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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grades from cadet to superintendent, was selected, the new
chief entering upon his duties in March 1882.

The following two decades saw the Victorian mounted
police brought to a very high state of efficiency. The
lessons learned during the recent troublous years were not
forgotten, and no pains were spared to horse and arm the



troopers in the best possible manner. Old type carbines
and pistols were discarded, the newest patterns being ob-
tained. To afford adequate protection to outlying districts
several new stations were opened, with the result that the
State ere long was regularly patrolled from one end to the
other. Chief Commissioner Chomley's reign was not marked
by any serious outbreak. It is remarkable for a decrease
in crime, a continuous strengthening of the power of the
police, and for administrative work quietly but most effec-
tively carried out.

When in 1902 Mr. Chomley retired on a superannuation
allowance he was succeeded by the present Chief Commis-
sioner, Mr. Thomas O'Callaghan. Thirty-five years of
distinguished service in the force * had well earned Mr.
O'Callaghan this promotion, and he has proved its justi-
fication by his firm grasp of affairs. At the present day the
Victorian police particularly the mounted branch can
vie with any in the continent for smartness and ability.

For police administrative purposes the State is di-
vided into ten districts as follows, the headquarters in each
case being given in brackets : Melbourne (Russell Street),
Bourke (Police Depot, St. Kilda Road), Central (Ballarat),
North-western (Bendigo), Western (Hamilton), North-
eastern (Benalla), Gippsland (Sale), Southern (Geelong),
Midland (Maryborough), Wimmera (Stawell). In all,
mounted and foot, the force distributed over these points
totals 1,638. Of this number but 271 are mounted men, a
considerable reduction in strength having taken place after
the last bushranging era had passed. It is a striking tribute

1 Mr. O'Callaghan entered the police service in 1867 as a detective ;
was promoted Sub-Inspector February 1886, Inspector January 1892,
Superintendent January 1895, Inspecting Superintendent January 1898,
and Chief Commissioner July 1902.



to the power of a trooper that out of the 417 Police Stations
in the State there are 165 at which a mounted constable
is the only representative of authority.

The duties may be prosaic enough in these matter-of-fact
days of the railway and telegraph, but there is an appealing
picturesque touch about the solitary blue-coated, helmeted
trooper at Wallaloo or Mudgeegonga, as the case may be,
ruler of a good many square miles, doing several men's
work in one and doing it remarkably well. In the country
districts, in what may be termed generally " the bush,"
the mounted constable is a highly important personage.
" Out back there," said an officer to the writer, " the police
are in absolute fact the Government. There's a good deal
that they have to do off their own bat, so to speak, but they
don't blow about it. It's just done, that's all."

To join the mounted police of Victoria l one must be
between twenty and twenty-five years of age, and at least
5 feet 9 inches in height. A recruit, having passed the
medical officer and a preliminary riding test, has then to be
approved by the Chief Commissioner, after which, if suc-
cessful, he is attached to the Depot for a course of instruc-
tion. The education of a mounted policeman at the St.
Kilda Road barracks in Melbourne is much the same as that
received by the New South Wales trooper, and need not be
dwelt upon in detail. He attends lectures on police duties,
while under Sub-Inspector Allcock 2 he learns his mounted
and dismounted drill. Musketry and revolver practice is

1 Up to about 1876 men trained in the Garrison Artillery were mostly
chosen for this branch of the service. Alter that date the range became

2 Formerly of the 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers, and
instructor to the Rupertswood Battery of Victorian Horse Artillery up to
the time of its disbandment.



provided for at the rifle ranges at Williamstown or Ell wood.
Swimming and life-saving drill is a compulsory subject.
In the physical drill curriculum the art of ju-jitsu is now
being taken up by many of the troopers, but this is quite
optional. Probably the future will see this special branch
of self-defence become a more important feature of in-

The uniform of the mounted policeman has undergone
little change from that of the earlier period referred to on
page 234. Blue cloth tunics and jumpers, trousers of
similar material, riding breeches and high knee-boots
of the usual pattern, are the order of the day. Brown
dog-skin gloves are worn by both officers and men. The
helmet is of the customary style, the white one of light make
for summer use being shown in the illustration of Victorian
troopers on another page.

In the matter of pay the mounted man has nothing to
grumble at. The rate compares favourably with that, say,
of the Royal North- West Mounted Police of Canada to
whom he approximates most nearly. Here is the scale :
Constables : Under two years' service, 65. Qd. per day ;
over two and under four years, 7s. ; over four and under
six years, 7s. Qd. ; over six and under ten years, 8s. ;
over ten years, 8s. Qd. to lls. ; Senior Constables, 8s.
to 9s. ; Sergeants (1st and 2nd class), from 10s. Qd. to
12s. Qd. ; Sub-Inspectors, 255 per annum ; Inspectors,
300 ; Superintendents, 375 ; Inspecting Superintendents,
500. Pensions on a liberal scale are granted to members
of the force on retirement. 1

1 Members of the Force who were appointed before the 25th November,
1902, are entitled to pensions or gratuities (as provided in Part 3 of the
Police Regulations Act, 1890) on their retirement from the service. (Act



While unmarried constables, and married sub-officers
or constables in charge of stations, are provided with free
Government quarters, an allowance of Qd. per day is granted
to married men living out of barracks in lieu of quarters,
fuel, light and water. Inspectors and sub-inspectors receive
the generous sum of 70, and superintendents 90, per
annum, in lieu of quarters, with free fuel, light and water.
So that, taken all round, the lot of the mounted policeman
of Victoria is not the unhappy one sung of in Sir William
Gilbert's ballad. He is a picked man, however, and worth
his price, and the Australian citizen who contributes to his
maintenance may well be proud of him.

1127, as amended bjrAct No. 1412). Members of the Force who were ap-
pointed after the 25th November, 1 902, or who may hereafter be appointed,
are not, and will not be, entitled to either pension or gratuity on retire-
ment (Act No. 1798)." Victorian Police Code.




First settlement, 1836 Adelaide founded Governor Hindmarsh
Colonel Gawler Early troubles Sir George Grey Police Act of 1839
Inspector Inman Major O'Halloran, first Commissioner The
police in 1840 Uniform Undesirable immigrants Jack Foley
" The black-faced robbers " Cattle-duffers A trooper's hallucina-
tion After aboriginal murderers Commissioner B. T. Finniss Mr
G. F. Dashwood Mr. Alexander Tolmer Inspector Alford Major
Egerton-Warburton Later Commissioners Consolidating Police
Act Expansion of the colony Growth of the force Crime
Northern Territory Tom Egan's fate Police of to-day Commis-
sioner W. H. Raymond Distribution Scrub and desert Varied
duties Camels Training and equipment.

THE founding of the first settlement in South Australia
was effected in 1836, on the lines laid down by Edward
Gibbon Wakefield, the economist. 1 In the spring of that year
two shiploads of colonists left England, among them being
Colonel Light, holding the appointment of Surveyor-General.
His Excellency the Governor, Captain (afterwards Sir) John
Hindmarsh, R.N., followed some months later to proclaim
" His Majesty's Province of South Australia."

From Hold Fast Bay, where the landing was made,
the settlers migrated to the spot on which the present fine
city of Adelaide stands. There were dark days to begin with,
days of privation and unremitting toil. Everything was in
the rough. Huts of reeds had to be hastily run up to house
the population, but the men and women were of the right

1 See page 31.
_ 247


stamp and the work of colonisation went steadily, if slowly,
forward. That mistakes were made was not surprising to
those critics who realised how ineffectual ideal theories
were when put into practice. The weak points in Wake-
field's scheme evidenced themselves before very long.
To add to the difficulties of the land question came dissen-
sions between the Governor and certain of the leading settlers,
with the result that the finances of the colony sank low.
After two years' troublous rule Captain Hindmarsh was
recalled, and Colonel Gawler appointed in his place. The
story of the three successive years' ups and downs is too
long to be told here : suffice it to say that the new Governor
incurred the displeasure of the home authorities by his
excessive expenditure of money on public works, and that
he too was called upon to resign.

At this critical stage of affairs Captain (afterwards Sir)
George Grey was selected by the Colonial Office to restore
order out of seeming chaos. The right man had now been
found for the task. The statesmanlike qualities which in
later years found wider scope in Cape Colony and New
Zealand were displayed in a new policy of retrenchment and
reform. Under his skilful management the land which
many had left undeveloped after the boom had subsided
was made to yield profitable labour, and scores of settlers
who were thinking of quitting the colony for Victoria or
New South Wales remained to reap the rich rewards of their
enterprise. Within four years from Grey's arrival in 1841
the population had nearly doubled itself, while the area of
tilled land had risen from 2,500 to 26,000 acres.

One of the earliest acts of the first Legislative Council
of the new province was to pass an ordinance authorising
the formation of a police force. This measure was agreed to




in 1839, Colonel Gawler being Governor. Owing to the
exclusion of the convict labour that had been the bane of
New South Wales, South Australia escaped many of the
initial trials of the older settlement. Unfortunately, how-
ever, proper precautions were not taken to supervise the
landing of immigrants, and in the course of a few years a
large number of undesirables found their way into the colony.
Vessels bound from Hobart and Melbourne brought escaped
convicts, ticket-of -leave men and emancipists, to sow the
seeds of crime in the community. Others arrived by the
overland route, having joined stock parties in various

As the colony grew, therefore, the need for police pro-
tection became more urgent. In 1838 Mr. Henry Inman
had been placed in command of a small body of police, foot
and mounted, with the title of Inspector. In the following
year he was given the rank of Superintendent. At this
period the force numbered only three other officers, an
inspector of mounted police and an inspector and sub-
inspector of foot. Both of these branches were badly in
need of discipline, and on the dismissal of Mr. Inman, whose
conduct was unsatisfactory, the Board of Police Commis-
sioners the ruling power brought about drastic changes.
The office of Superintendent was abolished : the mounted
and foot police were regarded as two distinct forces, each
being entrusted to the command of a separate inspector :
lastly a permanent Commissioner of Police was appointed
to exercise general control over the whole force. This chief
officer was also empowered to sit as a magistrate.

In June 1840, the official Gazette announced the dis-
solution of the Board and the appointment of Major Thomas
Shuldham O'Halloran as first Commissioner. Inspector



Stuart was placed over the Metropolitan and Port police,
while Sub-Inspector Alexander Tolmer was given command
of the mounted police as Inspector.

The new chief was a retired army officer who had seen
considerable service in India and Burma. On throwing
up his commission Major O'Halloran emigrated with his
family to South Australia to settle near Glenelg, at a place
which was named after him O'Halloran Hill. Within a few
months he was nominated a justice of the Peace, and very
soon afterwards was asked by Colonel Gawler to undertake
the reconstruction of the police service. In this direction
he was eminently successful, the force being placed on a basis
that ensured its providing adequate support to the little

From the published records of Inspector Tolmer, who
was himself destined to become Commissioner in the course
of time, we learn some interesting facts about the mounted
police of those early South Australian days. New barracks
and stables were prepared for the troopers, who up to this
time had been quartered here and there in different public-
houses and private lodgings.

" The barracks," he says, " consisted of two wings,
each containing three small rooms, one of which was set
apart as a guard-room, cook-house and mess-room ; three
were sleeping apartments ; and the other two (in the west
wing) were especially made over to my own use. The whole
structure was built of pise, 1 with paling roofs. The stables
extended from wing to wing, were built of broad palings, and
afforded accommodation for about twenty horses, with a
loft above for hay. Fronting the stables a paling fence
extended right across the yard, with a wide gate in the centre,

1 Hard earth or clay rammed into mould*.
- 250


the whole forming a square. Subsequently a small brick
room, which was used as an office, was added to the western

The uniform of the troopers was neat and effective,
comprising a double-breasted blue cloth jacket with white
buttons, a blue cloth cap with white band, and blue cloth
trousers with white piping down the seams. For summer
wear trousers of white drill were substituted. The riding
breeches were of the usual cord. In addition to the police
carbine the mounted man carried a sword, with black belt
and pouch, the regulations further ordering the use of white
cotton gloves. This outfit, it will be understood, was in the
main " full dress " such as would be worn on parade ;
while on active service some features of it would naturally
be dispensed with.

With the constant arrival of all kinds of immigrants, so
many of whom belonged to the criminal class, the mounted
police were kept hard at work hi their task of supervision. 1
A large number of the worst characters made their home in
the back district known as " The Tiers," in the deep thickly-
timbered ravines of which they built themselves log huts.
It was an ideal haunt for cattle-stealers and midnight
marauders, the surrounding bush making it difficult to fol-
low their tracks. Among those who thus came into the
colony under the protection of overland stock parties was
one Jack Foley, who affords the only instance, perhaps, of a
bushranger turning policeman. His early career is typical
of a hundred others.

1 As illustrative of the character of the criminal class, it may be noted
that at the gaol delivery at Adelaide on March 3rd, 1840, out of thirty
prisoners only one was convicted who had come to the colony direct from
England. The majority were ex-convicts or escapees from the penal



Foley, whose real name was Lovett, escaped from New
South Wales with two more convicts, all three having been
sentenced to a " life " term. His companions, Stone and
Stanley, were ruffians of a worse stamp than Foley himself,
and the last-named separated himself from them on reach-
ing South Australian soil. He had done some bushranging
before being laid by the heels, but there is no record of his
having taken any life. His particular line of business was
horse-stealing, in which he was expert. However, having
shaken off the dust of New South Wales and, as he hoped,
blotted out his past, Foley struck out a new line for himself.

The point at which he decided to stop was Encounter
Bay, where a whaling station had been formed. Here he
eked out an existence by supplying the little community with
kangaroo flesh and other game. For a time all seemed to
go well, then some of his customers grew suspicious of this
solitary hunter who was reticent about his antecedents, and
a trap was laid for him. The settlement was running short
of stores ; it was necessary to send to Adelaide for supplies.
Foley was now asked whether he would mind acting as
messenger. At first he refused, fearing that the police would
be furnished with the New South Wales Hue and Cry, and
that he would be recognised, but on persuasion he consented
to go. A letter was given him to present to the manager of
the Bank of South Australia.

Arrived in the city Foley executed his mission. At
the bank he was invited to partake of a meal in the kitchen,
the manager meanwhile acting on the hint contained in the
letter. A little later Superintendent Inman made his
appearance, strolling in casually and taking up the visitor's
double-barrelled gun as if idly examining it. But Foley's
suspicions were aroused. In a few moments he made a dash



for the door and was on his horse by the time the officer
reached him.

" You're my prisoner," exclaimed Inman, who had
identified him as an absconder.

The other made no answer, but drew a pistol from his
belt. Inman clutched at this instantly, his fingers closing
round the lock, the flint of which cut them. This action,
however, prevented the weapon's discharge, and Foley
was compelled to surrender. In due course he was brought
before the Resident Magistrate, when it was found that the
Court had no jurisdiction as to offences committed out of
the colony. The prisoner was accordingly released, and
Superintendent Inman found it no difficult matter to induce
him to help in tracking the wanted men Stone and Stanley.
Not long afterwards Foley became an auxiliary member of
the police force, in which capacity he rendered much valu-
able service. Eventually he returned to England, to end his
days there.

A notorious gang which was broken up by Inspector
Tolmer was that of the " black-faced robbers," headed by
Joseph Storey. These desperadoes pursued a somewhat
lengthy career of cattle-stealing in the ranges, their practice
of burning the skins making it almost impossible to bring
any crime home to them. After the police had rendered
the game too dangerous the gang turned to raiding settlers'
houses, wearing black masks for disguise. But it was not
long before nemesis overtook them. Sergeant-Ma j or Alford
of the mounted police got upon their track, and Storey
was arrested with several others. The ringleader was con-
demned to death, but this sentence was afterwards com-
muted to transportation for life to Van Diemen's Land.

In the case of the cattle-stealers (or " duffers," as the


colonial term is,) Brodrip and Gofton, who flourished in
the Black Forest at this time, there was a curious sequel.
The two men were arrested by Alford and Trooper Naughton,
but Gofton succeeded in making his escape. The next
development was the discovery of the latter's body in the
bush, where he had been foully murdered. For this crime
another man, Stagg, was convicted and executed, there being
no doubt as to his guilt. However, some time after Trooper
Lomas of the mounted police made a startling declaration
to the effect that he was the actual murderer. An investi-
gation proved conclusively that the trooper was the victim
of a hallucination, and he was acquitted of the charge.
Lomas then left the force and the colony, his subsequent
conduct making it clear that his mind was permanently
deranged. There was good reason to believe, nevertheless,
that he had been false to his oath and had acted in collusion
with the cattle-duffers. The ease with which they had
baffled the police was traceable to his timely warnings.

One of the most notable of the police hunts which
Commissioner O'Halloran organised during his command,
occurred when the crew and passengers of the brig Maria
were murdered by blacks. This was in June 1840. With
Inspector Tolmer and a score of troopers, and a party of
civilian volunteers, the Commissioner made a long journey
into the country bordering on the Murray River. The
culprits were known to belong to the " Big Murray Tribe,"
notorious for their ferocity, and the chase at last ended
with the blacks being rounded up. Two natives were then
yielded into the hands of the police as the actual criminals,
this being in accordance with a recognised custom among
the aborigines. When a number combined to commit a
murder the man known to have thrown the weapon which

254 ~


caused the death wound was regarded as the murderer. The
remainder of the tribe were considered to be innocent, de-
spite the fact that all, or most of them, had been joyously
engaged in throwing their spears at the same time.

This peculiar tribal law was understood and accepted
by the whites. The two prisoners were therefore tried at a
drumhead court-martial on the spot, hi the presence of the
other blacks, and on the folio whig day were hanged over the
grave of their victims.

In 1843 Major O'Halloran retired from the post of
Commissioner of Police. His successor, Mr. Boyle Travers
Finniss, was one of the pioneer party that had landed in South
Australia seven years previously, his appointment being
Assistant Surveyor under Colonel Light. Mr. Finniss, who
later entered upon a distinguished political career, 1 held
office for nearly six years, giving place to Mr. G. F. Dash-
wood. During the latter's reign Mr. Tolmer, promoted to
Superintendent of the mounted police, acted temporarily as
Commissioner for fifteen months, and, as was to be expected,
he succeeded to that high office on Mr. Dashwood's re-
signation in 1852.

The next year was marked by considerable confusion
in police administration. Without entering into contro-
versial matters, it may be said that bitter jealousies existed
among the principal officers of the force. Mr. Tolmer was
a man of undoubted ability, and by his zealous work in the
past had well deserved his promotion. He was, however,

1 The Hon. B. T. Finniss held the appointments of Colonial Treasurer
and Registrar-General in 1846, becoming Colonial Secretary two years later
under Governor Sir H. E. F. Young. In 1854 he administered affairs as
Acting Governor until Sir R. G. MacDonnell arrived in the colony. Ten
years afterwards he headed the Government Survey party which proceeded
to the Northern Territory, and assisted in founding the first settlement


somewhat hot-tempered, and his bearing to those who served
under him made him strong enemies. Among his chief
opponents was Inspector Alford, a man with whom he had
been associated closely in many a case. Alford, by the way,
could boast of longer service hi the force than any of his
superiors. He had volunteered to act as policeman as
far back as 1837, in the days before a regular force had been

As a result of the charges preferred against Mr. Tolmer,
charges reflecting seriously both on his public and private
character, a Board of Inquiry recommended his removal
from office. With his dismissal from the force which fol-
lowed Mr. Tolmer's remarkable career practically ended. 1
He found it impossible to return to the police service, and
after an unsuccessful attempt to become explorer in the
interior he accepted the minor position of Crown Lands

Senior Inspector C. W. Stuart was Acting-Commissioner
for several months until the appointment was offered to
Major Peter Egerton-Warburton, whose exploits as an
explorer have been alluded to in a previous chapter. After
him came Mr. George Hamilton (1867 to 1882), Mr. Peters-
wald (1882 to 1896), and Colonel L. G. Madley (1896 to
1909). With these changes an important development in
police administration has to be chronicled. Up to the end
of Major Warburton's tenure of office the force continued
under the original Act of 1839, but under Commissioner
Hamilton the 1869-70 session of Parliament passed a new

Online LibraryA. L. (Arthur Lincoln) HaydonThe trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time → online text (page 19 of 32)