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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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 27 of 32)
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country, and it could be easily identified. The owner
followed up the trail to where it had been driven, to Mrs.

B 's home, in fact, and promptly asked for his property.

The lady met him at the door of her abode, a roughly built
wooden hut containing two rooms.

" You've got my steer, Mrs. B ," said the stockman.

" Not me," was the answer.

" Well, I'm coming in to have a look round."

" If you set foot in my house, Sam Hollams," exclaimed
the lady, " I'll brain you ! "

Sam Hollams camped outside to keep a watch on the
place, and sent off a man to procure a search-warrant. In
due course two police troopers arrived on the scene, in the

353 AA


face of which authority Mrs. B threw open her door. On

the hut being searched some freshly killed meat was found
in a tub, and this, Hollams firmly believed, represented his
missing steer. But there was no evidence. Where was the
hide ? Every corner of the place was ransacked, and at

last old Mrs. B herself was bundled out of bed to allow of

that useful piece of furniture being examined. Then, from
under the mattress, was dragged a hide, but it was a white
one ; that of a Hereford is, of course, brown.

Nonplussed for the moment, the police rode off to a
neighbouring selector.

" Have you lost any cattle lately, Mr. Campbell ? " they

" No, I don't think so," said the other.

" Not a white cow ? Are you sure ? "

" As sure as I can be without rounding up my lot."

" Well," said the senior of the two troopers, " just come

over to Mrs. B 's and have a look at the hide we've


The selector followed them to the hut and there identified
the brand on the hide as being his. This was good enough

to proceed upon, and Mrs. B was arrested. But at the

trial she was able to prove that one of the young Campbells
had actually offered her a cow ; she had taken the white
one by mistake. The case at once fell through. That the
fresh meat was the Hereford steer there could be no doubt.
The brown hide had been burnt or buried, while the other

skin was kept to shield it. Mrs. B had a narrow escape

of being convicted more than once after that episode, but
though she was able to snap her fingers in the face of the
police, the old adage about the pitcher that goes often
to the well proved its truth in her case. She was eventually



sent to prison for a long term, and her part of the country
enjoyed a pleasing rest from cattle-thieving.

In the north-west of Australia, in the Kimberleys, some
years ago there was a notorious character, a " king of cattle-
duffers," whom we will call] Jack Burrell. He was an expert
stockman of the first grade. When a large mob of cattle
had to be taken across rivers in flood time there was no one
more in request than he. Station owners would hire him on
such occasions and pay heavily for his services rather than
risk their beasts to less skilful management. They were
well aware, at the same time, that Burrell would take toll
from the mob. That had to be put up with. The usual
thing that happened was a stampede at night. In the
morning the cattle would be rounded up again, but one or
two were sure to be missing. Burrell's friends knew of their

A stampede can be effected in several ways. Cattle are
not difficult to frighten. With Burrell the trick was as
follows. He owned a famous trotting cob named Tom Tit,
which he had trained perfectly. On the cattle coming to a
halting-place, such as the Black Swamp, near Deniliquin,
N.S.W., on the road to Sydney, he would wait till night and
then cover himself and Tom Tit with a long white sheet. To
guide the cob with his feet was a simple matter, and as the
two plunged into the mass of cattle the panic was set in
motion. The next day he was again busy on Tom Tit,
earning a reward for recapturing the scared animals.

This horse of Burrell's was almost as clever as its master.
In flood time it worked alone in the water on one side of the
surging cattle as they swam across a river, while Burrell
attended to the other side. The cob obeyed orders by word
of mouth or the motion of a hand in a truly wonderful man-



ner. In addition to this valuable helper the stockman
owned a cow and a calf, each of which he had trained care-
fully. They were taught to lead the mobs over the rivers
and prevent them from " ringing," that is, circling in the
water instead of going right ahead. Cattlemen in the west
cherish a vivid memory of Burrell's " trick cow and calf."

The end of Tom Tit was a sad one. When he saw camels
for the first time he took fright, reared and fell so badly that
he broke his legs. There was no hope of saving his life ; a
police trooper mercifully shot him. Burrell sorrowed greatly
over the loss of his faithful servant, and duly took his
revenge. He shot fifteen camels before he went away. It
was never proved that he did so, for his rifle could not be
found, but the wise ones had their own reasons for knowing
the truth.

Although it does not bear on the subject of cattle-duffing,
there is a story about Jack Burrell that may be considered
worth recalling. It points the saying that to be a good rogue
you must be a clever rogue. A robbery had occurred
between Whitecliffes and Wilcania, a parcel of opals having
been snatched from the coach that passed over the route.
The actual thief was a youth who had succumbed to a
sudden temptation, but Burrell was popularly credited with
the deed.

" You must have made a good haul that time, Jack,"
said a friend.

Jack swore that he wasn't the culprit, as at the time of
the robbery he was a hundred miles away. " But," he
added significantly, " the next time it happens you can bet
I shall be in it ! "

Not many weeks later the coach was again robbed,
despite the fact that a police guard sat on the box-seat by the



driver. The basket containing the opals had been placed
in the rear of the vehicle, but no one saw it disappear. Bur-
rell's boast being recalled to mind, he was taxed with the
theft. He denied it vehemently, and what was more to the
point, was able to bring conclusive evidence that he was at a
certain township a good many miles distant on the evening
of the occurrence, both before the time of the robbery and
after. His evidence was not only irrefutable, it was true.
By means of a relay of swift horses he had ridden from the
township to the scene of the robbery and back, covering the
distance hi an incredibly short time. And no one knew this
until long afterwards, when the incident had been for-

How a horse-thief was cleverly bowled out was related
to the writer by a Victorian mounted police inspector. This
officer was riding along a bush road with a brother trooper,
both being in plain clothes, when they met an individual for
whom they had long looked. He was a farmer strongly
suspected of stealing horses, but hitherto shrewd enough to
cover his tracks successfully. The two policemen reined
in their animals, and critically inspected the three horses
which the other man had in tow behind him.

" Do you care about selling any ? " asked Inspector
R casually.

" Yes, at my price," returned the farmer.

" And what's that ? "

" 20 apiece," came the answer.

The Inspector glanced at his companion. " They
wouldn't fetch much in India, would they ? " he queried.
The other officer gave his opinion on the Indian market and
they exchanged comments on the animals. This assured the
farmer that he had to bargain with two genuine dealers,


and he hastened to add that he had several other horses for

After some haggling a deal was apparently brought off.
Then, as he had averred that the horses had been bought
by him in the first place, the farmer was requested to pro-
duce his receipts. He willingly complied. Inspector R

looked at them closely, as also did his brother officer. The
papers were all hi the same handwriting and the different
signatures were obviously from the same pen.

" Yes," said R , " quite satisfactory. Now we'd

better tell you who we are."

Conviction followed quickly upon arrest, and a danger-
ous horse-thief went into penal servitude for fifteen years.

In the hunting down and capturing of rogues of this
description police troopers have frequently to go very far
afield. A ride of two or three hundred miles counts for
little in their eyes. Australia is a country of immense dis-
tances, and away from the railway line one must push
through the endless leagues of bush and scrub on horse or
camel as may be. It was a long journey that Mounted
Constable Freeman, of the West Australian force, took in
the apprehension of horse-thief and cattle-duffer Bridges,
some years back. It even led him from his own State into
the recesses of the Northern Territory. As an example of
how a trooper carries out his duty after receiving his instruc-
tions it will bear narration in full. We may note, too, in
passing, the tribute that is paid to the black tracker engaged
in the pursuit.

The prisoner, Benjamin Bridges, was an escapee from
Murrurundi Gaol, New South Wales, where he had been
serving a ten years' sentence for horse-stealing. While in
the Kimberley district he had worked on several stations,



doing a little " duffing " on his own account when possible.
It should be mentioned, further, that several constables and
trackers had previously tried to get on the trail of this man,
but without avail. Freeman's success was largely due to
his skill as a bushman, which one will appreciate the more
remembering the difficult nature of the north-west back
country. Here is his account of his long trip.



Jan. 1, 1900.

" I beg to report that on the 2nd of November last,
whilst on patrol with P.O. McGinley on Argyle Station, I met
a stranger with two packhorses and boy. From description I
recognized him as Benjamin Bridges, for whom a warrant is
out for escaping from custody both in Queensland and New
South Wales. I called on him to stand, and in reply he
galloped away. We pursued him until the police horses
we were riding collapsed and he got out of our sight. I then
got a fresh horse from the head stockman on Argyle and one
for native assistant Pluto, and tracked him into the Ord
River and from there into W. Long and W. Irwin's camp
(these men are making a paddock for the Argyle people).
Here I found his horse, quite knocked up, tied up in the river,
and from the tracks concluded that he had got a fresh horse
and gone. Tracking from here is impossible, owing to the
great number of shod horses about the camp and to constant
visits of men from Argyle Station and elsewhere.

" I went back to Argyle Station and found P.O. McGinley
had got Bridges' boy and packhorses, went on to Rosewood
in the night, and next day down on to the Auvergne



road, where I met Bridges' other boy with more horses and
packs. The boy told me he had not seen his ' boss.' I took
the boy, horses and packs back to Rosewood, and next day
started P.O. McGinley down to Wyndham with them. I
myself, taking one native assistant and Bridges' boy,
' Larry,' went straight through the bush for Auvergne
Station, where Bridges had been camping and, having
satisfied myself that he had not been in that direction, came
back to Argyle where I heard that he had been seen in the
mountains near W. Irwin's camp. I spent three days and
nights in the mountains on foot, but could get no trace of him.
Went back to Police Camp, shod fresh horses and went out on
top end of Lissadell Run, got tracks on Blackfellows' Creek,
ran them to Cartridge Springs, found Bridges' horse, ' Via-
long,' camped hi vicinity of the Springs for three weeks,
leaving horses and camps in Limestone and myself and boys
watching the house and surrounding hills night and day.
I saw tracks of the offender several times, but could make
nothing of them and was afraid to show myself in the day-

" On the 13th of December saw where McAttee (who is
looking after Cartridge) had ridden on to my tracks and seen
where my horses were. As it was useless to stop longer, I
went down to Turkey Creek in the night and got fresh
supply of rations, wired to headquarters and shod horses,
arrested man Annois per instructions from headquarters,
and detained him until arrival of P.C. O'Brien with warrant.
I then handed over prisoner, and left to follow the tracks
of a man named Joseph Stevenson, who is, I know, a friend
and adherent of Bridges, and who has been poking about
Turkey Creek in a very suspicious manner for the last four
or five days. Ran his tracks to Bow River 20 miles, saw



where he had had a drink of water and started straight back
again. Camped, and self and boy spent day looking for
tracks. About 3 p.m. cut track of man walking in nailed
boots and native barefooted. Felt certain this was my
man, so followed it up till night. Camped near Mt. Pitt ;
no water.

" Next day (22nd) left camp at daylight on foot, followed
tracks all day along base of Mt. Pitt, all on stones (wonder-
ful tracking here on part of native Pluto), and had terribly
hard time. Could not make one mile an hour ; no water,
sun very fierce. Saw where Bridges had come to an old
soak just dry, and had scraped up wet mud to rub over him-
self to cool his skin. Saw also where he had stumbled
and fallen several times, probably from exhaustion. At
sundown reached spring at south-east side of Mt. Pitt, saw
where Bridges had camped about two or three days before.
Went up into the hill to try and escape mosquitoes and
slept ; quite knocked up, no food. At daylight sent boy
Larry back for horses, and, as tracks were heading for spring
on east point of Mt. Pitt, went straight for it, got water,
which was very acceptable, followed tracks all day track-
ing terribly slow, tedious work. Horses caught us up at
sundown ; cooked some food and had supper. Had short
sleep, and in the night walked to Mt. Eveline (Station Hill)
and tried to find camp fire. I knew L. Deignhardt was
camped on a spring somewhere about this mountain, and
offender would be sure to make there.

" Could see no fires, so returned to camp at daylight,
had breakfast and sleep ; afterwards packed up and went
on to junction of Limestone Creek and Bow River. Got
there at sundown, obtained fresh horse and rode into Lissadell
Station at 8 p.m. All asleep there, woke up J. J. Durack,



manager, ascertained from him where Deignhardt was
camped, about five miles from station, had some supper,
left station at 10 p.m., went to within two miles of Deign-
hardt 's camp, let horses go, and went on on foot all night
trying to find spring. Very unpleasant owing to rain.
Towards daylight found camp, got into it unseen and saw
all occupants ; Bridges not there, but his other boy was.
Boy told me that Bridges had left three days ago on horse-
back for Auvergne (riding one shod horse). I took boy,
went back and got horses and pack, came off to Lissadell
Station, had dinner (Christmas Day), shod three horses, left
3 p.m. and went due west trying to cut tracks. Camped
on Blackfellows' Creek.

" Next morning got track of one shod horse going in
direction of Denham, followed tracks which left route
generally taken over ' jump up ' and which went straight
over ranges. I think Bridges lost his whereabouts here.
We followed on foot ; terrible job getting horses over range.
Got down at sundown and camped on Cabbage Tree Creek.
Next day ran tracks to Denham River, near house, left
packs, took native assistant Pluto and rode towards house.
When near house saw horse tied up to tree outside ; left
native assistant to watch it and told him if any man ran
from the house towards it, and I shouted to him, he was to
shoot it and so prevent further escaping on horseback.
Myself rode straight to the house.

" No one saw me coming. Just as I pulled up in front
of verandah I recognised offender in the room inside, talking
to some one. He looked up, saw me jump from the horse,
and with an exclamation ran out into the back verandah.
I rushed after and overtook him in corner of verandah and,
thinking he was armed, covered him with my revolver and



told him to stand. He obeyed, and I called up the native
Pluto, who got my handcuffs from my saddle-bag. Having
secured offender I told him who I thought he was and form-
ally arrested him, warning him as to making any statement.
He only said, ' You have caught me fair. For God's sake
don't put more chains on me than you can help ! ' I told
him that it depended on himself how he got treated and
took him to the camp. I left that afternoon and came six
or seven miles ; next day came to the Twenty Mile ; then
to Wyndham, and handed prisoner over to Wyndham

" I feel bound to state that this prisoner gave me not
the slightest trouble during the time I had him under arrest.
I had him handcuffed day and night, and at night chained
his leg to my own. He all the time behaved exceedingly
well, and used to assist in getting away in the mornings
by every means in his power, catching and saddling his own

" I was on the trail of this offender from the 2nd of
November to the 27th of December, and 'during that time had
absolutely no real rest night or day, and was exposed to all
the changes of the weather. It is greatly to this that I
attribute my health collapsing. I cannot speak too highly
of the unfailing energy and tireless persistency of native
assistant Pluto, who tracked this man every yard of the wa}^
he went. I do not believe there is another native in the
district who could do it, and am certain there is not one who
would not have got disheartened and lazy by our continual
failure to run our man to earth. This boy was all the time
just as eager and determined as myself, and but for him, I
could never have had the chance of arresting Bridges.
"A. FREEMAN, M.C. No. 192.''


To this illuminating record it may be added that Trooper
Freeman was rewarded with immediate promotion to the
rank of corporal and a money grant of 50 from the New
South Wales Government. Of this sum 5 was to be laid
out in purchasing suitable presents for native tracker Pluto.
" Offender " Bridges was returned to Sydney under escort,
and re-sentenced to two years' hard labour.




The Moreton Bay settlement Convict town Expansion Convictism
again The anti-transportation movement Dr. Lang Free immi-
gration Black troubles Native Mounted Police formed Frederick
Walker Disbandment and re- organisation Brutal methods Uni-
form and distribution Early days Mr. E. B. Kennedy Amour
propre Mr. G. Murray Police force established Gold discoveries
Mount Morgan mine A gold escort tragedy Cattle-duffing and a
murder Mr. D. T. Seymour, Commissioner Police duties Mr. W. E.
Parry-Okeden, I.S.O., Commissioner Major W. G. Cahill, Commis-
sioner Rank and pay Present distribution.

THE discovery of the Brisbane River in 1823 was the
first step towards the settling of the future great
colony of Queensland. Flinders had seen its mouth twenty-
four years earlier, but had passed on without suspicion of the
noble stream so near. It was left to Surveyor-General
Oxley to proclaim its existence, and even then Oxley owed
his knowledge to two castaway seamen who had been
living among the blacks on the mainland. The Surveyor-
General had been sent north from Sydney with instructions
to find a spot suitable for a convict settlement. The three
penal establishments of Hobart, Norfolk Island and Port
Macquarie were overcrowded ; a fourth was necessary. Dis-
approving of Port Curtis, his original destination, Oxley
reported favourably on the district round Moreton Bay,
into which the Brisbane empties itself, and the Government



prepared to occupy it. Thus it was that Queensland started
on her career with the undesirable taint of convictism.

The first batch of prisoners was despatched from Sydney
in September 1824, and eventually settled down on the
present site of Brisbane fourteen miles up the river. Fol-
lowing the system of the other convict establishments, that
of Moreton Bay had its separate classes of criminals, among
whom the work of road-making, building, etc., was appor-
tioned. The " incorrigibles " were not few in number.
Captains Millar, Bishop and Logan, the early commandants,
had an unenviable task in ruling the little settlement.
When, in 1829, female convicts were added to the list, the
difficulties were increased immeasurably. The eighteen
years of convictism which marked the first half of the pre-
separation period are the " dark ages " of the colony. All
the barbarisms of Van Diemen's Land, the brutality, cor-
ruption and immorality, were repeated, particularly the
recourse to the lash. Old-timers have left many records of
the terrible scenes that used to be witnessed when a batch
of prisoners underwent flogging. As many as thirty or forty
would sometimes receive flagellation in the two hours between
eight and ten in the morning, the men being strapped to
triangles, and we read that the cobblestones ran with blood.

The last draft of convicts under the old regime reached
Brisbane in 1839. In New South Wales the agitation for
the abolition of transportation was then fast gathering
in volume. As we have seen, the system came to an end in
the following year. In Moreton Bay, however, while the
prison roll was not augmented, the conditions remained
practically the same until 1842. Then news came that the
settlement was thrown open to free immigration, and shortly
after Lieutenant Gorman, the last of the commandants,



resigned the control of affairs. He was succeeded by Dr.
Simpson, who had been appointed Acting Police Magistrate
for the district, and who, in turn, was superseded by Captain
J. C. Wickham. With the ordinary machinery of Govern-
ment for a free community provided, and the public sale of
lands pushed forward, settlers were attracted to the embryo
colony. There was a wide field before them. Allan Cun-
ningham and successive explorers had made known the
Darling Downs and the basin of the Fitzroy, and the west-
ward country of the Maranoa, the Barcoo, and the Thomson,
and into these fertile, well-watered valleys the squatters
quickly followed.

This extension of settlement had the ultimate effect
of threatening the Moreton Bay district with a fresh danger
of convictism. In 1849 Earl Grey urged that " as England
had spent large sums of money in New South Wales, the
colonists in return should assist the motherland by taking
charge of some of her criminals," and in support of this
view he proposed that Moreton Bay should be made a place
to which transported felons might be sent ; and that it
should be separated from New South Wales for that purpose.
His proposition received no small measure of support from
the squatters, who found labour scarce. The Colonial
Secretary intimated that he intended to send out with the
convicts their wives and families, together with the wives
and families of military pensioners, and girls from the work-
houses. In accordance with this plan the transport ship
Mount Stuart Elphinstone arrived in the Bay in July
1849, with over 200 convicts on board. Previous batches,
it must be noted, had been dumped there by the Hashemy
which the citizens of Sydney had resolutely turned from
their shores, and by the Rudolph. The newcomers were



disposed of to pastoralists as " assigned servants," but
the settlers soon had their eyes opened to the nature of their
bargain. Scores of the bondmen " jumped " their agree-
ments to find a more congenial, if less legitimate, living in
the towns, and there arose a cry for more adequate police

The outlying settlers were those most in favour of the
employment of " exiles," as the felon immigrants were
termed. They had been denied the free labour that was
assisting to develop the other colonies, and labour of some
kind or another they must have at any price. The ex-
perience of former years did not deter them from inviting a
revival of transportation. " I would rather have the pick
of the gaols," said one squatter," " than the refuse of the
workhouses." And Patrick Leslie, one of the first to occupy

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 27 of 32)