Mokare and Dr Alexander Collie (1793-1835)
And so to Dr Collie himself, Albany’s original ailing academic.
Doctor, botanist and casual explorer, by the early 1830s Collie had become a reknown natural history collector as well. His naval experience aboard HMS Blossom cruising the coasts of the Americas, including the Pacific Islands and far north, prior to his arrival in West Australia in 1829, bolstered his enthusiasm for collecting as well as his reputation for it among the scientific institutions back in Britain.
At the Swan River, Collie, whose health was fundementally compromised by lung disease, was based aboard the colony’s loaned naval vessel HMS Sulphur, effectively a troop ship, which had accompanied the Parmelia out to Western Australia on an approximate three year term, and upon which, somewhat ironically, the suffering Aberdeenshire graduate held the position of Ship’s Surgeon.
Collie attended the officials and associated military contingent of the 63rd Regiment whose job it was to support the colony’s lieutenant governor. Stirling used the Sulphur as a means of security, for procuring personnel and supplies, and for familiarising himself with the south-west corner as the need for more and better agricultural land increased. Thus, for nearly two years Collie coasted between Albany and the Swan River as often as Stirling saw fit for the ship’s use, which was intermittent but not infrequent.
Collie stayed busy during the lay-offs, profiting both directly and indirectly from his collections as (in tandem with Lieutenant Preston, also of the Sulphur) he combined them with smaller scale overland exploration initiatives to York and Pinjarra, along with coastal excursions south to Leschenault and the Vasse River (Bunbury and Bussleton) and then north to the Murchison (Geraldton) in search of the mouth of the Avon River which no one had yet realised was a branch of the Swan.
Collie’s ill-health was the equivalent of Mokare’s, both suffering and dying young at Albany, the difference being that Collie understood the benefits of containment, warmth and sustenance whereas Mokare, though much reduced, was still first and foremost a man of physical exertion and the outdoors. Collie’s witnessing of the sick and dying Aborigines at Albany, along with the understanding he was not only presiding over but monetarily gaining from the usurping of their lands, led him to an apologetic end in which he sought to ease his guilt by requesting burial in the same place as Mokare. A redemptive act of lasting symbolic importance, perhaps, but not one of consequence.
Most of the items comprising the Yurlmun: Mokare Mia Boodja exhibition were sourced by Dr Collie during his time at Albany which commenced twenty-two months after his arrival at Fremantle.
Above: Dr Alexander Collie was attached to the pioneer vessel of the Swan River Colony, HMS Sulphur, as Ship’s Surgeon. When not ashore collecting and exploring, Collie lived aboard the vessel as part of a small permament crew from time of arrival in June 1829 until it delivered him to Albany mid-April, 1831. Image: Scale model of HMS Sulphur made by Craig Mitchell. Photo by Brett Green, taken from HSGalleries website.
Towards the end of March 1831, unmarried but attached by way of letter writing to his benefactor brother George, Collie found himself appointed Justice of the Peace at Perth after accepting a relocation package to King George Sound. At Albany, he took up the dual roles of Medical Officer and Resident Magistrate, positions created by the N.S.W. handover.
Collie was Stirling’s second choice for the role, having first offered it to Captain Bannister, Barker’s ‘detestable character‘ (Journal, 22.3.31) as a sinecure for his much troubled but ultimately successful overland expedition from Perth to Albany a few months earlier. This is significant as it shows Stirling’s loyalty toward those who helped in the process of revealing the qualities of the South-West corner at a time when the Swan River itself had suffered untold reputational damage. In a way, it also reflects the docile but otherwise jaded personality of Dr Collie, who had been just as effective an explorer as Bannister to that point. Had he been a military man, or simply more upbeat in character (Bannister was haughty, blustering and accusatory), Collie probably would have featured more prominantly in Stirling’s thinking. (Read Gwen Chessell‘s Alexander Collie – Colonial Surgeon, Naturalist abd Explorer for the full picture.)
In any case, by the end of 1830 Stirling had effectively given away the entire Swan and Canning River frontages (as well as most of the known Avon Valley) to his cronies and first arriving Swan River settlers, including the demanding Henty family. Desperate to sell alternate prospects to the rapidly dwindling but nonetheless still heavily-invested tide of incoming settlers, Stirling pinned his hopes on proposed settlements at York, Bunbury (Leschenault), Augusta and Albany, all of which Collie had laid eyes upon.
As a brief aside, just as Collie was preparing to take up his position at Albany, Captain Robert Ramsey -formerly of the Royal Navy now Master of the Brig Britannia – arrived at Fremantle from Hobart with a cargo of food supplies (one third of it alcohol). Britannia was working the Sydney/Van Dieman’s Land sealanes much as John Hassell was at that time (see Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 3) and found cause to investigate opportunities out west.
Stirling met with Ramsey and, in the hopes Ramsey might establish a whaling depot at Albany, appointed him Deputy Harbour Master there, also promising him a land grant on the southern side of Prncess Royal Harbour. In the end Ramsey couldn’t make it, hurtling by on a massive sea the ship sounds lucky to have escaped. There is no evidence Ramsey ever visited Albany, certainly over the following eighteen months anyway, after which the grant was resumed. Barely worthy of note, this inconsequential episode has escaped historical recognition but in the context of the colony’s fraught fledgling days can be viewed as further example of the opportunism grasped at by ship’s captains as much as Stirling’s awareness of the whaling potential at Albany and his speculative methods of seeking to exploit it. (Ref; Accounts and Papers Vol 5, Colonies, Nov 1837-Aug 1838, Pg 168)
Above: While at Perth in April 1831, Robert Ramsey, Master of the brig Britannia, indicated to James Stirling he would establish a whaling depot at Albany. In the hopes he might, Stirling promised Ramsey land upon which to base the station along with the position of Deputy Harbour Master as further incentive. Ramsey did not visit the Sound as Britannia, damaged by enormous seas, was back in Hobart a month later. Image: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 2 June 1831, page 3
Stirling’s primary interest in King George Sound may have been its strategic location, it’s attractiveness to the foreign whaling fleet he hoped to exploit, but it was also a quaint, picturesque and friendly place quite familiar to the world of international navigation and also, as he had come to learn, much cooler. Stiring’s repeat visits to the Sound over the summer months reveals his appreciation of Albany as a retreat from the intense and lengthy swelter he and his young family would otherwise have had to endure up on the West Coast.
But the prevailing belief was that places of settlement had to be complemented by quality agricultural land. This was the great promise of the Swan River at Perth and one damned by the many exiting settlers for proving false. As we have seen, earlier explorations around Mokare’s Domaine had shown glimpses of good land but now, because of the commercial reality, much more needed to be known. One of Stirling’s primary goals was to locate whatever viable farmland there was around Albany and to exploit it. Collie, already having 1500 acres alloted to him at the Swan as well as another 2000 promised (but undelivered) after identifying and having the Collie River at Bunbury named after him, knew he stood to profit handsomely should he be the one to find it.
Collie had been to Albany on the Sulphur at least once already. First between the 4th and 7th of September, 1830, as part of a delivery of soldiers to the newly established Augusta settlement, and during which time he lost his gun (pistol) while making a collection of sea shells (recalled by Barker in his journal, 12 Jan, 1831). The second visit (though it can’t be confirmed) might have taken place over the Christmas of 1830 during a follow-up trip to Augusta which resulted in the Sulphur more-or-less being blown down to Albany. (Note; on both these occasions Mokare was touted to go to the Swan River for a visit but neither opportunity was taken up (see Part-3). Thus, Collie had not only already been introduced to Albany and its coastal surrounds but to Mokare and Captain Barker as well, and therefore had a decent brief on what to expect when he got there.
Collie arrived as Resident Magistrate mid-April 1831, two weeks after the Isabella‘s inebriated 63rd regiment under Lieutenant Carew had relieved Barker’s ‘unhinged‘ outgoing 39th. Rather than occupy one of the apparently dilapidated ex-military buildings, which he left to the Assistant Surveyor assigned to the Sound by Roe, Raphael Clint, and the handful of original settlers who sailed in with him (Geake, wife and daughter; Morley and wife; and two single men named as P Waddell and Alex Rowe. Ref; HMS Sulphur by E.S. and C.G.S. Whiteley, Pg 53), Collie decided to give himself some space and live, probably, in one or both of two huts close to an established food source. (Chessell, Alexander Collie, Pg 146)
This food source was the farm Captain Wakefield had established during 1827 and built a couple of weatherboard huts upon in January 1828, and which produced the first grain (maize) crop in Western Australia and other crops Captain Barker reaped the benefit of during his term. In a homely gesture, Collie called the farm Strawberry Hill and the name stuck.
Crucially, Collie’s decision to base himself there relocated the old command centre two miles from the shores of Princess Royal Harbour toward Middleton Beach. Additionally, Collie’s choice promoted James Stirling’s opinion of the farm, and in advance of his intended summer soujorn there (1831/2) Striling instructed Lieutenant Carew and his soldiers to build a more permanent dwelling at the site.
Collie’s being away from the old baracks also prompted Digory Geake to set up his Commercial Tavern closer to the 63rd’s presence, something which facilitated the apparent soldierly pursuit of drinking away the boredom, and something, during that most stagnant of periods, there was a lot of. As settlement slowly progressed, the town developed east of the barracks, a result of the jetties locating there, and Geake’s tavern came to suffer in the face of competing public houses opening down on the foreshore (see In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 4a). But that was four or five years later, in the meantime Albany’s Aborigines found themselves split between the barracks where there was trading and jobbing to be done in exchange for food, and Collie’s Strawberry Hill Farm which subsequently entered the Menang vocabulary as Barmup (Ref: Ivan Bird files, Albany Library).
Now, if we are to believe the story as it’s come to be told, Collie not only took on the responsibility of working with the Albany Aborigines from the farm, through Mokare, but built a much closer friendship with him than Barker had, despite the pair knowing each other less than five months, during which Mokare was away for at least two.
Even though Mokare chose to live with Collie rather than with Lieutenant Carew, Commandant of the 63rd’s Albany contingent, there’s reason to be sceptical of their so-called friendship. This is because Mokare, unlike Carew, was single, and as with Barker and more than likely Sleeman and Wakefield as well, was employed by the white leadership. There is no direct statement of this in the surviving records but as Barker repeatedly referred to Mokare asking permission to go on leave, or outstaying his requested leave period, Collie’s writing alludes to exactly the same thing (see Anecdotes and Remarks and Report to Governor James Stirling).
Mokare’s alliance with Collie and the farm suited him, while in Collie’s writing Mokare was described in never more than cordial terms, and only as either guide or interpretor.
Above: As by the N.S.W. Military, Mokare looks to have been employed by Alexander Collie as interpreter and guide to the Swan River establishment at King George Sound on a permanent basis. As a result he was subordinate and subject to management along Colonial lines; as far as practicable anyway Image: Excerpt from Anecdotes and Remarks in Respect of the Aborigines of King George Sound – Part 1. Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal (WA : 1833 – 1847), Saturday 5 July 1834, page 315.
Now, nobody left anything like the record Captain Barker did, but Collie, who had tried to publish his experiences aboard HMS Blossom, was a writer too and almost certainly aware each of his predecessors saw their time at ‘King George’ as literary opportunity.
As part of what he may later have intended to set out in longer form, in 1832 Collie wrote a report on the Albany Aborigines. The report was asked for by Stirling who had been directed by London to provide detail on his colony’s experiences and treatment of the Aborigines as part of a wider investigation into the treatment of all native peoples affected by British settlement across the empire. Collie’s response was conservative and officially accented, largely informed by the knowledge he had inherited from the previous command, but he added to it and, in addition to his exploration reports back to Perth, began fleshing his direct experiences at Albany. These experiences, which he called Anecdotes and Remarks Relative To The Aborigines At King George’s Sound were published as a seven part newspaper series during July and August 1834. Through them we gain insight not only as to what actually went on between Collie, Mokare, Nakinah, Coolbun and others, but what Collie really thought and felt about it all.
The information we have on Collie is related through the above material, through the letters he wrote to his brother George and through mentions of Collie in letters by other settlers. Fortunately, during Collie’s time others who came to the Sound in an official capacity also left useful documents behind and from these we are able to add to the picture.
So, to get underway, once Collie set up in Albany he didn’t waste time. Within two months he had made three localised investigations and one, the very first as it happens, all the way to the head of the Kalgan River at Moorilup.
27th April to 4th May, 1831 – Moorilup
Collie had barely orientated himself when on April 27th Mokare led him toward the Porongurup Range. The route was along the path of the old French River, the mouth of which Mokare told Collie was called Kalganup, a name Collie adopted and subsequently used whenever describing that particular waterway. Previous leadership explorations indicated the upper reaches of the river would reveal decent farmland and of course they were right. Within a few days Collie was rewarded with a viewing over Moorilup, prime hunting grounds of the Wills people. On return, Collie quickly wrote to Stirling about the adventure, hardly able to contain himself among the turgid detail necessarily included, but stopping short of declaring the place ‘farmland.’
We crossed the channel and proceeded. . . through a generally open forest country. . . . . . to the river again, at a place called Moor-illup, much frequented by the natives of King George’s Sound and Will tribe. . . Here Mokare expected to find some of his neighbours, the Wills, whose place of resort this. . . is.. .
Not only at Moor-illup, but at every pond of the river where we stopped, the traces of man, beast, and bird, are strongly marked; and the great numbers of kangaroo, and several emu, not to mention a fair proportion of ducks, cockatoos, pigeons, etc. seen daily at this place, shew that both the hunter and sportsman would find abundant amusement, and the settler no slight acquisition to his larder.
See In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 3 – Moorilup for more.
Perhaps unwittingly, Mokare had engaged with the white presence for the express purposes of revealing saleable land. I say unwittingly because it seems less likely Collie explained to Mokare exactly what his intentions were (seeking farmland so that others would buy it up and he be rewarded with a grant of his own) and exactly what the longer term outcome would deliver. It’s hard to imagine any of the Albany Aborigines at that time having a resounding picture of what the future would bring, but at the same time with the departure of Barker we have already established they, Mokare at the very least, knew what settlement entailed (as much in the eastern colonies as at Swan River) and that it was permanent.
That April 1831 excursion up the Kalgan was Collie’s first outing, though the fourth time Mokare had led the incomers upriver. He had taken Captain Wakefield to the Porongurups in August 1828, T.B. Wilson to Mount Barker, Lake Muir and Denmark in December the following year and Collet Barker back to Lake Muir (or thereabouts) in February 1830. As far as the Aborigines were concerned, nothing harmful had come from any of these treks and even though the colony got busy promoting the Moorilup find, nothing actually happened as a result of that revelation either. Not for some years anyway, and not for want of trying either, it’s just that until Sir Richard Spencer arrived more than two years later, no one who came to settle at Albany did so with agriculture in mind.
Evidently, during those very early days of free settlement it was clear to those who arrived that what money there was to be made at the Sound was to be made accomodating maritime needs. Albany, before anything else, was a port.
Nonetheless, Collie’s explorations had got off to a very encouraging start and, as we shall see, the good doctor went on to take special interest in the Mount Barker area, most notably the valleys of the upper Hay River, where he returned twice in close succession the following year.
Before that, however, Collie had to familarise himself with his more immediate surrounds. On the last day of his Moorilup excursion, as he neared Oyster Harbour, Collie detoured to the King River and made some preliminary findings, one of them being Willyung-up.
We breakfasted on the south side of the south branch (of King’s River), and Mokare informed us that the ground was named Tan-num-bang-i-war. A hundred yards further up there were numerous channels leading to this branch, but all at about that distance dry. The chief of them seems to come from Willyung-up through a slightly excavated valley, containing little shrub, and no trees larger than the Kingia Australis, similar to the grass tree, which very appropriately shades and adorns the head of its fraternal river.
17th May, 1831 – Willyung-up
That little foray led Collie to make a more deliberate excursion a fortnight later. On May 17th he went to where he called the head of the King, a place we now know as Willyung Hill, the same place Barker had been calling Woollyongup, which Mokare and the Albany Aborigines had been frequenting and which was scene of many reported gatherings.
The river water is fresh at Willyung (according to Collie) and the high point the hill offered will have been central to the Aborigine’s view across their country. Barker had gone there, or very close to it, on November 13th the previous year, but didn’t seem to realise its significance even though he met Wannewar and family, Numal and family, Tullicatwale and family as well as Tringole, Waringar and Mangaray and families, the latter having their mia’s there and inviting Barker to sit at their fires.
Collie doesn’t say if any of the Albany Aborigine’s accompanied him on this excursion but it was Mokare who originally directed him there. On returning from the second excursion, Collie wrote;
The banks, a little way above the native’s wading place, presents an inclination and height well suited to a horse-path for dragging boats; and for the purpose of landing and shipping goods, the head of King River, at the foot of Willyung-up, will afford the greatest convenience to the population of the interior.
Correspondingly, Willyung Hill features in 2004’s City of Albany & Department of Indigenous Affairs Aboriginal Heritage Survey report; ‘Kinjarling’ The Place of Rain.
ID4630 SO2365 King River
573640 6136647 Camp
This site was first recorded by a farmer named Mr Ray Gerovich on 20th August 1986. The site is a historical camp which is located near a permanent spring upon the southern embankment of King River. The area is a recreation reserve. Mr Gerovich gives a co-ordinate for the camp as 5806870, Mt Barker Map sheet SI 50-11 (1:250 000). According to Mr Gerovich Aborigines from other regions would regularly camp here while seeking local Aborigines permission to enter Oyster Harbour and Albany to fish and collect resources. A runner would be sent to Mt Willyung, where signals were seen (presumably smoke), before people could then continue their approach.
Within a month, Collie had honed in on the places most talked about and visited by the Aborigines outside of the immediate coastal environment.
4th to 7th June, 1831 – The Eastern Headland (Mnt Gardner and Coffin Island)
Early in June Collie took advantage of a sealer’s boat going to Coffin Island, at the eastern entrance to King George Sound. The excursion is of note because Collie will have known the coast to the east as far as Mount Many Peaks was considered local territory by the Albany Aborigines as much as by regional assessment. Also, it reflects the presence of sealers at Albany, although in winter there would have been (and were) no seals as the practise of slaughtering them was a summer pursuit.
Collie mentioned three unidentified men and no mother vessel, suggesting there was a mariner presence at Albany beyond the incoming settlers who had arrived with him on the Sulphur. These could have included James Newell and William Thacker, ex-N.S.W. convicts who had been granted their freedom and were known to have stayed, but even so it seems clear enough by this time King George Sound, or certain islands about it, were more than just seasonally inhabited.
Coffin Island more than likely gained its name from one of the visiting American whalers of the era, Coffin being a prominent name within those circles. Collie noted the former presence of seals and sealers on the island and said that Mutton Birds were plentiful that time of year, three men catching more than five hundred in less than three days.
Importantly, Collie went over to the mainland and climbed Mount Gardner, from where he spied Two People’s Bay and Mount Many Peaks, both important places to the coastal Aborigines as much as potential anchorages for visiting ships.
From what I could see. . . the bay referred to. . . is spacious, of sufficient depth of water, and sheltered. A convenient boat harbour was described to be in its S.W. side; and very material shelter would be afforded between Coffin Island and Mount Gardener, if the dangers be not too great under water. Mount Many-Peak, from Coffin Island, presents the same appearance as Mount Gardener. Water, I am informed, runs down its side in streams to the sea, and there is more than one boat harbour at its bottom. . .
15th June, 1831 – Princess Royal Harbour (South Side)
On June 15th Collie went to the forest groves on the far side of Princess Royal Harbour, noting its potential for cattle grazing and the procurement of lime and hardwood.
Above: Key locations Collie had come to know before the end of June 1831, just two months into his term as Albany’s leading official. Image: self doctored Google Earth screen shot of greater King George Sound.
From what we can glean from Collie’s Anecdotes and Remarks and a dutiful but uninspired letter he wrote to his brother George, dated 4th August, Collie was under the belief the Sound would soon emerge as chief settlement out West. However, after the fact of promoting it to James Stirling, he was non-plussed by Moorilup, failing to mention it specifically, and if he did generally, regarded it as no more than ‘fitted for pasture.’
Collie spent most of the winter about Strawberry Hill Farm ensuring he got planted and harvested the fruit, vegetables and herbs settlers needed and valued so highly. There had been no visiting ships (reported anyway) and on the whole things were very quiet, though by early August ‘a great many‘ natives were ‘very sick‘ and both Nakinah and Mokare were sharing his living quarters. News that Stirling was to spend the summer months at Albany, from September or October Collie thought, was in hand and the cottage at the farm to accommodate him will have been under construction.
From his Anecdotes and Remarks, Collie says that there was a policy in place on his arrival whereby the Aborigines could not bring their spears into proximity with the settler and soldier dwellings and, without so much as boldly stating it, heavily implies theft was a problem. So much so he relates the tale of Wanewar and Tullicatwale breaking in to the gardener’s hut undetected one day and then pulling vegetables at night time a little later in May. Collie says he gave the head gardener a gun loaded with ‘soft shot’ and instructed him to use it if ever he saw a native stealing from the garden again. Harsh practise and not in keeping with Collie’s self proclaimed steady as she goes’ approach. But I think what we may be able to take from this is the identification by Mokare of Wanewar, by accounts a generally unsavoury character, as the likely offender.
Barker lost respect for Wanewar because of his fatally spearing children and we know that Wanewar had been temporarily cast out by Mokare’s Mob for running off with Tullicatwale’s sister the previous summer. The wounding of Wanewar by way of defence or punishment may have been seen as a convenience for Collie, as much as a disguised display of firm authority, because he knew it would likely not cause trouble with the rest of the Albany Aborigines. In the end, however, nothing happened and Wanewar was subseuently reintroduced to Collie as a fine man by none other than Nakinah some time in the Spring.
In the meantime Collie relates the story of his camping at Napier during May with Mokare and a young man named Tallyen (not Dr Uredale’s son, Talwin). They are met by Botup, wife and family and Collie uses the experience to tell of the food they ate, the method of preparation and cooking and the pecking order of male, female and children in its distribution and consumption.
Collie then talks of Mokare’s requesting leave for a couple of days and returning two weeks later, June 7th, when rumour begins to circulate that a large group of red coats had landed at Nornalup. Collie sends Mokare and Nakinah with ten days provisions to investigate. The brothers returned four days later saying there had been just a few red coats and that the landing had been a few months earlier. Collie deduced they must have been soldiers of the 63rd aboard the Sulphur which made an investigative landing when returning to the Swan from dropping him at King George Sound back in April. The picture we get is that the Aborigines are quick to use whatever opportunity they might find to avail of settler rations and that Collie is every bit as open to exploitation in this regard as Barker was.
John Host’s vision of the Albany Aborigines running as they liked all over the European presence loses none of its lustre.
Mokare, on 22nd June, was complaining of illness and taking mecury under prescription from Collie when against recommendation he walked off into the bush. Nakinah left a couple of days later and neither returned, so Collie sets out, until the end of July. When he came back Mokare was weak and emaciated, so much so concluded Collie, he was beyond recovery. And so Collie recorded Mokare’s passing on 9th August. How he died quickly and without fuss, how Nakinah bent the body into a shape akin to the foetal position, then in the grip of an intense emotive response went about in search of spears so that he could quickly avenge the evil he perceived. How someone from the settlement helping Collie straightened out the body when no one was looking and Collie thinking it could lead to Nakinah being so grossly offended he would spear him too, curled the body as best he could again. How the next day they buried Mokare in a very carefully prepared grave at the site to the rear of today’s Town Hall, how they mourned him over limitless tea and biscuit at Collie’s residence (now a multi-roomed house) and how the next day the Albany Aborigines, to a man, left the settlement.
Collie’s commentary informs us, as Barker’s did, that Aboriginal interaction at Albany was not limited to his experience alone, that much more was going on around him. We learn that Talwin, Coolbun’s nephew, who had until the start of winter been employed as servant to Lieutenant Carew and his wife, had come back in to the settlement after Mokare’s death having exchanged half his blanket with Nakinah, who in turn had discarded his settler shirt and trousers for traditional attire. Collie says Talwin had been sick for some time and that he now needed close attention from him, and that he got it, but soon gave it up again and went back to the bush where he sought the inherited powers of his uncle. (Talwin was son of the recently deceased Mulgarradock (witch doctor) Dr Uredale, who was own-brother to Coolbun.) In any case, Collie tells of Talwin returning to the settlement again soon after, this time in a state similar to Mokare’s before he died, and that on 24th August Talwin died too. The burial ceremony much less attended took place alongside Mokare’s grave.
Not forgetting Collie was accutely conscious of his own debilitation, he then goes into a passionate discourse on how he did not understand the Aborigines. He asks how could they treat the risk of their dying bretheren so frivolously? Wonders why they failed to accept his superior medical experience and knowledge, why they ignored his advice to stay warm and clothed indoors. Collie laid blame fair and square on Coolbun, who he described as an old man, for not only influencing Talwin’s premature death but of causing the death under exactly the same circumstances of another young boy Collie named Charlie Brown (Aboriginal name unknown), who, Robert Stephens (thinking he was a European child) noted many years later, was also buried at the same location.
Note: The name Charlie Brown strongly suggests the child in question was half-caste. This might also suggest the boy was Nindaroli, child attributed to Tulicatwale and wife, but mooted among interested persons today as child of Isaac Nind, or else in some other way connected to him. Barker noted 18 Jan 1829 that Tulicatwale had sent his wife and ‘little Nindaroli‘ into the scrub when approached by some of the crown prisoners coming down the track and that afterwards said he’d been pressed by the prisoners ‘to bring in the wife‘ and that ‘he had some trouble in getting them (the prisoners) away’, implying Tulicatwale’s wife was a sexual target.
In any case, another bout of winter flu was wreaking havoc among Mokare’s Mob, something the survivors will have attributed to rival magic.
Collie goes on with his remarks and anecdotes telling of Nakinah’s chief status at Albany and how combined with his splendid physical presence he availed of it by moving from fire to fire without contributing, eating everything going. We are introduced to Waiter, the last remaining of Nakinah’s own-brothers, to Gyallipert and to Tallimamundy, who was living now with the Carews and who by Collie’s reckoning was of unaltering good nature, a much envied Lothario among his own who suddenly went missing having, Collie later discovered, been murdered and crudely buried a few yards from the worn track to the farm by a posse including Nakinah, Waiter, Wannewar, Tullicatwale and Metyalpin.
Above: There is a distinct physical quality evident in drawings and photographs of certain of the old Albany Aborigines, images supported by descriptions of Nakinah (in particular) provided by early settlement medical men Scott Nind and Alexander Collie. Image: Cut from an 1877 photograph of Albany Aborigines preparing for a staged corroborree, by Gustav Reimer. Originals at Mitchell Library, Sydney, this version scanned from John Dowson’s Old Albany.
Collie’s description of Tallimamundy’s end conjures images of the luring of John Dunn to his demise at Cocanarup almost fifty years later. Collie portrays it as a sneaky betrayal on home ground, resulting in a lengthy dampened mood among the Aborigines about the settlement as they attempted to hide the disappearance. Collie doesn’t indicate knowledge of tribal law and the consequences of transgressions in his writing, regarding acts of killing as vengence under the influence of superstition. Collie, not having read Barker’s journal, doesn’t clearly understand how Tallimamundy was from the Porongurups and, associated with the Willmen, not fully one of Mokare’s coastal mob. Nor does he know Tallimamundy was embroiled in payback spearings following the death by snakebite of Taragon, Mokare’s younger brother, two years earlier; his sister having been targeted he had retaliated with spears thrown at Metyalpin, Wanewar and Dr Uredale. Tallimamundy may well have been liked, his killing possibly even regretted, but sexual transgression and clan rivalry comprised a dangerous game, and it would appear poor Talimamundy, by coming in to the settlement and taking up with the Carews, pushed his luck a little too far.
Collie’s tales, at times, bring us almost as close as the intense detail of Barker’s journal, but only for Barker’s journal would otherwise leave us with mere snippets, tantalising glimpses of the activity that took place. Collie notes that Tallimamundy’s death did not go unchecked by his own clan and that subsequent to it Mokare’s Mob were on high alert. Also, for the first time in all the Euroepan writing so far left behind, Collie refers to the King George Sound tribe as Mongalon’s (Anecdotes and Remarks – Part 6). Mongalon being, of course, Mokare’s grandfather, Mongheran (Barker, 3.2.31), that very large man of ten wives against whom the imposing Nakinah was quite a child.
This revelation brings home the identity of the Albany Aborigines not as a wider language group we might call Menang, nor an isolated party living on the inherited shores of Nakinah’s Princess Royal Harbour, but the clan of the patriarche Mongheron whose influence spread from Nornalup to Mount Many Peaks but whose chief tribal grounds, as far as we can determine anyway, ran successively westward from the north side of Princess Royal Harbour under the respective custodies of Nakinah, Coolbun and Maraghnan.
Accepting Collie’s early acknowledgement it was he and the colonists who were moving in on the homelands of the Albany Aborigines, to bring this dramatic sequence of pre-Christmas events, 1831, to a close, we also note between Collie’s lines, infused with Christian values though they are, his boredom, frustration and disgust, his lowly opinion of the barbarian savage and their lazy, capricious, conniving manner which he had no choice but to endure day in, day out. Through all of this, and knowing he wrote very little before Mokare’s death, no where has Collie described him, or any of the Albany Aborigines, as his friend.
Each of the incomer leaders at King George Sound used the term friendly to describe Mokare’s Mob but rarely, if at all, did any of the white leadership name any of the Aborigines as that. There were moments of genuine camaraderie, no doubt, but the differences, revealed over and over again, were simply too great.
Equally, and especially with Mokare gone, I think we can safely say John Host’s accommodating but aloof South Coast Aboriginal collective viewed the white presence at Albany as no more than a tolerable vexation upon their otherwise uncompromised existence. To the majority, the settlement was probably afflicted with bad magic, otherwise no more than an oddity in their midst.
To the royal few, however; to the last remaining descendants of the legendary Mongalon, Mokare’s closest relatives, it was a place of plenty. A place of food, shelter, protection and knowledge, of rare Aboriginal comfort, and an entity, therefore, at what liitle cost it might afford, worth retaining.
Above: Digital copy of a 1964 note made by Albany Historian Robert Stephens in which he lists the five persons known to have been buried at Lot S112 on Chauncy’s 1851 Town Plan. Note the name J.B. Lyttleton, second from last. Lyttleton was appointed successor to Collie as Government Surgeon at Albany when Collie left in March, 1833, only to die there on 17th May, 1835, less than six months prior to Collie’s own passing, by coincidence, also at Albany. Both doctors, the only two colonial officials to have passed away while at the settlement, were buried at what had become a grave site for members of both the black and white leadership. Image: Courtesy Albany Town Library.
PostScript: 15 May 2017
Collie’s tracks to the northward of King George Sound as mapped by Arthur Hillman appears to detail the exploration Collie made with Mokare in May 1831.
Part 4b to follow