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Trial Bay View the Map

Trial Bay

Fourteen Aboriginal men were hired in November 1887 to look for Mr Francis Scott who went missing at Trial Bay near Arakoon.  It is probable that the many of the trackers were residents of the nearby Pelican Island Aboriginal Reserve which was gazetted in 1885.  Some of the named individuals have strong cultural connections to the Kempsey district and Dunghutti people, including George, Frederick and Bill Drew who were possibly brothers.  George Drew passed away at Pelican Island in 1915.  The tracker named Mosely is probably John Mosely who was born at Rollands Plains in about 1844.  Local knowledge of the landscape was probably a key reason why most of the men were employed.  In total, the 14 trackers were paid £12.8.0 (or four shillings per day) for their work.  Their efforts were in vain as Mr Scott body was found washed up on rocks about 2km south from the place at Trial Bay where he was last seen.  Mr Scott was connected by marriage to a local politician, Mr R.B. Smith, who may have used his influence to encourage the police to engage additional trackers in the search.[ref]Sydney Morning Herald 1 November 1887: 8; Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 12 November 1887: 6S; Colonial Secretary In Letters SRNSW 87/3277, Box 1/2669.[/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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