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 2 November 1830
Fine and pleasant weather throughout this day. At day dawn took breakfast and hurried the people forward, being anxious to reach the boat this day. Before setting off heard a sound at a distance, which the natives said was a musket: I did not imagine such a thing (I concluded it was a fallen tree or fragment of rock), but they saying it was soldiers I took occasion of the alarm and said the soldiers were coming, that some PAN.NER black men was killed and that it was time We went. Appeared myself alarmed, saying that I should be shot if I stopped and that I was anxious to get back before the soldiers had killed all the natives. They became so alarmed that one native who overnight had purposed stopping to take care of the dogs and to look after the other man and woman, would not now stop on any account, but would go with me. This was peculiar gratifying as I feared had he stopped he would not again return; besides, the dogs, which was of equal importance, would be lost-the dogs were very large and of a fierce kind.
The morning was fine, for which I was thankful. Set off with PLER.PLE.RO.PARN.NER as my guide. The spears I brought; desired Stansfield to carry them. As the people walked along they hunted kangaroo. Caught numerous kangaroo, each of my people carrying one. To look back and see the people following me with their numerous train of dogs was truly delightful and would form a fine picture. The boomer kangaroo (which they call TAR.RER) is very plentiful here, as also the kangaroo. The people being tired with carrying kangaroo, halted on the banks of a small river and made a fire, and we all sat down and partook of the sport of the hush. Here again I was under obligation to these poor hopeless creatures. Whilst the people was taking refreshment I conversed with them. Having refreshed ourselves, set off on our way to the tent and continued travelling over some upland plains between two ranges of mountains. All this ground had been recently burnt off and was the principal resort of the natives. Came to an old hut or breakwind where the natives had been. Here was a tree about a foot diameter notched round about two inches deep done by the natives. I had seen a similar thing at the Surrey Hills. When I set out I had hoped to have found the natives by their dogs, but the tact these people have in quieting their dogs is truly surprising: they had thirty dogs and we never heard the least noise of them until we approached them. As they hunt the dogs don't follow the game and seldom bark.
In our walk this morning we travelled W, NNW, N, E and N following the plain. At 12 am the people descried a black man at a short distance following them. Called to me and I halted accordingly, imagining it might be some fresh natives returned and was following us, and that the natives with me, finding themselves strengthened, might be induced to attack us. One man went back to him: it was the woman and young man left behind. They soon joined us and I had the pleasure of seeing an increase of two more to our party. The man was POLE.LER.WIN and the woman was wife to TAR.NE.BUN.NER: they seemed dejected
Gave our fresh companions some beads. Hurried on, my companion travelling very fast, at which I was well pleased.
The natives hunted as they went along and killed a great number of kangaroo, but left them behind, putting them upon some fallen timber where they could be seen. Having a long way to go the people did not carry them, yet they hunted with the same zest as if they was starving for food. The kangaroo was exceeding numerous.
The white man had brought a pistol in his knapsack and had paid little attention in concealing it and the stock was seen sticking out by the natives, at which they became alarmed and would have gone away, but I immediately ordered the man to a considerable distance and to take his knapsack with him. I shewed them my knapsacks. These men who had been so long with me ought above all others to have been more cautious, but it shews the less you have of them the better; and besides, it could be of no use had the natives been resolved to attack us, and they could have done so at any time. A similar circumstance occurred at Port Davey.
Travelled on quickly, and when the dog with my companion killed a kangaroo I told him to leave it for those behind. We frequently was three-quarters of a mile ahead of the rest, being determined if possible to reach the tent that night, as I feared should I remain another night in the bush they would abscond. Reached the Peak Hill or Mount Deception,47 called (1)LUE.BER.RER.NEN.NER (2) WORE.KAR.LEN.NER: we saw this mountain a long way before we got to it. The line of country we had walked over since leaving the tent was barren and heathy, rocky and bushy, and when I saw this country and other parts equally barren and never could be of use to the white man and abounding with game, I lamented much the unfortunate circumstance that prevented them from the peaceable enjoyment of this useless tract of land, so well suited to them 48 Before reaching the mount all the natives became exceedingly fatigued and it was with difficulty I could induce them to walk on. TRUGERNANNA wanted to stop all night, and several of the rest. I was equally tired, but I knew full well I must reach the tent that night.
On reaching Mount Deception the natives with me went on to the apex. Here they had recently made a fire and all the bushes had been broke off for this purpose. Surveyed the country all round, the apex commanding a fine view. The hill stands alone and is an excellent landmark. I was much delighted at seeing the river where my tent was; but when PEEVAY came he said he saw the boat and tent and long sandy beach. I should not have told the people, but Jack made it known. In a short time we heard the rest of the people cooeeing in the plains below: they had gone round and had avoided the hill. I was glad they had done so because it kept them separate and I was anxious to get them to the tent. We descended and walked on, proposing to hunt in the way to the tent, and the people by this plan was kept apart. Some of my natives caught some kangaroo rats. As I drew near to my tent the fresh natives kept behind and shewed a reactance to come on. The dog killed a boomer kangaroo, and Joe and Stansfield and some natives stopped behind to fetch it. Two of the men kept with me: they wanted to stop for the other natives, but I persuaded them on. Reached the tent, and in a short time three more of my people arrived with one man and one woman. Tom came and said the woman and two men would not come on; they had stopped in the bush and had made a fire. Tom said he told the man Mr Robinson would be angry if he did not go with him and the man said he knew that, but he might go on and he should come by and by. I ordered the boat's crew to keep strict watch all night that the people did not get away. The night was dark and dreary, and it rained all night. My mind was somewhat easy now I had arrived, yet if the people wanted to go they could in spite of us. The three people in the bush I would not send after. I felt persuaded they would come in, only give them time. The people being tired slept soundly: I had but little sleep.
Note: The Peak Hill LUE.BER.RER.NEN.NER is celebrated by the natives as being the lookout for sealers' boats. On this hill they frequently resort, and upon its apex they kindle a fire the smoke of which is a signal to the female aborigines which had been torn from them by the merciless sealers, the wife from the fond embrace of her husband, the daughter from her parent, the sister from her brother, the female from her lover, and had been transported by these lawless and cruel men to the islands. They could descry the place of their banishment, the fire kindled by their hands, and could occasionally see their countrywomen as the boats passed along the coast, perhaps a wife, a sister or relation. At a place called Gun Carriage at Cape Barren is the chief resort or rendezvous of the sealers. This is a small island having a sugarloaf hill, which is distinctly seen from the main on the north side, across the isthmus which is flat. The females at the island make smoke in answer to the men, and they also dance on these hills and sing an aboriginal song which is a relation of love complaints. What a wretched existence, all their females gone, torn from them. Talk of discrimination! What redress have those people, what means have they to visit the island? The wide expanse of water separates them. Could it be imagined they could cope with a set of men well armed and who would feel a pleasure to shoot them? What would our feelings be was our wives in the same condition? Suppose the blacks was to come to take our wives. In this range of country there are but four females and two of those had come from the establishment.