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 29 of 32)
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to the later aspects of the police.

Since the seventies, when Mr. D. T. Seymour was first
Commissioner, the force has undergone few alterations. 1
Out of the total number, less than a thousand, a large pro-
portion are mounted men stationed singly, or in twos and

1 The later statutes affecting the administration of the force are
" The Police Act Amendment," 1891, and " The Police Service Amend-
ment," 1900.



THE TROOPER POLICE

threes, at townships and settlements. Here their duties
approximate to those of the troopers in other States ; they
are Acting Clerks of Petty Sessions, Registrars in several
capacities, Assistant Land Commissioners, Licensing In-
spectors, Collectors of statistics for half a dozen Government
Departments, and so on. The distinctive offices that are
to be noted are Protector of Aborigines and Inspector of
Pacific Islanders. And in this connection the present Com-
missioner, Major W. G. Cahill, reiterates the complaint made
by every other chief of police in the Commonwealth. He
says, in his last report : " As I have stated previously,
extraneous duties still press heavily on the Police as an
encumbrance to their more effective services for ordinary
police duties in the detection and prevention of crime, more
obviously apparent in country districts, where constant
patrolling is necessary among the stock-stealing confraternity,
whose predatory instincts are actively alive to the fact that
the Police in many places are being tied down to office work
for other Departments when they should be out patrolling."

Commissioner Cahill was appointed in 1905, having
previously served in the force as Inspector. His immediate
predecessor was Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden, I.S.O., a
Victorian who migrated to Queensland to take up pastoral
pursuits. After several years' pioneering work Mr. Parry-
Okeden entered the force in 1870, as Inspector of Police and
Customs Border Patrol. He became Commissioner in
1895, and retired on pension after ten more years' service.

The rank of Superintendent does not obtain in the Queens-
land police force. After the Commissioner the grades (foot
and mounted), with their rates of pay per annum are :
Chief Inspector, 450 ; Inspectors, 1st class, 400, 2nd class
350 ; Sub-Inspectors, 1st class 300, 2nd class 250,

382



THE QUEENSLAND POLICE

3rd class 200 ; Senior Sergeants, 170 ; Sergeants, from
152 upwards ; Acting-Sergeants, from 118 to 144 ;
Constables, from 108 to 134 ; Supernumeraries, 5s. per day.
The pay of native trackers ranges from 1 to 1 5s. per
month. 1 All commissioned officers receive free quarters
and expenses when travelling on duty.

In the matter of uniform the authorities have discarded
the old jumper and loosely fitting cloth jacket, and followed
the usual model of blue tunic and trousers of serge, with a
white helmet for full dress and forage cap for undress. For
bush work the trooper wears a broad-brimmed khaki hat
of felt, turned up and caught at one side, differing from
the headgear adopted by any other Commonwealth police,
with the exception of the new " cowboy " hat which it
is proposed to introduce in the Western Australian force.
For bush work, too, khaki or moleskin trousers are the order
of the day. In the towns the trooper changes this garb for
white Bedford cord riding breeches and high black boots
of the regulation pattern, while a sword by his side adds a
touch of military smartness to his appearance. The carbine
now generally in use is the Winchester, but some divisions
still retain Lee-Enfield rifles, or the older Martini-Henry
which superseded the Snider. In addition to this every
mounted man is armed with a revolver.

The distribution of the force over the twelve police
districts of the colony, together with the special branches
of service, covers the whole area from the New South Wales
border, in the south, to Thursday Island, at the top of Cape
York peninsula, in the north. It is an area of 670,500 square

1 After four, eight, and twelve years' service constables receive 4 a
year extra for long service pay. All unmarried members are allowed
quarters, fuel, and light ; also married men having over five years' service.
Native trackers are provided with uniform and rations.

- 383 -



THE TROOPER POLICE



miles. 1 In this far northern tropical district, the chief
centres of which are Cairns and Townsville, sugar, rice and
bananas are grown. This necessitates the employment of
coloured labour, Kanakas being brought over from the South
Sea islands. To prevent any repetition of the abuses of
earlier years, when the natives were freely swindled of their
pay by unscrupulous planters, the Queensland Legislature
in 1868 passed the " Polynesian Labourers Act " to regulate
the island traffic. For a time there was a suspension of the
system, owing to the antagonism that existed towards
coloured labour of any kind, but better counsels prevailed
and the re-engagement of Kanakas was sanctioned. One of
the principal duties of the mounted police of the north is

1 The distribution of the Queensland Police Force (foot and mounted)
for the year 1910, was as follows





2


1




E
I


1




1




^
1

B


1
1


E

M


Districts.


_o


!





1


>

B
OS


C3


60
t


8
3


i


N

15


H




|


"5


1


1

M
J=


g
'fl


1

60


be


1


c

E

O.


"3


.^




6


3


M


3
CO




I

on


1




o


a
CO


o

H


"3












(i 1














Brisbane . .


l


i


1


4


3


27


42


258





337


2


Criminal Investi-
























gation Branch








1





1


3


9


12





26





Cairns .








1


1


2


2


12


59





77


20


Charleville











1





3


3


25





32


4


Cloncurry











1


1





2


17





21


13


Hughenden











1





2


1


17





21


7


Longreach











1





2


5


27





35


4


Maryborough








1





3


4


21


53





82


1


Normanton .








1


1





2


5


25





34


13


Rockhampton








1





2


5


10


53





71


2


Roma








1





1


4


6


23





35


4


Toowoomba








1





2


7


16


46





72


4


Townsville .








1


2


2


7


19


74





105


9


Water Police,
























Brisbane and
























Thursdaylsland




















2


1





3


4


Supernumeraries


























15


15





Grand total .


1


i


9


12


17


68


153


690


15


966


87



384




TROOPERS OF THE QUEENSLAND MOUNTED POLICE.

FULL DRESS. BUSH UNIFORM (KHAKI),



to inspect the plantations, and satisfy themselves that the
requirements of the Government are being met.

On Thursday Island are stationed a sub-inspector, one
sergeant and five constables. At this spot is the head centre
of the extensive pearl-shell and beche-de-mer fisheries of
the north-east coast. As is the case with the west coast
pearling towns, the population of the island is very mixed.
Europeans rub shoulders with Negroes, Malays, Chinese,
Japanese, Indians, Arabians, Chilians, South Sea Islanders
and other races, in the mingling of which trouble must sooner
or later arise. Still, the little squad of police maintain
order with a firm hand, stepping in to check racial squabbles,
hunting down the pearl thief, and maintaining a vigilant
watch over the wily Chinese opium smuggler. A trooper's
billet amid such surroundings is no sinecure, but the same
may be said of the Queensland mounted police all over
the " back " country. The pioneer days have not yet
altogether ended.








"FOR MERITORIOUS CONDUCT"
Queensland Police Medal.



385-



CC



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

In olden days The bushranging era Notable characters Recruiting
An instructive art Early schooling Women trackers " Mayella "
Lost in the bush Reading a track A Murchison story " That
one Kendy track " An object lesson in scouting A " jackeroo "
hunt On the trail Found at last " Billy " A South African
test Pay Past and present.

SO much has been said already with regard to the native
trackers retained for hunting down criminals and other
purposes, that some further account of their exploits and
methods of work will not be out of place. These individuals
have played, and still play, a most important part in the
history of the mounted police of Australia.

Who was the first tracker to place his services at the
disposal of the authorities it is impossible to say. As far
back as 1826 we find Governor Darling recommending the
engagement of native assistants by the police, * but doubtless
their marvellous powers had been demonstrated long before.
Through the old bushranging days, in Tasmania and in New
South Wales, the trackers rendered invaluable aid to the
white troopers, and when the second great outbreak occurred
they were again very much to the fore. The first one to
become prominent at this period was an aboriginal whom
Sergeant Brennan, of Yass, introduced into the force. This

1 See page 20.
386



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

was in 1862. The example of keeping a native permanently
attached was followed by Inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger,
who had two trackers with him at Forbes, in the Bathurst
district. From that time there was never any doubt as to
their usefulness, and various divisions of the force in New
South Wales and Victoria enrolled black trackers in their
ranks.

With regard to these it must be understood that we are
speaking of native trackers apart from the black police
corps that were formed in early days. The latter performed
much excellent work in this direction, but their duties were
mainly those of ordinary troopers. Black police, for example,
patrolled the goldfields. their employment being one cause
that led to the miners' revolt.

Of the special black trackers of the sixties one may
mention Emmett, whom Sergeant Brennan trained at Yass
and lent to Sergeant Byrne to help the latter in the hunt
after the Clarkes. Emmett ran the bushrangers very close,
so close, indeed, that they and their friends put a high price
on his head and made several attempts to shoot him. How
Sir Watkin Wynne, one of the pluckiest natives ever in the
service, lost an arm at the capture of the Clarkes has been
told. Sad to say, he afterwards went to the bad. The
praise he received, together with the reward money, turned
his head, and he drank himself to death. There was, too,
" native assistant Bileela" who for over sixty miles tracked
the miscreant who tried to wreck a train near Wagga Wagga.
Bileela had a curious career. He was befriended by Sir
Patrick Jennings of Victoria and educated at Lyndhurst
College, but this taste of civilisation was sufficient for him.
After several attempts to follow a settled occupation he
gave it up and went back to aboriginal life in the bush.

387



THE TROOPER POLICE

Many native-born white Australians were themselves
very proficient trackers ; it is enough to refer to Mounted
Constable Chalker, of the New South Wales police, whom
Captain Zouch had with him in the Southern Patrol. This
trooper is credited with some very clever performances in
the tracking line.

So far as the police are concerned, the native who has
spent many years among white men, living in the same
surroundings, soon loses his value as a tracker. His senses
become dulled. The wild life that developed the blacks'
wonderful faculties of sight and smell is necessary to main-
tain them at the proper pitch. The best trackers are
invariably those who are taken direct from an aboriginal
camp. Any mounted police officer will testify to the truth
of this. " When I want a boy for bush work," says one
Inspector, " I go straight to the nearest tribe and pick out
the likeliest looking of the lot one about seventeen or
eighteen, if possible. After he has served me I send him
back, knowing that I can get him again if needful, and that
in the meantime he won't be rusting."

The ability to track is not confined to a limited number.
All aborigines possess it in a more or less degree. It is
instinctive, hereditary, the outcome of generations of a keen
struggle for existence in a land where food is none too plen-
tiful. Australia's native creatures are few, and peculiar in
their habits. To hunt down a kangaroo or an emu, both of
them very rapid in their flight, calls for exceptional skill.
In the pursuit of these and lesser game, such as wallabies,
wombats, and opossums, the black must know how to
distinguish the separate tracks of their feet, and know, too,
whether these are recent or old. By constant practice from
childhood upwards, and the aid of an eyesight that is

388



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

the keenest of any savage people in the world, he learns
to read the story of a bush track as none other can read
it.

The schooling of an aboriginal in this respect begins
very early. As a child he is set to play games in which
animals and birds are the principal figures. Footprints of
various creatures are drawn by him in the sand, seemingly
for amusement, but actually as part of his education. Later
on he is taken in hand by the man whom he accompanies
into the bush, learning each day something that quickens
his intelligence. Nor is it only the boys who thus develop
this power. The native girls and women are often quite as
good at the game. A New South Wales police officer in-
formed the writer that he had known some remarkable
instances of this.

" Quite the smartest tracker I ever had," he said, " was
a young gin, and she was deaf and dumb. These defects
may have intensified her other faculties ; I should think
they did so, as she could follow up a trail with unerring
certainty. Her father was a good tracker in his time, but
he went blind and had to drop out. The girl worked with
him at first and picked up a lot from the old man. I've
known that gin to find a horse that had strayed after several
others had tried and failed.

" Her best performance happened when I was a trooper
up in the Brewarrina district. A child a boy of nine went
out with some others into the bush for a pic-nic. Towards
the end of the afternoon he wandered off by himself and got
too far. They ' cooeeyed ' for him, but didn't receive any
answer. If he was within hearing distance he was probably
too badly frightened to shout back. Any way, he just
went on and on as any one will who gets bushed ; and it's

389



THE TROOPER POLICE

wonderful the distance even a child can travel in the cir-
cumstances.

" The bush in this part was particularly bad. It was
thick, heavily timbered with gums and ironbarks. When we
were called out to join in the search early the next morning,
I took the gin, Mayella, with me. There were a lot of people
out in various directions, but she soon picked up a trail and
went off on her own. She was riding a small brown horse,
sitting astride as native girls do, while I was on my mare.
After the trail had taken us a few miles, I lost sight of it
entirely. How Kitty (that was our own name for her) could
follow it beat me. But she was a wonder ! Then we came
to a place where it stopped dead. Kitty got down and went
on her hands and knees examining the bushes and grass
minutely, and shaking her head with the little moaning noise
she used to make when troubled.

" ' You're stumped, old girl,' I said to myself. It wasn't
any good speaking to her, you see.

" But I was wrong. When she jumped on her horse again
she turned him sharp off to the left, through some longish
grass. And away off to that side, about forty yards from
where we had stopped, she picked up a fresh track. Ten
minutes later we found the littlelchap lying under a tree asleep.
He had been travelling round about a good part of the night
and was fairly tuckered out. Now, how that gin knew that
other trail was away off over there, I can't say. You can
call it instinct, or what you like. Anyhow, she just went
straight to it and found it ! "

Such a story might be deemed incredible were it not
given on good 'authority. But it is little more marvellous
than many other stories that are told of black trackers.
Where the ordinary observer's eye cannot see anything out

390



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

of the common an aboriginal will read a whole page of facts.
They literally stare him in the face. A dislodged stone, a
turned leaf, a broken twig, a few grains of sand left on a
patch of rock all tell him something about what has passed
that way. From a horse's hoofmarks he will tell you both
the size of the animal and the time that has elapsed since the
impressions were made. By the way a hole is dug or a tree
notched he will probably tell you what tribe the man belongs
to who did the act. A tracker has even been known to say
that the man (a complete stranger to him) whose trail he
was following was knock-kneed, and he proved to be right.
Instances might be cited without number ; the police records
are full of them.

In the Murchison River district some time back a mounted
policeman had an experience that opened his eyes to a
tracker's powers. He was out on a patrol with another
trooper, each having a native boy with him. At a certain
point the two men parted company, one of them, Kennedy,
striking off to the south-east in the direction of Nannine.
The other, Trooper Houlahan (he is a sergeant at Kalgoorlie
now) kept on his road due east.

After having travelled for five or six days Houlahan
was surprised to see some horse tracks meeting his trail and
running parallel to it for some little distance. There were
the tracks of three horses, which he thought an odd circum-
stance. A settler, on a ride round his run, usually has but
one other horseman with him. However, he could only
note the fact as unusual, and he rode on, letting the matter
slip from his mind for the moment. Presently there came a
loud hail from behind. He turned to see his boy, Jacky,
waving a hand excitedly.

" Come here, boss," he called out, " come here."



THE TROOPER POLICE

Houlahan rode back a few yards and saw Jacky pointing
eagerly to the tracks.

" Look, boss," he said, " Mine think it that one Kendy
track."

" Nonsense," returned the trooper ; " we left Kennedy
far behind us. He hasn't been this way at all."

" Mine still think it," persisted the tracker. Then, dis-
mounting, he took a nearer view of the hoof marks. " Yes,
boss," he went on, " that all one Kendy track. That one
big black horse Kendy ride ; that grey one Charlie ride ; that,
little horse for pack." And he proceeded to name the three
police horses correctly, " Newark," "Nipper," and "'Fancy."

" You're wrong for once, Jacky 4 ! " laughed Houlahan
" I tell you Kennedy is gone to Nannine. He isn't round
here ; can't be, in fact ! "

But Jacky swore he wasn't mistaken, and nothing the
other could say would move him. The trooper was the more
sceptical because Jacky had certainly only seen the horses
once before, and that was in August, when they were at the
barracks, unshod. It was hard to see how he could define
their hoof prints and length of stride.

They rode on again towards their destination, and some
hours later met a settler whom the trooper knew.

" Hallo ! " cried the latter. " Going up to my place ?
Where is Kennedy ? I thought he'd be with you."

" Kennedy ? " said Houlahan, wonderingly.

" Yes, Kennedy. Didn't you meet him on the road ?
He was at my station the day before yesterday."

To his astonishment Houlahan learned that his fellow-
trooper had changed his plans and ridden round that way.
The tracks they had passed were those of his three horses
cutting across Houlahan 's own trail. Jacky had identified

392



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

them exactly. If further corroboration were needed it was
supplied by Trooper Kennedy himself when he and Houlahan
met a few weeks later.

To accompany a black tracker on one of his trips is a
liberal education. It can be safely recommended to any
scout man or boy as the most perfect object lesson he can
receive. It is the last word in the science of observation
and deduction. The tracker rides along at an easy pace,
following the signs with a rapidity which would baffle any
but an expert bushman. He only dismounts when a
knotty problem presents itself and it is desirous to take a
look at the tracks from another position. Then he will
view them from an acute angle with the light falling upon
them, so that each significant detail is brought out. The
moment he has satisfied himself he is up in the saddle again
and off at a jog-trot, his eyes keenly scanning the trail before
him. While thus engaged he rarely speaks. Every sense is
alert and strained to the full. There is nothing that escapes
his gaze ; the rough bush track and its surroundings is an
open book to him.

You never lose your admiration for a tracker's wonderful
skill, though the performance may be no new thing to you.
Mr. E. B. Kennedy bears witness to this. It was always a
day of keen excitement for him when he was out on duty
with his Queensland " boys." Once it was to search for a
" jackeroo," a new chum, who had got " bushed " in the
country inland from Rockhampton. He took a couple of
native troopers, the steadiest and smartest of his little force,
and proceeded to the house of the squatter for whom the
lost one had been working. Here they spent the night,
intending to commence operations at an early hour the
following morning.

393



THE TROOPER POLICE

" By daylight next day the ' boys' had brought up the
horse of the missing man, and having taken a good look at his
shoes they turned him loose again. Then (with a supply
of brandy and milk) we rode away, after having the direction
pointed out at which the riderless horse was found grazing.
This spot proved to be some five miles distant, and the
' boys ' upon reaching it picked up the back tracks of the
animal. Holding to this, though other shod horses had
crossed the trail, we found that it had come at a gallop from
a belt of forest which was visible on the far side of a great
plain. The ' boys ' galloped along the tracks, steadied
down after entering the gum- trees, and then proceeded
cautiously, having to make a small cast now and then, so
faint were the signs, even to them, on the hard ground under
the timber. Not a word was uttered by them whilst puzzling
out the hoofmarks, but I was conscious of a subdued excite-
ment as I watched their actions.

" At length, after many tortuous windings, during which
the homeward-bound horse had walked, we came to where
he had galloped out of a clearing in the forest. This had
been caused, in days gone by, by a cyclone or whirlwind
wrecking some of the great trees. At this spot the two
troopers pointed out something to each other, and then got
off their horses. I did likewise, feeling that some special
discovery had been made. One ' boy ' held the three horses ;
the other walked on and pointed out to me, evidently con-
sidering that I ought to understand his hieroglyphics, that
here the white man was thrown, there he had picked himself
up and run after the horse, when failing to catch it he had
sat down on that log and smoked ; and, sure enough, what I
did see was a half-burnt wax match at the spot indicated.
As we looked back from this point, I noticed that the

394



BLACK TRACKERS AT WORK

forest was very dark and thick, and it was doubtless owing
to this fact that the dismounted rider had not been able to
see which way the horse had taken ; for after a few irresolute
turnings he had proceeded in quite a contrary direction.
This, it may be mentioned, was the first fatal step which led
to his undoing.

" And now the ' boys ' followed his tracks on foot, leading
their horses. This course was inevitable, but seemed to
me terribly slow work, considering that every moment was
precious. On for many weary miles we went, till at length
the trackers said we should not get him that night, but
that as he was ' walking strong ' he would most likely pull
through if he found water so far we had seen no signs of
this. Seeing that the trail bore rather to the right of our
position, I ventured to ask whether it would not lead even-
tually to the running stream, which I knew was somewhere
out there.

" ' Bel, rnarmy ' (no, master), they answered with a
pitying smile, as they pointed out a line of mountains in quite
another part of the country, which they averred dominated
that sparkling brook ; and then, as if interpreting my own
thoughts, informed me that we must find water for ourselves



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 29 of 32)