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Edward Bowers Bennett View the Map

Edward Bowers Bennett, son of Englishman Edward Bennett and Aboriginal woman Elizabeth Woods, was born at Pilliga in about 1882.  He married Mary Ann Goulding, daughter of Irishman Michael Goulding and Aboriginal woman Mary Ann Hall at Coonabarabran in 1903.  The couple raised three daughters and a step-son who was sadly killed on the Western Front in World War I. [ref]DC of Edward Bennett DC 1950/23632; MC of Edward Bowers Bennett and Mary Anne Golding 1903/005855; https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/132072325?searchTerm=tracker%20bennett%20baradine&searchLimits=[/ref]

By October 1914 Bennett was employed as the tracker at Baradine[ref]Police Salary Register 1914 State Archives and Records NSW 3/2995 Reel 1974.[/ref] (on the western fringe of the Pilliga Scrub).  His most notable case came in May 1923 when along with Alec Riley and Monty Tickle, Bennett pursued Roy Governor (younger brother of outlaws Jimmy and Joe Governor) through the bush near Mendooran.  Governor, who had taken to living off the land after suffering racist taunts at Wellington, was responsible for several break-ins and the trackers were soon on his trail.  Bennett played a significant role in the shootout that led to Governor’s capture, firing one of the shots that incapacitated the wanted man.  All three trackers were praised in the press for their efforts and had their photo published in Sydney (Bennett is on the right).[ref]Michael Bennett 2020 Pathfinders: A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW, NewSouth Publishing; https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/224105204?searchTerm=tracker%20bennett%20baradine&searchLimits=.[/ref]

Bennett’s career continued after the Governor case, although none of the cases were as exhilarating.  In May 1927 he helped arrest Alfred Casear Jones on a charge of stealing 45 sheep.  And early the following year, he successfully pursued Edgar Mettam who was wanted for obtaining financial benefit by false pretenses.  Bennett remained in the district for the rest of his life, working as a tracker into his 60s before passing away at Coonabarabran in July 1950.[ref] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/252093504?searchTerm=tracker%20bennett%20baradine&searchLimits= https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/252094461?searchTerm=tracker%20bennett%20baradine&searchLimits= DC of Edward Bennett DC 1950/23632[/ref]

You can read more about Tracker Bennett in Pathfinders, written by Dr Michael Bennett (no relation) and published by New South Books.  Click on the link below to order your copy.


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...

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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

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...

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