Alexander Farrell was born at Armidale in 1868. His mother was an Aboriginal woman known only as Polly. In 1898 he was appointed as the tracker at Nowendoc, replacing Billy Beck who had moved to Walcha. One of Farrell’s first jobs was to investigate a case of pig stealing on the Cooplacurripa River. Less than two years later in September 1900 he was on call as Jimmy and Joe Governor approached the district. The brothers, responsible for murdering six members of the Mawbey family at Breelong near Gilgandra, had been on the run for over two months and had covered over 2,000 kilometres from the Liverpool Plains to the coast. Farrell was one of many trackers to pursue the fugitives. He was joined at Nowendoc by James Boney whose previous posting was at Walcha. At this time the brothers escaped and headed north. Joe was eventually shot dead near Singleton and Jimmy captured near Wingham[ref]Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW 24 September 1898: 8; Walcha Witness and Vernon County Record 5 November 1898: 2 ; Police Salary Register 1898 – Trackers SRNSW 3/2992 Reel 1973; Police Salary Register 1900 – Trackers SRNSW 3/2993 Reel 1973; Walcha Witness and Vernon County Record 29 September 1900: 2; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW 29 September 1900; Laurie Moore and Stephan Williams The True Story of Jimmy Governor 2001, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest[/ref].
Farrell remained as the tracker at Nowendoc until 1902 when he resigned and was replaced by Jack Wright. One of his last jobs was to help transfer an incapacitated miner from Boggy Creek to Walcha Hospital. Farrell moved to nearby Niangala with his wife Mary Bradshaw and their children. He later moved to Walcha and eventually Armidale where he passed away in 1925 [ref]Police Salary Register 1902 – Trackers SRNSW 3/2993 Reel 1973; Walcha Witness and Vernon County Record 25 October 1902: 2; Death Certificate of Alexander Farrell 1925/006488[/ref].
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...Learn More ►
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...Learn More ►
Pathfinders book Pathfinders, A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW, written by Dr Michael Bennett and published by NewSouth, is now available from all good bookstores. Click on the link below to order your copy. https://www.abbeys.com.au/book/pathfinders-a-history-of-aboriginal-trackers-in-nsw.do Early History Since the beginning of the colony, government agencies, explorers, surveyors and members of the general public called upon the tracking...Learn More ►