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Jack Simpson View the Map

Jack “Smart Gui” Simpson was born along the Barwon River between Boorooma and Brewarrina in about 1880. Little is known about his parents, Jack Simpson Snr and Louisa Khan. Louisa is thought to have moved to Orange where she passed away. Jack told stories to his family of tracking Jimmy and Joe Governor in 1900 after the Breelong massacre near Gilgandra. The case took Jack as far as Singleton near where Joe Governor was shot and killed. Jack also worked as the tracker at Byrock, reporting to Sergeant James who ran the station. Jack lived with other families near the Byrock waterhole, an important mythological site for Ngemba people. Sergeant James later took Jack to Bourke to work as the tracker. In the late 1960s, Jack’s five-year-old grandson Clifford went missing from the Bourke open-air cinema. Jack soon picked up his tracks, following them to a tap where Clifford had stopped for a drink. The little boy was found soon after.

Jack sometimes walked the country between Gundabooka and Brewarrina. He knew many important sites along the way. Jack may have met his first wife Clara Frail at Gundabooka. They were married at Brewarrina in 1911 and raised five children together. Jack later had four children with Linda Fernando. Many of his descendants live at Brewarrina, Bourke and Walgett to this day. Jack passed away at Brewarrina in August 1974 and was buried in the local cemetery. Aside from tracking, Jack was a renowned horseman and also worked as a piece picker in shearing sheds in north-western NSW and over the border into Queensland.

NSW Aboriginal Trackers

This website explores the history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW from 1862 when the current NSW Police Force was established through to 1973 when the last tracker, Norman Walford, retired.  You can read about the lives of individual trackers and some of the incredible tracking feats they performed.  There is also information about the police stations where they worked and...

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Police Stations

There were over 200 NSW police stations that employed Aboriginal trackers between 1862 and 1973.  Many were concentrated in the central-west and north-west of the state, the agricultural and pastoral heartland of NSW.  This is because one of the main jobs of trackers was to pursue sheep, cattle and horse thieves. Trackers sometimes lived in small huts out the back...

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A General History

Early History Since the beginning of the colony, government agencies, explorers, surveyors and members of the general public called upon the tracking abilities of Aboriginal men and women.  First Fleet officers and early land-owners sometimes made use of Aboriginal men to track and capture escaped convicts.  Alexander Berry, for example, relied on an Aboriginal man known as Broughton (or Toodwick)...

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