ii. Oct-Dec 1838
[note] Rec'd July 12/39
of William Porter, Missionary, Wellington Valley, commc'd Octr 1st/38
October 1st. To day our Natives returned; and were so emaciated that they might have been without food since the Day they left us. They each one came and said "good morning": and appeared truly rejoiced that they were at home again. I asked them if they intended soon to go away again? George replied "wirrai"[?] (that is, no!) me go away again. "Cobbon" (that is "very") miserable in the bush.
2. Took an account of the Stores &c to make out my Quarterly Accounts.
3. Felt very unwell this morning, so much so that I was obliged to lay down nearly the whole of the Day.
4. Felt something [sic] better this morning and was enabled to walk out a little and visit our sheep station.
5. Something [sic] better this morning. Was with the men cutting & branding a number of young calves. The long expected Dray that was bringing my Baggage arrived this evening: very much to my comfort & satisfaction. The Dry weather still continues: and certainly if it continues a little longer many of our Cattle must die of starvation.
6. Busied myself today, in arranging my Books, Clothes &c I have been 6 months with only a change of Clothes, & [?]. At the first I felt some inconvenience: but lately I am become so reconciled to my few things; that I have almost forgot to care for those I left behind. With what a little a man may live if he is contented with that little. The more of earthly things; the more of earthly cares.
7. Very few Natives at Church this morning. In the afternoon George & Bungary read to me for several hours. There is an evident improvement in their reading and also in their Scriptural Knowledge. In the Primer in which they read; there was a picture of Christ dying on the Cross. They looked at it for some time: and expressed their sorrow that Christ should have been so cruelly treated. I spoke to them of Man’s Fall; and also of God's love, in sending his Son to die in our stead. George said "God very good", He asked me if we should live with God, when we die. I answered "If we repent of our sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; we shall become the Children of God; and when we die we shall live with him and be for ever happy.
8. I induced Cochrane to thresh a little this morning: an employment they have a great aversion to. Spent a great [part] of the afternoon in looking over my linen, clothes &c.
9. Very few Natives about to day: Cochrane threshed again this morning. George made himself useful in the house as Cook &c in the afternoon I taught them to read. However desirable we may be to have a many Natives about us: this is a fact: that if we have but a few, they work and learn, a great deal better; than when there are a many about; the old Natives persuade them not to work or learn to read.
10. Some appearance of rain this morning; our crops of wheat need it very much. Indeed if we have not rain in a few days, our wheat will all be dried up.
Was very much tried with the Natives to day; I had some work which I wanted them to do: instead of doing it as I wished them they ran down to the Government buildings to play.
In crossing the river to day, I found one of our Cows lying dead, from its appearance, I supposed it had been bitten by a Snake.
11. Unfortunately we had not the rain I expected yesterday; it blew all away: and it still continues dry. Heard some of the Natives to read again this afternoon.
12. Very unwell this morning; I walked 3 or 4 miles before breakfast to look after some Cattle. Spent a great part of the Day in writing letters to send to England. Took prayers this evening for Mr Gunther. I read the first part of the 14th Chapter of John: and endeavoured to explain it to them that they might plainly understand me. One of them came into my room afterwards. I asked him if he understood me; “He answered” “Yes I do understand." I then said “Do you believe” He replied "I do believe". He asked me the meaning of the Word Salvation. I explained it to him: and exhorted him to give his heart unto Christ that he might obtain Salvation through faith in him.
13. The Lord in his infinite mercy, sent us a fine shower of rain this morning; but too late to save our wheat.
This morning I ordered one of our Shepherds to feed his flock on some wheat; which was spoiled by the drought. It was in a paddock in which a Mr Raymond had sown some wheat, (a person who Mr Watson allowed to settle down on the Mission Land,) he laid claim to the whole wheat; because he ploughed the whole of the Land before Mr Watson sowed wheat upon it: though the ploughing was contrary to Mr Watson's express prohibition. When the Shepherd took his flock upon the wheat Mr Raymond ordered him to take his Sheep off his wheat he refused & Mr Raymond ordered his own men to put them in Pound. He also sent his overseer to tell me, he fined me £5 (or rather the Sheep) for trespass. In reply I told his overseer, that I considered Mr Raymond’s conduct not only very unchristian :
but even childish to think that he could Pound the Mission Sheep on their own Land. After much foolish cavilling he thought it best to give up the Sheep without further disturbance. I wrote a in circumstantial account to the Corresponding Committee.
14. We had a melancholy instance today: of the still barbarous ferocity of our young men. During dinner 2 of them (Cochrane and Bungary) quarrelled about some beads: the quarrel arose quickly from words to blows. We of course prevented their fighting. But Bungary who was the first aggressor; gave way to his naturally violent temper, till he became almost like a wild bull: the other was soon appeased: and when severely reproved by us he appeared very sorry for what he had done. Cochrane and George were with me this evening for nearly two hours.
15. Bungary endeavoured to gain my favour again this morning by bringing me some eggs that he found. I told him how wicked he was yesterday. He appeared somewhat humbled and said he could not help it. I endeavoured to shew him that his evil tempers arose from the corruptions of his unrenowed heart.
16-18. Washing our Sheep has occupied our time for the last 3 Days: we had 9 or 10 Natives assisting us, whom we found very useful; it being an employment suited to their natural habits. They delight in playing in the water.
19-20. The weather again extremely hot & dry; and the ground appears as though we had no rain. Our crops are all destroyed, we have scarcely any vegetables of any kind: a few little dried cabbages are all our garden produces. I am now obliged to refuse giving a little wheat to the Natives; as we have to purchase all we want: and that at an advanced price. Our Bullocks that we kill too, are very poor.
22. Commenced Sheep Shearing to day. I persuaded without much difficulty; 6 of our young men to shear. They were awkward at first but much better than I anticipated.
25. We finished shearing our first Flock of Sheep to day; of the number of 400. 100 at least of which our Natives sheared. 2 or 3 of them improved so much; that they were enabled to shear 10 or 12 each per Day: and do their work very well.
26. Washed the remainder of our Sheep to day. The Natives continued to assist us better than I expected.
28. We had some fine rain again this morning, though through the dryness & heat of the ground, it was dryed [sic] up in a few hours. We had a good number of Natives at Church; and in the afternoon Mr Gunther & myself taught many of them to read.
October 29. The fine rains we had yesterday; appear to have done us little benefit. The ground will take an abundance; before we can expect anything greatly to revive.
30. Began shearing our last Flock of Sheep this morning; nearly all the young men went away to assist a neighbouring settler: he having promised to give them rum, and money.
31. I had an interesting conversation with Cochrane this evening. He related to me a story which another black fellow had told him; respecting a black that was dead. The black told Cochrane that he was wandering in the bush; and found a dead body; and after looking upon it for a short time it rolled over, and the head which had been severed from the body, jumped up a many yards from the ground. I asked Cochrane “what he thought made the head rise up in the way it did. He answered “that Colookan (the word for soul) was come into it again. I asked him if he believed the account to be true; he said “I believe it.” I told him I did not believe that any body could move after it was once dead. I said that it was all superstitious nonsense. He then quickly asked me, how Christ could rise from the dead. I told him he was raised by the Mighty Power of God. This led me to speak of the resurrection and of the life to come. He listened with great attention; and appeared very much impressed with the thoughts of death.
November 1st. Rev J Gunther left us to day, to proceed to Sydney, whither he had been subpoened to attend on the trial of a Wellington Black, charged with the crime of murder. He [is] acting as Interpreter.
2. His Excellency the Governor having appointed this day as a "fast day" in consequence of the long continued drought: we abstained from all worldly employments, and kept it as such.
3. Late this evening the Rev. R. Taylor arrived at Wellington Valley having been deputed by the Corresponding Committee to examine the state of the Mission.
4. The Rev. R Taylor preached this morning. We had about 10 Natives present. He admired their order; and the correctness with which they repeated the responses. This evening through much mercy we had a fine shower of rain.
5. Took a ride with Rev Mr Taylor to look at the Mission Land, Cattle, Sheep &c.
6. Rev Mr Taylor wishing to see the Caves at the end of the Valley, we formed a little party for that purpose. We descended to a considerable depth; assisted by ropes & torches. The stalactites we saw; are very large and beautiful. We found a few bones which we supposed were those of a Kangaroo. We were prevented proceeding so far as we wished for the want of more torches.
November 7. The Rev R Taylor left us this morning to return to Liverpool. I walked a short distance with him, and bid him an affectionate farewell.
8. Finished the sheep shearing today: and generally the fleeces have been larger.
9. Drafted and branded our Ewes to keep them as a separate Flock. The number of our Sheep are 833 Ewes and Wethers and 274 Lambs. This evening several of our Natives returned, having finished sheep-washing for the Settler to whom they went a few Days ago. They asked me for meat. I refused to give them any unless they would promise me that they would be more steady in their habits. 2 of them began to be angry with me. I reproved them for their wandering habits, and told them that I would feed none but those that evince a desire to settle down and learn. A little afterwards one of them came and said he was sorry he had said such angry words, but it was a fire that burned in his heart. I spoke to him about his wicked heart, and the way to have it made better.
13. Very heavy thunder and lightening this evening, and afterwards a refreshing shower of rain.
16. We have had some more showers of rain, and the ground is beginning to present a more favourable appearance.
24. Saw in the Australian Newspaper today a petition from the various Settlers in this District, praying His Excellency the Governor to make Wellington Valley a Township and remove or abandon the Mission. I have not the least doubt but they will succeed. I read the account to our young men, who appeared to feel it very much. I asked them if they would go with us to another place. They replied "yes". We have had but few about for some days. The neighbouring Settlers entice them away, promising to give them rum and wine which they are passionately fond of.
26. The weather is again hot and dry and vegetation is fast drying up.
27-30. The weather still continues hot and dry. The grass is almost all dried up. The Cattle and Sheep begin to suffer from its effects.
December 1. Today our young men would go to the River and fish. When they go on these excursions they frequently take a book with them. When they returned one of them told me that a white man came to them, and seeing their book, wanted to look at it.
People in WellPro Directory: Taylor, Reverend Richard
December 1st continued. "Ah" he said "this book too much Missionary, too much about God." He said the man endeavoured to persuade him not to read it. I asked him what he thought of the man? He said he was very wicked he believed, because he did not love God’s words. I spoke to him of the enmity of human hearts. The enmity and the opposition of the World and The Devil to the Preaching of the Gospel; he appeared quite to understand me.
3. Set off [on] a journey down the River to a Place called Walandia about 30 miles off to purchase some Rams.
4. Left Walandia this morning for home, after having delivered the Rams into the charge of our man. When I have travelled about 5 miles the wind began to blow strongly and increased till it almost blew a hurricane. The sand and dust rose in clouds threatening to bury me and my horse also. I was almost blinded with the dust and scarcely able to discover the proper track. And I was so chocked with it that I could scarcely breath. It strongly reminded me of the sandy deserts of Arabia. When about 14 miles off home the sky began to blacken, and the wind increased. The trees cracked as I passed thru the woods, threatening to bury me beneath their falling branches. It now began to thunder and lighten [sic] most dreadfully. And I increased the speed of my horse, and eventually reached home without being wet. Shortly after I reached home the clouds passed away; and all was soon calm and serene. What a true picture of human life, and the entrance finally into eternal rest.
5. Our men all day in search of working Bullocks to fetch some wheat. Seeking horses and bullocks is half the work on this establishment as they ramble to far in quest of food.
6. We had an awful instance of the wicked connection between the white men in the neighbourhood and the Native Women. Seeing some Whites at the Camp yesterday, I enquired of one of the women who came to the Mission House this morning, what they were doing there and how long they stayed. She replied, that they brought them bread and tobacco, and they staid all night. The men belonged to a Dr. Curtis, a neighbouring Settler. It is easy to conclude what they came to the Camp for.
7-8. The drought continues, and food for the Cattle is become very scarce. 1 Working Bullock and 9 or 10 old Cows have died within the last few weeks.
9-15. During the past week the weather has been so extremely hot that only night and morning our men were able to work out of doors. We have been engaged some days in sinking a well
People in WellPro Directory: Curtis, Dr Samuel
December 15 continued
not far from the house, and have at length succeeded in getting water, which will save us much labour in fetching from the River.
17. Found one of our horses unwell, this morning: and being without proper things to give him, I went 14 Miles to fetch a farrier. Before I arrived at the destined place, my horse became so weary through being so poor, that I was obliged to get off and lead him the rest of the journey: when I staid [sic] all night in the meantime sending the farrier to the horse.
18. Returned home this morning: but was obliged to lead my horse nearly all the way. When I reached home I was glad to horse much recovered through the treatment of the farrier.
19-22. The influenza, which has been so prevalant in other parts of the Colony, has at length reached Wellington: Nearly all the Natives as well as our white men have suffered from it. Disabling all for their respective duties. I have hitherto escaped it.
23. A good number of Natives at Church this morning. In the afternoon they would go to the River to bathe. Mr Gunther & myself went after them, taking some testaments and other books in our Pockets. 7 or 8 of them sat on the bank of the River and we heard them to read.
25. Could scarcely reconcile myself that this was Xmas Day. The cold frost and snow, we so naturally expect in England at this time of the year: is not felt in this Country. But the contrary the heat being excessive. The Thermometer rising frequently as high as 100 degrees in the Shade.
26-31. For the last week, what with the excessive heat & the influenza; I have been unable to do much: besides looking after the Stores. Cochrane came to me one evening and said, he had been talking with Mr Turner, the Post-clerk. The following is Cochrane’s account of the conversation. Mr Turner - "What you believe?" Cochrane "In Jesus Christ." Mr Turner "I do not believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in God". Cochrane - "I believe in God & Christ too and if you do not, you will go to hell". Mr Turner "I do not believe there is a hell: only a heaven." Cochrane. "Why do you believe there is heavan". Mr Turner "The Bible tells us so, which you say Missionary tells you to believe." Coch. "Then why not believe Hell: Bible tell about both." Here Cochrane said “Mr Turner made him no answer to the question: but asked him if Missionary good man;: why not pray for rain? Cochrane said he believed they did. Thus did a poor heathen beginning to enquire after the truth silence this half-infidel half-Socinian by a simple appeal to the truth of the Bible.
People in WellPro Directory: Turner, William
The Society will very probably consider my Journal for this Quarter as presenting almost an entire vacuity of real interesting matters either of a temporal or spiritual nature. I will first offer a few remarks respecting my secular affairs. The drought which has continued since I first came here in July, (excepted only by a shower now & then, And those from the heat of the ground & the power of the sun, have frequently vanished in a day [?] doing no apparent good) has destroyed all our wheat and we have had to purchase all we want, and that at the high price of 15 and 16 pr. Bushel. Our Bullocks & Sheep that we slaughter are so lean and so light, that we are obliged to kill more than our usual number to have a sufficiency. The young Cattle do not thrive as they ought to do and many of the old ones we have found dead some thru hunger, after being drowned in the River; being too weak to get out when they went to drink, having to go thru so much mud before they get to the water. As to our Garden, we have not had a vegetable of any kind in it for months. We had a few grapes which promised to be a little treat to us. But the Cows unfortunately burst thru the fence one night & destroyed them all. The Cattle are almost all gone off the run in search of better feed.
In consequence of the Col. Government having contemplated making a Township on the Mission Land, I have not made those improvements I otherwise should have done and therefore have nothing interesting in that respect to communicate. And I am now satisfied that I have not made any: as the proposed Township is now measured and allotments will be offered for sale (we expect) in 3 months. The removal of the Mission will of course be the next thing, following as a necessary consequence.
In speaking of my Spiritual employments, I must say, they are very small. On the Lord’s Day we having no service in the afternoon I frequently hear the Natives to read and Catechise them. And now and then take evening or morning Prayers for Mr Gunther. On other Days of the week my time is occupied in Secular affairs, except at an evening when I frequently enter into a little religious conversation with the Natives. For at an evening they always attend upon me to be fed, which gives me an opportunity of speaking to them. Sometimes they appear much affected, and express a desire to become more civilized: and again at other times they appear hardened and impenetrable. The latter is always the case when they have been in the bush amongst the Settlers.
[note] Mr W. Porter, Journal, Oct. to Dec/38