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EARLY ABORIGINAL TROUBLES,
THE BATTLE OF PINJARRA.
(By C. B.)
The scene of aboriginal trouble was now centred on Murray river. The tribe which had its headquarters at this centre being one ot the most truculent in the environments of the settlement. The system of patrolling in the Swan district kept the natives in check, and prevailed many of the raids which had been carried out in several cases by the blacks of the Murray river tribe. Small depredations and thefts continued to be made in and about Perth, but nothing serious took place.
The system now adopted was mainly re- sponsible for keeping the blacks in their home centres, and times those of the Mur- ray river began to press severely on the settlers of the isolated outpost. To such an extent was the intimidation carried that it was seriously proposed to abandon the settlement at that location. The nature of the difficulty was not only one of theft but as the result of several attacks by armed natives sonic of the settlers were killed. The first attack in 1834 was made on two men named Budge and Morrell. The form- er was killed and the latter very severely wounded. For protection of the settle- ment the barracks of the military guard had been placed well up the Murray river, but so great was the alarm felt that it was considered desirable that they should be removed to a position where they could be easily succoured from the Eea in case of siege. The situation now assumed an extremely dangerous tone, and as a re- sult of the diabolical cruelty of the next incident eventuated the battle of Pinjarra.
Early on the morning of the 15th July, a settler named Barron, who had formerly
held non-commissioned name in the 63rd; Regiment had / occasion to proceed to the location of Mr. T. Peel, to effect an ex- change of a very, valuable mare. On ar- rival at his destination-he found that the animal was grazing in the bush. Mr. Barron requisitioned the assistance of a
man named Nesbit, a servant of Lieutenant Armstrong, and for friendly natives to help him in the search for the missing horse. The party in its search were joined by a company of about twenty natives, who volunteered their services in the work. Mr. Barron cheerfully accepted the additional help and the journey proceeded. Suddenly the natives pointed out what they said were tracks, and Barron leaned forward in his saddle to scan them. While in this position he was speared in the back, and at once realising his danger he galloped away, only to receive two more spear wounds, ono in the side and another in the arm. Nesbit was not so fortunate and turning upon him before he could escape, the treacherous native speared him to death, and horribly mutilated his body in deference to some of their tribal rites. Barron recovered, and the remains of poor Nesbit were found next day and decently interred. Such an atrocious outrage could not be allowed to go unpunished, and steps were at once taken to deal with the situation. The Swan river natives being quiet, Captain Ellis decided to take a strong body of police to the scene of the murder and measure out a severe punishment. He left Perth in October, and the Lieuten- ant Governor accompanied the expedition.
In the meantime the ferocious tribe of blacks dominated the whole of the district,
they oar ried ou their raids in a perfectly open manner, in defiance of all authority,' and when obstructed in their nefarious de- signs threatened all and sundry with vio-
Upon the arrival of Captain Stirling and Captain Ellis at Murray river the true grav- ity of thc situation was realised andj- a punitive expedition was organised. It was composed cf Sir James Stirling, Lieuten- ant Hoe, Captain Meares and his son, Captain Ellis, Mr. Thomas Peel, Mr. Nor- cott, Surveyor Smythe, and sixteen non- commissioned ..officers and men of the police and the 21st Regiment. On the night of thc 27th October, the party bivouacked at a place called "Jimjam," ten ' miles from the Murray mouth. Next morn-
ing they . moved- cautiously forward keeping a very careful, watch for any indi- cation of the presence of natives. A south- eastward course was maintained for "Pin- jarra," a well-known native resort,, and situated a little below the first ford on the river. ït was intended to establish a town at this locality, and a site had already
been reserved for the purpose. The original1 idea was to detach a part of the force at
this place, and to leave half the party, in- j eluding the military detachment, for its protection. Before reaching the site of the proposed town, an<l just after the ford af the river had been negotiated, native voices were heard in the neighbouring bosh. The locality was a well-known resort of the most ferocious blacks, and it was deter- mined, if the identity of the malefactors could be proved, that summary chastise- ment should be at once meted out to them. The Governor, accompanied by" Messrs. Peel and Norcott, at once rode forward, to see if they could recognise amongst the party the men wanted for the atrocious and murderous attack on Barron and Nesbit. Several attempts were made to attract the attention of the aborigines, but the noise made by thc natives was so deafening as td prevent this being carried out. Sir James Stirling and bis companions returned to the main body, and Captain Ellis, with Mr.
norcott, and turee mounted police, «rere detailed to at once get into communication with the natives. The instant the police were observed approaching, and when they were distant about £00 yards, the natives, to the number of nearly 70, started to their feet, and seising their spears, presented a formidable front- The party still steadily approached, and the natives sullenly retired, when at the command "Gallop," the gallant little band dashed into the aboriginals, A nearer view at once demonstrated thc fact that the miscreants wanted were amongst the natives. One of these, noted for' his audacity and cruelty, was the first to be recognised. Mr. Norcott cried out "These are the fellows we want, and here is that old rascal 'Nocnarr,' " on which the savage at once replied, "Yes, Noonarr, mc," and attempted to hurl his spear at Norcott» only to be at once shot dead by the latter. The identity of the tribe was now clearly established, and tba natives turning to as- sail cueir pursuers, the firing continued. The natives sullenly retreated towards thc river, fighting the whole wayr The firing and their yella had put the main body of the expedition in motion, and on arriviug at the river tho .natives were between two fires. Being thus exposed to this cross fire i and i he action having been too rapid for
time to rally their forces, the blacks adopted thc alternative of taking to the river, trust I ing that_ amongst the holes and decaying
timber that lined the banks to be secure ! from detection. With only their faces ex- posed they lay, ready io take advantage of J any mistake of the attackers and to place I out of action any unwary member of the I expedition. » Those of a more truculent
nature who attempted to break through \ tho cordon were at once despatched, and the
banks were then consistently searched foi tho skulkers, until about thirty of the nar tivos had been killed. Others es- caped either up or down tbs river, with the exception of a party of women and children were detained oui of harm's way until the termination oi the attack. 4 regrettable feature of tin attack was the deaths by bullet wounds o; one woman and two children, and om woman amongst the prisoner* had a bu! let through the thigh The fierceness c the engagement was responsible for the er ror, and it was almost impossible to de termine tlfk ses of Ihne hidden on thi banks of the river. On finding that tbi women and children had been spared man' of tbc male members of the tribe who ha< escaped the cordon cried out. that the: were women, but they speedily derampe<
qrhen fired upon
. Half the male members of thc tribe ha< been killed in the brief action, including fifteen of thc most determined and auda cious scoundrels, whose participation ii former outrages could bc clearly proved The tribe was a sanguinary and warlik one, and the "lesson g<\en was sharp an severe. Total destruct;on could easily hav followed, but as they uad -suffered such
drastic defeat, Sir James Stirling decide to call oft" the attack and the bugle sound« thi ''ceass fire," and thc expedition rea« 1 sembléd at thc ford. On examination i was found that Captain Ellis had a ver severe wound in the head, the spear hoi ing been thrown with such violence as t knock him of his horse. A constabl named P. Heffron had also been severel wounded in the upper part of the rig! arm. Thc need of a surgeon was urgent but unfortunately the expedition was witt out the services of a medical officer an all that could be done was to use thc roug and rçady remedies of the bush.
? Tho greatest vigilance was now dil played as rt was thought highly probab! that the natives would return with n inforcemcnts and continue the action, bi to the regret of the party this did' n( occur. After a consultation over th prisoners taken» it was decided to releas them, for the purpose of fully explainin to the remnant of the tribe the cause < their chastisement. They were told t bear, a message to the effect, "that if the again attempted to ípear white »nen t then; cattle, or to revenge in any way tl punishment inflicted upon them for the numerous mtiçders and outrages, that fo; times tho number of the present exped tion would be sent against them and de troy every man, woman and child." Tl purport of the message was thoroughly m derstood by £he captives, who, being wi nesssss "of the drastic punishment alreac meted-out, were only too glad to bc r leased under any conditions.
Thc tribe tous justly chastised had be< ihe dread not only of the settlers, but ali of the other .tribes whom they had mai times compelled to assist in their outrag upon the white population, and it was co -s:dered very unwise to establish' the pr posed post at "Pinjarra" until the feeljni engendered by the action had had time disappear. The punitive expedition, thei fore, returned to Mr. Thomas "Peel's esta lishmeut of the Murray-River estuary. T condition of Captain Ellis occs ioned some alarm. It was foui impossible to staunch ihe flow -of bloc from the wound, and alarming - symptoi of alternate torpor and delirium pupervt ed.'"' For the greater part of the hon ward journey the wounded officer had to held on his horse.N It was a matter
regret that port'on of the tribe appear to be absent a*, the time of the atta< but it was boped that the dire result
tho portion attacked would bave'tíie effi of deterring the others from further o: rage. Thc punitive party were; but
small handful, and it was to thc lead ship of Sir James Stirling", whose »hil in naval cutting-out expeditions' had he amply : demonstrated, many years ' fore, that such pronounced success was .
With pronptibude that , is.' a teati xsf the natl ve. means of cornmiuikation i result j$t the action was early known Perth, and its effect upon the Swan ri natives was all that could bc desired. C tain Ellis was removed by boat from i Murray river, and the passage .was. nu in lSeven hours, but little hope was eal tftinnd by the colonial surgeon
bis re .every, sod eventually be succumbed to his injuries. A well merited tribute was paid to the memory of this officer by Ute Administration. There can be no doubt but that the native trouble, serious at is was, would have reached far more alarming proportions but for thc seal and assiduity in his positioa as Guardian of the Aboriginals, and Officer Commanding the Mounted Police.
For several weeks it was considered necessary to retain a strong force at the Murray river. Patrolling parties had been sent ont in all directions but no large body of natives hat been encountered, prov- ing that the dispersion had been general. The natives killed in the fight at the river had been decently interred by the tribe, and the number of the graves would lead
to the inference that far more had fallen than had previously been anticipated.
No recent traces of the natives could be discovered and the extraordinary precau tions taken to guard against reprisals were
However, the desire for revenge still
animated the remnant of the tribe at Mur- ray river, and information was received that the leader had speared with his own hand two members of the tribe who had been concerned in the recent affray on account of the cowardice they had displayed. Puring December, 1834, Mr. S. Moore warned the Government that be had re- ceived information tbat a large body of Murray river natives were advancing on the rear of the Canning river, with, the avowed intention of wreaking vengeance on the military post at Kelmscott. The post was strongly reinforced, and no fur- ther information of the intended outrage
The time had now gone past for the Administration to neglect tho information conveyed in many of these rumours, for proof was not lacking that many depreda- tions resulting sometimes in loss of life, might have been averted by timely attention to