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Jackey Bundah View the Map

Jackey Bundah worked as a tracker at Walgett in the late 1870s and early 1880s.  “Bundah” means kangaroo in Gamilaraay and it is possible that this was his totem.  In early 1877, he assisted in the recapture of Charley Combo, his brother-in-law, who had escaped from Walgett Gaol and was wanted for assault.  After Combo was returned to gaol, two other Aboriginal men launched a revenge attack upon Bundah, who barely survived [1]Evening News 8 March 1877: 2.. He was assaulted again in September 1879, this time by a non-Indigenous man named Frank Connors with whom he was sharing a drink.  Connors was charged but found not guilty despite the medical evidence showing that the assault was a severe one.  Around the same time as the assault, Bundah gave evidence in court again Edward Ging, a bushranger who was charged with attempting to rob the mail coach at “The Four Mile Gate” near Walgett.  His testimony confirmed the evidence given by the other police that tracks from the scene of the attempted robbery led to the defendant’s home.  Ging was convicted and sentenced to two years and six months’ hard labour in Maitland Gaol [2]Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 23 October 1879: 3..

In February 1881, Bundah found Robert Jennings who became lost and wandered for three days on Euroka Run after suffering heat stroke.  Bundah followed the trail for over 20km and found Jennings hidden under bushes and near death.  Jennings was brought into Walgett and recovered [3]Illustrated Sydney News and New South Wales Agriculturalist and Grazier 19 February 1881: 22..

Bundah sometimes found himself on the wrong side of the (white man’s) law.  In October 1879 he was arrested on suspicion of having assaulted Bernard Gallagher and stolen his watch.  Bundah knew Gallagher as he had previously recovered Gallagher’s draught horse which had gone missing.  Gallagher said that he had paid Bundah for the service.  On the night in question, Bundah had allegedly threatened to arrest Gallagher who was drunk.  In the act of detaining him, Bundah also stole Gallagher’s watch.  Evidence was given during the court case that another Aboriginal man dressed in similar clothes to Bundah was also in town that night.  John Jones, a pastoralist who had previously employed Bundah for five years, gave character evidence in the defendant’s favour, saying that he was known for his “honesty and fidelity”.  The jury declared Bundah innocent without retiring [4]Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 23 October 1879..

References   [ + ]

1. Evening News 8 March 1877: 2.
2. Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 23 October 1879: 3.
3. Illustrated Sydney News and New South Wales Agriculturalist and Grazier 19 February 1881: 22.
4. Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 23 October 1879.

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