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Sam Hall View the Map

Sam Hall (also known as Sam Hull) was born in Gowen County (between Gilgandra and Coonabarabran) in about 1845.  Little is known about his life personally or professionally.  It is likely he was a tracker in the Coonamble district although his name is yet to be found in official records.  In later years, he lived on the Aboriginal reserve at Gulargambone where he acted as guardian for children attending the local Aboriginal school.  He passed away at the Reserve on 4 April 1909 and was buried the following day in the Gulargambone Cemetery.[ref]Death Certificate of Sam Hall 1909//005102; Gulargambone Aboriginal School File, SARANSW 5/16180.2[/ref]

The photograph of Sam Hall in a tracker’s uniform is part of a collection held by the State Library of New South Wales from two properties, Terembone and Billeroy, located approximately 35km north-north-west of Coonamble.  There was an Aboriginal camp on Billeroy and many residents were employed on Terembone, which was owned in the 1870s by George and Jessie Lloyd.[ref]A record of life on a sheep station at Coonamble, Western N.S.W. ca 1880-1900, SLNSW PXE 1639[/ref]

The circumstances in which the photograph was taken are unspecified.  Hall was clearly known to the Lloyds’ – perhaps he once worked on Terembone or lived at nearby Billeroy.  Jessie Lloyd was an author who published The Wheel of Life: A Domestic Tale of Life in Australia in 1880 under the pen name Silverleaf.  The book contains several references to trackers and although Hall is not mentioned directly, he was probably involved in similar cases during his time with the police.  In one episode, a tracker named Paddy helped to capture two bushrangers who had robbed a hotel and held up local pastoralists.  Paddy followed the bushrangers boot prints by moonlight “with the greatest ease in places” where others “could not see the slightest sign.”  In the other case, a tracker named Cumbo found a lost toddler by observing several small clues including a broken bush and a torn piece of clothing.  He and another tracker were recruited from the local camp which had recently moved after the death of an important Elder named Sally.  Although Lloyd’s book acknowledges the work of trackers, it is characterized by derogatory terms for and stereotypical views of Aboriginal people (such as they are inherently lazy).  With regard to the latter point, the commendable work of Paddy and Cumbo clearly indicates otherwise.[ref]The Wheel of Life: A Domestic Tale of Life in Australia by Silverleaf, George Robertson, Sydney, 1880.[/ref]

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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