Narional Archives of Australia
Correspondence, W MacDougall, 31 October 1958
31 October 1958
Whilst on patrol I visited the Warburton Range Mission on
14th October, 1958.
Maira, second wife of Harry was in the camp. She was the
ringleader of the three girls reported on misbehaviour in the vicinity
of the Blackstone Ranges last year. She was also used by Harry to assess
the prospects of a successful stealing raid on several mining camps.
I sent a message to her to come and speak to me but she and
her mother promptly went bush. Next dat Mr Green, Mr Fowler and I
followed them in the Mission Landrover, they were not many miles away.
Maira, once assured that I was not acting on behalf of the
police and did not intend taking her away, talked freely. It was
established that she is now accepted as Harry's second wife. Both she
and her mother stated that she had had a halfcaste child, a male and
She intended returning to Harry after a short holiday at the
Mission, and she stated that Harry was waiting for her in the vicinity
of Blackstone until she returned, but was keeping out of sight. I asked
her to tell Harry that I urgently wanted to speak to him when she returned
Mr Green suggested that Maira and her mother travel with me to
Blackstone, and that they bring Harry in to see me. Lilly, the mother,
refused to go but Stanley, her father, volunteered.
On arrival at Blackstone we found that Harry had been arrested
and had, with two others, been taken to Oodnadatta 24 hours earlier.
I returned Stanley and Maira to the Mission.
During the trip I tried to secure accurate information with
regards to alleged misconduct at Tollu. I persistently tried to check
Maira's story by getting her to repeat it, which she did with a great
amount of detail drawing plans in the dust.
Maira's story is as follows -
Maira and two friends Nora and Nipin were kept by three white men
at Tollu for some considerable time being given five meals a day,
breakfast, dinner, tea, morning tea, and afternoon tea. Food supplied
being beef, mutton, piggy piggy, tea, sugar, bread, and jam. All three
girls travelled in vehicles with the men concerned whenever possible.
Finally the men persuaded the girls to drink wine and stay all night in
the bunkhouse, each occupying a bed with one of the men. Maira was the
only one of the girls who conceived. That night's activity terminated the
association, the baby duly arrived still-born, a male child.
On checking the above story with Mr Laine at Blackstone, I
discovered that in many respect it was fictious. Mr Laine's records
showed that the three men named were not at any one time working together
at Tollu. None of the men drank, bought, or secured wine while employed.
Mr Laine also stated that the work being carried out by those
men at Tollu was important and was constantly supervised by himself and
other senior employees. No suspicious incidents were observed. This
destroys any value there may have been in Maira's story.
It is obvious that misconduct occurred somewhere in the Reserve.
Why Maira tried to implicate the men who named I do not know.
I am prepared to accept the following facts :-
(a) Maira produced a still-born male halfcaste child.
(b) That she is now Harry's second wife.
(c) That she was punished by Harry for associating with a
white man. Two spear wounds.
Nora and Nipin have not yet been interviewed by me.
I recommend that :-
(a) The supported statement that the halfcaste male child
was still-born be accepted.
(b) For the present no further action be taken in regards to
the alleged killing of halfcaste babies.
(c) That Maira be confined to one of the Missions during Harry's
term in gaol - six months.
(d) That Harry on his return to the Reserve be instructed to keep
his wife well away from white man camps.
While at Blackstone I saw the halfcaste child, Silver, born
to Kunjapai, wife of Jimmy. She was born about last Christmas. It is
alleged this child was conceived in the Musgrave Range whilst Mines
Department employees were drilling for water.
W B MacDougall
Native Patrol Officer