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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Overland 5

The continuing journey of William David Hamilton beyond Alice Springs.

The natives on the whole avoided us but on one occasion near Ti Tree We we were attacked by them. At daylight, while encamped in li[o]ng kangaroo grass we were awakened by the smell of burning. In various places round us the grass was alight. No one was visible but smoke was issuing from fires in the distance. We could hear the natives signalling (a noise between a cough and a hoot) to one another to attack, the high grass and the smoke forming an excellent cover for an approach. Our man was left to collect the horses, who fortunately at any sign of danger always hovered close to the camp, and made ready for a quick departure. My uncle and I with revolvers ready rode forward to meet two indistinct groups of 6 or 8 yelling spear-brandishing natives who now could be seen advancing. There was so much smoke and so much din that I in my excitement could not tell whether I had shot or merely frightened my assailant. My horse received a nasty spear wound in the neck and I one in the leg, the mark of which I still bear. 
Aboriginal scar tree
My uncle was more fortunate. Neither he or his horse received any injury but as he was a crack shot he probably opened fire and checked their rush, surprising them into disorder. When I asked him later if he had really shot any of them I was curtly told that he could not bear the episode to be discussed. I drew on my own conclusion but in my hearing the matter was never referred to again. Meanwhile the natives fled and we certainly lost no time in putting distance [between] them.
At Barrow Creek, some miles from where we were attacked, a kindly Telegraph Station master and his assistant sheltered us for three weeks until the wound in my leg healed. I think the chief officer’s name was Mr. Stapleton or Singleton and his assistant was Mr. Flint. Here a black-boy of my own age, who had been adopted by the whited[s], and I became great friends. When we left this hospitable roof he wept bitterly but could not accompany us into alien blackfellow country.
At the next telegraph station, we discovered that a few days after we left Barrow Creek this outpost was attacked by the natives with disastrous results. The station master and my friend the blackboy were killed and Mr. Flint the assistant was wounded.

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