Rev. Christoph Eipper
was employed as a Presbyterian minister and school teacher in Paterson, New South Wales in 1848 and later also taught at other schools in the Hunter Valley. However a decade before this he led an adventurous existence as a Missionary to Aborigines in Queensland. He was twenty-eight years old when he and his wife Harriett emigrated to Australia with other German missionaries recruited by Reverend J.D. Lang.
In January 1838 they arrived on the fever ship 'Minerva
' in which many passengers had became ill with typhus fever and consequently died.
Fellow missionary Gottfried Wagner, also twenty-eight years old, suffered with the disease but recovered. Leopold Zillman's wife Clara also recovered. Moritz Schneider wasn't so fortunate. He perished while still in quarantine in February. Schneider's pregnant wife Maria survived.
By April 1838 the missionaries had arrived at Moreton Bay where a station was formed on a hill at Nundah which they named Zion hill. It was situated seven miles north of Brisbane town and two miles from the government cattle station at Eagle farm, (a former agricultural settlement and female factory). They cleared ground for cultivation and by 1841 eleven thatched or bark roofed slab cottages with enclosed yards, kitchens and storehouses had been built on the ridge.(4) They cultivated crops to support themselves but also as a means of contact and influence over the natives.
They were often short of funds. They did receive assistance from abroad and in 1841 three large cases of clothing and other useful items were received from the 'friends of the Mission' at Berlin. Despite this, and although the government allotted land for the Mission and contributed financially, there was still a desperate need for funding and supplies which they hoped to receive via donations from the public. Rev. Mr. Schmidt visited Sydney from Moreton Bay
in October 1841 and with a view to encouraging public support, probably brought with him this interesting account of the Rev. Eipper's expedition which was later published in The Colonial Observer.......
Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal August 2nd 1841 by the Rev. Christoph Eipper, of the Moreton Bay German Mission
August 2nd 1841
Mr. Eipper left with Mr. Wagner, Zion's hill, about noon, under the guidance of three natives, Wunkermany and the two brothers, Wogann, who carried their provisions on their heads. The direction in which we went was nearly north. Our way led us this day over a soil similar to that which is found near our own place. Towards evening we reached a small creek, which we had to cross - as it was ebb tide we could get over without being obliged to take off our garments. On the opposite side our natives made a little stay, because they had found a tree emerging out of the water, which was eaten through with worms called Coppra; and these worms appeared to afford them a delicious repast. Every worm had made his own channel; they are of a milk white colour, with a brown stripe along the back; they taste not bad, although to a European palate they are not very inviting. It is remarkable in what a variety of ways these natives find their support; and it would be interesting to know how they first discovered the various objects which are now the constituent parts of their sustenance. The value of a tomahawk can only be estimated when all these ways are known. Here, for instance, they might have got some Coppras, without such an implement, by breaking as many branches off the trees as their strength would permit; but with the assistance of my tomahawk they cut the tree into pieces, and clearing the same obtained every worm it contained.
We were to encamp for the night near this river, but as the place where fresh water is generally found was dry, we were obliged to go three miles farther, until we came to the border of a swamp, where we halted. It is the custom of the natives to encamp in the neighbourhood of fresh water, although they do not always seem to consider their convenience, for sometimes they have to go a great length to fetch water. We had expected that our guides would have made huts for us, as they did for our brethren, who had made this journey before, but we were disappointed; they thought, probably, that in addition to our clothes we might be content to enjoy the same comfort which they had, viz that of a large fire. Mr. W. however knowing, from experience, that we should find it very cold to sleep without a shelter at this time of the year, set himself to the construction of a hut with sticks and grass, which we made the natives pull out of the ground. We soon found the comfort thereof; and were taking some cold food, when our attention was arrested by a very loud calling of our black friends. It was soon evident that no mortal foe disturbed them, for then they would have armed themselves, or called for our assistance. On enquiring about the cause, we were first told to be silent, for Wunkermany was speaking to the Devil; but when we persisted in asking, they replied, that the Devil was taking hold of the moon with his two arms, to eat it up, and would not let it go. They then began to call the name of every one of their tribe three times, fearful lest they should forget any one; which they did for two reasons - first, in order to frighten the Devil by naming all their mighty men an boys, and then to secure themselves against his power over them in death. For it is the devil who would swallow up every soul, which rises into the air after its separation from the body; and nothing but their great lamentations for the dead, accompanied with cutting their bodies and beating their heads with sharp instruments, will move him at last to let the departed soul fly off to England. Their manner of treating with the Devil was, however, in this instance by no means reverential. From single expressions, which we could catch, it appeared that they scolded him, calling him every bad name their language afforded, and frequently cursed him, so that it is a wonder he is moved at all, by their thus speaking to him to let them off, and not rather provoked to destroy them. Deplorable as the condition of these wretched men is rendered by such superstitions, we could not keep our gravity when beholding and hearing them thus engaged to contend with Satan, as they were doing for nearly the two hours which this total eclipse of the moon lasted. Every where we were told this ceremony was performed by the natives on this occurrence. So great had been their fear an anxiety, that they would neither move nor eat anything while it lasted; but when it was over, they laughed themselves at the Devil. It was, however, in vain to endeavour to convince them of their error by a rational explanation of the phenomenon; this was, they said, what the white man believed, but it was not for the black man. Afterwards, they requested us to speak very loud to some strange natives, whom they said they heard approach our encampment, for it was not now a proper time to come. When we told them that they were mistaken, they replied, that they had distinctly heard the noise of some men's steps at a distance. We had our evening worship during this eclipse, and told them to be silent while we spoke to God, which was much better than to scold the Devil, who had no power over those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ; nor were such afraid that he would eat up the moon. Our rest was not interrupted; but when towards daybreak, the fire got low, we awoke with cold limbs, and had to search for wood to renew the fire. By this were taught to provide for the future in the evening the wood for keeping up the fire at night, as we observed the natives themselves do.
Tuesday August 3rd 1841
Early in the morning we continued our journey towards the second river which we had to cross; it is called the Pine River, although there are but few pines on its banks; (we ascertained afterwards that this river empties itself into the Bay under the name Eden River, given, to it by Mr. Petrie, who traced it from the Bay in his boat; and this river and the one we crossed yesterday are two arms of the Eden, which unite before they reach the sea). After a tedious walk through high and wet grass, and crossing the river about nine o'clock, we stopped to take breakfast at a camp of the natives, some of whom were present. As we had yet a good supply of potatoes, we parted with a few, chiefly to make the burdens of our guides lighter. In these intervals of rest we were chiefly engaged in collecting words of the different tribes. Our path led us now through a more mountainous part, whilst hitherto we had gone over a rich alluvial soil. In the afternoon we beheld the Bay, and to the right the path to Umpie Boang or Old Settlement, was pointed out; but as there was no smoke visible, our guides concluded that the natives of that place had gone to Toorbal, which is the native name for Ninga Ninga.
Towards evening, our direction being still the same, we came to the banks of another river or creek of the same breadth as the Pine River; it was however pretty deep, as it was flood tide. Having crossed it, we went over a tract of rich soil, followed by a marshy plain, until we arrived at the last river on our journey. Its native name is Kaboltur; among the whites it is called Deception River; its breadth is considerable; and it had risen to such a height that one of our guides, by whom we had been forsaken on account of a piece of pork, and who had wished to hasten on before us, had not ventured to cross the river alone, and thus we found him here again. The night was coming on, and the sky threatened rain, but we had no choice left, as we could not spend the night on the marsh on this side of the river, so we were obliged to cross it, and reached safely the opposite shore, although we had to go up to our chins into the water. When we had reached dry land, we encamped for the night; the natives joked again about the Devil's eating the moon last night.
In the middle of the day, when going down a hill, one of our guides missed a girl, which had been given to him as his future wife; all were thrown into the greatest consternation, for they said that the relations of the girl would beat them if they had permitted her to be stolen by strange natives. These poor creatures appear never to enjoy security; they would immediately have returned to the pine River, or even to Zion's Hill, if the girl, who had only missed the path, had not been fortunately found.
This girl is now already fulfilling the duties of a wife to her future husband; and we have had occasion to observe what a useful commodity their women are to the natives, as they are chiefly expected to procure the necessary food, which has always more certain than that which the men are engaged to find. Single men, who would of course think it beneath their dignity to go in search of roots, we observed, were regularly supplied every day with a bundle of roots by one or other of the women, when returning from the swamps.
Wednesday August 4th 1841
The next morning we found that we had not been far from the coast; for after about one mile's walk we saw the bay again, and were told that now our way would lead along the sandy beach to Toorbal. The bay assumes, with the promontory of the old settlement to Toorbal, a semi circular shape. Moreton Island is seen at a distance running from south to north. Our guides took a little time here to gather the flowers of the honeysuckle tree, which they sucked. The stamin of this flower, or rather cob, are moistened with a clear and sweet juice, but as in sucking it so much of the pollen becomes mixed with it, it loses much of its good taste. About noon, after reaching the north corner of the bay, we turned westward, and soon met the lady of his Majesty the King of Toorbal employed in digging dangum, which is the native name of the root hitherto called bangwall. Here we stopped to take dinner; for our guides had told us we should not let our provisions be seen, as the natives were so greedy; it became, however, evident, by what we afterwards experienced that none were more greedy than these worthies themselves. We then went still westward, and were saluted by a number of women, engaged in digging dangum, after having crossed a very disagreeable swamp well nigh a mile long. We were received very cordially, but were struck with the coldness and indifference which the natives evinced at meeting each other; we observed the same indifference on arriving at the camp, about four o'clock; it was just the time when another division of women returned from gathering oysters, who freely gave us a good deal as they passed us. The first thing we had to do was to erect a good hut of sticks and grass, which, by the approach of night was nearly finished, and then we left it alternately to pay our particular brothers our first visit. Our hosts gave us what their houses could afford viz., oysters and pounded dangum; they would immediately have us sit down and chat with them. But we had soon occasion to witness some of the natives own ways; the king had stolen an axe belonging to one of our guides, which he had left in the keeping of his mother; he had all the way been talking that he would beat the king for it, but we gave no great heed to it; as soon, however, as the pounding of dangum had ceased, he arose, took his two waddies, and, standing at the side of our hut, commenced his charge with a loud voice, ending with a challenge to the king to fight him. All was immediately deep silence, and from a great distance an answer was returned; the words grew hotter on both sides, and one or two others added now and then a few remarks. Our guide now ran forward but came soon back, saying that the king was coward. Here the matter ended. Afterwards the king paid us several visits when passing by without any sign of hostility on either side. Several evenings during our stay there such occurrences took place, but by our interfering between the contending parties, which they did not seem to dislike, the quarrels were settled without blows. Such was the eagerness of all to listen to what was spoken on such occasions that when ever any one was heard to speak in that way after the evening meal had been taken, we scarcely could get any information from our neighbours or guides of the cause of the quarrel.
Thursday August 5th 1841
The next morning we went to the sea coast, to the place where the natives gather oysters and catch fish; it was a part of the bay, apparently quite enclosed with land, but we afterwards ascertained that it has an outlet into the sea to the northward - Mr. Petrie calls in Deception Bay. Thus, Moreton Bay has four openings, the south passage, which is only passable for boats; the passage at Amity Point, which is now used; the north passage, between Moreton Island and Yarun, and the passage through Deception Bay, ending at Head Petre. Opposite the main land, on a protruding point of which we stood, is a large island running from south to north, called Yarun by the natives; and another not so large lies westward, in which direction is the glasshouse mountains; nine in number, of very striking appearance and conical shape were visible. Some smaller islands or rather groups of trees, are seen between Yarun and the mainland, where the oysters are found in the mud at low water.
Friday August 6th 1841
This morning we went with some of the natives to see the spot where the solemnity of making kippers is to take place; its distance from the camp is about one mile and a half; no woman or child is permitted to come near. On the way, the natives killed snake, but as it had no fat they did not eat it. This place is called Bool, and has the figure of a large basin twenty one feet in diameter, surrounded by an earthen wall about two feet high; the whole place is cleared of the grass, which is pulled up by the roots; it has also an outlet to the southward, by a ditch about three feet wide and half a mile long. There the kippers are led to their huts, which during the time of their trial are separate from the rest. At one place along this reach are found the rude figure of a kangaroo and a seahog, by which it is intended the young fellows should be frightened when passing along. It appeared that the clearing of this ground was allotted to certain individuals in equal parts; so the natives told us, adding that some who were lazy had not yet done their work.
The rest of the day we spent in visiting and conversing with the natives, as opportunities were offered. Daily some had gone to catch Kangaroos, but had not been successful; and from what we afterwards observed we may justly say that by the mode of life, which these natives lead, not only their whole time every day is taken up in procuring their food, but that even then they are not always rewarded for their toil. Besides the women's time is also entirely taken up in digging roots and gathering oysters; but, what they generally contribute to the sustenance, is surer to be obtained, and constitutes their main support. The men may be said to provide the meat, but the women the bread. As regularly as the former go a hunting, or fishing, so regularly do the latter go for oysters or dangum. But although it is certain that the men derive greater pleasure from the chase and from fishing, than the women when drudging in the swamps, yet it is doubtful from their natural indolence, whether they would either hunt or fish, if they were not compelled to it by hunger.
Saturday August 7th 1841
Mr. W. Went to see the mode of the women in gathering oysters; they were at the same place, where we had been the day before. There was a canoe, in which they rowed to one of the small Islands above mentioned, where they gathered the oysters out of the mud into the boat. When they had thus gathered a great quantity, they went back to the shore, and made a fire, into which all the oysters were put, to cleanse them from the mud, and being thus stewed at the same time they are eaten and taste very well. The natives had been boasting, when inviting us to their places, that it would suffice for one man, to eat three oysters, and then he would feel satisfied; we never saw any one content with three oysters, nor did we ourselves feel any reluctance to eat more than three. In the same manner they had been saying, that one man had enough to do to carry one fish; we never saw any one groaning under his load, nor had we any difficulty to eat up any fish they gave us.
The next day was Sabbath, the 8th May, which we spent as quietly as we could. We cannot, however, refrain from saying, that as long as these natives have no other mode of life, they will never be able to keep a Christian Sabbath, though they were Christians; they cannot be expected to fast, yet they get scarcely sufficient for each day; it is true, that at times they may have abundance of fish, but taking it altogether, it may with truth be stated, that they have barely sufficient food for every day, and having no regular meals they are always hungry. This observation gives us, in one point of view, some satisfaction, as it is confirmation, that the plan upon which our Mission is conducted, is fully adapted to their peculiar situation; for while endeavouring impart unto them a knowledge of divine things, were are also teaching and assisting them to procure their livelihood in a laborious and surer way; and should the Divine Spirit move their hearts to believe the Gospel, their former mode of life will be no obstacle in the way of its acceptation.
Monday August 9th 1841
We went to have a view of the neighboring island, Yarun, to which its inhabitants had invited us. For this purpose we had to cross two arms of the bay in a canoe of the natives, which was just large enough to hold us both and two young men to row it. These canoes consist of one piece or sheet of bark, each end of which is gathered up into a bundle, a stick forced through it to form it into the shape of a bow. The edges of the sheet are strengthened with strong pieces of split cane, which are fastened on with small cords of cane wound over them and carried through small holes of the bark; two or three ties are fastened across these edges at different places, lest the sides should bend so low as to let the water in. Our vessels were thus Certainly not very convenient, as we had to sit almost immoveable and could not stretch our feet; yet it was comparatively safe, at least, the natives, who love life as well as any one, consider it to be so; they know well that their vessel cannot stand against wind and waves, therefore they would not venture to cross if the sea were ruffled but slightly. The natives of Toorbal had all along expressed a desire that we should cultivate ground at their own places of abode, and especially Naimany, the Lord of Yarun, wished us to do so on his island, but we found the soil very sandy, so that we could think of acceding to his wishes. We went across the island to the sea cost, when we found that we were about seven miles outside Moreton Bay, Moreton Island lying to the southwest from us. Our two natives had not taken the least provision with them; they had only tasted a little dangum on our arrival on the island in the morning which some old women had given them; they would therefore fain have staid on the beach to gather nugire, a small shell fish in a blue shell (in taste it resembles that of the oyster) and dig dangum in the neighbouring swamps. The sky was, however, threatening rain, and as we heard that on the beach, opposite the mainland, large huts would be found, we crossed the island again, and spent the night in one of those huts. They were certainly the best constructed and largest huts we ever have seen, some about twenty feet in length and all well covered; the sticks which formed the frame work were so nicely joined, that they might remind one of a gothic archway. As a small fire could not be kept up inside without being incommoded by the smoke, we were very warm and comfortable, for without, the wind and waves were howling dreadfully, so that we had scarcely any hope to be able to cross Deception Bay the next morning. Here we took our last provisions for supper, of which our hungry boatsmen also partook. The next morning the wind blew very fresh, but fell off about ten o'clock; we had fortunately espied a canoe on the beach, in which we could at once cross over to the main land, otherwise we should have been obliged to return by the same way by which we came over yesterday, and have lost therewith the whole day. Here we saw also the junction of Moreton and Deception Bay. Having crossed the latter, we went for some time along the beach, and then turned westward, but our guides took first their breakfast out of the swamps, and being young men they were very particular to dress themselves carefully before they made their appearance again in the camp, significantly replying to our enquiry, why they did so, the ladies will see us.
In the afternoon our attention was suddenly arrested by a great noise, caused by beating sticks together, and as we saw all the women run with their long and pointed sticks, which are used in digging dangum; we ran also to ascertain what this meant. But what a scene did we behold! the whole of the women were engaged in a regular battle; it was quite overwhelming to look at this fight of women, than which no contest of men could be fiercer; some had actually froth before their mouth. Each had her antagonist, who parried her blow by holding her stick between her fingers over head; and then immediately returned the stroke, which was parried in the same way when they got close together, they took hold of one another, each endeavouring to throw the other down. Some had their fingers and elbows bleeding when we arrived; but unable to look at it any longer, we rushed betwixt them, and at last succeeded in separating them at the peril of getting a few blows. They then settled the matter seemingly with words. It was a love affair that had brought the whole sex to arms. Some old women, however, were very much displeased, and pointed their spears at ours; yea, one threw it a Mr. E. The late execution of the supposed murderers of Mr. Stapylton has had thus far a salutary effect upon them, as they have a great fear of being brought before the Commandant at Brisbane Town; thus, when we wishing to know the cause of this quarrel used a word similar in sound to Brisbane Town, whether they were immediately frightened, and enquired if I would tell the Commandant of this quarrel they would be pulled up; on other occasions they begged we would not tell the commandant anything, because it was only a trivial thing. They seem nevertheless to have well understood the nature of the punishment and of the crime for which it was inflicted; for some said that next their king must be pulled up who killed not less than ten black men. Of the women, that soft sex, we could thus form no good opinion, especially when the next morning two were again found fighting, whose husbands were quietly looking on as the wives beat each other; we separated them, threatening we should tell the Commandant of their quarrels. The men were certainly upon the whole as bad in their way, with the exception of a few, who by their conduct gave us great joy; one, whose wife was sick, desired us to pray for her recovery, who appeared to be really concerned for his partner, to whom with another sick woman we sometimes gave some rice and tea. Wunkermany used to kneel down with us to prayer.
In the night the young men had a dance, for which they had painted upon their bodies stripes with clay; the women and girls beat time by clapping their hands against their laps as they were sitting upon the ground; they sang also, or rather repeated a few words in a singing tone. Their dancing does not exactly consist in jumping or moving about, but in a measured movement of arms and limbs to the right and left. We did not really expect to see so much propriety on such an occasion; we were much more disgusted with the appearance of young girls and women, their nakedness appeared more offending than ever before.
When the Toorbal and Bonyer natives heard that we had not found the soil of Yarun eligible for cultivation, they seemed to rejoice in it, and invited us to inspect their own ground tomorrow. Accordingly we went on.
Wednesday August 11th 1841
Went with a great number of the Bonya natives to their own ground - the distance is not very great, but as they were hunting kangaroo it was late in the evening when we arrived at the place where we were to spend the night. For the chase of kangaroo they have nets which they place across an open plain, wherever they have seen the walks of their prey. They prefer, and if possible, select a place which is enclosed by water, so that the kangaroos when driven and frightened by their shouting, are sure to come against the nets, where some men are stationed to despatch them with the spear or club. Whoever spears a kangaroo has the right to take the skin, to choose the best part for himself, and to divide it as he likes, which is generally done neatly, but sometimes strife ensures through their greediness. Otherwise, without nets and driving it is a mere accident if they catch a kangaroo. We started two large kangaroos before the nets were put up, which the natives suffered to escape without troubling themselves to spear them.
On several occasions, and particularly in the following instance, we found the natives labouring under the mistake or rather superstition, that out of a book we could know what had happened at a distance, or who had stolen any article. The party had separated itself into two divisions, one of which was joined by Mr. W. to continue the chase, whilst Mr. E., whose foot was sore went with the other slowly when at last they stopped by a fire to wait for the others. There they roasted some snakes, which they had killed, and a sucking kangaroo; but all at once they desired Mr. E. to look into his book, and to find out if Mr. W. with the other party had killed a kangaroo; and when Mr. E., knowing what they meant, told them that he had no book with him, one of them untied Mr. W's bundle and taking out his New Testament, opened it, saying, Mr. Wagner large kangaroo, after which he shut and replaced it. This superstition has arisen from a very unpleasant circumstance; one of our brethren had his axe stolen by the natives, which another of the brethren mentioned to a third who had a book in his hand, and was reading in the hearing of some natives, and as this person knew already the name of the thief he mentioned it to the one who had addressed him, which led the natives to conclude that he had this knowledge out of his book. Thus we were applied to by Wunkermany to look into our book who had stolen his pipe.
The ground over which we went this day was very good, and the natives were very particular in asking us for our opinion of it, and took great delight in pointing out to us their respective property. We spent the night on the edge of a large swamp, to which late in the evening our kangaroo hunters resorted. They had not been very successful, having killed only one small kangaroo, of which they gave us a bit of the tail and part of the leg; expressing at the same time their regret that we had so little to eat. Of the rest of the kangaroo more than ten men were participating; but some made up their meal with other animals, they had met on the chase; for one had an oppossum, another a snake, a third a guana etc. When it was night we held our evening worship; most of them had never heard us sing, and they showed great delight at it, requesting to hear more, for it did them good in their belly.
Thursday August 12th 1841
The next morning it was resolved, that they would first go to the sea and catch fish, and gather oysters, and from thence they would conduct us to the mountains. but as our guides, when leaving Zions-hill, had only spoken of a weeks absence, and as our brethren might begin to be concerned for our safety; Mr. E. thought better to go back to Toorbal, and from thence to return home, whilst Mr. W. would make a longer stay in order to visit the mountains. One of the natives was appointed to conduct Mr. E. back to Toorbal, where he arrived about noon. From thence Wunkermany and Jemmy Millboang conducted him to Twinshills. They took partly a different road from that by which we had come to Toorbal; the Deception River was crossed at its mouth by swimming across, but the place, where we had deposited wine and provisions on the way to Toorbal, we were not able to reach that day, as my foot was till sore, and Wunkermany had run a thorn into his heel, since Monday last we had entirely been subsisting upon the natives food, viz, pounded dangum and Kangaroo flesh, which we boiled with a little salt. This day I had eat nothing except a small bit of Kangaroo flesh, and drank the water in which it had been boiled, I felt consequently very hungry, especially after travelling more than twenty miles and swimming across three Rivers. The night also was the worst I have spent on this journey; as my clothes had got wet when swimming through the rivers , so that I had no cover for the night.
Friday August 13th 1841
On the morning we continued our journey until we came to the spot, where our provisions lay, where we made a hearty meal.
In the afternoon we crossed the Pine River, and on approaching the second arm thereof were not a little surprised to be overtaken by Mr. Wagner and two natives, who had this day come all the way form Toorbal. The natives had, after my departure changed their mind, and would not go to the mountains, because they had not their wives with them; Mr. W. therefore had returned with them to Toorbal the evening before, and early in the morning his brother Anbaybury had conducted him with two other natives to the Deception River by the road, which we had come to Toorbal; but when Anbaybury did not find there my footsteps, he insisted that I had not yet returned, but had gone fishing with the Toorbal natives, and declared his intention to return, whereby the two others became also wavering. Mr. W. however took up his bundle, saying, he would go on ,although he was sure to lose his way; this moved thereby these two so much that they sprang up and took his things, saying they would go with him. When he joined me he had not tasted anything this day, but taking a crust of bread with his two companions, he went on at so brisk a rate, that I with my sore foot and tired guides could not follow him; he reached Zion's Hill a good while before me, having travelled this one day upwards of fifty miles.
This Anbaybury is a shrewd little man, as the following anecdote will show: 'He said one day to Mr. W. that when he (A) was at Zion's Hill, he did everything for Mr. W., fetch wood and water, bark, prepare clay, chop wood, work the ground with the hoe etc. Now, as Mr. W. had come to his abode, he ought to do the same for him (A). Mr. W. told him it was quite right that he had done so, for he had paid him well; but he ought to consider that he (Mr. W) was a missionary and Anbaybury black fellow. Now, as he had come to him to Toorbal to visit him, it was a shame that he, as his brother, had never come to fetch wood or water for him, nor had he built a hut to live in it. When he heard this, he changed his tone, and said, he would have done all for Mr. W. if he had come to the place where his tribe had their camp'
Mr. W. crossed after my departure from him over a creek, on the other side of which the territory of the Bonya natives begins, to which his brother Anbaybury belongs; the soil here is very eligible for cultivation, and more so, the farther we went. At this the natives evinced great joy, saying, if we would bring hoes and axes with us their women should work, and they should hunt for us, and when the crops were ripe, they would not sleep but watch them. But it was necessary to have fire arms, lest strange natives should rob them. They quite exhausted themselves in making promises of good behaviour and industry; but their joy was not quite pure, for we had before observed the whole of them moved by jealousy which tribe should have the benefit of cultivation amongst them; every tribe striving to lower the other in our opinion; the Toorbal natives had said that the Bonya natives were liars, they would starve us if we went to them. And when Anbaybury had silenced them in this respect sufficiently, they said, as we were leaving Toorbal, that the Bonya tribes would kill us. It was therefore the interest of the Bonya tribes to make a good impression upon our mind in their favour.
This journey has inspired us with new hopes that if we have but mastered the language of these aborigines much may be done for them under the Divine blessing; we trust we have advanced one step further to this desired end by this journey, and if the brethren who are to follow us do a little more, the amount of this difficulty will, with the help of the spirit form high, by degrees be surmounted. With regard to residing among the natives we think it quite safe; and we found no difficulty to live upon such food which the natives eat, as dangum, oysters fish, kangaroo, but not every stomach is able to bear it; once a day it may be required to have an European meal, rice, peas, pork etc. In the morning we went about begging some pounded dangum for breakfast, which we never were refused; but fish and kangaroo are not so easily obtained form the natives. It will not do, however, for any long time, to be left at the mercy of many, it is much better to attach oneself to one family, who will provide as well as they can for their quest; my brother Dunkley's wife was ever ready to pound dangum for me when I told her I was hungry, though she would have to borrow it.
We had opportunities to observe the manners and habits of the natives very closely and found that the children are for the greatest part of the day idle at home, and that it would be proper to keep school with them, which we have recommended to the brethren who will have to go after us. Thus a sort of wandering school will in future be established among them.
Of the wretched condition and degraded state of these heathens we have had additional experience; and our hearts have been stirred up within us to renew our exertions for their benefit, and to be more fervent in our intercessions at the throne of God for the outpouring of his spirit upon them. During the time of our absence our brethren at home have daily met for prayer; and since our return these exercises have been continued greatly to our refreshment, and we firmly believe to the ultimate benefit of these benighted heathen, if God in his mercy and loving kindness will vouchsafe us an answer of peace to our supplications. May the day soon dawn when they will be visited by the dayspring from on high by the tender mercy of god; and when praise will wait for him, not only in Zion, but also in the wilderness, and from the mouths of the redeemed natives at Morton Bay.
Notes and Links
1). Rev. Chrisoph Eipper - Maitland and District Historical Society Bulletin