ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA.
A meeting of the South Australian Branch of this Society waa held at the rooms, Waymouth-street, on Friday night, July 29. Sir Samuel Davenport presided.
Mr. T. M. Sutton, Superintendent of Point Pearce Aboriginal Mission Station, read the following paper on the Adjahdurah tribe of aborigines on Yorke's Peninsula and some of their early customs and traditions : —
'It is very difficult to get reliable information as to the past history of the aborigines. The tendency is to mix it up with the semi-civilized life they have led since the Europeans have been here. Many even of the oldest have forgotten all about it. My plan has been to get the first information from two old men or women, then try two more, get their views on the same subject, and submit it all to the old people together and a couple of young men. Some of the latter do not like all the past customs to be known.
The name of the tribe on Yorke'a Peninsula is Adjahdurah, or my people. Adjah means my or mine, as adjah-coojmunya my son, adjah - lanna my daughter. One individual of the tribe would be called Durah. The general name of a native of any tribe is Nepoh.
The tribe was also divided into four local divisions, viz.— Koonarrah north), Winderah (east), Dilpah (south), Warree (west). Each local division had its own totems, viz. — Ghardie (emu), durantoo (red karigaroo), coynbinya (butter - fish), coolallah (salmon). I only give these totems as a sample ; there were numbers of others. Men and women of the same totems were allowed to marry. I have never heard of any other tribe where this was allowed. I would not accept it at first, until the King told me that he married a ghardie, he being a ghardie himself; his grandfather also married a ghardie. A woman takes her husband's totem at marriage. They were not allowed to marry blood relations under pain of death. First cousins are considered equal to brothers and sisters, foster children were treated as their own.
Betrothal took place in infancy, and the marriage ceremony after circumcision and other rites performed on the male. At this ceremony blood being extracted from the candidate he was obliged to drink some. A humming instrument was used to warn all but the initiated away. No one was allowed to see this instrument under pain of death, unless they were initiated.
Of course this was long ago, the ancient stringency having grown entirely obsolete. The old King made one, and used it in my presence. I am not aware that this privilege has been extended to any other white man in this colony. The Victorian natives have a similar instrument, and the same rules are observed concerning it. I have heard of a gentleman in that colony being allowed to see it, but he had to be initiated first. Without this initiation I have been allowed to see both. There is very little difference in the construction, none at all in the noise they make.
Cannibalism was unknown in this tribe, neither did they extract the kidney fat from their enemies, as was the custom of some of the Australian tribes. Being cut off from other tribes very little was known of war, consequently their weapons were few.
The tribe was ruled over by a King, with head men selected from each of the local divisions alluded to above. The kingship was hereditary. The last King, who died recently, spoke of his grandfather as occupying that position when he was a boy.
The following legend as to the origin of the tribe was told me by one of the natives, who received it from hia father, he being noted for his good memory. The story was also corroborated by the King. The father of the tribe, who was a giant, lived on Wauraltee Island, where he had always resided, and where he was ultimately buried. He had a brother in whom was vested power almost equal to his own. This brother travelled about. Once in his wanderings down the Peninsula he met a man belonging to another race, whether black or white ' deponent sayeth not.' They had a fight. The latter was speared, and his bowels gushed out. His conquerer then cut him into halves, the severance taking place just below the arms, and the upper portion he transformed into a bat (majaja).
The bat he dispatched with a message to the conquered one's people, who were camped on the beach. He returned and desired the conquerer to go to their camp for a oonsultation. This he refused to do, but waited until night, and stole upon them while they slept, setting fire to their camp and burning them all to death. The wind arose and blew their ashes away, which turned into seabirds. These are the present shags, pelicans, gulls, &c. Previous to this the sea water was fresh. The mark of the cut in the bat, they say, can be seen now. The natives will on no consideration kill them. A spider, it is said, made the islands. They seem to have no idea how the mainland came into existence.
They believed in a supreme being and in the souI's existence after death. When any one dies belonging to Koornarrah (north) the soul goes away in that direction, and vice versa. The body used to be kept for several days after death, and the doctor of the tribe would lie beside it and profess to hold communication with the departed soul, from which source he pretented to receive the secrets of his art. Of course this doctor was a great humbug. He would put stones and other things into his mouth, and suck the seat of pain, then eject them, pretending he had extracted them from the patient's body.
The name a person had while living was never mentioned after death, Even amongst the present generation this rule is now observed. A man would never speak to his mother-in-law ; if he wished to give her anything he would look another way, and pass it to her with both hands. Brothers and first cousins would not hold direct conversation with each other. Certain rules were observed in the division of food, which, perhaps, would not be interesting to go into at present.
It is a mistake to suppose that corrobbories were got up merely for dancing and noise. They had a great significance in olden times. In seasons of drought they had rain corrobbories, so when kangaroos and emus were scarce they had kangaroo and emu corrobbories, &c. A man called the ghureldrie (I suppose analogous to the Poet Laureate of England) made and sang the songs. He was a very important personage on these occasions.
Messages were sent from place to place by notches cut in a waddie, rolled in the skin of an animal, I was the bearer of a stick-message once from a native on the station to another on Wauraltee Island. I was told afterwards the purport of this measage. It was not sent in the orthodox way by being wrapped in a skin, so I saw the notches and learned their meaning.
No grasstrees growing on Yorke's Peninsula, it was difficult for the natives in olden times to get fire. The King has told me that he and others would travel to the Murray to get it when they had lost the fire, and were never molested by the natives there.
The natives belonging to this tribe had only words to express numbers up to five, viz., arrizo (one), bulli (two), mungree (three), bulli bulli (four), yarrabali (five). Some of the northern natives have only words to express four. Papee is father ; adgaah is mother ; doomalah, grandfather; coojmunya, son; lanna, daughter; cabbie, water (it is cowie in the north) ; bardqh, meat ; miah, bread — this would signify in olden times food of any sort except meat.' A discussion followed on the subject of the aborigines, and a vote of thanks was accorded Mr. Sutton.
THE STORY OF OUR PENINSULA ABORIGINES
We are frequently hearing of this and that being, done to "preserve" or help the aborigines. The buying of a station property for the Ooldea natives is one thing. Let us hope that the people for whom the late Mrs. Daisy Bates cared so long will find, if not a happy hunting ground, at least a happy home there.
In the northern parts of Australia other things, such as a health survey, are being done to help the remaining native inhabitants, some of whom are still protesting against the white man's depredations. The Arnhem Land natives are objecting to so many crocodile hunters invading their territory.
The Ooldea and northern aborigines have received much more publicity generally than those in other parts of Australia. Not very much is known of the tribes which at one time inhabited Yorke Peninsula. It is said that there were three tribes. That seems possible as there are several names generally supposed to mean "water," which apparently came from different tribal talk.
Mr. C. P. Mountford, who, has studied the aborigines and their lore, made a special visit to Yorke Peninsula some years ago to garner information. He says his interest in these people started when he was a boy at Moonta after seeing their burial places in the sandhills.
Mr. Mountford says that the natives, from Wallaroo down, used to gather at Marion Bay each year when the mullet arrived. Not only was there great feasting but initiation ceremonies were also carried out.
The name the natives had for Marion Bay was Koka dowi. The organisation and marriage customs of the tribe —lie mentions only one—were similar to those of the Adelaide and River Murray natives, but the peninsula natives did not use boomerangs nor shields, nor did they make mats.
But they did make fishing nets. New ones, apparently, each year. The natives knew when to expect the large schools of mullet which came periodically. Some time beforehand they made their nets. First they collected bundles of a flat leaved rush—the of same a kind flat no doubt, as the C.W.A. craft workers use to make baskets nowadays.
In the evening alter the gathering they sang songs round the rush pile to 'charm" the nets, so that they would gather a good supply of fish.
Next morning a trench was dug and a fire lit alongside it. When the fire had burned down the hot embers were raked into it and a thin covering of sand put on top of them. The rushes were laid on this and in turn covered by leaves and sand. At the end of about two hours—when the old man expert thought they should be ready—the rushes were raked from the trench and chewed until they were a stringy mass. That this was considered a most important job was evidenced by the fact that men, as well as women, helped with the chewing. The fibre was then spun into string and wound on sticks, later to be made into nets. The method of net making, Mr. Mountford says, was like that used by Europeans. The nets were small, about five feet long and three feet wide. Each family made several, and the nets they made then belonged to them.
When it was time for mullet to arrive look-out men watched for them from the cliffs and gave the signal of their approach. Then each net was dragged into the water by two men, net behind net, making a long line out into the sea. Others swam out into the deeper water and drove the fish into the nets, Then the fish were landed, divided up, and cooked, and a great feasting took place. Net making was apparently the chief art of this tribe. They caught kangaroos in the same way as they caught mullet—men drove them into nets. Emus were lured by smoke fires, and then speared, The aborigines knew all the waterholes. They also knew which mallee roots contained water. They thought their best waterholes were near Inneston—little circular potholes in the limestone formation, which they covered with flat stones to keep the water pure, and save evaporation. Mr. Mountford found fifteen of these holes, some big enough to hold thirty to forty gallons of water.
Amongst their legends was one of a wicked lubra who was pushed over the cliffs at Cape Spencer and turned into a stone, now the famous "Blow Hole." In stormy weather, so the legend goes, she spouts water up over the 200-foot cliff to drench those who go to look at her.
CUSTOMS AND TRIBAL LORE - Last Of The Yorke Peninsula Aborigines
Thu 16 Jul 1936, Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) By C. P. MOUNTFORD Trove
There are few aborigines in the southern part of this State who can give reliable information regarding the beliefs of their forefathers to students of native lore. Although a great deal is known of the tribal life of the Central Australian, only fragmentary notes of the customs of the southern groups have been collected. This applies particularly to those who inhabited Yorke Peninsula. It is the same old story—interest in things near at hand was not aroused until it was too late, while those in the more distant parts attracted strongly.
Because of this paucity of information regarding the now almost extinct Yorke Peninsula tribe, I readily accepted an invitation to visit the lower end of the Peninsula in company with a scientific party.
My interest in this tribe started at Moonta, when I was still a boy. I had seen their burial places in the sandhills, and the shallow wells from which they obtained their water, and often wondered what kind of people they were. But when bushmen from the north told me of strange sacred corroborees and fierce, truculent tribes, my mind conjured up pictures of similar people roaming these white sandhills.
I now know that the Far Northern people are rarely troublesome, and, unless smarting under some injustice of cruelty, are the antithesis of any first impression. There is no doubt that the inhabitants of the white sandhills of my childish playground were similar — kindly and courteous.
During our recent trip I had the pleasure of talking with Mrs. Eggington. This old lady has always lived a civilised life, but the aboriginal blood shows in that kindly and friendly courteousness which is so striking among the natives. Although 84 years of age, she is in full possession of her faculties, and proved to be a mine of information regarding the doings of her almost extinct forebears.
Early in life she married a European, but she kept in touch with her tribal relatives. Thus she became conversant with many aspects of then doings, some of which, I feel sure, would not have been "correct" for a woman to know when the tribe was in its heyday.
During a long talk with the old lady I learned that although the organisation of the tribe and marriage customs resembled those of the Adelaide and River Murray natives, the boomerang and shield were not adopted, nor was the art of mat making, such as is still carried on by the natives of Point McLeay.
Fishing And Net Making
The tribe, however, were expert fishermen, and, consequently, adepts in the art of net making. Mrs. Eggington described with a great amount of detail the "net making" parties which were held at Marion Bay. The natives called that place Kokadowi.
At certain seasons of the year the mullet travel along this coast in large schools. Some time before their appearance, the natives from the adjacent districts gathered to make nets for the coming harvest. The first day was spent in collecting bundles of a flat-leafed rush, which were piled in a large heap, preparatory to the next operation. That evening was spent in singing songs to "charm" the nets, and thus ensure a plentiful supply of fish.
The following morning a trench was dug in the sand and a large fire lit alongside, which at the end of an hour would have burned down to a heap of embers. These were raked into the trench, and covered with a thin layer of sand. On this the rushes were placed and "sealed down" with a cover of leaves, sand being placed on top.
About two hours of ''cooking" was required to reduce the rushes to the proper flexibility, the actual time being dictated by an old man, an expert in such matters. At a given signal, the hard work of preparing the fibre soinning the string and making the nets began. The cooked rushes were raked from the fire, and were chewed by both men and women until reduced to a stringy, fibrous mass.
Others, expert in the art of string making, then spun the chewed fibre into lengths of string, later to be wound on spindles. From this fibre the fishing nets were made.
The method of net making, as practised by these people, was similar to that used by Europeans. The nets, however, were not of large dimensions, being only about five feet long and three feet wide. Each family made several, which, although used in the communal fishing parties remained the property of the family group.
Conducting The Fishing
The arrival of the mullet was the occason of the great gathering of the year. Natives from all parts of the Peninsula, from Wallaroo downwards, gathered at Marion Bay, for in addition to the excellent "fishing parties," which in themselves were a consider-able attraction, ceremonies of initia-tion were carried out.
When the fishing began, men, stationed on prominent headlands, gave warning of the approaching schools. On a signal from the observers on the cliff heights, each net was dragged into the water by two men, and a number proceeding end on end, thus formed a long line of nets, extending seaward for a considerable distance. Other's, by swimming, operated in the deeper water, and, guided by the signals of those on the cliffs, drove the fish towards the nets.
So the fish were surrounded and dragged up on the sandy beach, later to be distributed among the various families.
The cooking was simple, but effective. The fish, unscaled, were laid on the coals, small lighted sticks being placed on top and the fish left until thoroughly cooked. The scales and skin then parted easily from the flesh, and the resulting dish was clean and tender. White men testify to the excellence of this dish.
Many other hunting stories were related, stories of how the emu was lured until within spear-throw by means of smoke fires, and kangaroos were driven into nets by bands of men.
Although drinkable surface waters are unknown in those parts, the aborigines were able to obtain this necessity from a number of sources. Waterbearing mallee roots, shallow wells in the sand, just above high tide mark, and small rock holes, in the limestone crust, were some of the water sources known to these people.
Mrs. Eggington described a locality near to Inniston where, she said, were the holes in which the best water in the district was obtainable. After several unsuccessful searches they were located, most of them having been filled in by the white man. These consisted of no more than small circular pot-holes in the limestone, which, in earlier days, were covered with flat rocks to prevent animals from polluting and drinking the water. I located fifteen of such holes, whose capacity varied from a few gallons to about thirty or forty.
The water drained from the surrounding rocky surface into these catchments which, having a small opening, kept the water sweet and fresh for a long time.
As was to be expected, many parts of the coastline figured in the legendary stories of these people, for they believed that their half-human, half-animal ancestors created all the natural features of the country.
Entrancing and mysterious were the tales of these people. Stories of giants who fought, and the places where their dead bodies, now turned to stone, can be seen.
There was Nana, the giant of that part, who one day discoverd a stranger Buddra, equally large, roaming round his domain. Buddra had evidently lost his way while chasing a kangaroo from Point Turton, and endeavored to explain to Nana his predicament. Nana, not being able to understand Buddra's language, became particularly enraged, and ordered him to leave, which the visitor, being of a mule-headed disposition, refused to do. A fight ensued, in which Buddra was killed. Nana disembowelled his enemy —the grass no longer grows at this spot— and disposed of the body by dragging it into the middle of a salt lake. The body is now turned to stone.
A long walk across the perfectly level salt encrusted surface of the lake was necessary to view at close quarters the dead body of the unfortunate transgressor.
As time went on, the legend continued, Nana and his wife died. His great body, now a portion of detached cliff over a hundred feet high, with his wife, another large block of stone, sitting quietly at his feet, can still be seen at Rhino Head, Nana himself forming the "horn" of the "rhino."
Fragments of other stories were gathered, One was of a wicked lubra, who was pushed over the cliffs at Cape Spencer, and was changed into a stone, now the famous "Blow Hole." It is said that in stormy weather she gives vent to her annoyance by spouting the water so high that people, standing on the cliff 200 feet above her, are drenched by the spray.
Other legends were told, stories of how the seabirds came into being, and why the crayfish is so ugly, stories which revealed the close intimate knowledge of the aborigines concerning nature and the life around them, stories as fascinating as any of our childhood fairy tales.
It is to be hoped that some great writer will collect these legends while the opportunity offers, and enlighten us Australians as to the inner thoughts and beliefs of the people we have supplanted.
OUR ABORIGINES. TRIBAL CUSTOMS OF YORKE'S PENINSULA.
Tue 24 Jan 1922, The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929) By Marion Bay. Trove
Although several articles, dealing with the customs and legends of the natives of South Australia have appeared in your columns from time to time, nothing has been mentioned about the natives of Yorke's Peninsula, and as there can be few, if any, survivors, the following notes may be of interest. While at Marion Bay on shooting and fishing excursions I used to stay with an old-time kangaroo hunter, and in the evenings he would relate some of the early-day incidents, and between us we compiled a vocabulary of native names for the flora, fauna, and geographical names, together with a few conversational terms. In the days of which I write (1895-1900) Marion Bay (Cockadowie) consisted of the old stone hut and the house erected for the manager of the whiting and gypsum claims, now owned by Mr. A. H. Hasell. Marion Bay, I believe, was named after the Marion, which was wrecked there. There were no fatalities to the best of my knowledge, but the story goes that the plate chest was brought ashore, and buried for safety in the sandhills by the shore, and as the sand is continually shifting, the marks made to locate its position were covered, and the chest was never found again. What truth there is in the story I do not know.
— Ghosts and a Lost Race. —
The natives recognised a Deity, "Mud- jetchoo," who was supposed to take the form of a bat, and the native name for a bat is still "mudjetchoo." "Arnner" was a giant, who was continually quarrelling with another giant, "Budderer." He was supposed to be buried at Royston Head (Arnner), near Cape Spencer. The quarrel was ended by Arnner throwing a waddy from Point Turton (Boonpoo) and killing Budderer, who was then near Minlaton. They had a variety of evil spirits, but the worst one was "Noogunner," who was always supposed to be doing harm. "Berryger-noo-gunner" (bald-headed ghost) was the worst of this variety. "Coop-a " was also a ghost; and the crayfish is called "Coopa" because of its ugly appearance. The devil, which was feared nearly as much as "Noogunner," was called "Wun-yerra." Yarning one evening with the old hunter, George, and his wife, I said I had been down at "Yellow-warowie" to get some "reevesi," a species of cowrie. Mrs. George said we call that Yillowrowie, or Eelarowie. It was so named because of a tribe of little fellows that used to live there; but none of the other natives could understand their talk; they jabbered like parrots. They died out before my time (this would be over 70 years ago), and no one knows anything about them, where they came from or anything else. They were dwarfs and lived apart from the others, never mixing with them. I had long been trying to get a skull, and one time, when at Marion Bay, I was given a splendid specimen of a native skull by one of the men working on the gypsum claims. He told me he found it at Emu Waterhole (Yillowrowie), and that it was on the side of a sandhill. I went down next morning and collected the remainder of the bones, and had the skeleton complete with the exception of left forearm and hand and tight leg and foot (or vice versa). On taking these to Adelaide, they finally reached Professor Watson, who handed them on to the Museum, where they are at present, so far as I know. I asked the professor if he could give me any particulars, and his verdict was that the skeleton was that of a male aged between 50 and 55 years, and about 5 ft. or a little more in height. This bears out the story of the dwarfs who lived at Emu Waterhole, and though I have spoken to many of the old hands on the lower end of the peninsula, none of them could tell me anything about this lost race.
— Interesting Derivations. —
The natives from the top end of the peninsula used periodically to visit the lower end, when they were received most hospitably, and would return the compliment when their friends from the lower end would in their turn go for a holiday to the higher part of the peninsula. On two occasions mention was made by another old hunter in my presence that in some of the caves near Corny Point there are mummified bodies of the natives done up in bark and grass: this was only done with the bodies of noted men; but I could never get any confirmation of this.
The native name for Edithburgh is Barrarm-marratee; Yorketown, Gurreena; Cape York, Gudgerowie, Para Wurlie (formerly owned by the Hon. C. B .Fuller) is the native name for West Cape, and means a big high bluff; Orrie Cowie should be More-a-cowie, because of the small-needled wattle (Morea) which was formerly common there. Cowie, or Cabby, means water, and is practically the same all over Australia. Warooka signifies "a muddy waterhole," not a sailing ship, as I have seen mentioned. Curramulka is derived from two words, Gorry an emu, moolka a stone waterhole (a stone waterhole where emus come in to drink). The general impression seems to be that the well in the township of Curramulka is the place. If so the emus had long necks, as it is over 100 ft. deep, I believe. The stone water-hole is on Mr. May's property at the corner of the Mount Rat road, and is about 40 or 50 yards from the road. It is a rough square in the limestone rock, and would hold 200 or 300 gallons. This would only contain water after a heavy shower. I believe it is or was used for pickling wheat in.
— Hunting and Implements.—
The natives were skilled hunters, and at Pondalowie (stony waterhole) they used to drive the kangaroos on to a peninsula through a narrow neck and spear them at their leisure. The rugs made from kangaroo or wallaby skins and sewn with tendons were beautifully finished. In order to render them more pliable, the skin, after being dried and scraped, was cut into shape, folded from one corner to another, a small stick being used as a gauge for the size of the pattern. The skin was then folded from the other corner on the same side, with the result that a series of diamonds was formed, and this caused the rug to be much softer. There is an excellent specimen of this kind made by Mrs. George from wallaby skins in the Adelaide Museum. So far as weapons were concerned, the natives of Yorke's Peninsula had only plain wooden spears and waddies; at least I never heard of them making boomerangs or having barbed or stone spears or stone knives. The only stone implement I ever found or heard of was a rounded piece of granite flattened on top and bottom, and in the centre on each of the flat sides was an indentation. The diameter was about 3 inches, thickness 2 inches or there-abouts. This I picked up in the swamp at Yucock, and Dr. Stirling told me it was probably used as a hammer for breaking the larger shellfish. It is a pity that no steps were taken by the early settlers to make a vocabulary of the natives language, or to collect their legends. Their numerals were goot-choo, one; bulli, two; mung ga wee, three. Even yet it might be possible to gather some of those legends from the residents at Point Pearce Mission Station, but it is doubtful whether they would have troubled about the old native folk lore.
A PIONEER'S STORY OF SOUTHERN YORKE PENINSULA. SOME NATIVE LEGENDS
Fri 11 Sep 1953, The Pioneer (Yorketown, SA : 1898 - 1954) by GEORGE THOM, WAROOKA Trove
SOME NATIVE LEGENDS
Native legends concerning the life and doings of a race of cannibal dwarfs on Southern Yorke Peninsula are outlined in this, the second instalment of Mr. Thorn's story of the pioneering days.
MY EXPERIENCES with aborigines of Southern Yorke Peninsula, and the tales that have come to me from many angles during my life in those parts, induce me to pass on to you some of the stories I've heard regarding these original inhabitants cf the country before the days of the white man.
There are many interesting legends relating to the aboriginal natives of Yorke Peninsula, mainly handed down from native sources, of which I learned from three early residents of the Marion Bay district. One of these embraces the belief in a tribe of dwarf aborigines who were said to have lived in the big mallee scrub between Cape Spencer and Pondolowie on one side, and between Pondolowie and the rocky range which stretches from Mount Phillip to Fort George.
Most of this latter section was then, and still remains, an almost impenetrable jungle of mallee and dense undergrowth—the sort of country that one could only tackle on foot, and even then with the utmost reluctance.
The coastal fringes of the Peninsula were then in habited by the average type of aborigine, whose remnants we still see today, exemplified by such fine specimens as my friend Charlie. According to the old tales, there were in those days three distinct and separate tribes, including the dwarfs, then holding their distinct areas of country and watering places.
Place Names from Watering Places
The area of one particular tribe can still be defined by the place names in the area, by the terminal syllable of "owie" (meaning "watering place). From this syllable or word "owie" we can trace many of their watering places, such as Minlacowie, Bublacowie, Tukokowie, Pondolowie, Oiriccowie, and at least three waterholes in the Marion Bay area, called Mutborowie, Bubladowie, and Hilterowie.
During portion of the year these natives resided in belts of ti-tree and sheoak country, living mainly upon kangaroo, wallaby, emu, and similar game. When the billy buttons came into flower in the spring these natives read it as a signal from Mother Nature that the time had come for a "walk-about" to the sea coast.
For this also was the time when the butterfish make their way into the shoal water along that part of the coastline for some months. This latter fact I checked up by personal observation, and can fully confirm.
As the butterfish moved out to sea again their place along the coast would be taken by shoals of mullet, which the natives followed from Marion Bay light along Investigator Strait to Troubridge Point.
As the normal- sized tribesmen came back from walk-about to their southern end of Yorke Peninsula, the dwarf tribe was forced back into the safety of it dense scrub country. Here they depended upon supplies of water which they had stored in deep rock holes during the previous winter months, for they and the normal-sized natives were continually at war with one another.
This never-ending war between them was said to be based upon the cannibalistic tendencies of the dwarfs, they being reputed to not only eat their own dead but to also feast upon the bodies of enemies killed or captured during their tribal fights.
Another reason for their retirement into the denser scrubs was said to be that, having no fear of the intense darkness that most natives dislike, they were thus able to make periodical raids by night upon the outside tribes. In such raids they sought to carry off the tribal young women and piccaninnies, who were considered by the dwarfs as the outstanding delicacies for culinary purposes.
However, there came eventually a run of drought years, producing a water shortage in the scrub country. This drove the dwarfs out into the more open coastal country in a desperate bid for the water vital to their continued existence.
The opportunity then came to the stronger and larger outside tribes, who completely exterminated them in battle. So ended, according to this old legend, the extraordinary tribe of dwarf aborigines.
The fishing nets of the natives of lower Yorke Peninsula were cleverly woven from fibres stripped from sword grass that grows there, and fibre from the bullrushes which abound in the coastal sandhills. Their spears were made from those hard and very tough black mallee shoots, the points being hardened by fire in the customary aboriginal fashion. From suitable water-worn granite pebbles and gibbers. which may be found freely along parts of the coastline, they shaped their stone hammers and axes.
Place of Death
One very important piece of history of these primitive inhabitants refer to a spot called Muldarby, which means "the place of death" and which is is the Tukokowie area. It would appear that, in the earliest days of white settlement of the Peninsula, a great many of the natives died very suddenly and mysteriously at this place. One assumption suggests that the natives stole and ate poisoned four from the early white settlers, but apparently the real truth surrounding the tragedy was never brought, to light.
However, this tragic incident marks the sudden ending of almost an entire tribe, the scene of the tragedy being ever shunned by surviving natives, who gave it the name of Muldarby (the place of death).
These few aboriginal legends handed down through generations of the aborigines and the earliest white settlers of lower Yorke Peninsula have been recorded by me exactly as I received them from my contacts. Just how correct or truthful the stories are is beyond my power to judge, for I have no means of checking them; but I firmly believe that my informants passed on to me the facts that they themselves had picked up at first hand.
These accounts of mine, very briefly related though, they are, may perhaps serve as a basis for a more full and authentic record being sought for by some qualified investigator. In this connection I am able to point out the location of quite a number of the old native camping grounds, shown to me during my long residence there.
In addition, I am able to show any enquirer the principal localities reputed to have been the strongholds and the retreats of the legendary dwarf tribe. In the early days of settlement those parts matters such as I have related were accepted as commonplace facts, whereas now they are fast becoming mere legendary tales.
Still, it is not yet too late for some qualified and interested research worker to use these fragments of old legends which I have set out in a brief way as a basis upon which to reconstructing some interesting native history.
Leaving the history of these aborigines, come with me now to a continuation of the history of a young Scotsman in the same land, picking up the thread back at Marion Bay, my headquarters for the winter.
The Days of Long Ago
Pioneering on Vorke Peninsula
Gum Flat Station at one time extended from Penton Vale in the south almost to Maitland in the north, and Mr. John Butler remembers as many as fifty blacks coming up to the outstation hut. They had a burying ground not far from what is now the Minlaton-Stansbury Road, and Mr. Butler remembers that they always buried their dead in a sitting position.