Halloran Letter 1853
The Commissioner of Crown Lands Wide Bay District to the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands respecting the withdrawal of two mounted troopers.
Crown Lands Office
Tinana 20 December 1853
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18 ultimo No. 53/1726 acquainting me that as a Division of the Native Police is now in the District and Petty Sessions have been established, the services of the two unmounted troopers attached to my party are to be discontinued on the 31 ultimo and in reply I do myself the honor to state that the Blacks are now in the neighbourhood of Maryboro’ in greater numbers than they have been for years upwards of 400 have been seen today by the C. Constable and they are committing more depredations than they have done for a considerable time.
The complaints of the inhabitants and calls upon myself for protection are so numerous and urgent that I applied to the Commandant of the Native Police who has, contrary to his regulation, detached part of a section of his Troopers to place under my orders for a short time.
The situation of Tinana is very isolated, and not more than 15 miles in a direct line from Fraser’s Island the natives from which place are the perpetrators of almost, if not all the depredations and great numbers of them are continually about my place having camping grounds near Tinana Creek. Only yesterday as I was returning from Maryboro’, I was stopped on the road about a mile from my own quarters by a party of upwards of 50 armed Blacks, who came over from a camp about 300 yards from the road, at the edge of a scrub. I was unarmed, but fortunately my holsters were on my saddle. I told them the Native Police were close up, at the same time pretending to draw a pistol from my holster I rode in among them when they dispersed and ran into the scrub.
Today again one of the Mounted Troopers who had been into town with letters, was on his return home stopped by a large body of Blacks at the same place I had seen them the day before although he was well armed and mounted, but he fortunately escaped by adopting the same ruse as I had previously done and firing off his carbine over their heads.
Today also I received the enclosed note from McCleary and as four of the Native Troopers had just arrived in Maryborough I lost no time in swimming their horses over the river (which I did safely by using the Surveyor’s boat) and going in pursuit of the Blacks. We came upon their camp where I saw them yesterday. We counted no less than from 40 to 50 fires, most of them still burning and I returned home at dusk without having fallen in with the Blacks but I propose starting again at daylight in the morning when I hope I shall be more successful.
I learned today, that two or three days ago four Blacks went into the home of Mr Uhr who lives on the roadside about half a mile from Maryborough on the road to New Maryborough and demanded rations and from their determined manner Mr Uhr told me he had no doubt they would have committed violence but for the timely appearance of Mr Palmer and Mr Hickson.
I do not consider it safe now to send less than two Troopers at a time into town for rations, letters or in fact upon any duty, consequently if the other two are discharged my quarters will be left quite unprotected.
As soon as I can procure horses, I also propose going out to examine some runs under the Brisbane Range where a large party (Mr Bidwill’s) was attacked and plundered by the Natives, it will therefore be necessary for me to take at least two men with me and again my quarters will be left without protection.
I do not allude to these matters to, in any degree, exaggerate the danger but I would beg to refer you to Mr Surveyor Labatt who was stationed here for several years. He will be able to inform you that altho’ he lived on the bank of the river opposite the town, he could never leave his quarters to go on duty without leaving two men in it to guard his property.
I therefore earnestly hope that I shall not be deprived of the services of the two unmounted men for another year at least, when I hope by adopting active measures I may be able in some degree to quiet the Blacks. I assure you I am most anxious to avoid all unnecessary expense as much as possible but I consider that my party cannot at present, with any degree of safety to life and property, be reduced. I shall however according to your orders, discharge Edmond Browne, at the end of the month – he being, as stated in my letter of the 12 instant No. 13/57 engaged only by the week pending your further orders I shall retain the other man whose agreement will not expire until the 31 May next.
The circumstances detailed in this letter are not referred to in my “annual report” for being anxious that document should reach you by 31 instant I wrote and posted it to go on the 17 instant by the Burnett.
I have etc.
Arthur E. Halloran
(Queensland State Archives. Series 11965 Letterbooks Item ID: 7205 Letterbook of letters sent by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wide Bay and Burnett. Transcribed from the original. Reproduced with permission from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy)