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(By Philip Chauncy, J.P., District Surveyor at Ballaarat.)


As the reader will naturally desire to know what my claims are as an authority on the subject of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, I may say that I arrived at Adelaide from England in 1839, and have resided in the Colonies of South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria ever since. I held the appointment under the Imperial Government of Assistant Surveyor in Western Australia for about twelve years—from 1841 to 1853.

My observations of the Aborigines were made chiefly in that colony, where they were, during the period mentioned, very numerous. In 1841 they numbered about three thousand in the located portions of the territory, according to the statistical returns, whereas the white population was much smaller, and, as a consequence, we had to learn to speak to the natives to a great extent in their own language, and thus had frequent opportunities for observing their social position and habits.

The following statements are written down partly from memory and partly from a miscellaneous collection of notes which I have from time to time made. I have also occasionally availed myself of such authorities as I have at hand, for the purpose of elucidating facts with which I was previously acquainted.

These are principally the valuable little publications of the late Mr. G. F. Moore, Advocate-General of the Colony of Western Australia, and of the late Mr. E. S. Parker, formerly Assistant Protector of Aborigines in Victoria, with both of whom I was personally acquainted.

As will be seen, I do not even touch on many subjects connected with this singular race of mankind. My observations are intended rather as a record of such incidents as I happen to remember, and of such facts as I have thought noteworthy, with the view of assisting in the compilation of a general history, than to afford complete information on any point.