Page:History of West Australia.djvu/150

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116
WEST AUSTRALIA.


memory of pioneers, and the statements of several surviving natives of that period, particularly Weelah, of the Vasse tribe. The numerous bones on a sand patch testify to the perpetration of a massacre, and the recorded murder of a respected settler supplies the cause. It is known that a punitive expedition went out.

On 22nd February, 1841, George Layman, a settler at Wonnerup, whose supply of flour was limited, was greatly annoyed when a black named Quibean or Gawall obtained some damper from a servant by strategy. Mr. Layman seized Quibean by the beard and shoulders, and shook him severely. Quibean bided his time, approached Mr. Layman from the rear, and speared him through the back and heart.

The white men throughout Wonnerup, Capel, Vasse, and Blackwood banded together to take a dire revenge. They would no longer quietly bear these terrible murders after the liberal treatment extended towards the black men. Colonel (captain) Molloy ordered his soldiers to prepare to march, and he took command of them and the chief settlers in the south-western districts. He gave special instructions that no woman or child should be killed, but that no mercy should be offered the men. A strong and final lesson must be taught the blacks. All were well armed.

Into the remote places this party went, bent on killing without mercy. Through the woods, among rocky hills and shaded valleys, they searched for the black men. When they saw them they shouldered their muskets, and shot them down. Isolated natives were killed during the first few days, and, so it is said, some women among them, but the main body had hidden from the terrible white men. A few parties fled from the threatened districts to the southern coast, and escaped. The majority hid in the thick bush around Lake Mininup.

Although several natives were killed the settlers and soldiers were not satisfied. They redoubled their energy, determined to wreak vengeance on the main body. They rode from district to district, from hill to hill, and searched the bush and thickets. At last they traced the terrified fugitives to Lake Mininup. Here and there a native was killed, and the others seeing that their hiding place was discovered fled before the determined force. They rushed to a sand patch beyond Lake Mininup. Colonel Molloy observed a boy forsaken by his parents. He rode up to him, and to save him took him on his saddle. The lad, whose name was Burnin, survived, and lived in the district until a short time ago. The soldiers and settlers pushed on, and surrounded the black men on the sand patch. There was now no escape for the fugitives, and their vacuous cries of terror mingled with the reports of the white men's guns. Native after native was shot, and the survivors, knowing that orders had been given not to shoot the women, crouched on their knees, covered their bodies with their bokas, and cried, "Me yokah" (woman). The white men had no mercy. The black men were killed by dozens, and their corpses lined the route of march of the avengers. Then the latter went back satisfied.

On the sand patch near Mininup, skeletons and skulls of natives reported to have been killed in 1841 are still to be found. Mixed with them are the bones of dogs shot on the same day. Occasionally a sand drift covers them, and then again it discloses them to the sun. Surviving natives held the place in such terror that they would not go near to give the corpses burial. Even now natives refuse to disturb the bones.

Though so many natives were killed, Quibean had gone unscathed. For months he outwitted the white men, and defied their efforts to catch him. Then another native met him in a grove of banksia trees. Quibean was seeking his wife, and this native, pretending friendship, said he would guide the woman to the banksia trees. Quibean hid among the trees, and the native hurried off and told his story to a soldier and a settler. With guns ready, they crept among the trees, and confronted Quibean. Two charges of shot were projected into his body, and the cause of the massacre died.

Thefts of stores by natives at Bunbury were punished in 1841, and a native was executed at Perth during the year for the murder of a white boy on the Canning. No other trouble of any moment took place for the remainder of that and throughout the following year. The firmness of the settlers and administration was having an effect.

But one bright act in this period remains to be recorded. In 1841 the first marriage under English rites of a native couple took place. Both parties had worked for two years for Perth residents, and after the service was explained to them the ceremony was proceeded with. The Government presented to the couple a dowry of a town allotment in fee simple, unalienable, and to devolve to their legitimate descendants.

The annual reports of the Agricultural Society for the years 1839-1842 refer regretfully to the demand for labour, and while complimenting the spirited and untiring efforts of colonists and their success, state that their enterprise was necessarily contracted thereby. The directorate of this splendid institution included the names of leading colonists and officials, and hence the annual reports received the most serious attention of all classes. Animation in pastoral pursuits continued, and the numbers of sheep increased yearly, and flocks now roamed over immense areas. So important was this industry become that the exports were largely augmented, and the wealth and prosperity of the colony increased. Before the end of 1842, thousands of additional acres were utilised by pastoralists. The district of Kojonup was an example of the advance. It lay on the Perth to Albany road, about ninety miles N.N.W. of King George's Sound. A chain of military posts was established along this route by the Government, and one post was situated in the heart of the Kojonup district. Good grazing and agricultural country lay around, and in 1840 upwards of 1,600 sheep, besides horses and cattle, were scattered over the country.

The first landholders in the district of Kojonup were T. L. Symen, R. Normb, H. C. Sutherland, J. Bruce, E. M. Spencer, L. Samson, G. Whenhe, E. G. Collinson, J. Hassell, W. H. Sholl, G. E. C. Warburton, and J. S. Wells.

Early in November, 1839, a journey of interest and importance to colonists was accomplished by Mr. J. Harris. He travelled a flock of sheep from Albany to Perth, and described much of the country on either side of the track as admirably suited for pastoral and agricultural purposes.

The cause had at last been found of the numerous deaths in flocks of sheep inhabiting and passing over certain localities, and was traced, principally through the agency of Mr. Drummond, to the presence of a noxious plant. Cattle and sheep eating this plant succumbed to the poison it contained, and thenceforth every effort was made to prevent their partaking of it, In 1839 a mineral, supposed to be "encrinite," was discovered in the Toodyay district, and hopes were entertained that a coal field would be found there. The Government offered a