ranges are taking refuge in elevated hinterland areas that initially lay outside the lands of first European agricultural interest on valley floors. These areas are gaps in the grid of settler landholding that Aboriginal people could use and move through in an increasingly colonised region from the 1820s. Another fringe landform that Aboriginal people occupy is the large swamps and wetlands that are prominent features of some intensely settled areas such as the Paterson Valley. Lake Paterson is one important wetland. It is increasingly drained for agriculture from the 1820s. (Lucas, 41).


100 copies of the Aboriginal Dialect compiled by Rev Threlkeld at Lake Macquarie are reproduced by Mr Arthur Hill for a total of around 12 pounds (Maitland Mercury, 21 April 1827, compliments of Ian Webb, Maitland Historical Society).

From 1827, Blankets are sent annually from Sydney to the Hunter Valley to be distributed by local magistrates and police constables to Aboriginal people on the Queens Birthday (1 May). Governor Macquarie initiated the official distribution of blankets in 1814. Macquarie had hoped that the provision of blankets – with occasional “slop” clothing and foods – would encourage “civilised habits and cooperation” among Aborigines towards Europeans during the expansion of “settled districts”. Blankets and rations are sometimes provided to Aboriginal people directly by larger property owners such as the Ogilvie’s at Merton, the Scott’s at Glendon and George Wyndham at Dalwood. Aborigines begin to depend on government issued blankets and rations as settlers occupy their lands. This not only prevents them from traditional food gathering and hunting, but also the making of animal skin coats to protect them from the elements, particularly in winter. (Lucas, 39)

Farm Camps: Homesteads of Refuge. Living within a frontier region that becomes increasingly violent, Aboriginal people take refuge and camp on homesteads that provide them protection. These include: Merton at Denman, Invermain House at Scone, Segenhoe at Scone, Glendon at Singleton, and Cassilis Station at Merriwa. A number of these homesteads also become an important area of employment for Aboriginal people in the pastoral industry: Invermain at Scone, Segenoe at Scone, Merton at Denman, and Glendon at Singleton. Some of these farm camps had been in occasional or cyclical use for thousands of years. Kelvinside homestead at Aberdeen, for example, is the site of an important Bora ground. On these camps, relations of interdependence develop between Aboriginal and white people. Aboriginal people are attracted by the availability of European food, blankets and security, while the supporting homesteads frequently use Aboriginal labour (Lucas, 15).

In April, records are completed for the 1828 Census. Approximately 40,000 Europeans occupy the “settled districts” of NSW and approximately 3,000 Aboriginal people are counted. Alexander McLeay from the Colonial Secretary’s office directed Magistrates: “I am directed to inform you that it is His Excellency’s intention to issue Blankets and Slops to the Black Natives…in order that a suitable quantity…may be immediately forwarded to you for distribution, I have to request that you let me know…the number of the [A]borigines in your District, distinguishing the several tribes, and the number of Men, Women, and Children belonging to each tribe…”

The “Aboriginal Returns” for NSW at this time are:


Of the total of 2,979 Aboriginal people recorded as living in “settled districts” in NSW during 1827, nearly half live in the wider Hunter region (approximately 1,412). The Tribes and Districts in which they reside are:             


Wallis’ Plains (Maitland)   50 men, 35 women, 35 children,  


- Tribes not stated
totalling 120   


Paterson’s Plains


totalling 132

- Old Settlers Tribe          19 men, 21 women, 11 children,                 totalling 51

- Williams River Tribe      18 men, 19 women, 16 children,                  totalling 53

- Mt Johnston Tribe        17 men, 7 women, 4 children,                      totalling 28


Patrick’s Plains (Singleton) and Luskintyre   


totalling c 300   

- Tribes not stated

- Breakdown of male, female, children not recorded

Hunters River                                                                                 


totalling c 100

- Tribes not stated

- Breakdown of male, female, children not recorded      



totalling 760

- Coal River Tribe              50 men, 40 women, 50 children,                 totalling 140

- Ash Island Tribe             40 men, 35 women, 45 children,                 totalling 120

- Reid’s Mistake Tribe    50 men, 50 women, 50 children,                     totalling 150

- Tugrah Beach Tribe       70 men, 60 women, 70 children,                  totalling 200

- Kangaroo Ground Tr    55 men, 50 women, 45 children,                   totalling 150   





Aboriginal domestic service. While Aboriginal people still outnumber Europeans at the Hunter River during 1827, they willingly assist the newcomers in exchange for desired goods: “The black population is as great, if not greater, than the white which cannot be said of any other place in the Colony – They carry wood and water, and in short are the willing servants of the lowest classes, and look for their reward in small pieces of tobacco or a cob of corn”. (Australian newspaper, 31 January 1827, quoted in Hartley, p87).

Hamilton Hume sets off into the ranges, leaving Richmond with a couple of The Branch natives. He seeks to discover a more direct way from Richmond to Bathurst. Like others before him, he does not identify those in his diary he called “native guides”.

There are Five Tribes in the Brisbane Water district: The Mial or Broken Bay Tribe, the Tuggera Beach Tribe, the Wyong Tribe, the Narara tribe and the “Erina” Tribes. The first three consist of about 15 each, the last two about ten each, being in all about 65 men, women and children. (SRO, Letter 1827, in Blair, 2003, p122).

George Matcham Pitt born 1814 becomes known for his close contact with local Aborigines. He learns a song from The Branch natives. Hassel in 1897 compiled a book of “Songs by Australian Blacks”. (Ford 102, Australasian Anthropological Journal, Feb 27, 1897]

Solomon Wiseman is granted a lease for seven years to operate a ferry to take passengers, livestock and goods across the river, running a number of boats, although tried to get a lease for 21 years. The road came to the Hawkesbury River at a place originally called Lower Portland Head. The only way to cross is in a ferry, run by Wiseman. Wiseman builds an inn so travellers can stay there overnight and buy provisions for the next leg of their journey, which takes them through largely uninhabited areas. Wiseman is contracted to supply food to convicts building the road (road gangs). In 1832, the govt buys the ferry service and put in their own ferryman.

The Hawkesbury and Mr Wiseman: At the point at which the road crosses the Hawkesbury, nearly opposite is a tributary stream called the First Branch (MacDonald River) on either bank on which there are numerous small settlers located for a distance of many miles, rich alluvial land. The late Governor and Mrs Darling rented a part of Mr Wiseman’s house and lived in it for some time...

Local Magistrate, Willoughby Bean, takes the first census of Darkinjung people in the Brisbane Waters district. He reports the five family groups or clans (“tribes”) totalling sixty-five persons.

These do not correspond to another list generated by Newcastle Magistrates Allman and Brooks in 1826. The “Tugrah Beech Tribe” number 200 strong was listed with the Newcastle tribes. “Chuge” was identified as “Chief” (Colonial Secretary Letters). The population across different groups of Darkinjung in the Brisbane Waters district was undoubtedly understated by Bean. (Blair, 2003, 15).


Melville, Harry and Bulwarra seek refuge on Hog Island. A warrant is issued for the capture of Melville and Harry for alleged murders of Europeans at Glendon. They retreat to and hide on Hog Island in the Paterson River. Bulwarra is also hiding out there. He is wanted for an alleged murder on the Allyn River. A confrontation occurs after Constable M’Gone hears of their whereabouts and approaches the island with “several ticket of leave holders”. Melville, Harry and Bulwarra are ordered to surrender. They raise a “war whoop” and shower the policing party with spears. The affray lasts nearly one hour. All three men are “obliged to surrender”, are charged, and sent to Maitland to appear before the court. (Maitland Mercury, 14 March 1828, courtesy of Carl Hoipo, Maitland Historical Society).

The Hunter census also indicates that during the late-1820s Aboriginal people are adapting to changing social, economic and cultural conditions. They begin to “come in” to live and work on or near homesteads on or near their traditional lands. They also “come in” to settle in or on the fringes of developing townships such as Wollombi, Singleton and Paterson. From 1825, the Australian Agricultural Company takes up extensive tracts of land in the northern Hunter Valley. It quickly becomes the largest importer of sheep.

The “Murr-win tribe” residing on the Pages River consist of 16 men, 8 women and 5 children. This 1828 information was reported by Francis Little, who had taken up a grant in the Dart Brook area near Scone, which he called “Invermein”. (Brayshaw, On Revisiting Gundy, 232).

Biraban is married and has at least one child, Ye-row-wa (English name Francis) in 1828. Threlkeld reports Biraban to be very fond of his wife, Ti-pah-ma-ah (English name Patty):“Blacks do love their wives. I [Threlkeld] have seen M’Gill, and Patty his wife, in all the playfulness of pure affection, like Abraham sporting with Sarah in the even-tide…” (Threlkeld Reminiscences 1825-26; and Return of the Black Natives belonging to Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, 21 May 1828; in Blair, 2003, 54).

Rev Threlkeld identifies the “Tuggerer Beech Tribe” as being “Old Jacky’s Tribe”. (Blair, 2003, p18).

Lewis Ferdinando is working for limeburner, John Grace on Marra Marra Creek. (1828 census, in Ford, timeline).

1828c Kut-ti-run (“Little Breeches”, later known as William Bird) is born in Lake Macquarie region. (Gavi Duncan, video link)

Surveyor and pastoralist, Henry Dangar completes his map of Newcastle. His use of Aboriginal reference names reveal the area is still a shared landscape (surveyed in 1822). Tahibiln is marked near today’s Fort Scratchley, Burrabihngarn is near today’s Stockton and Corrumbah (now Carrington) is shown as a large island in the mouth of the Hunter (Coquun) River. Toorrnbing Creek is today’s Iron-Bark Creek and Burraghihnbihng refers to Hexham Swamp, which was the territory of the Pambalong people or “Big Swamp Tribe” (Lucas 43). Ash Island is one of a number of islands surrounded with mangrove mudflats with a long history of Aboriginal occupation. (Lucas 43)

Simpson assigns Assistant Surveyor of Roads and Bridges to Great North Road.

Proposal to transform an Aboriginal walkway into the Great North Road. After Irish convict John Macdonald, is assigned to Robert Crawford at Ellalong (east of Wollombi) in 1820, he becomes friendly with local Aboriginal people and learns from them a way to reach the Hawkesbury River from the Hunter Valley. This becomes known as “MacDonald’s Line” and ran north-east from the Hawkesbury across Mangrove Creek, through the Watagan Mountains and beside Lake Macquarie, before turning north into the Hunter Valley over Brunkerville Gap (near Ellalong). Some influential settlers wanted this to be the route of the Great North Road. In 1828, Captain Dumaresq, Surveyor of Roads and Bridges, arranges to have the line surveyed and sends assistant surveyor Jonathan Warner out with MacDonald to report back. (Convict Trail Project – Great North Road: John Macdonald)

Early disputes at Brisbane Waters. The newly appointed Brisbane Water Magistrate Willoughby Bean documents one of the first reported disputes between Aborigines and the small European settlements shortly after his arrival with three constables in the Gosford-Wyong region (Bennett in Blair, 2000, 12). Bean relates that from late-1827 “many strange tribes had appeared in the district and destroyed the settlers’ crops”. The District Constable dealt with the disturbances by “arming fifteen men and pursuing the Aborigines”. The Constable’s actions echoed official missions carried out at Bathurst three years earlier aimed at dispersing Aborigines. Both punitive expeditions are in line with Earl Bathurst’s instructions of 1825: “…when making hostile Incursions for the purpose of plunder, - You will understand it to be your Duty when such Disturbances cannot be prevented or allayed by less vigorous measures, to oppose Force by Force, and so repel such aggression in the same manner as if they proceeded from any Accredited State”. (Earl Bathurst, State Records M1481, in Blair, 2003, 25).

William Cape, one of the first Wyong farmers, is taken aback when 200 Aborigines, mostly strangers, suddenly arrive on his property and make off with his potato crop. Aborigines again troubled the settlers, pilfering and destroying crops, and even threatening lives. (Vinnecombe in Blair, 2000, 12).

Conflicts with European settlers in 1828, 1833 and 1834 appear to be cooperative efforts on the parts of several clan groups. Willoughby Bean states: “This District has within the last five or six months been greatly disturbed by the inroads of Strange Tribes of Aborigines, I believe from the Hunter’s River, The Wollombi and the Sugar Loaf – These tribes have frequently…assembled in great number (on one occasion upwards of 200 & on another 180)…the District Constable during my absence…deemed it prudent to arm fifteen men & go in pursuit of them…They…confessed, that it was their intention not only to rob the Settlers, but likewise to capture and burn a Gentleman of the name of Cape, who had formerly fired on them during the night when stealing his Corn. – Assistance was immediately sent to Mr Cape…They have now left the District; but will…visit it again; and, unless some strong steps be taken to intimidate them, will be liable to do more mischief. – I beg to know to what extremities I may go in repelling them…I wish to know how far I am justified in treating them with severity…” (Bean to Alex McLeay, April 1828, in Blair, 2003,18, 26).

The Aborigines whose normal sources of food had dwindled soon develop a taste for corn meal. In helping themselves they are soon in conflict with the farmers and their servants. What may have begun as a misunderstanding between Cape and the Aborigines over sharing/taking corn escalated quickly into armed combat. Cape seems to have provoked the Aborigines into many future acts of violence by his conduct: “Brisbane Water, May 25th, 1828…on receiving a letter from Mr Cape, stating that the Natives were again plundering him of Corn, I sent over to his assistance all the Constables in the district, and proceeded there myself that I might…form a proper estimate of Mr Cape’s loss, and….adopt some plan of future protection to him…I am very doubtful whether [Cape’s] statement be properly correct…I have every reason to believe that his men have encouraged [the Blacks] to the deed. – Mr Cape however appears to set his face against any enquiring, and even his neighbours who have gone over to his assistance, have been treated rather as intruders than friends…there is scarce a person in the District – either Black or White – with whom he is on good terms…He has provoked the Aborigines to many acts of violence by his conduct – menacing them…with a loaded musket. “I am fearful that there will be some trouble yet with the strange tribes, who, I have no doubt have been invited, from distant parts, by some of those, who have been ill treated by Mr Cape or others in the District, to retaliate upon their enemies, by pilfering them. – I have kept three of the worst Characters in the Watchhouse for some days, which has had a good effect on the rest and all is at present quiet. - Many of the Blacks in this District have conducted themselves very well; & should it be His Excellency’s intention this winter of distributing Blankets & Clothing amongst them, I shall assemble the whole of them and give only to those who have been deserving from their late conduct”. (Bean to Colonial Secretary 1828 in Blair, 2003, 18).

Willoughby Bean’s observations align with Threlkeld’s: Aborigines “have speared many an Englishman, but not unprovoked”. (Threlkeld 1825, London Missionary Society Letters in Blair, 2003, 27).

Rev Threlkeld is troubled at the increasing violence and hatred expressed towards Aborigines in Brisbane Water District: “The Attorney General…asked my opinion if it would be beneficial, to bring Lieut Lowe to trial for shooting a Black. I urged him not as [if] he was removed this would satisfy the Blacks and the other would only exasperate the Settlers more…But I fear party will bring him to trial as some wish to say it is the private intimation of the Governor [Darling] that they should be shot and no further notice taken of it”. (4 September, LMS Letters, in Blair, 2003, p28) “Lieutenant Lowe who shot his prisoner is now come down again for investigation respecting his conduct – but he will be exonerated – as all the Magistrates here had previously signed a letter thanking him for his conduct in taking upon himself the responsibility of shooting his prisoner while in his safe custody – The whole of the outrages may be traced to this…Many lives will be lost on both sides and the Blacks threaten to Burn the Corn…this will ruin the colony at once”. (11 September LMS Letters, in Blair, 2003, p28)

After failure at Wellington and Twofold Bay, Mr Harper (Wesleyan) is sent to labour at Richmond in connection with the Windsor Circuit, with “instructions to consider it a special and important part of his duty at Richmond to attend to the Aborigines, and to instruct such of the boys and girls as he can procure”. In January he reported to the District Meeting: “I have endeavoured to adhere to the order. But on account of the vagrant and indocile state of the Aborigines…I have failed…Nothing, in my opinion, will be a means of bringing these wretched and depraved creatures into order, but compulsion to some fixed residence…” He later resigned his office as a Wesleyan Missionary on the grounds that he could see no possible means of prosecuting the Mission. (Colwell 184).

Letter by Simpson to the governor re catching some bushrangers near his property near Lake Macquarie: “I, acting on a statement made to me by some Black natives, proceeded in search of Bushrangers whom they had seen at Manaring Creek...north east of Wiseman’s in a pass between the Mountains and southend of Lake Macquarie...

In Threlkeld’s 1828 “return of the Black Natives” to the Colonial Secretary, he defines the local “tribe” as “all the persons related to (Old Jackey) and gave their “usual Place of Resort” as bounded to the south by Reid’s Mistake/entrance to Lake Macquarie, to the north by Newcastle & Hunter River, to the west by the five islands 10 miles west of our station (local family group/clan). Mathews named these people as Wannerawa (Wonnorua) and Wannungine. (Ford 340). Ie “Wannerawa, language of Brisbane Water towards Wollombi; Wannungine language Lake Macquarie. (Ford p339-41).

Sir Thomas Mitchell’s Field Notes and Sketches: survey of the harbor and surrounds of Newcastle.

1828-1829 Blanket returns for Segenoe list “King Tom as Chief of the tribe and his wife as Queen Maria”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1834 in Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 233-34). 1828 to 1850s Tullong clan at Dart Brook. The main Aboriginal group in the Gundy neighbourhood lives at Dart Brook and at times at Aberdeen and Segenhoe. The 1828 blanket return from Invermein identifies them as “Tullong” clan consisting of 19 men, 11 women and nine children. They frequently shift camp, but rarely move far afield for the reason that they were “befriended by many of the landed gentry…Messrs Matthew, Thomas and Ebenezer Hall of the Dartbrook area were largely their protectors…” (Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 234).

Three days later, Aboriginal people seemingly saved Mitchell’s life. He is still out after dark and: “returned guided by the natives. It soon became very dark and but for the clever way the native boys kept up a light made of the stringybark which served for a flambeau we certainly must have found it extremely difficult to avoid the rocky precipice we past – on steep places they also set fire to the grass trees which immediately blazing up – gave a light to some distance around. We reached [camp]…very fatigued, the rain also having set in…Five of the road party were this night lost in one of the gullies in descending Warrawalong…they were heard cooying all night, but it was impossible for any one to find them” (Major Mitchell’s diary, 7 July to 21 August 1829, with courtesy of Ken Marhein and Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Historical Society).


Numerous properties start to grow grapes and produce wine. By 1830, there are 207 properties on 1000 or more acres. (Lucas, 41-61; Wollombi Museum). This includes “Dalwood”, established in 1829 by George Wyndham and “Thornthwaite” established in 1834 by grazier and cultivator, Joseph Docker at Dartbrook, Upper Hunter district. (ADB and SLNSW)

Threlkeld is dismissed by the London Missionary Society. (University of Newcastle timeline)

Major Mitchell is requested to find the most appropriate route for the Great North Road to descend into the Wollombi Valley. While Mitchell is surveying the ridges to the north of Watagan Creek, local Aboriginal people accompany and share their knowledge of native placenames with him: “I ascended the same hill…accompanied by a native and his gin and two boys and found the range I was on yesterday. Eastward, arrived at a rocky point where I could see the ranges joining Warrawalong…this point is called Bangowally”. MWPA, 91

Alfred William Morrow Settree arrives in Brisbane Water with his mother in 1829 when he is about 7 years of age. He is the son of James Settree, Captain of the Endeavour. They occupy Portion 16, Parish of Patonga (Woy Woy Bay). As a boy, Alf swims from the point opposite where Woy woy Station now stands to the Woy Woy side. He would cross by means of native canoe to Riley’s Island, then to Bedlam (Saratoga) where he would feast on fish and opossum with the Aboriginal boys. The largest blacks camp in the district is at Bedlam. (Blair, Darkinjung Community, 2003, 10).

The “Nineteen Counties”. The Nineteen Counties are the limits of location in the colony of NSW as defined by the Governor of NSW, Sir Ralph Darling in 1826 in accordance with a govt order from Lord Bathurst, the secretary of State. A further order of 1829 extends these boundaries. Settlers are only permitted to take up land within the defined area. From 1831, there are no more free land grants, and the only land for sale is within the Nineteen Counties. The area is extended to Kempsey in the north and Wellington in the West. The Nineteen Counties are mapped by Surveyor General, Major Thomas Mitchell in 1834.

“Old General” is listed in the 1829 blanket return from Segenhoe. A man named Davey later wears General’s crescent-shaped king plate suspended from his neck. Later again it is worn by Larry, a cripple who is taken to Sydney by land reformer, Sir John Robertson, who provides Larry with a wooden leg and takes him to visit Government House before returning him to Dartbrook. Other individuals in the area around this time include Natty, whose employer Stephen Coxon takes him on a trip to England and who, on his return, takes up a small selection on the Hunter River. There is also Sandy and Mary Ann, who have twins known as Adam and Eve. Others include: Jimmy Booridi, Monday and Bungery. Bungery later finds work on the Hunter River with Simpson and Campbell who operate Glenrock Station. He becomes a widely admired horseman. (Brayshaw, On revisiting Gundy, 234).

15 European householders are in the Brisbane Water District. (Blair, 2000, 12).

With Biraban’s constant aid, Rev Threlkeld completes his first draft of St Luke’s Gospel translated into the local Aboriginal language. Threlkeld commends Biraban's “intelligence and steady application” to Governor Darling who honours him at the annual conference with the Aboriginals at Parramatta in 1830 with a brass plate inscribed: “Barabahn, or MacGil, Chief of the Tribe at Bartabah, on Lake Macquarie; a Reward for his assistance in reducing his Native Tongue to a written Language”. (Gunson, ADB Biraban; Blair, 2003, 51)

The Story of Chughi, Chief of the Broken Bay, Narara and Mullet, King of Wyong .Only two records have been located regarding Chughi (“Chougley”). The earliest is a letter written on 7 May 1827 by local magistrate, Willoughby Bean, noting “Chougley” was one of forty-one Aborigines to receive “slops” (clothing and blankets) that were distributed to Aborigines living in the Brisbane Water district. He is married, the name of his wife is not listed. The others are: Males: Abraham, Bobbery, Ireland, Jack Jago, Dick, Beana, Jack Brown, Joe Craft, Sydney Joe, Freeman, Yamyam, Nambo, Jewfish, Mullet, Jerry Purcell, Dumpty’s, Jack, Bunghino, Tom Jones, Jack Jones, Young Banghema, Hughy, Charly White, Yamma, Raeldy, Joe Craft’s Boy. Females: Sophy, Kitty, Carbonmary, Little Mary, Baghena’s Gin, Kimbo, Rose, Chougley’s gin, Nelly, Ireland’s Gin, Mullet’s Gin.