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3-065 (Text)

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The COLAC country was first occupied in September 1837 by myself, accompanied or immediately followed by Messrs. G. F. and A. Lloyd, and Wm. Carter; my flock consisted of 100 ewes, and theirs jointly of 500, which we joined together for mutual protection. These sheep were brought from Van Diemen's Land, at a cost of about £3 per head, the price there at that time being £2.
We were the only occupants of the country for about six months, our nearest neighbour being Mr. Thomas Ricketts, who occupied a station on the River Barwon - about ten miles distant - at the point where Gellibrand and Hesse were last seen.
Early in 1838, Messrs. Pollock, Dewing, Bromfield, and Mr. Briggs (for Capt. Fyans) took up the unoccupied land around the banks of Lake Colac. They were followed by Messrs. Watson and Hamilton, and after them the Messrs. Manifold stretched out to the west, and towards the end of that year and the beginning of 1839 the squatters spread rapidly over the Western District. All those persons I have named came from V. D. Land, and brought their sheep from there, except Capt. Fyans, who brought cattle from Sydney. 
I first heard of the Colac country from a party who were in search of Gellibrand and Hesse, in August 1837, under the guidance of the Rev. Mr. Naylor, and believe they were the discoverers of it. It may be interesting to state that this party, consisting of fourteen men, fitted out by Mrs. Gellibrand for three months, at an expense of £700, when arrived at Lake Colac, allowed some of the Barrabool tribe of aborigines who were with them to murder an old man and a child of the Colac tribe, whom they found on the banks of the lake, and afraid of retaliation from the tribe fled back in haste next morning, having passed the night without fire for concealment, and gave up the search. The blacks brought with them, on the end of their spears, portions of the man and child they had killed, which I saw them eat with great exultation during the evening. They stayed at our tent at the Barwon on their return.
The Colac tribe of natives was not numerous when we came here - men, women, and children not numbering more than 35 or 40. From their own account, they were once numerous and powerful, but from their possessing a rich hunting country, the Barrabool, Leigh, Wardy Yalloak, and Jancourt tribes surrounding, made constant war upon them, and the tribe, from having been the strongest, became the weakest. The extent of their country was a radius of about 10 miles from Lake Colac except on the south, where in the extensive Cape Otway Ranges there was no other tribe.
We had very little intercourse with them for the first eighteen months, their demeanour towards us being always treacherous and dishonest. They never lost an opportunity of stealing our sheep - at first by night carrying off a few from the fold, but afterwards became more daring, and drove off a score or two in the day time from the shepherd. These they would take to some secure corner and feast upon them, breaking the legs of those they did not at once kill, to detain them. 

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