Friday, 29 November 2013


JOHN CLARK WITH WIFE AND DAUGHTERS. LATE 1890'S. Source: Personal Collection.

John, Jane and Mary Ann (their baby daughter) arrived at a staging post on the Queensland border three months after leaving the Hunter Valley minus the police posse.  For those who don’t know geography, Queensland is a state of Australia. It’s our version of Texas.

It was at the staging post that John Clark showed his bravery and canniness when he agreed to drive a mob of cattle (for a good price and the fact that no one else wanted to do it) north to a station near the settlement of Bowen. The town had only been established one year before. Was he crazy? After here, there were barely any settlements or roads for a thousand miles. Most of the land north had only just been explored by Europeans. Bowen was a long way away and the Aborigines whose land he would be passing through were known to be hostile.

 John Clark had such an air of confidence about him that several men decided to join his party. But John Clark had a clever idea about dealing with hostile Aborigines. Two local Aborigines, a male and female named Roddy and Billy who he had befriended, agreed to come with him. As the party travelled north, Roddy and Billy were able to negotiate safe passage through the different tribal lands they passed through.

Things did get a little sticky one night when they thought their camp would be attacked. Even Billy and Roddy were worried. Roddy apparently told John Clark to grab, “the stick that goes ha-ha.” (his exact words). Roddy was of course referring to a gun. John Clark fired a shot over the heads of the Aborigines and they quickly dispersed.
After several months on the road everyone arrived in Bowen alive and well.  Impressed by the good  condition of the cattle, John Clark was made manager of the station.

 As for Roddy and Billy? They would remain with John and his family the rest of their lives. Billy delivered several of John Clark’s children at Lornesleigh Station and Roddy is buried next to John Clark.  

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