National Archives of Australia2
CRS F1 Item 1957/367
Patrol Reports - Acting Patrol Officer E J Egan 1957
Copyright P J Mackett, 2006
26th February, 1957
Acting Patrol Officer Egan :
Patrol to Katherine - Larrimah Areas
Further to our discussion of the morning of the 25th February,
I have now received further advice from Acting District Welfare Officer
Pitts regarding the employment of natives by the rock crushers near
2. It would seem that the employers require only from 9 to 12
boys to work for them and are anxious that the hangers-on be removed
from the camp.
3. Mr Pitts confirmed that they are employed on a contract
basis, being in receipt of 12/6d per cubic yard of rock collected and
that the average earnings of the 9 boys whom they regard as their employees,
is approximately 3 pounds 10/- per week, out of which the employers deduct
approximately 10/- for food.
4. It is apparent that the 9 boys employed on this basis are
being assisted in the collection of rock by the hangers-on and that
the latter people are sharing the food purchased by the employers for
their 9 employees.
5. The removal of the surplus natives will therefore result in
(a) the 9 employees receiving the full value of their food supplies, and
(b) a lesser amount of rock supplied on their behalf to the crusher.
The latter effect will result in a lesser amount of money earned.
6. I therefore cannot, for reasons which are obvious, allow the
employment on this contract basis to continue. Apart from the fact
that the native has no concept of what constitutes a cubic yard of rock
and therefore does not know whether he is being fairly treated, it is
obvious that with the withdrawl of the surplus natives in the camp area
they will not earn sufficient each week commensurate with their labour.
7. In your negotiations with the employers, therefore, it is desired
that you endeavour to come to an agreement that the 9 or 12 natives that
they wish to employ shall recieve a minimum of 3 pounds per week plus everything
found. This latter shall include provision of tents and flys.
8. I am in two minds regarding the wives of employed natives
remaining in the camp area. I will leave this matter to your judgement
after you have made an assessment of the situation, but I do insist that
no children are to be left at the camp.
9. Mr Pitts states that all of the natives concerned are Mylli
and that the surplus ones should be removed to Beswick Creek Settlement.
10. I also understand from Mt Pitts that if we insist on a flat
rate of 3 pounds per week the employed may not wish to continue with the native
labour. In this connection you are at liberty to arrive at a figure
which you consider reasonable, provided is does not fall below 2 pounds per week.
If the employer is not prepared to pay this minimum we will have no alter-
native but to remove all natives from the camp.
11. Befoe taking any action in this regard please contact Mr.
Pitts from Katherine and he will discuss the matter further with you.
In your investigations you should make a complete census of the natives
and ensure that they are included in our Register of Wards.
12. To refresh your memory I will repeat the instructions
regarding Pine Creek.
(1) Contact Constable Knight on arrival and discuss the problem of
the two or three old people who he alleges are hanging around the
town area and getting liquor.
(2) Contact Aboriginal Jimmy Teacher who has 3 wives and 2 children
of school age, and transfer them to Beswick Creek.
(3) Contact 2 half-caste children, the names of whom Mr Pitts is
(4) Inquire into a statement that there is a third school child,
a girl, living with Jimmy Teacher and his family.
13. Jimmy Teacher, the half-caste children and the third school
child are alleged to be in a camp outside Pine Creek where natives
congregated recently for a corroborree.
E C Evans
Chief Welfare Officer
6th March, 1957
Chief Welfare Officer
(Through District Welfare Officer)
Patrol to Katherine and Larrimah Areas
I departed from Darwin at 11.30am on tuesday 26th
February 1957 and arrived at Pine Creek at 5pm that night. I
contacted Constable Knight on arrival, and, if reference is made
to the Chief Welfare Officer's instructions of 26th February 1957,
(paragraphs 12 and 13) my report on my activities at Pine Creek
will be easier to follow.
2. I proceeded to the camp where Jimmy Teacher and his family
had been staying only to find that they had all gone to Mt Bundy
station that day. The story was corroborated by the Pine Creek
3. It was then too late to try to locate the two half caste
children. They were not in the Native camp and, as I had been
informed by Constable Knight that the two children were attending
the Pine Creek School, I decided to stay the night at Pine Creek
and see the children in the morning.
4. At 8.30am on 27th February 1957 the two children, both
girls, were seen at Constable Knight's residence. They attend
school with Constable Knight's son, so they were not frightened
at being interviewed. Particulars of the two girls are as follows
Margaret Callaghan, aged about 6 years, is stopping at the
house of Mrs Feeney, an old Pine Creek resident. Margaret
states that her mother, whose name is Lily, (presumably a full
blooded Aborigine) is at Katherine.
June Thompson, also aged about six years, is stopping at the
camp of a person named Les Turley. I do not know this person, but
Constable Knight did not appear too pleased with these
arrangements, and he stated that he would see Turley and advise
him that the mother and child would have to stay with somebody
else. The mother's name is Nancy.
5. When seen by me both children looked very healthy and
were particuarly well dressed, with clean dresses, ribbons in
their hair, and clean shoes and socks. Since returning to Darwin
I have checked with the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and
Marriages, and the births of these children were not registered.
We have no individual files for them so no other information is
available. I had no idea of the intentions of the Branch, so
nothing further was done by me.
6. Constable Knight is confident of apprehending a known
supplier of liquor to Aborigines, and he is hopeful that a
successful prosecution would provide a temporary deterrent to
the many who apparently engage in this practice both in and
around Pine Creek.
7. At 9.30am on 27th February 1957, I departed for
Katherine, arriving there at 11am. I spent the afternoon at the
rock crushers which are situated at the edge of the Stuart
Highway and about seven miles on the Darwin side of Katherine.
8. About two weeks ago there was a large crowd of
Aborigines (The Chief Welfare Officer's estimate was 60 to 70)
but the marority of these have now left the area and are stated
to have walked to Pine Creek. They may be on the way there, but I
neither saw, nor heard anything of, such a large influx of
Aborigines into Pine Creek township.
9. The rock crushers are operated by the Ross brothers,
Arthur and Graham, both of whom normally reside in Darwin, and
both of whom held current Licences to employ Aborigines. They
are under contract to supply to the Department of Works screenings
for road maintenance.
10. The following Aborigines are employed at the crusher,
and receive a set wage of 3 pounds per week.
Each of these men has one wife in the camp which is situated
about 1/2 a mile from the crusher. The men come to the crushers for
every meal, and they have the same food as European workers on the
crushers. No meals are supplied to the wives of the working
Aborigines, although an allowance of 10/- per man per week is
paid by Ross brothers, and transport is provided for the
transport of rations from Katherine to the Camp.
11. The following Aborigines work on a contract basis :-
These contract workers are paid at the rate of 12/6 per
cubid yard of stone. The stone has to be spalled with a sledge
hammer, stacked in heaps, each approximatelt a cubic yard in capacity
and then later on the workers have to load the stone into trucks,
thence to be taken to the crushers.
12. Mr Ross states that the first approach to do this
contract work was made by the Aborigines, and that he is not
particularly interested whether he employs them or not. He has
two Europeans doing exactly the same workm and they are able to
gather enough stone to keep the crusher going, particularly now
that the wet season is on, for the crusher cannot be operated
while it is raining, as the dust clogs up the shakers when wet.
Mr Ross states that the two white men are earning between 30 pounds and
forty pounds per week each. I cannot vouch for this fact, but I do know
that any white man who did this job and received less than 25 pounds
per week should have his head examined.
13. Ross stated that if we insisted that he employ the
Aborigines on a weekly wage, that he would not be able to employ
them. The Aborigines themselves state that they intend moving on
through Pine Creek and then back to their country (they are a
mixture of Milingimbi and Miali) in a few weeks and so I
was hesitant about removing them to Beswick as instructed. Mr
Pitts agrees with me that the problem will probably resolve
itself by the departure of the Aborigines. Wanderers such as
these are useless for settlement life, as they will not work
themselves, and only eat the food supplied top workers.
14. Since they started the Natives have never earned big money
and the highest weekly wage has been 5/6/-. As such it is obvious
that a supervisor would have to work with the Aborigines if they
were placed on wages and Ross will not do this. He has agreed to
keep duplicate records of all wages paid, and he will give one
copy of this record to Mr Pitts each week.
15. Three tent flies have been supplied by Ross Brothers,
one to each of their wages employees. The contract workers have
erected the usual type of temporary shelter. The women are gathering
the usual native foods collected by women - yams, sugarbag etc to
supplement the rations purchased by the men.
16. Could my action in not removing the Aborigines be
endorsed please, in view of the impending departure from the area
of the group. Mr Pitts will be keeping in weekly contact with
Mr Ross, and if the camp grows again, then a removal of all
non-workers could be effected.
17. Complete census details were taken, and I will check
all names with the Register of Wards.
18. On 28th February 1957, Mr Pitts and I journeyed to
Larrimah where there have been recent disturbances. A European was
recently imprisioned for assaulting an Aborigine, and another
European was imprisioned for six months for supplying liquor to
Aborigines. I was an observer only on this occasion, and I
presume that Mr Pitts will be submitting a report on Larrimah
19. I returned to Darwin on 1st March 1957.
E J Egan
Acting Patrol Officer