Tracker Tommy was based at Brewarrina in 1874 and throughout the year he undertook a variety of jobs. Unfortunately, no personal details about Tommy are known at this time [ref]An Aboriginal man known as McElligott’s Tommy was arrested on suspicion of having killed another Aboriginal man at a camp near Brewarrina in July 1876 (Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 1 August 1876: 1). McElligott’s Tommy was identified as a former tracker, but it is not clear if it is the same person as the Tommy mentioned here.[/ref]. On Wednesday 24 June he accompanied the senior constable to Bokhara where they served a bail notice on a prisoner and searched for two offenders suspected of saddle stealing. Tommy proceeded to Gongolgon on Sunday 6 July on despatch duty. After returning from the Warrego River on Wednesday 7 October, Tommy was immediately despatched to track an offender suspected of stealing cheques and money; he returned to the station the next day at 12pm. The following Monday he left for Bourke at 11am with a constable to serve a notice of appearance. They did not return to Brewarrina until Saturday at noon. On 23 October he helped the senior constable to apprehend a Chinese man named Jemmy at a nearby pastoral station on a charge of vagrancy. A week later he again travelled to Gongolgon on despatch duty before returning the next day. On Tuesday 3 November he and two constables escorted a prisoner to Bourke for Quarter Sessions. They returned on Saturday 7 November with prisoner Smith who was bound for Bathurst Gaol. Two days later Tommy and a constable took Smith to Gongolgon before handing him on. Travelling up the Barwon River a week later, Tommy and a senior constable executed a search which kept them out of town until 6pm. The following day he and a constable travelled to Coobong Station where they retrieved a horse belonging to a dead man. They were on the road until Friday 20 November [ref]Brewarrina Police Diary of Duty and Occurrences SR 7/11862.[/ref].
Tommy’s work history for 1874 exemplifies the diversity of tasks that trackers were given. Pursuing offenders only accounted for a few of his jobs. He also delivered messages, escorted prisoners, served court notices and retrieved a horse. There were weeks when he did not leave the station, but Tommy experienced numerous trips away from Brewarrina and it was perhaps this type of work that kept his enthusiasm for the job.
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 ►