Telling Places in Country (TPIC)

1 November 1830 - Journies of G.A.Robinson

Extract From: N. J. B. Plomley ed. 'Friendly Mission, the Tasmanian journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson', Halstead Press for Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Hobart, 1966.

Important note: The material below is 'read only'. The text has been transcribed for reasons of personal interest only. It appears here without footnotes and may contain textual errors. Any reference and or citation must be to/from the 'journals and papers' in its hardcopy form. Friendly Mission (1966) is in the collections of most large public libraries. In addition, its first reprint (2008) has also recently become available.

Robinson's Journal 1 November 1830

Heavy rain. Got breakfast before daylight and as soon as day dawned buckled on our knapsacks and went in quest of the natives. Having discovered their tracks, proceeded to follow them in an easterly direction. After following the tracks for about a mile the people lost them; the rain had obliterated them. I appeared angry with the people and said I would not proceed further and I found them. They looked about in different directions and after considerable search PEVAY discovered the track of one man and a dog, but this man was only hunting. I therefore conceived it of no use following the tracks any longer and walked in a NNW direction, judging that the natives had gone this way. Observed the strictest silence. Heavy rain. The country between the two ranges of mountains is tolerably clear, consisting of open forest, principally peppermint. After walking about two miles from last night's encampment I discovered some trees which had recently been barked. Halted the people. Desired the white man to take charge of the knapsacks and told the women to sit down. I then advanced with three black men. In coming near to the trees saw the hut and the smoke of the fire. Desired the people to take off their clothes. Whilst they were doing this a woman behind stood up and was seen by the natives, who all run away into the bush and concealed themselves. I went immediately up to the hut. Numerous dogs of a very large and fierce description surrounded the hut and barked at our approach, which before were perfectly quiet; they were at a loss how to act seeing my naked black people, and would run from them and then return again to the hut. Found a number of spears and waddies in the hut, and knives, red ochre, kangaroo &c. Sent BULL.RUBB, KICKERTERPOLLER and WOORRADY to look for the natives. WOORRADY returned frightened, having found a spear in the bush. Heard the female BULL.RUBB calling to the natives and in a short time they answered her. I now entertained hopes of conferring with them and advanced myself. One man belonging to the natives now advanced and my two natives explained to him the business of my coming. I presented him with a few baubles. The man appeared delighted and embracing me, saluted me with a kiss -probably he had heard that the white people kiss. These natives, I found afterwards, had heard of me from CUMMINNEE and KAR.NE.BUTCHER whom the government had set at liberty. I continued parleying for some time and at length another man came. I gave them presents and conferred with them. Desired them to tell the others to come. By these means and the greatest finesse I obtained four men; two women and one man still remained We returned to the native hut, where my other people was stopping, and partook of some kangaroo. Conversed with the natives. One woman named GHO.NE.YAN.NEN.NER alias Peacock had been for a considerable length of time with the sealers and had run away from Parish while he was at Pipers River. She is a woman likely to do the greatest mischief, having acquired all the vices of white men: a cunning old woman would have considerable influence.

I now felt anxious to proceed on my way and proposed to the natives to accompany me or stop, which they pleased. I had told them previously such a story of the soldiers killing the blacks that they would not stop on any account and all said they would accompany me. Having made them some tea I hurried them to set off, telling them the sooner we got away the better as the soldiers was coming. They went to look for the other woman and man, but she would not discover herself. The natives wanted to stop that night and look for her but this experiment I knew would not do: I must away, as I was sure of being one night in the bush at any rate and I felt persuaded the woman would follow the rest. After a short parley they packed up their things and I had the extreme satisfaction to feel that I was on my way to the boat and accompanied by five fresh aborigines. My anxiety was now intense as to my getting them to the boat. We had a long way to go, all through the bush, and knowing how oft these people had been deceived, it was too much to expect they should trust to me as a white man and depend upon my saying any more than to others. From them I learnt that the rest of the people had gone to Oyster Bay and was to return again, and had left these people in charge of their dogs. GHONE.NE.YAN.NEN.NER said that CUM.MEN.NEE had gone with them to the Governor. [John Batman (see note 65, p. 441)'Supplement to Friendly Mission.' N.J.B. Plomley THRA Papers )].

I Walked on quickly, travelling in a NE direction. The natives hunted as they went along and caught two young kangaroo and gave them to me. The people all seemed well pleased and laughed and conversed together. As we walked along the fresh natives sang a song. This assemblage of natives, what would be to some a most appalling sight, was to me truly delightful. To see fourteen blacks following me a stranger whither they knew not, no guns, no tying of hands, no shooting of men; and to think that I was the means of saving the lives of these unprotected natives, that some of them ere long might be made possessors of the blessings of the gospel of peace, and that they should be induced to leave their country and their friends and go with me through the forest, afforded me much satisfaction. One man PLER.PLE.ROPAR.NER went and got some spears which he had hid in the bush, and walked aside by himself carrying a torch. My natives seemed alarmed and complained to me about it, saying we should all get speared. I trusted such would not happen and took measures accordingly. I cannot say I felt the least alarm on account of these persons hurting me, although I knew if they should attack us that my natives would not fight. I thought a larger body of natives might be at hand and come down upon us, but fear was not an occupant of my breast. I knew God would deliver me from danger and he who had hitherto crowned my labours with such abundant success would not suffer me to perish if my trust was wholly placed in him.

I walked on first to lead them along, travelling by the compass. (Underline indicates change made in accordance with 'Supplement to Friendly Mission.' N.J.B. Plomley THRA Papers ) The natives would come and look at it; frequently they told me to go a contrary course saying the way I was going would take me to the river and that by going the way they pointed I should avoid the river. I desired one of the natives to go on first to shew me the way and at the same time I kept check upon him by the compass. He seemed delighted at being pilot and I was equally so at having him before me as it kept him from the rest and led the others on. I took occasion to express my approbation of his great judgment, at which he seemed highly delighted. He would occasionally ask me to shew him the way. This was done to see if I knew the country and where I was going, and when I pointed the way he seemed rather astonished that I should know so well. Those people entertain but a mean opinion of the white people's knowledge and nothing is so likely to gain an ascendancy over them as a knowledge of their language and a display of judgment and finesse in the conducting of an undertaking. This man suited me exceedingly well as a guide, as he travelled quick and I was anxious to get on.

My people was now loaded each with a kangaroo in addition to his knapsack, and they frequently wanted to halt being tired with their loads. I was exceedingly apprehensive the people would leave me at every thick scrub I came to and kept inducing them to go on. At length, night approaching fast, I stopped by the side of a streamlet, the source of the river on the east coast where I forded up to my breast Made a fire. Feasted on the kangaroo the natives had caught, which to us was very acceptable as we were out of provision - this was not the first time I had received kindness from the ferocious aborigines. The natives danced, which these people call KAR.NE.PLEE.LARE. What before I was acquainted with these people and language appeared foolishness, now appeared to me interesting. The motion of the body is the shifting attitude to avoid the spear in fighting; sometimes they call out `the spear is coming'. One dance was a relation of a man who was with me named TAR.NE.BUN.NER, who had been chased by a man on horseback with a long whip, and of his out-running the horse. The other dances related the hunting of kangaroo or some battle or an amorous story. Conversed with them and enquired about the fire I had seen and they said it was them that made the fire and said they saw the ship going along, viz the Nimrod. Informed me that they had recently returned from fighting with the natives of the lakes and that they had killed three of that people and the rest fled. (In their expedition to the lakes they crossed the Launceston road.) Said that the soldiers had killed three of their people, and that they watched the soldiers asleep and killed two, a just retaliation. Most of these eastern natives had the form of the moon cut on their flesh. This mark seems peculiar to them, and they count by the moon.

The rain had abated soon after our setting off and the night was remarkable fine and moonlit, a circumstance which tended greatly to favour the undertaking. I was confident it was the work of God. Had the night been dark or murky the natives would have been induced to abscond, and if they went away the two women would also have gone. Conversed with the people until it was late that they might sleep more soundly. Ordered Stansfield to keep watch all night and not to sleep, and I did the same and desired all the people to do so. My natives seemed greatly alarmed about the spears that the man had, and in the course of the night BULL.RUBB came to me and said that one of the men said they would spear us in the morning. I told them not to mind as I should take care, but they became greatly alarmed and would not rest until I desired my servant to hide the spears in the bush.

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