Trackers were employed at Narrabri from 1886 through to the 1940s. Later trackers were housed in a hut which was originally located at the rear of the Narrabri Police Station. It now stands in the nearby Narrabri Gaol Museum and is the last known example of a tracker’s hut in New South Wales. The last tracker to occupy it was Major Pendennis in the 1940s. The hut was sold to Mr Charlie Ritter in the 1950s and moved to a farm about 10km east of town. Members of the Ritter family donated the hut to the Narrabri Heritage Committee in 1991 and a subsequent grant from the NSW Heritage Council grant enabled the hut to be moved to its present location in the grounds of the old Narrabri Gaol (now the local museum). A further grant from the Premier’s Department in 2007 funded its restoration and a ceremony two years later with members of the local Aboriginal community marked the opening of the hut as a museum display [ref]This information is on display in the Narrabri Museum.[/ref].
The weatherboard hut consists of two rooms and a veranda. Some of the original weatherboards, timber flooring and struts were replaced during the restoration. It is now less than 100m from its original position; the gaol is located behind the police and courthouse precinct.
Little is known about the last inhabitant, Major Pendennis. His death certificate records Wyndham, NSW, as his place of birth, but local knowledge indicates that he may have come from the Murray River. He had little to do with local Aboriginal families [ref]Interview with Helen Cain, Narrabri Museum, 22 April 2015; DC of Major Pendennis 1949/027354.[/ref].
It is uncertain when the Narrabri tracker’s hut was constructed. John Brooks was the tracker at Narrabri in July 1911 when his infant son Gordon passed away at the Narrabri “Police Quarters”. It is not clear whether this sad event took place in the station, tracker’s hut or another police building. Tragically, Brooks and his wife Emily Brown lost a daughter, Lena, two years later. The location of her passing was recorded as the Narrabri “Police Barracks”. Their surviving daughter Edith married Alexander Nean at Werris Creek in 1934 [ref] DC of Gordon Leslie Brooks 1911/011150; DC of Lena Brooks 1913/003044; MC of Alexander Nean and Edith Brooks 1934/013075; interview by James Rose, NTSCORP Senior Anthropologist with Julie and Roma Porter, Walhallow, 18 April 2006.[/ref].
An earlier tracker at Narrabri was Bob Roberts. In February 1898 he pursued and assisted in the arrest of an Aboriginal man named James Larry who was wanted for attempted rape. Bob may have been poorly treated by his colleagues at times [ref]NSW Police Gazette 28 Feburary 1898: 79.[/ref]. In November 1897, an article appeared in a Sydney paper alleging that Bob Roberts had been assaulted by a local constable [ref]The Truth 7 November 1897: 8.[/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 ►