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3-069 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,McLeod, John Norman,37
Narrative Discourse
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Public Written
Bride, 1898
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3-069-raw.txt — 4 KB

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I landed on Indented Head from V. D. Land with sheep in July 1837. In September I went with a party to explore. We went round Lakes Colac and Korangamite; we were the first who went round the latter. The farthest out station at that time was Mr Ricketts's, on the River Barwon, 40 miles from Geelong; he had only been there about three weeks; the blacks had robbed him, and were constantly driving his shepherds in with their flocks. [148] As we came along the banks of Lake Korangamite a great many parties of natives ran off into the stony rise, leaving everything behind them. They were on the mouths of small creeks which run into the lake, fishing. The stony, scrubby rises come so close to the lake, they could not see us; we were within a few yards of them; we were stopped by the Pirron Yalloak. At night we could not find a ford, so we camped in the centre of a small plain, tethering our horses close around us, and kept a watch about all night - there were seven of us. The natives were talking close to us the whole night, within 100 yards. At daylight two men came to us, when we made signs that we would not harm them. They came to ask for the black boy - Billy Clarke. As it was about three weeks after Dr. Clarke had taken him, they wished to know if we had eaten him, and said his mother was very sorry and cried very much.
In October I took up my station on the River Moorabool (Borhoneyghurk), 35 miles from Geelong. Mr. George Russell then lived on the Moorabool, 12 miles from Geelong, but had an out-station on the Leigh, where his house now is; but about November the natives drove three men (two shepherds and a hut-keeper) from their hut, notwithstanding the men having shot two of them. They robbed and burned the hut to the ground, so that Mr. Russell vacated that river for some months. In January 1838 G. F. Read took up his station on the River Leigh; next came the Learmonths, Henry Anderson (occupying what is now John Winter's station), and the Yuilles, near Buninyong, I think about March or April.
About the same time Stead, Cowie, and Robert Steiglitz came above me on the Moorabool, and, about twelve months after, John Wallace and Egerton. In October 1846 my brother Hugh and I took up Benyeo on the South Australian boundary, where he now resides, about 100 miles from Portland, on the border of the mallee scrub. There never were many natives in that part. What few there are have been very useful, but they are dying off fast as in all parts; there seldom is a child born, and when such a thing does happen it soon dies. [149] The first natives I saw after taking up my station on the River Moorabool was a party of about 20. I was shepherding my own sheep at the time, as all my men were shearing. I was two miles from the hut, but, as I had my double-barrelled gun with me, I signed to two of them to come and speak to me, as I wished to tell them they must not come too near the hut; and it was many months before I did allow any to come, but sent their provisions to them when they worked for me. I have counted 340 together at their meetings in 1843 and 1844. Since I came to the Wannon I have never seen more than about 70 together. I know of 12 quite young men who have died in this district within the last two years. I had two young men with their wives all last winter, nursing them - at least three of them. One of the women (or rather she was quite a girl of about thirteen) got the provisions and cooked for the others, who could hardly move, and appeared in great pain indeed. From being in the summer fine strong young men they became perfect skeletons, and they are now perfect wrecks, although quite recovered. You are, perhaps, aware that I had one constantly with me for nine years; his father and mother gave him to me when about ten years of age, and he, as well as his parents, appeared to at once consider him my property. He followed me wherever I went, was in Sydney and V. D. Land, and was very much attached to me. He grew a very fine man, and his tribe forced him to leave me. Fearing you may be in a hurry for an answer, I send this as it is, having received a kick in the hand from a colt to-day. I hope you will therefore excuse the roughness of it.