Lower Murrumbidgee News

The Sydney Morning Herald

26 August 1846

Lower Murrumbidgee.

I regret to say that well authenticated reports have reached us of the murder, by the aboriginals, of a European, forming one of a party en route to Adelaide.

I believe the following statement may be relied on as correct in its detail.

The unfortunate sufferer, whose name has escaped my memory, was the son-in-law of a person named Jarvis, from the neighbourhood of Yass, who passed this in May, on his journey to Adelaide, with a small herd of cattle.

They had passed the Lachlan River about one hundred and twenty-five miles, when Jarvis, the proprietor of the stock, with three other persons, all armed, were about half a mile in advance of the teams which carried their provisions, &c., and were driven by the deceased and another man.

The two parties being, by the inequality of the road, hidden from each other, and all the arms being in possession of the horsemen in advance, an opportunity presented itself to a number of lurking savages, to perpetrate a wanton and murderous attack on the two unfortunate and defenceless men in the rear.

A body of them accordingly came out upon their intended victims, and demanded tobacco.

The men, alarmed by their manner, gave them not only all the tobacco they had, but the whole of the cooked provisions they carried for the day's consumption.

The blacks took this, but appeared dissatisfied, and one of them approaching the side of the dray, called to the driver, and put some question to him relative to the contents of a certain package, the poor fellow turned his head to reply, when one of the blood-thirsty and merciless wretches, in the dastardly manner of these foul blots of humanity, thrust a barbed spear through his body: the weapon entered between the hips and passed through the navel.

The other man immediately ran, and most miraculously escaped the numerous missiles which wore thrown after him.

On coming up with the advanced part, the whole returned to the scene of the murder, on reaching which, they found the aboriginals glutting their savage thirst for blood, by mutilating the dead body of their comrade and relative.

About fifty of the natives presented a front to the Europeans, and with a pusillanimity which can only encourage the savages to renew the tragedy on the next party that passes, they contented themselves with the recovery of the disfigured and bloody corpse.

Some little distance further down the river, the natives robbed a dray belonging to a Mr. Ross on its way to Adelaide.

The vehicle contained all the provisions and clothing of two gentlemen, and seven servants, who formed a party driving a herd of cattle. By some neglect the blacks were allowed by a stratagem to get possession of the whole of the firearms of the men, which, fortunately for them, they were not au fait in the use of, or the result might have been dreadful.

They ransacked the dray of everything it contained, emptying flour and other provisions from the sacks for the sake of the bags, breaking open and destroying boxes, and leaving the unfortunate wayfarers with naught save what they stood upright in.

They took away a blacksmith's anvil which weighed 75 lbs. What use they could make of this is problematical - perhaps they imagined it had the power of manufacturing tomahawks!

The pillaged party pushed off to Mr. Wentworth's station, and by the exertions of Mr. Walker, managing there, a great deal of the property has been recovered.

On the 27th July, a person named Higgins a servant of Mr. M'Leay's, and who has by industry and economy, during several years' service with that gentleman, amassed a comfortable little property in cattle and sheep, met his death whilst employed in carting a load of hurdles from one station to another.

It appears he incautiously took the winkers off the horse in order to enable the animal to feed, when he started off at a gallop, alarmed no doubt by the appearance of the load above him.

After running some distance, he described a circle, and made towards Higgins at full speed, and the unfortunate man imagining, no doubt, he might check his career, caught at the horse as he passed; an act of extreme folly, for which he forfeited his existence, for, missing his grasp the side rails of the cart as it passed struck him behind the ear, and going with such velocity, it is scarcely necessary to say, killed him on the spot.

The mail cart which travels between Gundagai and Mates, broke down lately, a few miles from the former place, and in consequence, owing, as I am informed, to delay in repairs, there was no conveyance for passengers for a fortnight.

The contractors ought to be careful in such matters as these, for had passengers arrived in Gundagai enroute to Melbourne, they might, and no doubt would have been, seriously incommoded.

We have had since my last a great deal of rain at intervals. The frosts have also been intense - some snow has fallen, and about a fortnight since there was a severe hailstorm, which lasted nearly an hour, covering the earth as completely as though it were crusted in snow.

The storm occurred about 4 o'clock in the evening of the 4th, and in shaded situations the hail remained frozen in large flakes at 10 o'clock next morning.

This month has been remarkable for the number of brilliant meteors which have been visible during clear weather.

Those of inferior size have been countless, but four which were seen here were of surpassing grandeur and beauty.

The first was on the evening of the 6th, about 8 o'clock; it emanated from the north-east quarter of the heavens, about two degrees above the horizon, and held a rapid course to the north, breaking into scintilations as it passed.

On Sunday evening, the 9th instant, about the close of twilight, the most magnificent of these fiery brands flung at night from angels' hands, made its appearance.

I cannot attempt a description of the splendid spectacle which the passage of this meteor afforded us, or the effect produced upon our minds as we gazed in awe and wonder upon its bright and luminous passage athwart the firmament, leaving a track of light and glory as it flamed along its ethereal way, and which by its softly fading lustre served for some time after the meteor had disappeared, to point its passage through the sky.

From the contemplation of an object such as this, man turns with a low and humiliating sense of his own utter insignificance!

With all his boasted powers of mind he yet cannot tell why the lowly blossom of the valley, which he crushes beneath his tread, differs from her sister flower in beauty; neither can it lead him from "world to luminous world afar," where "the universe spreads her flaming wall," to contemplate the mighty works of his Creator; here, from his place on earth, he may, in common with other creatures of dust, view and wonder at their glory, but to him, even as to the lowest worm, the ways of the Almighty ruler of the universe are a sealed book.

But, I believe, newspaper "Correspondents" must not moralize.

The meteor in question first appeared in the north east, as near as I could guess.

 The ball of fire was very large, apparently about two-thirds the circumference of the full moon.

Its course was almost perfectly horizontal, and what added to its splendor was its majestically slow motion.

After traversing, apparently, a degree, it burst, and the most splendid gush of prismatic colours occurred from its centre, radiating on all sides towards the tail of the meteor, and presenting the appearance of a fan.

For one moment it was hidden from my view by the summit of a range, and on seeing it again it had exploded a second time, and showers of sparks were scattered in its course.

From this period the leading portion of the meteor gradually faded into darkness, the two detached portions having successively disappeared in the same way; but for several seconds a silvery streak was visible along the passage of the heavenly body, such as Tom Moore would describe as the track of a Peri - I never witnessed anything more sublimely beautiful.

About nine o'clock the same evening, a second meteor of considerable size and beauty was visible - it sprang from the zenith, and descended with great rapidity without bursting, into the western horizon.

Another of large size was seen in the eastward, on the 12th, about eight o'clock; but as I did not witness, I cannot describe it.

The atmosphere was clear and unclouded, and the weather frosty upon the appearance of each of these celestial rockets, which were doubtless observed in all parts of the country.