Part 10 - Early Surveys And Troubles With The Aborigines

From Reference 21

Commissioner Henry Oakes’s death occurred at Prot Macquarie in 1842, and a few day later that year Oliver Fry was appointed to the position of Crown Lands Commissioner.

Before his appointment the native tribes away from the river, had started to prove troublesome, although the river natives appeared to be much more friendly.

So bad has their depredations become that Commissioner McDonald was sent down from New England in April 1841, to deal with the situation.

The Clarence River Historical Society had a lengthy account in the hand-writing of Alfred Lardner (later Mayor of Grafton, 1860) of raids which McDonald and his Border Police carried out at Yulgilbar and Ramornie.

Commissioner Fry, in his first official report, claimed that there were over 2000 aboriginals in the district and that they showed a disinclination to have any friendly dealings with the settlers who, however. Invariably treated them with kindness. Three murders bad been committed by the natives up to that time.

A year later Fry reported that their feeling towards the whites had considerably improved, but a hut-keeper had been murdered on May 24, 1843. By 1846 relations had again deteriorated and the natives were proving extremely troublesome on the outlying runs.

Several murders and spearings were reported, and sheep and cattle driven away and destroyed in large numbers. The runs which suffered the attacks were those of Messrs. Boyd, Bundock, Mann, Fawcett, Irving, Wyndham, Eaton and Hamilton.

Again in 1847 Fry had to report three murders and a number of cases of stealing cattle and flour. However, despite these melancholy reports, all the blame must not be attached to the natives.

The Ramornie raid of 1841 was the result of a theft which later was found to have been committed by a white hut-keeper, and Dr J.D. Land later reported a case of the poisoning of a tribe of aborigines by a squatter who put arsenic a bag of flour which he left lying about.

Though the native continued to be troublesome for some years the advance of the settlement and the opening up of countryside gradually caused their demise and by 1880 there were very few of them left in the Clarence District........

Tribal fights and corroborees were frequent on the river in the early years, but the traditional life of the nomadic aborigines was soon threatened by the intrusion of the white settlers into their hunting grounds, a process which was severely resented by the dusky hunters.

Away from the river clashes were frequent, and many cases of theft and murder have been recorded. However. it would be wrong to blame the natives for causing all the trouble, as it has been shown many instances a lack of understanding on the part of the white men started skirmishes which finished in bloodshed.

The persistent ingress of the white men could not, however, be denied, and in a remarkably short space of time the aboriginal tribes had either migrated, died out or remained behind as mere shadows of their former racial types.

White men's vices-tobacco and spirits-wrought severe havoc amongst the young natives who grew up during the era of civilization, while the elder tribesmen remained aloof and settled in to farm work proving themselves useful in the tedious chores of falling. brushing, chipping and husking.

Today, very little remains of the aborigines, except their place names which have been left to posterity; the district is the richer for such euphonious names as Yamba. Iluka. Woolgoolga, Bagawa. Orara, Nana. Karangi Ulmarra, Wanl!abbri, Yulgilbar. Warragai. Cunglebung. Buccarumbi and Dundarrabin .