"WOLLUMBIN" THE CREATION AND EARLY HABITATION OF THE TWEED BRUNSWICK AND RICHMOND RIVERS OF N.S.W.
by N.C. KEATS pp.70-74 Reference 4
The European invasion of Bundjalung territory had similar effects on the Aboriginal peoples' lifestyle, health and security, as elsewhere in occupied parts of the colony. On the north coast of N.S.W. the creeping pattern of intrusion intensified decade by decade. All early signs of resistance or isolated killings by the Aborigines was savagely suppressed, guns against spears. It would be incorrect to deny there were counter attacks and guerrilla movements by the Aborigines in vain attempts to hold their territories against European invasion.
The introduction of cattle and sheep and the destruction of forests witnessed the rapid obliteration and depletion of natural habitats and food resources. The Aboriginal people were continually forced to retreat from the advancing frontiers of European settlement until there came a time of nowhere else to go in order to survive in their natural state. This destruction of their natural food resources and natural habitats was a major factor in the spearing of sheep and cattle and theft of flour and other food stuff from huts, camps and homesteads. These happenings sometimes involved the murder of individual hut-keepers, shepherd and stockmen who resisted or refused their requests for food or hindered their removal or slaughter of some of the stock to sustain tribal existence. The reprisals by some of the squatters and their punitive posses bordered on tribal genocide. These retaliatory missions in many cases went further than just retaliation; they were ill-concealed attempts at total extermination of Aboriginal men, women and children. Where there was little opportunity to get action from Crown Land Commissioners some squatters and others took upon themselves the right to administer their own drastic barbaric punishments. When they had access to Crown Land Commissioners many used every available means at their disposal to incite the Commissioners with their Border Police and later Native Police to carry out severe punitive expeditions. On the other hand. several Commissioners required little encouragement to direct those under their commands and leadership to violent and lethal excesses against the Aboriginal people. It goes to the eternal credit of some squatters cedargetters and settlers that they did not participate in these blood thirsty orgies. even though they seemed powerless to prevent them in general.
The invasion of the northern rivers of NSW by the Europeans began in earnest in 1821 when the Penal Settlement of Port Macquarie was established on the Hastings River. In later years cedargetters arrived and harvested cedar apart from the Penal Settlement. The Australian Agricultural Company took up a million acre grant on the Manning' River as grazing land, and in 1832 the first cedargetters arrived there.
When easily available cedar became scarce the cedargetters moved further north to the Macleay' River in 1836.19 In that same year (1836) the first cedar party of cutters and sawyers had arrived on the Clarence River from Sydney." When the Macleay River cedar was becoming scarce the Clarence River became the main frontier of the northern rivers cedar industry. but by 1842 a party of cedargetters led by Steve King. had traversed overland from the Clarence River to the Richmond in search of more plenteous supplies. and to shake off. the unwelcome attention of the local Commissioner" of Crown Lands and the payment of cedargetter licences.
The first cedargetters arrived on the Tweed in 1844 and on the Brunswick River in 1849; thus. by then. the whole of the northern rivers of NSW had experienced the intrusion of cedargetters into Aboriginal tribal lands. The 'cedargetters came originally by sea. In the year 1840 and for several years thereafter. these coastal tribal lands were also invaded by pastoralists who came down off the New England and took up leases" on all the open territory apart from rain forests and heavily timbered steep country. They rapidly occupied these areas on the Clarence. Richmond and part of the reaches of the upper Tweed. and by 1845 most available pastoral lands. which were the main tribal hunting grounds. had been usurped. Commissioner Olive Fry in a letter' to the Colonial Secretary in December 1845 mentioned that there were 20 "The Clarence Pastoral district was set up in 1842 - H.Q. at Grafton.
There is corresponding evidence which shows that large numbers of sheep and cattle were at times driven off and as previously reported, a number of shepherds, stockmen and an occasional pastoralist was killed. However, the recorded details. show the ratio of retaliatory reprisals against the Aborigines was enormous. The murder of the pastoralist, Pagan of Tabulam Station, (upper Clarence River) in 1841 resulted In squatters with Police, eight in all, leading a punitive mission against the Aborigines and a massacre followed of some magnitude."
The Richmond River pastoral runs were not without a similar pattern of incidence in the 1840s. There are many oral recordings similar to the other rivers. One of the major massacres was incited by the theft of flour from a depot on Ward Stephens' Virginia Station of the Wilson River (tributary of the Richmond). The cedar schooners used to leave flour and other supplies at this depot, which was in charge of a caretaker. This depot became the scene of the murder of this custodian and theft of flour by the local Aborigines. A few months later two station hands were murdered. This enraged the station authOrities who mustered a punitive party. It is said that about one hundred of the local Aborigines were rounded up and driven before them to a cliff near the sea and shot down in a relentless, cruel massacre.
The Tweed and Brunswick Rivers were mainly covered with rain forests. Only two pastoral leases were taken up and these were on the head waters of the Tweed River in open timbered country. These were the Upper Walumban run of 6480 hectares and the Tyalgrun (Tyalgum) run of 16,200 hectares. These runs were later acquired by Samuel William Gray. There is no indication that any killings took place in the time of Gray; as a matter of fact quite the reverse. S. W. Gray and his brother-in-law, Joshua Bray, had excellent rapport with the local Aboriginal horde groups. This has been mentioned elsewhere in this book. However, killings and reprisals did occur in 1846 and later in the cedar getting era as recorded in following pages.
The penal settlement at Moreton Bay was in existence from 1824 until its closure in 1841. During that time there were many escapees who managed to reach the Tweed River and beyond. These fugitives brought disease and infections to the Aborigines who had no immunity to them. The interference with the native women also caused violence and grave mistrust The Moreton Bay penal settlement, as previously recorded, had been set up in 1824 under the command of Captain Logan.