Rec. Nov 22/36
Com of Cor May 18/36
Mr Watson's remarks, towards furnishing matter for the annual Report April 30th 1836
In presenting this their third annual report, the Missionaries are happy to state that upon the whole, they have reason to believe that many of the Aboriginal natives are improving in Scriptural Knowledge: and that some have in a great measure become reformed. A Native boy who died at the Mission house in September 1835 gave grounds of hope that he had not in vain been instructed in the principles of Christianity. During his illness he was not heard to utter one murmuring or repining word; but rather seemed anxious to die. His words on this subject were “I Know I shall die: and I do not wish to live; I wish to die and go to heaven." He expressed great thankfulness that he had been instructed, and that he had been baptised. He had been taught that he was a sinner, and that it was only through the meritorious sufferings and death of Jesus Christ that he could obtain the remission of his sins. And this sacred truth seemed to have been sealed in his heart by the Divine Spirit. Under religious instructions he frequently shed tears, and with apparent contrition acknowledged the sinfulness of his heart as well as of his life. In August 1835 George Mercatto Esqr. gave information to the Missionaries that an infant girl had been found, on his estate, lying by the side of her deceased mother, and that it was then in his house. It was accordingly brought to the Mission house, and on the Lord's day but one following, was baptized publicly in the presence of several Aboriginal natives (the Service being in their own language) some of whom were affected and shed tears on the occasion. The infant however died in the course of a month and received Christian burial. This makes up the number of four Aboriginal Natives that have been baptized since the commencement of the Mission.
At present there are nine in the house under instruction whose improvement shews their aptness to learn. There are also from twelve to twenty females who sleep at the Native's camp: but come up to the house daily to receive instruction in reading &c and to be fed. There are frequently from forty to sixty and sometimes more Natives on the Establishment who are regularly addressed on the Subject of religion through the medium of their own language. And that they understand, generally, what is spoken to them on these occasions, is evident from the remarks they make sometimes during the address being delivered, and sometimes afterwards. That the wandering natives do not always forget what they have heard respecting religion, at the mission house, is evident from many circumstances which have come under the observation of the missionaries. One circumstance may be sufficient here to establish the fact. While one of the missionaries was addressing a company of females (forty miles from Wellington) one of them, whom he did not remember having seen before that time, said "you talk that way at Wellington" and when asked to what place she expected to go at death, she replied "to heaven I believe." When it was suggested that that was very questionable she answered "No I believe when want to go, devil pull down again, not let go."
At public worship their general good behaviour is admirable, as well as their correctly and orderly responding to the church service. But some of their customs and habits render it almost impossible to form a congregation of males and females. The young men are prohibited going near a native female for several years; and even those men who have wives have an objection to come to church if there are many females present. This circumstance is attended with many inconveniences, not only in reference to Divine worship; but also in the regard of domesticating, as when the females reside in the house the young men will not come near; and vice versa. It were however very easy to erect a building on such a plan as to domesticate
both Sexes without their coming in contact with, or even in sight of each other: as well as to keep those who are domesticated apart from all communication with occasional visitors. Which latter point is an object very much desired. It is presumed that if a missionary establishment were formed on such a plan and near the river many facilities for advancing the mission would be obtained. It is no uncommon circumstance for twenty or more natives to leave their females on this Settlement when they go into the bush. These must necessarily encamp by the river there being no accommodations for them at the mission house. In that exposed situation they too easily become the prey of vicious Europeans who not unfrequently draw or compel some to accompany them to their habitations. This circumstance while it breaks the chain of instruction afforded to the houseless females, tends also to destroy the confidence of the men in leaving them, as they say, with the missionaries.
In September 1835 a report being in circulation, that some of the Bogin natives had crossed the country and having united with some of the Badda Tribes, were destroying cattle belonging to Judge Wilde, one of the missionaries thought it his duty to visit them and to endeavour by conciliatory measures to induce them to desist. In the prosecution of this object he travelled, sometimes in company with natives and sometimes alone, more than two hundred miles; but without success: never being able to meet with them, although places where they had slept the night previous were several times discovered. It is stated that when some of the more civilized natives who were in company with the depredators found that they were determined to slaughter cattle, they at once separated themselves from them and left that part of the country.
The missionaries are happy to find that on some establishments changes for the better in reference to female natives have taken place. Old overseers have been removed and others appointed, so that where formerly nearly every European Servant had his sable paramour, not a female native is
allowed to remain in any hut on the establishment. Were the proprietors and overseers of establishments beyond the boundary of the Colony believers in the gospel of the Redeemer, it would be of infinite advantage to the Native population. But when those tho bear the christian name glory in employing themselves as the Missionaries of the prince of darkness, every christian will mourn their delusion and bemoan the thus increased moral degradation of the untutored Aborigines. However it is with heartfelt satisfaction that the Missionaries can record the fact that when they entered the huts of Europeans, far in the bush, with the Bible in their hands and the word of christian counsel on their lips, rarely, very rarely has it occurred that they have not met with a cordial welcome, and received thanks for their kindness and pious admonitions. And there is reason to hope that more than one wandering sheep has thus been reclaimed, and restored to the fold of Jesus Christ.
It has been found extremely difficult to form an accurate idea of the opinions of the natives in reference to the Creation of the world, the Creator, the immortality of the Soul and a future state of existence; as the accounts given by different natives are frequently at variance with each other. It appears however that there is among them a general idea of a Creator who, himself, is uncreated. (Some say that Baiamai is the uncreated and that Burrambin is his Son; that Baiamai spoke and his son sprang up at once. Others say that Burrambin is the father, and Baiamai the Son.) They believe in the immortality of the Soul; but what is its state or employment after death has not been learnt. They have an idea of an order of beings inferior to the Creator but Superior to man. These it is said are white, live on a high mountain, eat only honey, and their employment is singing. They attribute all their afflictions and troubles to “Wandong" an evil being which is said to be visible only to the doctors. Though they attribute all their evils to Wandong as the author, they often ascribe them to other natives as the instruments, who they say, have power to afflict, and even to kill at a distance of hundreds of miles when so disposed.
The only kind of worship known among them is the "Wagganna" or native dance accompanied by singing to Baiamai who annually, about February or March, reveals to some one native, at a very great distance from Wellington, "the Song" in which all are bound to join under penalty of death. This Song is esteemed Sacred by the Natives who apprehend that if they should not be present at the singing of it they would die.
Their laws principally if not entirely refer to abstaining from certain kinds of food until they arrive at a certain age, and the young men evading the company and conversation of females. They have no law against murder, and consequently no punishment for it. A man may murder his wife, child or any other relatives with impunity; but if a person murder another who is no way connected with him the nearest of kin to the murdered person will sometimes avenge his death, though this seldom happens except the delinquent and the sufferer are of different Tribes. It is only in proportion as they become acquainted with the customs of Europeans, and are instructed in morality that human life is regarded. In their native wilds they sport with the sufferings of man and beast. It is worthy of remark that in the year 1835 when it was reported at Wellington that a man of Mr Lawson's had been murdered by some of the Bogin Tribes all the Wellington natives armed themselves and went to avenge his death; but not finding the perpetrators of the murder they beat an old man nearly to death, and then returned.
To the study of the Aboriginal language the missionaries continue to devote much of their time, as it is to be expected that through the medium of that the natives will more receive and more easily comprehend the instructions given to them. It appears desirable that a small work in the Aboriginal language should be printed, as a First Book for the purpose of teaching the natives; because it seems a waste of time to be teaching the English pronunciation of the Alphabet and afterwards to have to teach the aboriginal pronunciation. This would also be a means of correcting the Spelling
of Aboriginal words. The dialect spoken in this district (extending over from Bathurst to beyond Mount Harris, and from Mudjee over the Bogin country - Warwick - the Lachlan &c) has been compared with as much as is contained in S.W. Threlkeld's Grammar. And such is the affinity of one dialect with the other as to leave no doubt in the minds of the Missionaries that the language is radically the same. This however will be more clearly ascertained when the knowledge of other dialects is attained, and to this object the missionaries feel it their duty to pay such attention as their time and opportunities will permit.
In conclusion the missionaries are bound to say that, though in the prosecution of their labours daily discouragements present themselves, they have no doubt of the gradual and ultimately abundant success of the Mission. The great distance of the establishment from the source of supplies with the heavy expence consequent thereon; the uncertainty of the seasons for raising grain, and the limited means in the hands of the managers of the mission, constitute among other circumstances difficulties in the way of giving the mission the prospect of much success at the present. As it regards the evangelizing of the natives, the missionaries look to a higher than human power to effect that, even bearing in mind that while it is their's to labour, it is the Lord's to bless.
[note] These remarks have been drawn up in the name of the Missionaries merely to avoid exposing the writer to the charge of egotism.
People in WellPro Directory: Threlkeld, Reverend
Issued to Aboriginal Natives from January 1st 1835 to April 30th 1836.
6001 pounds Beef
4297 pounds Wheat & Flour
14 pounds Tea
112 pounds Sugar
80 pounds Tobacco
12 Yards Green Flannel
19 Neck Kerchiefs
6 pairs Trowsers
2 D Frocks
14 yards Calico
29 yards Print
4 yards Canvas
2 Blue Jackets
18 Pocket Knives
&c &c &c
The Aboriginal Mission
compiled from the Reports
of Messes Watson & Handt