A. L. (Arthur Lincoln) Haydon.

The trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time online

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Mr. J. Kelly, of Texas Downs Station, in the Kimberley
district. He originally came from the Northern Territory,
where he lived close to the Queensland border. With two
other blacks, Nipper and Dibby by name, Major attacked a
homestead at Blackfellows' Creek and murdered two men,
George Fettell and Thomas Davidson. The victims had
been surprised while asleep, as their bodies were found lying
in their bunks. This outrage was followed by another
murder, that of a man named McDonald, at Texas Downs
Station, and the three blacks took to the bush with a posse
of police on their trail.

In the hunting down of the murderers Troopers Fanning,
Schultz, Yates and Baker took the lead. For native assist-
ants they had Charlie, Dicky, Quart Pot, Dilly, Negri, and
a sixth boy having the same name, Nipper, as one of the
" wanted " men. The tracks of Major and his party were
discovered and followed within a few weeks of the murders,
the blacks being surrounded at Turkey Creek, a point on the
Ord River. Then there ensued a brisk fight, no fewer than
a hundred and fifty shots being fired before victory fell to
the police. For a time it became a duel between Fanning
and the black. When the latter was dislodged from his
position on a hill the constable gave chase and had to face
the combined fire of Major and Dibby. In the end native



trackers Nipper and Dicky dropped Major with a couple of
bullets in his head, and soon afterwards Quart Pot
accounted for Dibby. The third man, Nipper, had been shot
by others of the party.

For their share in the deaths of Major and his accomplices
the four police troopers received a reward of 20 each. A
further sum of 20 was expended in purchasing suitable
presents for the six trackers engaged. At the same time the
Government acknowledged its appreciation of the services
rendered by Messrs. McCulloch, Terone, and McLaughlin,
who had been sworn in as special constables. These three
stockmen were intimately acquainted with the country
over which the search was pursued, ana wor largely
instrumental in bringing about the success of the police

Following upon these presentations the Police Gazette
of Western Australia, under date April 8th, 1909, issued this


" With the above distribution of Rewards [the list com-
prised grants made between January 1st, 1907, and December
31st, 1908) the system hitherto in vogue in connection with
the granting of rewards annually on account of Favourable
Records will be discontinued. The Police Reward Fund will
now be closed, the amount provided on the Estimates in
past years for the purpose having been removed. In future,
only cases in which special skill, bravery or endurance are
exhibited by members of the force in the discharge of their
duty will be recommended for reward. Such cases, on
being reported by District Officers, will be investigated and
submitted for the consideration and approval of the Hon.



the Minister, when a suitable reward will be granted from

the Government Funds.

" (Signed) FEED HARE,

" Commissioner of Police."

In their work in the bush the West Australian mounted
police are armed with the Winchester carbine. Previously
they used the Snider, which itself had superseded a muzzle-
loading carbine fired with caps. For target practice the
Martini-Enfield rifle has been adopted. Similarly the old
type Colt's revolver of early days gave place to the Smith &
Wesson weapon, and more recently to the Webley. In
retaining the lance as well as the sword for parade purposes
the force is alone among the police services of the Common-
wealth. With their coloured pennons fluttering in the wind
as they manoeuvre, the mounted men make a most effective

The uniform worn differs little from that of other States.
A trooper is dressed in blue cloth or serge tunic, and trousers
of the same material ; white Bedford cord riding breeches
for summer wear, and brown ones for winter ; and the usual
outfit of helmet, cloak, and Wellington boots. One varia-
tion from this regular dress is that in the northern districts
khaki may be worn instead of serge. At the same time,
it must be remembered that while out on a long trip, such
as is entailed by a hunt for criminals of the Pigeon or Major
type, the trooper policeman garbs himself in rough bush
clothes, and is hardly to be distinguished from any stock-
man or boundary rider. The items given above refer to the
regulation dress which the mounted constable wears in the
ordinary course of his duty.

In former years the police cap was round with a long
peak in front, but the helmet has now been in use some time.



It is interesting to note that as this form of headgear does
not commend itself to the trooper in the country districts,
the Commissioner is contemplating the issue of a soft hat
of the Stetson " cowboy " pattern. This, no doubt, will be
welcomed for its advantages of lightness and shade for the
eyes, while its smart appearance should go far to make it
popular. Any one who has seen the Mounted Police of
Canada and South Africa wearing the " cowboy " hat must
have wondered why this useful article of headgear has not
been already adopted by the police authorities of Australia
for the up-country trooper.

A word may be said as to enrolment. According to the
conditions of the appointment of mounted constables,
applicants for admission to the force must be over twenty-
one and under thirty years of age, able to read and write,
and mentally, physically and constitutionally fit for service.
They must not be less than 5 feet 10 inches in height, nor
more than 11 stone 7 Ib. in weight, and must be able to ride
well. If under 6 feet, they must be at least 38 inches in
chest measurement ; if 6 feet or over the standard is 39 inches.

With regard to the pay-sheet, Western Australia prides
herself on treating her police servants generously. The
candidate for either the foot or the mounted branch will
find nothing to quarrel with in the following scale



Lodging Allowance
in lieu of Quarters.



425 per annum.

50 per ann.

15 per ann.


325 to 375




250 to 300



Detective Sergeants

14/- per day




11/6 to 13/6


Free uniform

Detectives .

12/- to 13/-


7 per annum




Free uniform

Constables .

6/6 to 9/-



A cave in the Barrier Range, north-west Australia.


The trooper policeman of the western State, it will
be understood, is a picked man. His examination on en-
trance into the force is a severe one, for only the best are
wanted, and his training at the Perth headquarters, once he
has passed the preliminary stages, is such as to turn him
out as well-equipped in every respect as the mounted con-
stable of any other State. What has been noted already in
regard to his multifarious duties and to his peculiar con-
ditions of work in certain districts, is sufficient to convince
one of the important part he plays in the development of
the country. It is especially in South and Western Aus-
tralia, with their vast areas of unsettled or only sparsely
settled land, that the police trooper must be ranked with
the pioneer whom he accompanies into the wilderness. The
day is far distant when he will not be seen riding over the
plains on his solitary patrol, an emblem of that authority
which has made itself respected and feared by the white
transgressor of the law, and which is schooling the unruly
aboriginal into obedience.




The Southern Cross discovery " Bayley's Reward " The rush to Cool-
gardie On the road Inspector McKenna Scarcity of water " To
Three Camel Drinks, 12 " A record price Kalgoorlie Other
goldfields A bogus "rush" The alluvial riots An Afghan murder
" Bailed up " in daylight Coolgardie's gold escort robbed On the
Kimberley goldfields A brutal murder Sub-Inspector Troy
The pearling industry Broome " Cock-eyed bobs " Illicit pearl-
buying The Ethel case A Malay pirate At Yampi Sound
Mounted Constable Fletcher A notable achievement.

IN the discovery of gold in Western Australia there was
the same element of romance that had attended the
birth of the eastern Eldorados. A chance thrust of a spade
suddenly revealed the hidden treasure of riches over which
men had been walking unsuspecting for years, and sent
thousands into the scrub wilderness to seek their fortune
with pick and shovel.

In 1884 the Kimberley Goldfield was opened, but this
was soon eclipsed in interest by the far richer fields in the
south. The scene of the first " find " here was some distance
below Southern Cross. At a small station one of the hands
was engaged in digging a post hole when he unearthed a
good-sized nugget. The news that gold had been found
spread quickly, and a properly organised search party ere
long laid bare two payable reefs. Shortly afterwards mining
was commenced at Southern Cross with successful results.
This was in 1887. For five years this field was worked by



companies, and then, owing to the poorness of the ore and the
high cost of production, the mines were shut down. Only
a handful of two hundred men remained at the diggings,
struggling to scrape a living in the best way they could.

At this juncture came the turning-point in the fortunes
of the State. In September, 1892, a prospector named
Arthur Bayley rode into the little township with a startling
story to tell. He had been in the back country " specking
for slugs," that is, looking for surface gold, and at a place
called by the natives Coolgardie he and a mate had collected
several thousands of pounds' worth in the course of two days.
He had then found a large quartz reef, which gave rich indi-
cations of the precious metal. At Southern Cross the lucky
prospector applied to Warden Finnerty for the claim that
was his by right as the original discoverer, and so became
possessed of the famous mine known as " Bayley 's Reward."

The consequent rush to Coolgardie now left Southern
Cross deserted. 1 Every man who owned, or who could beg
or borrow, a mining outfit, hastened to the new field, while
as knowledge of it spread the eastern States in time contri-
buted their quott,. Over the red sandy plains a canvas
town sprang up with remarkable rapidity. As the railway
then terminated at Northam, nearly three hundred miles
to the westward, the prices of provisions and conveyances
rose very high. Horses, which before the boom might have
been bought for a few pounds, were now saleable at 50 or
more each. It is not surprising that so many of the gold-
seekers tramped the long dreary distance from " the Cross "

1 It is interesting to note that as Southern Cross led the way in the
opening up of these extensive goldfields, so was it the scene of the last
boom. Only last year (1910) the discovery of the "Finch" group of
mines in its immediate neighbourhood created a sensation that vividly
recalled the days of the nineties.



with their swags on their backs. The question to be con-
sidered was whether the " soaks " and " gnamma holes "
would yield them any water on the route. Sometimes they
did, and sometimes not, as we learn from Mr. John Marshall,
a Coolgardie pioneer, who gives us a graphic picture of the
"rush "

"Along with a few others," he writes, "we agreed to start
in the early morning. The waggon with its six horses was
got in readiness. Each of the party was provided with a
water-bag, tent, provisions to last some time, and last and
most important, our bed and bedding. The water which
we took from Southern Cross was hoarded with miserly
care, as it was considered uncertain whether on our long
journey of 112 miles, every step of the way on foot,
we would get any water at the ' soaks ' or not. The trip
took us seven days. During the whole of this journey we
never had the luck to get our face or feet washed, this being
a luxury reserved for us when we would get to the end of
our journey.

" A big tank of water, which was kept for the horses,
was also guarded with jealous care. We are afraid that
had opportunity offered we should have thrown prudential
considerations aside and * nicked ' sufficient water to wash
our begrimed faces and cool our weary feet. But alas !
opportunity never offered, and we had to trudge through
the dust as best we could under a broiling sun, without a hope
of getting any water to cool our parched faces until we could
reach Coolgardie, and some of us who were * soft ' and not
in training had our feet blistered and bleeding, and our
hearts were sore before we got to our destination after our
long tramp from Southern Cross the last stage of our
journey and without a spell.



" At several of the ' soaks ' where we expected to get
water none was available, and the lack thereof put us to
some inconvenience. At an accommodation house on the
road, where we stopped for dinner, the landlady apologised
for not being able to find us water in which to wash our faces,
and informed us it was usual for travellers to ' dry blow '
each other that is, knock the dust off each other with a
handkerchief, and wipe their faces with a hat. There was
a capital meal laid on the table, which was nicely served up,
but none of us could obtain a glass of water, and we were
limited to a single cup of tea. It must be remembered,
however, that all the water being used had to be carted nearly
fifty miles. We were not sorry when we learned that we
were within easy distance of Coolgardie."

In the mining town all was excitement and confusion.
Each day had its rumour of big " finds," of new fields to be
opened up, and many bogus rushes were reported. One
striking feature of the new diggings was the absence of the
" crook " element, the human sharks and wolves common to
the muiing camp the world over. They were not there to any
extent, at least. Nearly all the miners were genuine, hard-
working, law-abiding men, which accounts for the orderliness
that prevailed. The mounted police, who were early on
the scene under Inspector McKenna, had an easier task
before them than that of the New South Wales goldfields
police in the " roaring fifties."

The principal difficulty, of course, was the water ques-
tion. A big Government bore had been made, and this
yielded salt water, which had to be condensed. It was
then sold at a shilling a gallon. But this price was liable to
fluctuation. It rose or fell according to the supply.

John Dunn, a notable figure in old Coolgardie, once sent


three camels across to a store to have the rough edge taken
off their thirst. The animals started in on their drink, which
was more of the nature of a muddy syrup than water, and
the storekeeper stood by to check them. At last he cried,
" Hold on ! that's all I can spare." Then he handed the
Afghan driver a bill, as follows

"John Dunn, Esq.,

" Dr. to the Pioneer Store.

"To three Camel Drinks, 80 gallons @ 3s. per gall., 12."
Dunn paid it, but he remarked that it was a record
" shout " even for him.

At " Hannans," where the next big rush took place a year
after that of Coolgardie, water rose in price to 5s. a gallon.
It had to be brought in on camel-back or in carts from a
lake nearly thirty miles away, having first to be condensed
there on account of its saltness. The small quantities that
were thus obtainable at certain times made water as precious
as the gold for which men risked their lives daily. Perhaps
the record price ever paid for a drink is to be credited to one
Jerry McAuliffe. This gold-seeker set out from Kanowna
in 1894 with a black boy, intending to strike the new Kurn-
alpi field. His water gave out too soon, and there was no
" soak " from which to replenish the empty bags. The
two men toiled on for two days and nights without water,
while their four horses were in even worse plight, not having
tasted any for three days. But just hi the nick of time they
reached a condenser near jKurnalpi and filled their bags.
This drink cost McAuliffe 15 lls., and it had to go round
among both men and horses.

Hannans l is now Kalgoorlie, a flourishing municipality

1 So named after Pafc Hannan, a prospector, who with a party was
making for the newly-reported Mount Yuille alluvial find, when he



and the headquarters of the East Coolgardie goldfields.
Including the latter district, its population is 33,000. At
the end of 1893 there was nothing but bush where the town
now stands. To-day there are miles of streets, with well-
built imposing buildings, electric trams, and " all the con-
veniences of modern civilisation," as the estate agents
say. Through the enterprise of Sir John Forrest, who was
Premier of the State, and the genius of the late Mr. C. Y.
O'Connor, C.M.G., the engineer, water has been carried
up to the goldfields by means of a pipe from Mundaring
Weir, 325 miles away. This gigantic undertaking was
completed in 1903. The assurance of good water put the
seal on the new goldfield's success. Kalgoorlie can boast
of mines that are among the richest the world has known.
In sixteen years from its discovery this field alone yielded
upwards of 350 tons of gold, worth 50,000,000.

Owing to the incentive given to prospecting by the
Southern Cross discoveries, gold-seekers ranged far and
wide over the State. In due course the Pilbarra, West
Pilbarra, Ashburton, Gascoyne, Murchison and Peak Hill
fields were opened and developed, and townships soon
sprang up around them. Though none of these centres
was of the magnitude of Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie, the out-
put nevertheless has been very great. The Murchison
and Peak Hill diggings together have yielded something
like ten million pounds' worth of gold.

That the mounted police have had a fairly easy task in
controlling the goldfields is true, but once or twice trouble
of a serious kind has arisen. The bogus " rush," which

stumbled across gold at Kalgoorlie. His original claim, which is still being
worked in a small way, was soon eclipsed by the Golden Horseshoe,
Ivanhoe, Great Boulder and other mines.



sent prospectors far into the scrub land at the risk of life,
was apt to rouse the miners to a high pitch of indignation.
Sometimes such a stampede was engineered by store-
keepers, who profited thereby in a quick sale of their goods.
Occasionally it was the outcome of a drunken frolic. A
wild statement thus made would be taken seriously, and
scores of men would dash off recklessly to test its truth.
In the nineties Coolgardie witnessed several of these wild-
goose chases, one of which nearly proved fatal for its author.

In 1895 a miner named John McCann gave a circum-
stantial account of a rich find he had made near Widge-
mooltha, to the south of Coolgardie. On the strength of
his assertions many parties set out for this district, but
no traces of gold were to be seen. There now came a call
for McCann. If he had found gold there, as he declared,
it was up to him to substantiate his story. Men were in
danger of starving on the new field ; some had suffered
terribly in the return journey through the bush. Alarming
rumours of this kind added fuel to the flames. McCann
faced the music, although his goldfield was a myth. He
blamed the local newspapers for magnifying what he had
stated to them, but stoutly declared his willingness to
lead a party to the ground. His offer was accepted. Four
prominent miners accompanied him on the search to
return unsuccessful a few days later. Then the storm burst.

The thousands who had been fooled by what was now
palpably a hoax demanded vengeance on its perpetrator.
The house where McCann was lodged was besieged by the
mob, and for greater security he was removed to the police
station. There was no doubt as to his danger. The temper
of the miners was such that he would have been lynched
had they captured him. A strong body of troopers then



formed up to check any further disturbance, and frustrated
an attempt to wreck the office of one of the offending news-
papers. Fresh trouble, however, broke out when the dis-
appointed goldseekers returned from the Widgemooltha
field, where they had been camped awaiting developments.
McCann's effigy was publicly burnt, while the rioters threat-
ened to wreck some of the buildings. It was some consider-
able time before Inspector McKenna and his police could
allay the excitement, but the mob was at last dispersed
without any great damage being done. McCann, mean-
while, was smuggled out of the town, a badly scared and
thoroughly repentant man.

A riot on a larger scale was occasioned in 1898 by a
decision of the Warden at Kalgoorlie. According to the
Goldfields Act of 1895, section 36, alluvial miners had the
right to search for alluvial gold on leases, with certain
restrictions. In the dispute in question the point was
whether there was a reef on the lease of the Ivanhoe Venture
Syndicate or not. The leaseholders on their side felt
aggrieved that the Act confirmed the existence of dual
titles, those of the leaseholders and those of the claimholders.
The alluvial miners argued that they had a right to the
alluvial gold, no matter at what depth it might be found.
While this confusion of title was leading to friction between
the two parties the Hon. Edward Wittenoom, the Minister
for Mines, got the Government to pass a regulation limiting
the depth to which alluvial could be worked to ten feet.
This ordinance created widespread discontent, for other
goldfields besides Kalgoorlie were affected. " Ten-foot
Ned " became a most unpopular character. The case of
the miners v. the syndicate then went before the Warden,
the result being that the former lost the day.

337 z


Smarting under a sense of their wrongs, a large number
of the alluvial diggers disregarded this decision and con-
tinued to work their claims. Open conflict with the lease-
holders at once ensued. The mounted police were called
out frequently in the course of two months, the miners
becoming more and more determined and threatening in
their attitude. At one time there were as many as forty
troopers in the district, the rioting having assumed a serious
aspect. Many of those who resorted to violence were made
prisoners and conveyed to Fremantle. Sir John Forrest,
the Premier, now visited the goldfields in person, but his
efforts to bring about conciliation met with a cold reception.
There was no course left but to take the dispute into a
court of law. This was eventually done, and the judges
pronounced for the miners. As a consequence the Govern-
ment proceeded to abolish the dual title, and to pass a new
Mining Act (62 Victoria, No. 16) which defined the relations
between leaseholders and claimholders in a more satisfactory

Murders and other crimes of violence on the Coolgardie
fields were extremely rare. The first case that occupied
the attention of the police was the shooting of an Afghan
camel proprietor by a fellow-countryman. The two men
had quarrelled over some matter, and fearing that his
own life was in danger one of them took the aggressive.
The crime was committed with a revolver in a mosque,
the victim being at his prayers. The murderer gave him-
self up to justice readily and was hanged a few months later
at Fremantle.

Not a few Afghans, it may be said, were on the gold-
fields at this period. They acted as water-carriers chiefly,
their camels being able to bring in much heavier loads


than a team of horses. The mounted police had an Afghan
driver attached to the force who instructed them how to
handle the beasts until they were able to manage for them-
selves. Up to about eight years ago camels were largely
used hi police work, but their employment nowadays
would only be necessitated by an expedition which led far
into the interior. The extension of the railway and the
linking up of districts by [telegraph and telephone has
simplified communication considerably.

The absence of a criminal fraternity such as had char-
acterised the older goldfields of New South Wales and
Victoria has been commented upon. The diggers them-
selves aided the authorities to keep the fields purged from