22 February – TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD. THE ABORIGINES AT BURRAGORANG. Sir,-I notice a telegram in Wednesday's Herald from your Camden correspondent, saying the aboriginals state the Government will not send a medical man to them, and that an unfortunate widow was left to die in misery. This statement is very misleading, as the Government do not refuse to pay a medical man for attending the aborigines, provided the application for a doctor comes through a magistrate, who can then sign the voucher as the "officer incurring the expense." With regard to Eliza Saunders, she was asked to have a doctor, but she said she knew she was dying, and refused to have one sent for, but she was well nursed. It is a difficult matter to deal with these people at Burragorang. There is a Government allowance to the mothers and young children of a certain amount of rations per week, but there are several big boys and young men who could get employment if they would take it, but they prefer to hang about the camp, using the rations supplied, so that those to whom rations are supplied are deprived of their rights, and have to go hungry half their time, and it seems almost impossible to remedy this matter. Still, they are all far and away better off than in their natural state, many of them having horses and saddles. Seven or eight of them have been staying here for the last ten days, and they have five good horses among them. I am, &c,W. R. ANTILL. (Trove, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 February

[Antill’s residence is now the Picton Golf Club house]

R. H. Mathews collects data on language and customs from Aboriginal people in North West Sydney. He names his informants at Camden Park in notebook 8006/3/7-nbk 7, page 32-33. He refers to Darug informants Peggy, Nelly and Janey. Peggy (Margaret was blind). Peggy’s mother was Nanny.


A Gandangara all-Aboriginal cricket team is formed. Its members include the families Whitaker, Saunders, Godfrey, Milligan, Lynch, Russell, Troy, Osborne and Lord.

Fanny Lynch, grows up in Kanimbla Valley and moves to Plumpton about 1891 after her marriage.

Annie Sherritt seeks to use a 50-acre portion of land in the Upper Burragorang Valley, besides the Gunggalook waterhole. It is probably the most fertile of the Aboriginal reserves in the Burragorang Valley. (J. Smith, ‘Gundungurra Country’, PhD thesis, 2008)

John Riley’s decides to list his children as non-Aboriginal. He may have been motivated by not wanting to attract the attention of the Aborigines Protection Board. Smith, p. 451.


The historian Jim Smith writes that traditional activities in Burragorang Valley include using smoke signals to communicate, using traditional pathways, hunting for game and animal skins, and the harvesting of bush foods, honey and fish. Clay is gathered from Aboriginal quarries and given to settlers to whitewash their houses. Traditional medicine and midwifery are practised. Gandangara people continue to tell their dreaming stories including to some white people, and continue to visit sacred sites for ceremonial purposes up to at least 1897. (J. Smith, ‘Gundungurra Country’, PhD thesis, 2008)


Gandangara people no longer able to hold onto their lands in the Burragorang Valley are moving to La Perouse, Salt Pan Creek, Mittagong, Bowral, Camden, Megalong Valley and the Gully in Katoomba. They continue to demand land and boats. Some Gandangara people prefer to live on AR26 [Aboriginal Reserve 26], later known as the Nulla Nulla camp. Johnson, Sacred Waters, p. 48


Camden. Mr. D. Matthews, of the Maloga Aboriginal Mission, ‘delivered an interesting address’ in which four Aboriginal children perform songs. (Matthews is always looking out for adults and children to take to his mission Maloga.)


Camden. ‘Human remains have been discovered at an excavation at Cawdor, in the Camden district, by two workmen. As a tomahawk was found alongside the remains, they are believed to be those of an aboriginal interred forty years ago’. (Trove: Bathurst Free Press & Mining Journal NSW: 1851-1904).


Billy Lynch tells someone writing down his memoirs, “I don’t know, but I suppose it is that the time for my people to be replaced by another has come, and so all the animals, and the fruits, and birds they depended on vanished. It is not the shooting. There is not enough of that to account for it. It is just that their time has come too.” Lynch was born in the Kanimbla Valley in about 1836. (Johnson, Sacred Waters, p. 19)

Ellen Anderson, like others, is often moving within the old clan networks and often by traditional pathways, to maintain contact with their extended families. She visits Wollongong for the “crowning” of King Mickey Johnson.


W.A. Shepherd, J.J. Riley and W.T Riley register their names at the Wallaby Increase Rock in the Bindook Highlands. All three men attended schools in the Burragorang Valley. Smith comments, “The date shows that Gandangara people continue to visit this traditional site well into post-contact times.” J. Smith, ‘Gundungurra Country’, PhD thesis, 2008, pp. 82-3.


R H Matthews, a surveyor/ethnographer, records a rock shelter on left bank of Hawkesbury river near Sackville Reach. He writes “the roof is much blackened and begrimed by soot of camp fires; and judging from this …probably been the haunt of Aborigines for several generations.”The paintings in the cave had 42 hand stencils 1 boomerang all stenciled in white ochre. Mathews records Darug language with three or four of Nanny’s children.


A journalist writes, “Cantering on, a group of aboriginals known as Nulla Nulla, [Burragorang Valley], camp was reached, about 20 aboriginals make their living by selling marsupial skins, obtained in numbers from the neighbouring mountains; these people are, as informed, excellent shots with the rifle, seldom indeed losing their quarry from a distance of 200 to 300 yards; the blacks are good workers when short of provisions, but directly the opposite when they have plenty of tucker in store.”, Sacred Waters, p. 48.