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Wee (21 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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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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Jack Simpson

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...

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Jambie Lawson

Jambie Lawson (also known as Jemmy, John or Jack) was born at Croagingalong in eastern Gippsland in about 1850 to Wothango and Loah.  He was an important informant to ethnographer A.W. Howitt about Maap people who he said occupied the territory to the east of the Snowy River and as far as the Victorian coast.  He may have attended the initiation...

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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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Tommy Pearce

Working at Mount McDonald from June 1882 until the end of 1884, Tommy Pearce’s career is unusual in that it provides evidence that trackers sometime took a holiday.  On Friday 27 April 1883, he passed through Carcoar “en route” to Dubbo for a “leave of absence”.  The purpose of his trip or why the destination was Dubbo – perhaps he...

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Dubbo Police Station

In 1862, police from the new amalgamated force were stationed at the new stone Court House and lock-up in Macquarie Street.  A new station and lock-up were constructed in Brisbane Street in the early 1870s.  Police barracks were constructed on Erskine Street in 1877 along with stables and quarters for the tracker.  The police paddock was nearby at the northern...

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Mungo Park

The drought and depression of the 1890s may have forced some Aboriginal men to travel further afield than usual to obtain work and support.  Mungo Park, born at Chatsworth on the Clarence River in 1870 to Ned Parker and an Aboriginal woman named Eliza, tracked for five years around Moree in the mid-1890s.  His first assignment was at Meroe where...

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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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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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