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

. (page 3 of 32)
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 3 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ranging. This new phase of crime called for special measures
of repression ; for the first time in the history of the colony
we read of a mounted police force being constituted. The
members of this body were drawn from the regiments then
in New South Wales, for the time was not yet come when
the military were to be superseded by a civil force.

During the governorship of Sir Ralph Darling, Brisbane's
successor, the colony passed through another crisis. A
protracted period of drought spread ruin far and wide among
the settlers. As grass and water failed so the cattle and
sheep died, and once again the question of food supplies
assumed a serious aspect. In all this depression one marked
result was an increase in crime. A district that particularly
suffered was that of Emu Plains, through which passed the
Western Road that linked Sydney with Bathurst. Here
in the vicinity of the tableland of the Blue Mountains, were
numerous hiding-places wherein the bushrangers might find
refuge after their raids, and the newspapers of that date
bear ample witness to the difficulties entailed by pursuit.
Within a few miles' radius of Sydney, too, many atrocities



were perpetrated. We read that the chief constable of
Parramatta received much commendation from the Gover-
nor for his capture of one Dalton, a noted desperado who
belonged to a gang which terrorised the neighbourhood.
In this affair one of the bushrangers was shot dead, a tragic
fate which the Governor was sanguine enough to hope would
deter others from following his example.

The distribution of police troops, as announced in a
General Order of March 1826, provided for two principal
districts. Of these the headquarters were Parramatta and
Bathurst, with a field officer in command at each. The
former district embraced Windsor, Emu Plains, Liverpool
and Campbell Town : the latter Wellington Valley and
Molong Plains, to the north of Bathurst, with detachments
posted in the south and east " at Cox's River, Weatherboard
Hut and Springwood." In this same memorandum the
Governor recommends officers to attach some of the most
intelligent of the natives to their parties, " as these People
may be made extremely useful, if properly employed, in
tracing the Bushrangers and discovering their Haunts. It
will be left to the Discretion of the Officers to Reward the
Natives according to their exertions ; for which purposes
some slop Clothing will be put at their Disposal, and they
will be at Liberty from Time to Time to furnish them with
such Provisions as they may require when employed."

A remarkable instance in which black trackers assisted
the police at this early date has been put on record. It is
connected with the murder of an emancipist named Fisher,
living at Campbell Town. This man was partner with
another ex-convict, Worrell, and one day mysteriously dis-
appeared. It was given out that he had taken ship to Eng-
land, and meanwhile Worrell took possession of his mate's



property. Nothing more was thought about the matter
until a story was circulated that " Fisher's ghost " had been
seen in the neighbourhood of his old home. One, Farley,
had seen the dead man sitting on a fence at the corner of a
paddock. The story gained credence among the more
ignorant and superstitious ones, so that at last investigation
was demanded. A police trooper, with two natives, began
a close search for traces of the missing man. Nothing came
to light, however, until one of the trackers turned his atten-
tion to a pool of water in the vicinity. " Here," said the
trooper, in giving evidence afterwards, " Gilbert took a
corn-stalk which he passed over the surface of the water,
and put it to his nose and said he ' smelt the fat of a white
man.' ' The black next turned into a small creek leading
out of the pool, eventually coming to a stop at a place on its
bank. " There's something here," he said. And when they
dug, the body of the murdered man was found. It may
be added that Worrell was accused and convicted of the
crime, and that prior to his execution he confessed having
committed the deed. 1

The story of bushranging in the early days of New South
Wales will be told in a later chapter. In this summary of
events relative to the organisation of a civil police force the
subject need but be touched upon. It was an agitating factor
from the first, as we have seen, and through the adminis-
trations of Sir Ralph Darling and the succeeding Governor,

1 Mr. G. W. Rusden, who gives the facts of this case in his History of
Australia, adds an interesting note in regard to the apparition, to which no
reference was allowed to be made at the trial. He says

" The Campbell Town ghost story, like all others, was garbled in narra-
tion. I have corrected current rumours by comparison with the words of a
trustworthy informant, a medical man, who lived long in the neighbour-
hood and attended Farley on his death-bed. He often conversed with
Farley on the subject of the vision which scared him."



Sir Richard Bourke, it fully occupied the attention of the
authorities. Many noted criminals were shot down when
caught red-handed, or were captured and publicly executed,
but then: fates did not prevent others taking to the life of the
bush. The risk was great, but the booty to be snatched by
force of arms was often large, and, moreover, Sydney was
full of " receivers," who offered a ready means of disposing
of stolen property. By 1830 the conditions of the time were
such as to call for a special protective measure in the shape
of a " Bushrangers Act," in which the enlarged powers of
magistrates were clearly defined.

But before proceeding further in the historical record
of New South Wales it is necessary to glance at the other
penal settlement of Tasmania, or, as it was earlier known,
Van Diemen's Land. The occupation of the island began
in 1803, when Governor King despatched parties to take
possession of the north and south ends. One object of this
move was to forestall any similar action on the part of the
French ; the second, and equally vital, object was to ascer-
tain the island's suitability as a convict station. Tasmania
has been, perhaps, the worst treated of the Australian states
in this respect. Having been approved as a future penal
settlement, it was immediately burdened with the very
worst types of the criminals deported from England. The
irreclaimables, the recidivistes, such as France shipped out
to New Caledonia, were the special inmates of this new
prison-house. And as the character of the mainland
altered with the influx of free immigrants, Tasmania
became more and more of a gaol.

In these conditions the lot of the island's lieutenant-
governors was never a happy one. At the first discipline
was necessarily lax, owing to the scarcity of provisions and



the obligation on the part of the convicts themselves to hunt
for food. Those were the days when Lemon, Michael Howe,
and their no less brutal associates robbed and murdered at
will. To such a pitch, indeed, did lawlessness attain that hi
1814 it was found imperative to place the whole of the little
colony under martial law, and to proclaim that any one
whether bond or free who left his house at night would be
flogged. A slight improvement was to be noted hi Governor
Macquarie's time, when more free settlers were induced to
take up land, but for a long period the raids of escaped
prisoners made existence in Van Diemen's Land precarious,
at the same time that they procured for the island an unen-
viable notoriety. At last Lieutenant-Governor Arthur, in
1826, made a strong effort to cope with the evil, and by his
stern measures a good deal of the bushranging was stamped
out. One step taken towards this desirable result was the
removal of the principal convict settlement at Macquarie
Harbour, on the western side, to a point near Hobart. At
this latter place, Port Arthur, escape from surveillance was
rendered more difficult, and the soldier-warders were able to
deal more effectively with such outbreaks as did occur.

It was from Van Diemen's Land that the original settle-
ment of Port Phillip, and what is now the flourishing city
of Melbourne, had its origin. This leads us to consider for
a moment the progress of exploration at this stage of affairs.
Surveyor-General Oxley, as we have seen, had done good
work in 1817 in opening up the western interior. He was
to do yet more. A few years later, in company with Lieu-
tenant Stirling, he pushed along the coast to the north and
discovered the Brisbane river, which empties itself into
Moreton Bay. A tiny settlement sprang up round the
river's mouth, for the land proved attractive to farmers, and



in this way was laid the foundation for the future colony of

Among the intrepid explorers of these early days who
heard and answered the " everlasting whisper "

" Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the

Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you.


were Allan Cunningham, Charles Sturt and Thomas Mitchell.
The first of these was a protege of Sir Joseph Banks and a
botanist of no small repute. He had had experience of
Australian pioneer work under Oxley, whom he accompanied
on the expedition up the Lachlan in 1817. In 1822 Cunning-
ham undertook a journey over the Blue Mountains into the
Bathurst district, and in the following year sought to find
a practicable pass across the Liverpool Range to the
Liverpool Plains. This resulted in the discovery of an easy
route, named by him Pandora's Pass. Afterwards he spent
some time surveying the river Brisbane to the head of the
boat navigation.

Cunningham's explorations were continued year by
year, and added much to our knowledge of the interior. In
1827 a notable journey brought about the discovery of the
Darling Downs, a fine pasturage. This was the crown of his
achievements. He next proceeded to open up a road into
this district from Moreton Bay, but in the few years before
his death, in 1839, he was occupied mainly in botanical
work in the colony.

Captain Charles Sturt holds a high place in the annals
of Australian exploration. He went out to New South
Wales with his regiment, the 39th Foot, and it was not long
before the mystery of the interior captivated his imagina-



r. Original police station near Cooper's Creek, Northern Territory. 2. Modern type ;of station at

Kapunda, S.A.


tion . The theory that there was a central sea or lake some-
where at the back of the mountains was being hotly disputed.
Sturt inclined to this belief, and to solve the question led an
expedition down the Macquarie. As had been Oxley's
experience, he now found himself baffled by the marshes hi
which the river appeared to lose itself, but farther on, to
the north-west, he found a nobler river which he named the
Darling. This large stream, the water of which to his dis-
appointment proved to be too salt for drinking, was explored
for some length, and then the party returned to Sydney.
The question of the Darling's outflow was now all-important.
Such a big river must be the main dram of a very extensive
tract of country. To determine whether it ran south or
west was Sturt's next concern. In the following year (1829)
he attacked the problem by descending the Murrumbidgee
and thence launching himself upon the Murray. After an
exciting voyage and encountering many privations, the
explorer discovered the junction of the river with the Darling.
He then followed the Murray to its termination in Lake
Alexandrina and saw that he had reached the coast at
Encounter Bay.

Sturt's last and greatest journey was undertaken in 1844.
This time he plunged right into the interior of South Aus-
tralia, but it was only to find that the country was one large
arid desert. The explorer's journal records the terrible
difficulties and hardships of the expedition, which are almost
without parallel. However, Cooper's Creek, with its wide
sheets of water, was at last discovered, after which the
return journey to Adelaide was made.

To Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General under Governor
Bourke, fell the duty of mapping out Eastern Australia.
His first journey was made hi 1831, hi the northern districts.



From then on, until 1836, he was busy in exploring the coun-
try between the Darling and the Darling Downs, following
the river for a greater length than any previous traveller
and passing through much new land of favourable nature.
So impressed, indeed, was he with the beauty of that region
that he christened it Australia Felix. Mitchell, who was
knighted for his work, later made important expeditions
into the northern tropical districts, discovering the Fitzroy
Downs, and several large rivers.

At the same time that these explorers were engaged in
filling in the map of the continent another famous pioneer was
at work in the south. Hamilton Hume, to whom reference
has been already made, directed his attention in 1824 to an
overland route from Sydney to Port Phillip. In this famous
journey he was accompanied by W. H. Hovell, an old sea-
captain, and a party of assigned convicts. The expedition
was in the main successful, although it failed to reach the
head of the harbour. The explorers, partly baffled by the
thick scrub of the mountain range, were turned to the inlet
whereon the present town of Geelong stands. But in the
course of their travels they discovered and named four rivers
including the Hume (afterwards re-named the Murray), the
Ovens and the Hovell, or Goulburn.

The outcome of all this exploration was a wider sphere
of settlement. Wherever new fertile land was opened up, or
rich pasturage grounds, thither colonists hastened, so that
every year that went by saw the bounds of New South Wales
stretching farther and farther afield. One such settlement,
which had most important results, was that which had its
origin in Tasmania and to which reference has been made.
In 1827 John Batman, a free settler in Van Diemen's Land,
felt dissatisfied with the conditions in which he was living.



The island was first and foremost a gaol, with the most un-
desirable of criminals within its walls, and, moreover, news
was to hand of a very fertile and attractive land the other
side of Bass Straits. Three brothers named Henty, resi-
dents of Launceston, had been adventurous enough to start
a little colony at Portland, about 150 miles west of Port
Phillip, and were doing very well indeed. Batman saw no
reason why he should not follow their example.
1 Early in 1835 he formed a small association, comprising
himself and ten companions, with a view to colonising Port
Phillip and engaging in stock breeding. In May of that
year he made a preliminary trip to the mainland and in an
interview with the aborigines entered into a treaty with
them by which he purchased " two large tracts of land about
600,000 acres, more or less." By this compact 1 Batman
and his company became possessed of all the western side of
Port Phillip Bay and a large portion to the north and north-
east. Shortly before returning home he had the curiosity
to explore the Yarra River, and was highly pleased with what
he saw. " The boat," he writes, " went up the large river,
which comes from the east, and I am glad to state about six
miles up found the river all good water and very deep. This
will be the place for a village."

Batman's discovery had results of immediate importance.
While he was back in Van Diemen's Land endeavouring to
secure a formal grant of the land from the Government,
another Launceston townsman, John Pascoe Fawkner, found
his way to Port Phillip and the site of Batman's projected
" village." He promptly settled himself on the spot, so that
on Batman's second trip thither the latter found he was

1 As an interesting example of early transactions with natives this docu-
ment is given in full in Appendix B.

2 7


forestalled. A quarrel between the two parties ensued.
Government interference was then called for, and as the
best way out of the difficulty Governor Bourke decided to
take the land in the name of the Crown and dispose of it by
public auction. This was accordingly done, the lots being
bought by such settlers as had followed the original dis-
coverers. The new township thus inaugurated was named
Melbourne, in honour of the English Prime Minister. As his
claim had been disallowed, and the memorable treaty with
the natives ignored, Batman was consoled by receiving a
valuable grant of land in the neighbourhood of Geelong.
And thus was begun the colony which was afterwards to
grow into the flourishing State of Victoria and become a for-
midable rival to its older sister, New South Wales.

While these momentous events were transpiring in eastern
Australia the work of colonisation was being carried on quietly
elsewhere in the continent. In the west the attention of the
home Government had been directed to the need for occupa-
tion by reason of French activity in the Pacific. To frus-
trate any rival attempt at settlement Governor Darling of
New South Wales acting under instructions from the Earl
of Bathurst, Colonial Secretary sent a party to hoist the
British flag at King George's Sound. This first contingent
was composed of soldiers and convicts to the number of
eighty, under the command of Major Lockyer, but the ex-
periment only lasted five years. Before the convict station
was abandoned, however, Governor Darling despatched
a little expedition to investigate and report upon the coast
beyond the Leeuwin. Captain Stirling, of H.M. frigate
Success, who was selected for this duty, reached the mouth
of the Swan River early in 1827, and decided that the locality
was a favourable one for settlement. So glowing was his


? ; i


account of this part of the coast that the Governor sent him
back to England to awaken interest in this new Australian

Stirling succeeded in his task, He was entrusted with
the work of organising a colony and received his appointment
as the first lieutenant-governor. In due course Captain
Fremantle, in H.M.S. Challenger, proceeded to the Swan
River and took possession of " all that part of New Holland
which is not included within the territory of New South
Wales," in the Bang's name. Four weeks later Captain Stirling
himself arrived, with a company of settlers and their
families, eight hundred strong, in the transport Parmelia.
This was in June 1829. On the 18th of that month the
colony of Western Australia was proclaimed.

The settlements which quickly sprang up around the new
townships of Perth and Fremantle were of the nature of an
experiment, and their progress was watched with the keenest
interest. Grants of land were made to immigrants who
came out from England to grow tobacco and cotton, sugar
or flax, to breed cattle and horses, and develop the country in
whatever way possible. Every one was to be a landed pro-
prietor under the scheme : " For every 3 worth of goods
introduced into the colony, forty acres were given, but the
fee simple was not to be had by the grantee until Is. Qd. per
acre had been expended on its improvement." It was a
Utopian scheme, in fact, and like others of its kind it con-
tained many defects. Once the land near Perth had been
snapped up, intending settlers were compelled to take up
blocks of unknown country far afield, to locate themselves
in the scrub, and this with little or no idea of the difficulties
to be faced. As a consequence there were many disastrous
failures. Hostile blacks speared the whites at outlying sta-

- 30


tions, crops failed through drought and other causes, and a
starving time set in. It was history repeating itself. But
just as New South Wales had won through despite adverse
circumstances, so in time Western Australia took the tide at
the flood and went steadily forward to success.

In dealing with Western Australia at a later period we
shall see that when her fortunes were at a low ebb recourse
was had to convictism. Always a dangerous experiment, as
the case of New South Wales proved, it was rigidly excluded
from the programme when the new colony of South
Australia was launched. In this project Mr. Edward Gibbon
Wakefield, a distinguished political economist, was the
leading spirit. In 1829 he showed himself a keen and bitter
critic of the policy followed in New South Wales, and promul-
gated his scheme for an ideal Australian colony. Briefly
stated, his system of colonisation was based on two principles :
the sale of land at a reasonable price, hi lieu of free, or
almost free grants, and the introduction of labour from
England, to be paid for by the money thus acquired. It was
to be a combination of capital and labour. Immigrants with
means were to be induced to settle on the land, and such
land as was parcelled out was to be carefully selected.
The indiscriminate allotment of grants that had character-
ised the early administration in Western Australia conveyed
its own lesson.

In 1834 was formed " The South Australian Association,"
confirmed by a special Act of Parliament. By this Act the
limits of the colony were defined, the whole comprising over
300,000 square miles, while a body of Commissioners was ap-
pointed to carry out the scheme of emigration and settlement
and watch over the welfare of the colonists. The price of
land was fixed at 12s. an acre, with an understanding that

._ O T -


this should be increased in due time to 1 an acre. Intend-
ing emigrants were offered the choice of purchase on these
terms or of lease for a period of three years. As a special
feature of the system was the encouragement of family emi-
gration, the Act expressly stipulated that " No person hav-
ing a husband or wife, or a child or children, shall, by means
of the emigration fund, obtain a passage to the Colony, un-
less the husband or wife, or the child or children, of such poor
person shall be conveyed thither." Another noteworthy
clause provided : " That no person or persons convicted in
any Court of Justice in Great Britain or Ireland, or elsewhere,
shall at any time, or under any circumstances, be transpoited
as a convict to any place within the limits hereinbefore

So far so good. There is no doubt that the new colony
started under the most favourable auspices. But Wakefield
and most of his supporters at home were entirely ignorant
of the nature of the country they proposed to populate, and
were too ready to take for granted the fact that work
would be found for all. The story of South Australia's early
years is one of misunderstandings, overbearing and fatuous
policy, extravagance with public money, and dissensions be-
tween the Governor and settlers. It was not until Captain
(afterwards Sir) George Grey assumed the reins of office and
developed the colony on business-like lines, that a lamentable
failure was averted and a prosperous future ensured.

But the history of Australia's welding into a nation
cannot be told in these pages. Enough has perhaps been
said to give the reader some idea of the conditions of the
island-continent in the first years of her making, and from
this point the record of mounted police work may be fitly
taken up.

_ 32




Formation and equipment Donohue the bushranger End of a notorious
gang Police Magistrates appointed in Sydney Police and gaol
charges The Act of 1838 Increase of the force A smart capture
The penalty of carelessness Transportation to New South Wales
abolished Patrols on the main roads Uniforms and arms Captain
Zouch " Scotchey " Captain Battye and the Western Patrol
" Sticking up " amail coach Capture of Day and Wilson Locating
the " plant " Trouble on the Goldfields The affair at Lambing
Flat Police charge the mob The lesson of the riot.

THE first body of mounted police formed in Australia,
that is, in New South Wales, was called into being
by Governor Brisbane in 1825. As has been already noted,
the members of this force were recruited mainly from the
infantry regiments serving in the colony, so that it began
with a distinctly military character. To further emphasise
this the uniform worn was very much like that of the 14th
Light Dragoons, consisting of a shell jacket with white
facings, blue pants with white stripe, and a cap without a

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 3 of 32)