Narrative of an expedition undertaken for the exploration of the country lying between Rockingham Bay and Cape York, by William Carron


No. I.

Statement of Jackey Jackey.

I started with Mr. Kennedy from Weymouth Bay for Cape York, on the 13th November, 1848, accompanied by Costigan, Dunn, and Luff, leaving eight men at the camp, at Weymouth Bay. We went on till we came to a river which empties itself into Weymouth Bay. A little further north we crossed the river; next morning a lot of natives camped on the other side of the river. Mr. Kennedy and the rest of us went on a very high hill and came to a flat on the other side and camped there; I went on a good way next day; a horse fell down a creek; the flour me took with us lasted three days; we had much trouble in getting the horse out of the creek; we went on, and came out, and camped on the ridges; we had no water: next morning went on and Luff was taken ill with a very bad knee; we left him behind, and Dunn went back again and brought him on; Luff was riding a horse named Fiddler; then we went on and camped at a little creek; the flour being out on this day we commenced eating horse-flesh, which Carron gave us when we left Weymouth Bay; as we went on we came on a small river, and saw no blacks there; as we proceeded we gathered nondas, and lived upon them and the meat; we stopped at a little creek and it came on raining, and Costigan shot himself; in putting his saddle under the tarpaulin, a string caught the trigger and the ball went in under the right arm and came out at his back under the shoulder; we went on this morning all of us, and stopped at another creek in the evening, and the next morning we killed a horse named Browney, smoked him that night and went on next day, taking as much of the horse as we could with us, and went on about a mile and then turned back again to where we killed the horse, because Costigan was very bad and in much pain; we went back again because there was water there; then Mr. Kennedy and I had dinner there, and went on in the afternoon leaving Dunn, Costigan, and Luff at the creek. This was at Pudding-pan Hill, near Shelbourne Bay. Mr. Kennedy called it Pudding-pan Hill. We left some horsemeat with the three men at Pudding-pan Hill, and carried some with us on a pack horse. Mr. Kennedy wanted to make great haste when he left this place, to get the doctor to go down to the men that were ill. This was about three weeks after leaving Weymouth Bay. One horse was left with the three men at Pudding-pan Hill, and we (Kennedy and myself) took with us three horses. The three men were to remain there until Mr. Kennedy and myself had gone to and returned from Cape York for them. Mr. Kennedy told Luff and Dunn when he left them that if Costigan died to come along the beach till they saw the ship, and then to fire a gun; he told them he would not be long away, so it was not likely they would move from there for some time. They stopped to take care of the man that was shot, we (me and Mr. Kennedy) killed a horse for them before we came away; having left these three men, we camped that night where there was no water; next morning Mr. Kennedy and me went on with the four horses, two pack horses and two saddle horses; one horse got bogged in a swamp. We tried to get him out all day, but could not, we left him there, and camped at another creek. The next day Mr. Kennedy and I went on again, and passed up a ridge very scrubby, and had to turn back again, and went along gulleys to get clear of the creek and scrub. Now it rained, and we camped; there were plenty of blacks here, but we did not see them, but plenty of fresh tracks, and camps, and smoke. Next morning we went on and camped at another creek, and on the following morning we continued going on, and camped in the evening close to a scrub; it rained in the night. Next day we went on in the scrub, but could not get through, I cut and cleared away, and it was near sundown before we got through the scrub — there we camped. It was heavy rain next morning, and we went on in the rain, then I changed horses and rode a black colt, to spell the other, and rode him all day, and in the afternoon we got on clear ground, and the horse fell down, me and all; the horse lay upon my right hip. Here Mr. Kennedy got off his horse and moved my horse from my thigh; we stopped there that night, and could not get the horse up; we looked to him in the morning and he was dead; we left him there; we had some horse meat left to eat, and went on that day and crossed a little river and camped. The next day we went a good way; Mr. Kennedy told me to go up a tree to see a sandy hill somewhere; I went up a tree and saw a sandy hill a little way down from Port Albany. That day we camped near a swamp; it was a very rainy day. The next morning we went on, and Mr. Kennedy told me we should get round to Port Albany in a day; we travelled on all day till twelve o’clock (noon), and then we saw Port Albany; then he said “there is Port Albany, Jackey — a ship is there — you see that island there,” pointing to Albany Island; this was when we were at the mouth of Escape River; we stopped there a little while; all the meat was gone; I tried to get some fish but could not; we went on in the afternoon half a mile along the river side, and met a good lot of blacks, and we camped; the blacks all cried out “powad, powad,” and rubbed their bellies; and we thought they were friendly, and Mr. Kennedy gave them fish-hooks all round; every one asked me if I had any thing to give away, and I said no; and Mr. Kennedy said, give them your knife, Jackey; this fellow on board was the man I gave the knife to; I am sure of it; I know him well; the black that was shot in the canoe was the most active in urging all the others on to spear Mr. Kennedy; I gave the man on board my knife; we went on this day, and I looked behind, and they were getting up their spears, and ran all round the camp which we had left; I told Mr. Kennedy that very likely those blackfellows would follow us, and he said, “No, Jackey, those blacks are very friendly;” I said to him “I know those blackfellows well, they too much speak;” we went on some two or three miles and camped; I and Mr. Kennedy watched them that night, taking it in turns every hour all night; by-and-by I saw the blackfellows; it was a moonlight night; and I walked up to Mr. Kennedy, and said to him there is plenty of blackfellows now; this was in the middle of the night; Mr. Kennedy told me to get my gun ready; the blacks did not know where we slept, as we did not make a fire; we both sat up all night; after this, daylight came, and I fetched the horses and saddled them; then we went on a good way up the river, and then we sat down a little while, and we saw three blackfellows coming along our track, and they saw us, and one fellow ran back as hard as he could run, and fetched up plenty more, like a flock of sheep almost; I told Mr. Kennedy to put the saddles on the two horses and go on, and the blacks came up, and they followed us all the day; all along. it was raining, and I now told him to leave the horses and come on without them, that the horses made too much track. Mr. Kennedy was too weak, and would not leave the horses. We went on this day till towards evening, raining hard, and the blacks followed us all the day, some behind, some planted before; in fact, blacks all around following us. Now we went into a little bit of a scrub, and I told Mr. Kennedy to look behind always; sometimes he would do so, and sometimes he would not look behind to look out for the blacks. Then a good many blackfellows came behind in the scrub, and threw plenty of spears, and hit Mr. Kennedy in the back first. Mr. Kennedy said to me, “Oh! Jackey, Jackey! shoot ’em, shoot ’em.” Then I pulled out my gun and fired, and hit one fellow all over the face with buck shot; he tumbled down, and got up again and again and wheeled right round, and two blackfellows picked ‘him up and carried him away. They went away then a little way, and came back again, throwing spears all around, more than they did before; very large spears. I pulled out the spear at once from Mr. Kennedy’s back, and cut out the jag with Mr. Kennedy’s knife; then Mr. Kennedy got his gun and snapped, but the gun would not go off. The blacks sneaked all along by the trees, and speared Mr. Kennedy again in the right leg, above the knee a little, and I got speared over the eye, and the blacks were now throwing their spears all ways, never giving over, and shortly again speared Mr. Kennedy in the right side; there were large jags to the spears, and I cut them out and put them into my pocket. At the same time we got speared, the horses got speared too, and jumped and bucked all about, and got into the swamp. I now told Mr. Kennedy to sit down, while I looked after the saddlebags, which I did; and when I came back again, I saw blacks along with Mr. Kennedy; I then asked him if he saw the blacks with him, he was stupid with the spear wounds, and said “No;” then I asked him where was his watch? I saw the blacks taking away watch and hat as I was returning to Mr. Kennedy; then I carried Mr. Kennedy into the scrub, he said, “Don’t carry me a good way;” then Mr. Kennedy looked this way, very bad (Jackey rolling his eyes). I said to him, “Don’t look far away,” as I thought he would be frightened; I asked him often, “Are you well now?” and he said, “I don’t care for the spear wound in my leg, Jackey, but for the other two spear wounds in my side and back,” and said, “I am bad inside, Jackey.” I told him blackfellow always die when he got spear in there (the back); he said, “I am out of wind, Jackey;” I asked him, “Mr. Kennedy; are you going to leave me?” and he said, “Yes, my boy, I am going to leave you;” he said, “I am very bad, Jackey; you take the books, Jackey, to the captain, but not the big ones, the Governor will give anything for them;” I then tied up the papers; he then said, “Jackey, give me paper and I will write;” I gave him paper and pencil, and he tried to write, and he then fell back and died, and I caught him as he fell back and held him, and I then turned round myself and cried: I was crying a good while until I got well; that was about an hour, and then I buried him; I digged up the ground with a tomahawk, and covered him over with logs, then grass, and my shirt and trowsers; that night I left him near dark; I would go through the scrub, and the blacks threw spears at me, a good many, and I went back again into the scrub; then I went down the creek which runs into Escape River, and I walked along the water in the creek very easy, with my head only above water, to avoid the blacks, and get out of their way; in this way I went half a mile; then I got out of the creek, and got clear of them, and walked on all night nearly, and slept in the bush without a fire; I went on next morning, and felt very bad, and I spelled for two days; I lived upon nothing but salt water; next day I went on and camped one mile away from where I left, and ate one of the pandanus; on next morning I went on two miles, and sat down there, and I wanted to spell a little there, and go on; but when I tried to get up, I could not, but fell down again very tired and cramped, and I spelled here two days; then I went on again one mile, and got nothing to eat but one nonda; and I went on that day and camped, and on again next morning, about half a mile, and sat down where there was good water, and remained all day. On the following morning, I went a good way, went round a great swamp and mangroves, and got a good way by sundown; the next morning I went and saw a very large track of black-fellows; I went clear of the track and of swamp or sandy ground; then I came to a very large river, and a large lagoon; plenty of alligators in the lagoon, about ten miles from Port Albany. I now got into the ridges by sundown, and went up a tree and saw Albany Island; then next morning at four o’clock, I went on as hard as I could go all the way down, over fine clear ground, fine iron bark timber, and plenty of good grass; I went on round the point (this was towards Cape York, north of Albany Island) and went on and followed a creek down, and went on top of the hill and saw Cape York; I knew it was Cape York, because the sand did not go on further; I sat down then a good while; I said to myself, this is Fort Albany, I believe, inside somewhere; Mr. Kennedy also told me that the ship was inside, close up to the main land; I went on a little way, and saw the ship and boat; I met close up here two black gins and a good many piccanninies; one said to me “powad, powad;” then I asked her for eggs, she gave me turtles’ eggs, and I gave her a burning glass; she pointed to the ship which I had seen before; I was very frightened of seeing the black men all along here; and when I was on the rock cooeying, and murry murry glad when the boat came for me.

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