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Red (37 articles)

Fred Briggs

Fred Briggs, a Gumbaynggirr man, was born at Farquarhar’s Creek near Nymboida in about 1866 to Thomas Briggs and Mary.  His tracking prowess came to prominence when he found Edward Blaxland, his employer, in mountainous country on Marengo Station in the mid-1880s.  Briggs was working as a stockman at the time.  His first official employment as tracker was at Blicks...

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Jack Redtank

Jack Redtank, the son of Ngiyampaa speakers Jimmy Keewong and Kitty Narrangie, was recognised as being one of the best trackers in NSW in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His talents were brought to the attention of the authorities by David Harris, a European bushman who lived with Emily Keewong, Jack's sister. Jack's first job aged 16 was...

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Mount Boppy

Mount Boppy probably has the record for the shortest tenure of a tracker in NSW.  A small gold-mining settlement 50 kilometres east of Cobar in Ngiyampaa country, a tracker was based at Mount Boppy for only the month of January 1904.  Known only as Jack, he had previously served as the tracker at Cobar and then moved on to Mount...

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Byrock Police Station

Trackers were employed at Byrock Police Station from 1884 to at least 1938.  The career of the first Byrock tracker, Jack Todhunter, was tragically short.  He contracted typhoid fever two months after starting the job.  He was transferred to Dubbo Hospital when his condition deteriorated and he passed away there on 10 March 1885.  Little is known about Todhunter.  He...

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Tommy Ryan

Tommy Ryan, a noted Aboriginal stockman on the Upper Clarence between Grafton and Yulgilbar, was born in about 1860.  It is likely that he was a Bundjalung speaker.  He never worked as a tracker , but his run-ins with police meant that several trackers were sent after him. His story is significant because of his ability to repeatedly escape custody....

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Alexander Ward

Alexander Ward (also known as Alexander King) was born at Bingebah Station on the western fringe of the Pilliga Scrub on 5 September 1887.  He was the son of William King, an Aboriginal stockman born at Coonamble, and Jane Ward of Windsor in western Sydney.  He married Stella Duncan of Coonamble at Burra Bee Dee Aboriginal Station in July 1916. ...

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Billy Nicholls

Billy Nicholls was born at Tabulam in about 1869, possibly to Billy Nicholls Senior who was a gold miner in the Tabulam district and an Aboriginal woman named Ellen Walker.  Billy started as the tracker at Copmanhurst on the Clarence River in September 1908 replacing Carty Cregg.  Previously, Billy had worked as a stockman for George Barnier at Moleville (12km...

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Tracker Jack Patten

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the team at Koori History.  See the original article written by John T. Patten at https://koorihistory.com/tracker-patten/   John James Patten, known as Jack Patten, was born in the Snowy Mountains of Victoria at Corryong in 1874. He was the eldest son of John Patten, a man for whom there is...

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Bundjalung

Bundjalung, sometimes Yugambeh-Bundjalung, was a language spoken on the far north coast of NSW and in south-eastern Queensland.  Linguists have identified at least 19 dialects including Gidhabal (spoken on the upper Richmond River), Wehlubal (spoken at Baryulgil on the Clarence River) and Bandjalang (spoken at Coraki and Evans Head).  Bundjalung is a living though endangered language, with fluent speakers living...

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Whyman McLean

Whyman McLean, the son of Archibald McLean and an Aboriginal woman known only as Louisa, was born at Morago near the Werai Forest in about 1860.  There were many knowledgeable Aboriginal men in the district and it is likely that Whyman learned tracking skills from them when growing up.[ref]See The Memoirs of H.M. Eastman held by the Central Murray Regional...

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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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