The Rainbow Warrior

Last night I watched (on the computer) the last two episodes of Message Stick telling the story of Pemulwuy (c. 1750-1802).

Pemulwuy was a Bidjigal warrior who led the Eora and surrounding nations in the first major response to the invading British from 1790 to 1802. Indeed, the lands we’ve come to know as Sydney were occupied during the last 14 years of his life. He has been described as a leader of his people and in 1790 was estimated as being around 30 years of age. The name Pemulwuy means "earth: man of earth" and he is believed to have been born around 1756. What makes Pemulwuy stand out from other patriot Aboriginal war heroes who resisted the British invasion like Wiradjuri warrior Windradyne in New South Wales, Yagan, a Nyungar from southern Western Australia and Jundamurra from northwest Western Australia, was the fact that Pemulwuy led the first major response against the British. The other was the attitude of the British and some of their descendants towards him was to not only destroy him physically but to attempt to obliterate the very existence of him from this unknown history. Until recently his name never appeared in any white Australian history books… – Gadigal Information Service.

I first read of him some twenty years ago in Eric Willmot’s novel Pemulwuy the Rainbow Warrior. At the time I wondered how much was true and how much fictional in that novel, but it appears it is essentially true. Eric Willmot is one of the speakers in the Message Stick program.

MIRIAM COROWA: Hello. I’m Miriam Corowa. Welcome to Message Stick. This week, the second part in our series on Pemulwuy. He was a traditional lawman of the Bidjigal clan, who are the original woodlands people of Toongabbie and Parramatta in Sydney. He was a warrior who almost brought the early settlement at Sydney Cove to its knees. And for the survival of the colony, a price was put on his head, literally. For 200 years, he was written out of history but now there’s pressure to find Pemulwuy’s remains and restore his reputation. Grant Leigh Saunders produced Pemulwuy: A War Of Two Laws.
DR JIM KOHEN: Pemulwuy’s clearly one of the first people we know about who actively resisted white settlement. We know that he caused the Government a great deal of concern. He was listed as an outlaw. There was a price put on his head. So perhaps as the first in the Sydney region, he has special importance.
PROFESSOR ERIC WILLMOT: He was different. And he became more different. He became better than everybody else. Whatever anyone else could do, Pemulwuy did it better. He could use a spear like no-one else could. And so around him was created an aura of difference.
DR JIM KOHEN: From the point of view of Pemulwuy and many of his followers, they were simply doing what was traditionally their right to do, that was to remove people who had come onto their land uninvited. It was important to the Government that he be stopped and so they were prepared to grant major concessions to anybody of any social status who could kill or capture Pemulwuy.
ACTOR READS: "With the ripening of the maize fields, the depredations of the natives returned. On the 19th, the governor received a dispatch from Parramatta, containing an account that a man had been murdered by them near Toongabbie, and three others severely wounded. And a few days after, two others were killed in the same manner. It became, from these circumstances, absolutely necessary to send out numerous well-armed parties and attack them wherever they should be met with. Judge Advocate, David Collins."
DR JIM KOHEN: It’s important to remember that when we hear about these interactions between Aboriginal people and the early settlers, we’re seeing the white point of view and not seeing the Aboriginal point of view. We know, for example, in 1800, that Governor King issued a proclamation that Pemulwuy and his people around Parramatta, Liverpool, Georges River, Prospect, could be killed on sight. And if you read George Caley’s account, he explains that the reason that that government order was issued was because some convicts had let some of the sheep wander off, they were afraid of being punished so they blamed the Aborigines for killing the sheep and threatening them. So this order was issued that any Aborigine could be shot west of Parramatta.
PROFESSOR ERIC WILLMOT: Things that happened that don’t make sense. For instance, historically, Pemulwuy attacked Parramatta before Toongabbie. Now, by that time, I knew Pemulwuy well enough, in my view, to believe he wouldn’t do that. He would have attacked Toongabbie first. Then Parramatta. Parramatta was, by far, the most heavily fortified. Pemulwuy was no mug. If he was a mug, they would have killed him, you know, six years before.
RICHARD GREEN: He burnt to the ground, Toongabbie. Toongabbie. And a lot of military tacticians… "Well, why did he pull up there?" And it’s even in the account of the Rainbow Serpent, you know? He burns Toongabbie to the ground and then he stopped. He stopped because his woman was murdered in Sydney while he was away. And he couldn’t return to Sydney while her spirit was still displaced. It would be six months before he got back to Sydney. So he pulled up at Toongabbie, which is the real area of Burramatta…


Jim Kohen wrote the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on Pemulwuy. Richard Green is a descendant of Pemulwuy’s people. His contributions come from stories passed down through his family; many would discount such stories as historical evidence on much the same grounds that my own family history can only incorporate such tales with due caution given – my own descent from the Dharawal being a case in point – but a major difference is that my family suppressed the stories and Richard Green’s didn’t.

From the ADB:

From 1792 Pemulwuy led raids on settlers at Prospect, Toongabbie, Georges River, Parramatta, Brickfield Hill and the Hawkesbury River. In December next year David Collins reported an attack by Aborigines who ‘were of the Hunter’s or Woodman’s tribe, people who seldom came among us, and who consequently were little known’. He also reported that ‘Pe-mul-wy, a wood native, and many strangers, came in’ to an initiation ceremony held at yoo-lahng (Farm Cove) on 25 January 1795. Collins thought him ‘a most active enemy to the settlers, plundering them of their property, and endangering their personal safety’. Raids were made for food, particularly corn, or as ‘payback’ for atrocities: Collins suggested that most of the attacks were the result of the settlers’ ‘own misconduct’, including the kidnapping of Aboriginal children.

To check at once ‘these dangerous depredators’, military force was used against Pemulwuy and his people. Captain Paterson directed that soldiers be sent from Parramatta, with instructions to destroy ‘as many as they could meet’ of the Bediagal. In March 1797 Pemulwuy led a raid on the government farm at Toongabbie. Settlers formed a punitive party and tracked him to the outskirts of Parramatta. He was wounded, receiving seven pieces of buckshot in his head and body. Extremely ill, he was taken to the hospital. Yet, late in April that year when the governor met several parties of natives near Botany Bay Pemulwuy was among them. Having ‘perfectly recovered from his wounds’, he had ‘escaped from the hospital with an iron about his leg. He saw and spoke with one of the gentlemen of the party; enquiring of him whether the governor was angry, and seemed pleased at being told that he was not’.

Pemulwuy’s close escapes resulted in the Darug believing that firearms could not kill him. In Collins’s words: ‘Through this fancied security, he was said to be at the head of every party that attacked the maize grounds’. On 1 May 1801 Governor King issued a government and general order that Aborigines near Parramatta, Georges River and Prospect could be shot on sight, and in November a proclamation outlawed Pemulwuy and offered a reward for his death or capture.

Pemulwuy was shot dead about 1 June 1802 by Henry Hacking. George Suttor described the subsequent events: ‘his head was cut off, which was, I believe, sent to England’. On 5 June King wrote to Sir Joseph Banks that although he regarded Pemulwuy as ‘a terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character’. He further wrote: ‘Understanding that the possession of a New Hollander’s head is among the desiderata, I have put it in spirits and forwarded it by the Speedy’. The head has not been found in an English repository to date.

Pemulwuy’s son Tedbury (d.1810), known as Tjedboro, also threatened colonists. He became attached to John Macarthur, who allowed him to come and go at Elizabeth Farm. After Governor Bligh was placed under military arrest in 1808, Tedbury, armed with a bundle of spears, went to Macarthur’s cottage in Sydney and reportedly said that he had come to spear the governor. Next year he and Bundle attempted to rob a traveller on the Parramatta road, and he also took part in an attack on the farm of a settler at Georges River. In 1810 Tedbury was shot by Edward Luttrell at Hobartville, Richmond, and died of his wounds. He had a wife and possibly a son Tommy Dadbury, who was living with the Wianamattagal clan at Penrith in 1837.

Historians argue about the nature and extent of Aboriginal resistance to European settlement of Australia, but if one person can be identified who clearly carried out armed warfare against the settlers of early Sydney it was Pemulwuy. He has become a heroic figure to Aborigines, and Eric Willmot published a novel about him in 1987.

Pemulwuy was not entirely written out of history. Anyone reading the sources would have found a great deal about him. It is true, however, that the much more compliant Bennelong, a member of the same people as Pemulwuy, was foregrounded and Pemulwuy discounted.

See also Pemulwuy Pemulwoy, Pemulwy, Pemulwei: Justice or War?

There is no doubt his story belongs to all of us now and should be given its proper place in accounts of early Sydney.

Shire people will note that Henry Hacking, of Port Hacking fame, was almost certainly Pemulwuy’s killer. See Australia’s oldest murder mystery.

Prince William promised when visiting Redfern earlier this year to see what he could do about finding Pemulwuy’s head and having it returned to Sydney. He meant it too and has been doing what he can, but no-one is sure where it now is.


  • On my own family history, I am pleased to see the best of our family historians, Bob Starling, added to my page yesterday. The comment thread there has been very successful.

35 thoughts on “The Rainbow Warrior

  1. We don’t receive that kind of programming here in the states. But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the white people were the bad guys in this movie. Am I right? Did they blame ‘whitey’?

    • No the real story has been told. Find facts first prior to making comments and no need for defensiveness. History is history. Go to SBS site and download the program now.

  2. The traditional view has been that Aborigines did not mount any significant resistance to European settlement. That this rather self-serving view is wrong is now clear, and Pemulwuy is the earliest known resistance leader.

    If history is an attempt, however imperfect, to record what really happened then the fact that Pemulwuy was confronted with uninvited incomers — invaders/settler — whose impact on his culture and way of life was disastrous is indeed what happened. To record these events in a such way as to make just one side look and feel good is propaganda, not history. Too often that has been schoolbook history here in Oz in the past; we can’t get away with it any more. On the other hand to be gullible about either side, and to exaggerate their role and virtues is hagiography. Some popular Aboriginal versions of history — Pemulwuy being a possible case– are open to that criticism.

  3. Yes the term Terra Nullius means no one inhabiting the land. This was very convenient in many ways for the white invaders as they could easily convince themselves that rules of engagement of that time ie right to defend their land never existed as no one was there to defend the land!. This also made the missionaries etc take matters into their own hand by saying that these poor hapless people needed help and they needed to be incorporated into the white mans ways as they were going to be extinct anyway!. The sad thing today is First Australian leaders have not put pen to paper and churned out books after books about the aboriginal warriors who resisted, showed guts and defended their rights. This would have provided heros for aboriginal kids just like Gandhi provided diginity to Indians when they resisted the British. Majority of aboriginal leaders have focused on fighting the white opinion rather than being leaders. Leadership provides hope. Today majority of kids are not being led by these elders who live in their world and not looking out of the window. Who really cares if white man respects the back man? Why give so much of time and energy to it. Do Indians really worry about if the British respect them are not?Indians were ruled by the British for 350 years. So stop this living in the past but start showing the way forward for younger aboriginals so that they can claim their place in Australia which they deserve to. Living the past is like wearing yesterdays undergarments. All you get is smell and discomfort.

  4. You make some good points, Nyaya. As elder Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo says: “You can’t forget the past because that is who you are. It’s in your heart… But we have to move on for the sake of the future generation. Some come here needing their self-esteem building up and we show them they can have confidence, and they do have choices.” — Aunty Beryl’s three word dictionary.

    As for providing models, that’s the point of the Message Stick episode, and that’s indeed what it and Living Black are both about. Eric Willmott is an Aboriginal person too and his book came out twenty years ago. Aboriginal people are making their perspective heard among the historians, and except for some well publicised reactionaries historians in Australia can never be the same again. I know I wasn’t after the Bicentennial got me thinking at last!

    My point about these being OUR stories is important too. That’s part of reconciliation.

  5. It is great that Pemulwuy’s brave fight for his land and people is now receiving greater recognition. I am sure none of us appreciates having the historical record of our ancestors misrepresented and that is true both for those descended from the original Australians and those whose ancestors arrived more recently on these shores. As one who falls into the latter category, I feel some concern that the name of one of my ancestors has been misrepresented in the Pemulwuy story.

    Henry Hacking was certainly no angel but the picture painted of him in the SMH article to which you refer was considerably exaggerated way beyond the evidence and the article itself contained many errors of fact concerning his life.

    What concerned me the most regarding the article and its impact was the way in which Hacking’s supposed role in the death of Pemulwuy ricocheted across the Internet and ended up as “established fact”, adopted by the ADB and by some on-line encyclopaedias.

    Did Henry Hacking really kill Pemulwuy?

    In essence, the arguments made by author KV Smith’s supporting his claim are:

    1. A Seaman on the HMS Investigator, Samuel Smith wrote on July 20, 1802 of an aborigine called Bumbliway, a Severe Enemy to White people, as he had Kill’d several. At length, he was Shot by the Master of the Nelson Brig, that was Shooting in the Woods, his head being brought Tranquillity was again restor’d.
    2. There was no master on the Lady Nelson
    3. Master must mean First Mate
    4. Henry Hacking was the First Mate of the Lady Nelson
    5. Henry Hacking was a good shot
    Therefore (so it is alleged) Henry Hacking killed Pemulwuy.

    Although Samuel Smith journal as published was actually written many years after the event, it was probably based on notes he made at the time so we can accept that the Samuel Smith claim referred to in point 1 could well be true.

    Henry was First Mate of the Lady Nelson in mid 1802 and was a capable shot so we can accept points 4 and 5.

    So what can we say about points 2 and 3?

    The term “Master” had always applied to the person with command of a Merchant ship. The term in the Navy came to be used for the Navigating Officer. The Master in the Navy kept their own (official) log and was commonly one of the signatories in the muster books.

    It is true that small government vessels like the Lady Nelson at that time often did not have an official position of “Master” or, if they did, the position often remained vacant. There are indications that at least for some periods the Lady Nelson did have a master. For example, Ralph Stott who joined the vessel in November 1801 is recorded as “Master” in 1806 Lady Nelson musters.

    The UK National Archives has an interesting note concerning record ADM 52/4170. This record contains two different logs of the Lady Nelson covering the period when Pemulwuy was killed. One is the captain’s log (25/3/1802-18/1/1803) signed by John Murray. The other, unsigned, runs from October 1, 1801 to July 22, 1802 and appears “on internal evidence to be the Master’s”.(,_1801_-_1802)

    Henry Hacking joined the Lady Nelson as First Mate some time after late March 1802 when he swapped places with William Bowen. While he possibly could read, Hacking (like William Bowen) was unable to write and is not likely to be even part author of this second log.

    The Lady Nelson and the Investigator set sail on their northern voyage on 22 July, 1802 (two days after Samuel Smith’s diary entry). Did the author of this second log depart the Lady Nelson immediately prior to this trip? Is this author the “Master” to whom Samuel Smith referred? Did he leave the Lady Nelson after receiving his “reward” for killing Pemulwuy? I have not located Lady Nelson’s musters for this period (if they still exist) so have yet to identify possible authors of the log.

    There is another possibility.

    Until 1794, the official title for the commander of Royal Navy vessels that were too small to have a master of their own was Master and Commander. ( Merchant vessels still used the term Master as the person in command.

    Unsurprisingly therefore, in common usage in the Colony the term “Master” continued to be applied to those in charge of small government vessels such as the Francis, the Cumberland and the Lady Nelson.

    For example, in the Sydney Gazette of March 12, 1803 we read, On Monday night arrived His Majesty’s Colonial Schooner, Cumberland, J. Rushworth, Master, with Messrs. Robinson and Grimes, and the Party under their direction, from the Survey of King’s Island. Henry Hacking was on the Cumberland as First Mate for this voyage. It is however the commander Rushworth who is named as Master, not Hacking.

    Throughout the Papers of the Colonial Secretary (1788-1825) we find references at various times to the “Master of the Lady Nelson”. Names mentioned in this role are Thomas Anson, William George Carlile Kent; Bryan Overhand; William Randall; David Smith; William Stewart; James (Lieutenant) Symons; Edward Watson; and Thomas Whyte. These were either the Lieutenant Commanders or acting in that role. They were not the First Mates yet they are referred to in the Colonial Secretary Papers as “Master”.

    One of the names missing from this particular list of commanders is John Murray. Murray had been First mate of the Lady Nelson but was promoted to its command as Acting Lieutenant in 1801. He was in that role at the time of Pemulwuy’s shooting. If there was no actual Master on the Lady Nelson then Samuel Smith more likely would have been referring to John Murray – and not to Henry Hacking.

    I think it reasonable to expect that Samuel Smith, as an experienced sailor, would have been able to distinguish between First Mate and Master. They were distinctly different roles in both the Royal and Merchant Navies.

    Either way, KV Smith’s argument that Samuel Smith was referring to Henry Hacking falls apart on points 2 and 3 above. The Lady Nelson did in effect have, in common parlance, a Master. It was either an actual Master, the author of the second log – or it was the Commander of the Lady Nelson, John Murray. Master does not equate with “First Mate”.

    There is thus no actual evidence for the claim that Henry Hacking killed Pemulwuy. How though can you successfully challenge something that has now become Internet-established “fact”?

    • Agreed it isn’t certain. Neither, in my view, is another claim on the program that smallpox was deliberately spread among the Eora, though that too is something that can’t be certain either way, as Jim Kohen noted in the program.

  6. I can’t check the facts, as you suggest, nya nya.

    “Find facts first prior to making comments and no need for defensiveness.”


    As I said, I can’t watch the show, not being from Oz. But I’m guessing from your only slightly muted anger that I am indeed right. They did blame whitey, didn’t they?They blamed whitey for all the ills in Australia and suggested that Oz would be a wonderful peaceful world in constant communion with nature if only those Brits never showed up, right?

    Again, I’m just guessing, but I’m fairly sure I’m right. Liberal movies are all pretty much the same.

  7. You can watch the show, for free. Or read the transcript. Part 2 is also then accessible.

    Liberal? Not everything suits that category, Kevin. What it is — some Aboriginal people, academics and ordinary people, looking at an important figure in early colonial history. It is a contribution to that story.

  8. Cool! I will watch, or at least try to watch tonight, as I’m off pretty much all week. I’m actually looking forward to being proven wrong, but I’m still fairly confident that it will be a blame whitey-fest. And I’m also betting that the haters of the white man will be saying that the world was all unicorns and happy hopping bunny rabbits before the white man showed up. I know it’s ridiculous, but I bet they imply that.

    I hope I get to apologize for my misstatements!

  9. That reminds me of another funny word. Brigadoon. Sure, they sing a lot, but if you fast-forward through the songs, it’s an interesting story.

    I strongly recommend that you fast-forward through the songs. Anyway, I’m going to watch your white-bashing movie starting now.

  10. One minute in, and my review is, “Holy crap, I forgot how cool the Australian accent is! I love how they can make an ‘a’ sound like an ‘i’, and keep a straight face while doing so. Aussies are aus-some!”

    Not bashing whitey in the first minute. Can they continue? I’m hopeful!

  11. 2:50 mark and already some hippie is bashing Britain. I was hoping for at least ten minutes before that began:(.

    (ps – If my movie review annoys you, ban me for a day or make a note for me to stop here. Either way, I’ll get the message and stop)

  12. Oh dear. 3:20 This guy just said that Ben Boy A wasn’t impressed with mixed cultures and that he preferred that we stay apart from each other. I get it. He’s a racist. Neil and nya nya support a racist?

  13. 5:00 mark – The hippie tries to explain that ‘clever’ is codeword for spiritualism and mysticism. Surely even an Aussie raised in the outback by wallabies wouldn’t fall for that ridiculocity, right?

    (yeah, I made that word up)

  14. Oh dear, Kevin. Foot in mouth disease. Aboriginals of High Degree on “clever man”. Aboriginal English. It’s a dialect.

    “The hippie!” He has a beard? He’s an Aboriginal writer very highly respected in this country.

    You’re a bit of a bull in a china shop in this area, Kevin.

    I hereby distance myself from Kevin’s comments lest any Australian reader, especially Aboriginal Australians, be appalled — as they will be — by the crashing disrespect.

  15. 10:00 I’m not liking your movie. Now the guy is saying that the war started over the raping and murder of women. Does that sound like something British soldiers would do? Rape and murder women? It’s fair enough to say that they might have raped some women as many of today’s UN peace-keepers do (so I assume rape is acceptable to anyone who supports the UN), but murder? I doubt it.

  16. “I hereby distance myself…”

    Hehe, as if there could be more distance between us philosophically, Neil :). No worries. Everyone who reads your blog knows this. We never agree on anything. That’s what makes discussions with you interesting.

    I wasn’t calling the man a hippie because he has a beard. I was calling him a hippie because he speaks like a man who graduated from college (or as Aussies say, ‘uni’) with some lame degree that requires no intelligence like:

    Native Australian Studies
    Female Australian Studies

    etc. He’s clearly one of those types of retards (I’m not pc). But you’ve given me something to think about, Neil. Does having a beard make you a hippie? Hmm. Well, everyone I know who has a beard is either an idiot, an incredibly vain person, or a worshiper of the demon god described in the koran as ‘allah’. But I only know a dozen people who wear them.

    No, I don’t think it’s fair to call people who wear beards ‘hippies’. Back to the movie!

  17. The guy says it because the record is clear: the rape and murder is a fact.

    Kevin, you are not just not PC, but if you were here you would be utterly destructive of any respect between Aboriginal people and the rest of us. We have struggled for years to achieve views and practices that offer hope and they are not to be taken lightly.

    Our Prime Minister in 1992

    And I was proud to be part of this crowd that day.

  18. The spelling in the movie is correct.

    So you prefer your history with all the ambiguity removed, Kevin. We are the good guys. Simple.

    I call that propaganda, not history. History embraces many viewpoints.

    Fact is that in the first two years of settlement around 90% of the Sydney Aboriginal people were dead.

  19. Probably true, Neil. I never had any respect for societies that hadn’t conquered the concept of the wheel. I don’t feel ANY need to include the backwards aborigine culture of Australia into current civilized Australia. It is old. It doesn’t make sense anymore. FWIW, I don’t think we should try to include American Indian culture into American culture, even though I’m part Indian.

    Both are part of the past, and deservedly so. It’s time to embrace the future. Sure, we can buy some of those hippie ‘dream catchers’ that Indians make, or whatever equivalent your hippie indians make, but let’s face facts. the time of mysticism is over. This movie ain’t helpin’.

    (“ain’t helpin” is a southern American colloquialism for ‘is not helping.’)

  20. “The spelling in the movie is correct.”

    Nope. Otherwise, his name would be pronounced ‘pem ul why’. Don’t get all British on me, Neil. You know how they misspell everything. I know it’s weird that they invented the language and now seem unable to use it, but c’est la vie.

    In any event, back to the movie!

  21. I don’t buy your statement that ‘rape and murder are a fact’. If you are a scuzzball,why murder someone that you can rape later? It makes no sense. Link your ‘fact’ if you want outsiders to believe it.

  22. 18:00 Penulway defeated the British!?!

    It’s often said that some rag-tag band of ragamuffins beat some great army. While it’s sometimes true, it’s important to understand why. The British were pretty tough back then. Even though they are weak by American standards of today, the British could have easily wiped every aboriginal village clean of life. Easily. Quickly.

    Yet they chose not to do that, being civilized and all. Also, they are poor spellers. But I digress.

    Hey, my friend just reminded me that I have to do a thing, involving some stuff and such. I’ll watch more of this anti-white video tomorrow. And I’ll give you updates! 🙂

  23. From the video:

    ERIC WILLMOT: So McIntyre was central to this. McIntyre was probably a crooked provisioner. Probably most provisioners have been crooked so McIntyre was nothing special. It was just that he took on Pemulwuy and he believed he could deal with Pemulwuy by intimidation. But with Pemulwuy, it didn’t work. So he went out there, armed himself and with armed New South Wales Corps soldiers with him. And it’s reported he put his gun down on the ground and told Pemulwuy to do likewise. To both disarm and let’s talk. So Pemulwuy dropped his spears. McIntyre picked up the gun and tried to shoot Pemulwuy but, imagine, to stand in front of Pemulwuy, with a spear in his hand, and think you’re going to shoot him before he can stick it in you. And of course, he killed McIntyre.

    JIM KOHEN: He did that by spearing McIntyre with a death spear which was armed with two rows of barbs, stone barbs, and the idea of the death spear was that when the person was speared, when the spear shaft came out, the stones would stay inside so they’d break off and stay inside. And then, of course, over a period of time, the person who’d been speared would die.

    ERIC WILLMOT: And eventually, he did this thing, a lot of the Europeans did. A bedside confession, you know. “I have done thee wrong. Before the eyes of my God” or whatever “I confess to these things.” In thought, that such a confession would somehow remove the guilt. And he did that and was reported on by Collins and Doors both. And he confessed to all sorts of depredations.

    EXCERPT OF LETTER WRITTEN BY WATKIN TENCH: “He was of the Catholic persuasion, but on being brought to the hospital he desired to have the clergyman sent for, to whom he confessed that he had been a bad man, and desired his prayers. Watkin Tench.”

    From Wikipedia

    1790 In December, Governor Arthur Phillip issued an order for “a party…of two captains, two subalterns and forty privates, with a proper number of non-commissioned officers from the garrison…to bring in six of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay; or, if that number shall be found impracticable, to put that number to death”.[1]. This was largely in response to the spearing by Pemulwuy of the Governor’s gamekeeper, McEntire, and his subsequent death. McEntire was suspected of violence towards Aboriginal people and Tench writes he was “the person of whom Baneelon had, on former occasions, shown so much dread and hatred.”[2] And, “from the aversion uniformly shown by all the natives to this unhappy man, he had long been suspected by us of having in his excursions shot and injured them”. On his deathbed, McEntire “began…to accuse himself of the commission of crimes of the deepest dye”, but “declared that he had never fired but once on a native, and then had not killed but severely wounded him in his own defence.” Tench wrote of this denial, “Notwithstanding his deathbed confession, most people doubted the truth of the relation, from his general character and other circumstances.”[3]

    The references are to Watkin Tench, 1759?-1833, letters and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson [1793] The inference made in the video is quite believable.

    ** See also my Indigenous Australians page.

  24. Ok, I won’t give you updates when I continue watching in the morning :(. Too bad, because I was really enjoying showing you the other side. Also, I’m very sad to hear that McIntyre spelled his name wrong (McEntire). And while I agree that it’s unforgivable to be a poor speller, a death sentence is simply too harsh. Tone it down a notch, Aussies.

    Also, not a fan of Pemulway. I’m kind of hoping he dies early on. Can you tell me if he bites it? Don’t give away the plot – that’s the only bit I want to know.

  25. Listen to this letter from your movie. It’s so different that they writing style of today:

    “The manifold packages you have had the goodness to forward to me, have always, owing to your friendly care in addressing and invoicing them, come safe and in good condition to my hands.”

    In other words, “I got your package.”

    Heh. Good movie! You probably know the side I was rooting for, huh? 🙂

  26. This story tells us a bit about the world too – not just Australia. Have you ever talked to someone on the left about killing the leaders of insurgents/enemies/revolutions, etc? They always say, “If you kill him, he will become a martyr, and people will rally behind his name and destroy you.”

    It’s fairly clear from Pemulway’s[sic] example that this is not always the case. In fact, if we look at history, it is only very rarely the case. The lesson is: If the guy is evil, catch or kill him. Don’t worry about that ‘martyr’ crap.

    Lesson learned, Message Stick!

  27. Who is the Permulway of the 2010’s that will lead this commonwealth to the Republic of Rainbow Country? The people of this nation are waiting for the republic to be born to cast off the shackles of colonialism, to cast off the powers that are destroying the natural environment and raping it of its resources that only aids and supports those superpowers and their greed. Time to unite ASEAN with the pacific islands nations and republic of rainbow country!

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