Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days, Volume 5, 1955-1961

Nakina, Mokare, Waiter: three black brothers of the King George’s Sound tribe of Aborigines

Robert Stephens

Robert Stephens, 'Nakina, Mokare, Waiter: Three Black Brothers of the King George’s Sound Tribe of Aborigines', Early Days, Volume 5, Part 7, 1961: 65-82.

The first known contacts with the aborigines of New Holland, so far as the western coast of Australia is concerned, were made by Dutch Navigators. These, and those of the English and French navigators subsequently, have already been covered by Miss M. E. Wood in her monograph “First contacts made with Western Australian Natives,” read before The Western Australian Historical Society in June 1943, and later published in the Society's Journal, “Early Days” in the December issue of that year.

The subject of this monograph occupies a much smaller stage, being confined to the vicinity of a triune harbour system known as King George’s Sound.

For some years after Captain Cook’s discovery of Australia’s eastern coastline, the continent’s southern coastline remained shadowy and its landmarks unnamed on the early Dutch charts, and there were no others until many years after Captain Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet had anchored in Port Jackson in January 1788.

While on a voyage from England to the western coast of North America, Captain Cook's most famous pupil, George Vancouver, resolved to remove some of the shadows. Aboard his ship “Discovery” he discovered a commodious deepwater harbour system on the southern coast of New Holland near its Western corner. This he named King George the Third Sound. From the end of September until the middle of October 1791, he used the Sound to wood, water and refit his ships as well as to refresh his crews. In addition he proposed, as he put it to “remove a real blot from geography” by preparing a chart of “the fine harbours” and their seaward approaches. As will appear, its subsequent use without accident, by many ships, was a worthy tribute to the master under whom he had learned the science of hydrography.

A copy of this chart (its prominent landmarks bore the names he had applied, names still in every day use), while crossing the Pacific, he forwarded to Governor Arthur Phillip in Sydney.

Although Captain Vancouver saw no Indians (as he called the inhabitants), during his stay he . . .

“found the most miserable human habitations my eyes ever beheld . , .” “The reflections which naturally arose on seeing so miserable a contrivance for shelter . . .” Suggested in the strongest manner the lowly condition of some of our fellow creatures, rendered yet more pitiful by the apparent solitude and the melancholy aspect of the surrounding country, which presented little less than famine and distress.”


This, if it did not outdo, at least equalled, the poor opinion of the Dutch navigators on New Holland.

Following the publication of Captain Vancouver’s charts and journal in 1798, King George the Third Sound soon came into use as a refitting depot by ships on their voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Sydney.

Here for the record, are the names of the principal visitors and the dates of their landfall at King George the Third Sound.


Sept.-Oct. 1791—H.M.S. “Discovery” Capt. George Vancouver, R.N. December 1801—H.M.S. “Investigator” Capt. Matthew Flinders, R.W. February 1803—H.M.S. “Geographe” Capt. Louis Freycinet January 1818—Brig. “Mermaid” Lt. Phillip Parker King, R.N. December 1821—Brig. “Bathurst” Lt. Phillip Parker King, R.N. November 1822—Brig. “Bathurst” Lt. Phillip Parker King, R.N. October 1826—Corvette Capt. Dumont D’Urville

In addition most, if not all, of these visitors recorded the names of other vessels which had used the port, names obtained either from the evidence they had left behind, or from an actual meeting in the harbour. With the exception of Vancouver, most of the visitors made friendly contact with the aborigines in whose tribal lands the harbour was located. Later some extracts from the journals of some of the visitors pertinent to this present study will be quoted. Those who may seek their full story will find their sources listed in the bibliography in Appendix I.

These visits extending over thirty years, although generally friendly threw very little, if any, light on the tribal laws, customs or general manner of life of the aborigines. The main reason for this was the fact that the European visitors lacked any knowledge of their language, and the aborigines could not speak English. Communication was possible only by signs.

All contacts made were with the male members of the tribe who made it clear that the habitations of their womenfolk were taboo to the visitors, and that the women themselves were not available for exhibition.


Before “L’Astrolabe” sailed from King George’s Sound for Sydney, Captain Dumont D’Urville recorded in his Journal:

"—That it would have been difficult to find a place more favourable for the establishment of a colony, and I have not ceased to wonder that the English had not already done so.”


Soon after the arrival of “L»’Astrolabe” in Sydney Harbour on the 26th December 1826, her Captain probably ceased to wonder when he learned from the Sydney press that the brig “Amity” carrying an “Occupation Force” had left for King George’s Sound to take possession of New Holland several months earlier. A little later he could have learned that the “Amity” had reached Princess Royal Harbour about the same time as he had reached Sydney.

During the late afternoon on Christmas Eve 1826, the sturdy “Amity” reached her destination. Her anchorage was indentified by Major Edmund Lockyer as opposite the site of the “watering place” off which Captain Matthew Flinders in the “Investigator” lay during his visit to refit in December 1801. The “Amity’s” landfall had brought New Holland’s first occupation force to its destination. Major Lockyer had been commissioned by Governor Ralph Darling of New South Wales, acting under instruction from Earl Bathurst, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, to establish a small military outpost at King George’s Stand and to act as its first commandant. The object was to proclaim to the world that the whole of New Holland west of the 129th meridian of east longitude (east of that line had already been annexed) was henceforth claimed as a possession of the British Crown by right of occupation.

The personnel of the Commandant’s small token force, (it was scarcely more) comprised eighteen rank and file, with a captain and a sergeant of the 39th Regiment to act as a guard of a work force of twenty-three Crown prisoners, together with assistant surgeon Isaac Scott Nind to watch over their health and a commissariat storekeeper to feed them.

Following an examination of the country surrounding the three harbours, the Commandant fixed the site of the cantonment overlooking the small projecting point on the northern shore off which the “Amity” had anchored. Here on Sunday 21st January, 1827 the British flag was hoisted from a staff erected for the purpose, accompanied by the prescribed formalities for such occasions.

During the closing days of 1826, some members of a watering party and its military guard were attacked by aborigines and one of the Crown prisoners badly speared before the attackers were repulsed. In his report on the incident the commandant attributed the attack to the dastardly treatment of some of the members of the tribe by a party of sealers who operated in King George’s Sound and adjacent islands.

Captain Dumont D’Urville met some of the members of this same band during his visit and recorded that they were camped on Break-sea Island where they had been for seven months prior to his arrival.


The dastardly treatment included the murder of one of a number of mules of the tribe marooned on Green Island, Oyster Harbour. This was a prelude to the abduction of four of the native women from their encampment by the sealers concerned. The culprits were later arrested as the result of the skilful handling of a difficult and dangerous situation by the commandant, good relations were restored without further bloodshed.

Early in April, Major Lockyer returned to Sydney. He was succeeded by Captain Joseph Wakefield who in turn was followed in the post of commandant by Lt. George Sleeman and he in turn by Captain Collet Barker (all of the 39th Regiment). These four officers nurtured the tiny settlement established to quote Captain Vancouver’s description,

“—in the pitiful . . . apparent solitude of the surrounding country which presented little less than famine and distress,”

nurtured it for four years until it was grafted on to the Swan River Settlement in 1831.

The details of the history of those four lonely years, years during which the members of its Occupation Force, both bond and military (there were no civilians) who had endured the abomination of desolation can find no record here. Those who seek can find them recorded in the volumes of the Historical Records of Axistralia, listed in Appendix I.

However, while the three surgeon actors assemble in the wings it may be well to fill in one, and only one, of the backdrops by sketching briefly the unique conditions at King George’s Sound, conditions which did not, and could not apply to the Swan River Settlement, on or after it foundation in 1829, during the very slow growth of its roots and branches over the whole of Western Australia. These conditions were:

(1) The absence of any civilian settlers.

(2) The total absence of any material alienation of tribal lands.

(3) The absolute control by the commandant over both the military and convict personnel in the settlement.

(4) The number of unarmed Crown prisoners was equal to that of their armed military guards.

(5) The cantonment was guarded by armed sentries, and Crown prisoners working outside its confines were supervised by armed guards.

(6) A curfew operated during which the cantonment was taboo to the aborigines.


(7) The cantonment contained but one store, the commissariat, all issues from which, other than those prescribed by either military or prison regulations, required the written authority of the commandant.

(8) No evidence has obtruded in either the Journals of the navigators over thirty years or the official records of the military outpost, that any females of the tribe ever visited either the ships, or the cantonment, or the Europeans, or their camps.


By virtue of their professional training it has been assumed that the three surgeons possessed a scientific basis for their observations on the King George’s Sound tribe of aborigines, made before their way of life and economy had broken down consequent upon the alienation of their tribal lands and the gradual deterioration of the sources of their food supplies which followed. The records left by two of these surgeons are rich with the details of their laws, customs and way of life generally. As their records are substantially the basis of the biographies of the “Three Black Brothers” their resurrection from their almost forgotten tombs is a must. In addition, particulars of the recorders and their qualifications for their self-imposed tasks is likewise a necessity.

SURGEON ISAAC SCOTT NIND (Lic. Apoth. Co. London 1820)

Mr. Isaac Scott Nind arrived at King George’s Sound as Assistant Surgeon attached to Major Edmund Lockyer’s occupation force. Of them all he was destined to remain the longest. During the four years the outpost was controlled from Sydney, the manner in which both the Military and Crown prisoner personnel, with their reliefs were shuttled between the outpost and its base in Sydney suggests that to most of them, it was an abomination of desolation. It appears that the assistant surgeon was the only member of the party who, apart from official duties, created and preserved any record of value. Its title was “Description of the Natives of King George’s Sound (Swan River Colony) and the Surrounding Country.”

This was the first detailed record of any tribe of aborigines in the million-square mile area of New Holland and west of the 129th meridian of east longtitude. It is preserved in the first volume of the “Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society” published in London in 1831. It was read before the Society’s members by the world famous botanist, Robert Brown F.R.S. (himself a surgeon) on 14th February, 1831. Brown had some personal knowledge of King George’s Sound,


gained some twenty-five years earlier, as the botanist appointed by Sir Joseph Banks, aboard H.M.S. "Investigator,” during her stay in that harbour during 1801-2.

In his introductory remarks prior to reading Nind’s treatise, after referring to its author’s official position at the military outpost, he continued—

“From the friendly disposition and frequent visits of the natives during the greater part of that period, opportunities such as but seldom occur, were afforded of collecting interesting information respecting their customs and manner of life, particularly from some of the more intelligent individuals, who at length became generally resident in the settlement. Of these opportunities, Mr. Nind diligently availed himself, and the following result of his observations appears to me to form an important contribution to the history of the race.”

With the exception of its title and use as one of the sources of the biographies of the “Three Black Brothers,” Nind's 10,000 word survey can find no place in this monograph for two reasons: (1) lack of space; and (2) the ignorance of this present writer of even the rudiments of the science of anthropology.

Mention of that science prompts expression of the opinion that assistant surgeon Nind’s survey could entitle its author to be regarded as the first anthropologist to write an authentic record of any tribe in that portion of New Holland now the State of Western Australia before the tribe’s laws had been debased or degraded by contact with Europeans. To write this record its author must first have created some form of pidgin-English because a sign language would have been inadequate to convey the facts necessary for its writing. Although no mention is made of the artificial language in any of the official records of the military outpost, the fact remains that one was in actual use soon after it had been transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony. A copy of it appears in Appendix 2.

In this writer’s opinion Assistant Surgeon Nind was the only qualified person capable of creating this record both by length of residence and an intimate association covering several years with at least one (possibly two) of the tribe’s most intelligent members. Further, he alone could have felt its necessity as it was a sine qua non for his self-imposed task.

Following a serious breakdown in health Assistant Surgeon Nind returned to Sydney by the brig, “Amity” during October 1829. Prior to leaving he mentioned that on arrival in Sydney he proposed to return to England. Assistant Surgeon Nind left Sydney aboard the


brig “Amity” for King George's Sound three weeks after his arrival from England. Shortly after his return to Sydney in November 1829 following his break-down in health, he returned to England where he remained until his return to Sydney in February 1833. There correspondence between him and Governors Bourke and Gipps relative to a land grant reveal that during 1833, 1834, 1837 and 1838 he was resident in Paterson (County of Durham, N.S.W.)1 As he was resident in England during the years 1830-1832 it was both possible and probable that his thesis on “The Natives of King George's Sound” could have been written in England, possibly under the inspiration of Robert Brown. By the courtesy of the librarian of the Mitchell Library, records supplied from its storehouse of Australiana reveal that he was resident in New South Wales in 1837. What follows is from the “New South Wales Gazette”: “Appointed a Commissioner of Crown Lands on 26th December 1837.”

The Gazette, published annually, lists the Medical practioners and includes the name of Isaac Scott Nind in each of the years 1839 to 1868 inclusive. From 1839 to 1846 the name only appears without any address. From 1847 to 1851 the address against his name is “Paterson” N.S.W. Again no address appears against the name from 1852 to 1867. It appeared for the last time in the list of 1868 and the address appears as Liverpool, N.S.W.


Little information about this world circumnavigating Naval surgeon has been located other than that contained in his “Narrative of a Voyage Round the World” published in London, 1836. The “Historical Records of Australia” record that he was in Tasmania during August 1827 when he acted as one of three members of a medical board. He could have reached Tasmania as Surgeon on a convict transport, as his book contains an Appendix bearing on the treatment of convicts aboard transports. It tells also of his visits to the northern settlements at Raffles Bay and Melville Island. From the latter he sailed for the Swan River Settlement aboard the brig “Governor Phillip” with Captain Collet Barker, who was en route to King George’s Sound to occupy the post of commandant there. The brig reached the latter port on the 29th November, 1829, where it remained some two or three weeks to refit before proceeding to Sydney.

Surgeon Wilson’s book records a verbal picture of the military outpost as he saw it and an account of an excursion he conducted westward from it to Wilson’s Inlet, including some of the watersheds of the three rivers Sleeman, Hay and Denmark which enter it. The surgeon kept a Journal of his exploratory effort, a copy of which he


sent to Governor James Stirling at Swan River. He gave it favourable acknowledgement by adopting its author's namings of all the prominent landmarks discovered and named during his trip. He went further, and as a gesture of a Governor's appreciation, named the est-urial mouth by which the three rivers entered the sea, Wilson’s Inlet. A well-written and informative travel book, it finds a mention in this monograph only because of the light it sheds upon one of the “Three Black Brothers."


Like Assistant Surgeon Scott Nind, Surgeon Alexander Collie was a pioneer. This was in the new era at King George’s Sound which began with the proclamation, on 7th March 1831, that the military outpost had been incorporated with and placed under the control of, Governor James Stirling of Western Australia. Early in the following month H.M.S. “Sulphur" arrived in King George’s Sound and her surgeon vacated his post to become the first Government Resident of the Plantagenet County of which Albany was the port.

In the “Perth Gazette” of the 18th May, 1831, the official notice of the appointment of Surgeon Alexander Collie, R.N. as Government Resident at King George’s Sound and a Justice of the Peace for Western Australia appeared.

Thirty-seven years of age, the newly appointed official had already circumnavigated the world on various ships of the Royal Navy. His last ship prior to joining H.M.S. “Sulphur,” had been with H.M.S. “Blossom” during her three years’ cruise in Arctic Seas north of Behring Strait on the western coast of North America. His real life adventures on the seven seas and in Western Australia rivalled those of the mythical Sinbad recorded in the Arabian Nights. He held his new post at King George’s Sound until late in 1832, when he was recalled to Perth to fill the post of Colonial Surgeon. Whilst at King George's Sound he made a number of valuable explorations in its hinterland.

After his return to Perth there appeared in several of the issues of the “Perth Gazette” contributions from an anonymous writer containing valuable notes on the King George's Sound tribe of aborigines. They appeared under the title “Anecdotes and Remarks relative to the Aborigines at King George’s Sound.” This survey, like that of Assistant Surgeon Scott Nind’s, contains some 10,000 words.


Owing to its author's anonymity, its real value was incapable of assessment. Unlike Nind’s, it found no place in the proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, nor did it bear the imprimatur of a scientist with the standing of Robert Brown.

Only during recent years has the veil of anonymity been drawn aside to reveal it as the work of Alexander Collie, R.N., to place it in the same class as Nind’s survey. The aborigine who acted as the latter’s interpreter acted in a like capacity for Collie while he was Government Resident. As in the case of Nind’s, Collie’s survey can find no place in this monograph for the same reason and with a similar exception.

Ensconced in “The Best House in Perth” which he had built for himself, the new Colonial Surgeon experienced periods of ill health which gradually worsened until towards the end of 1835 he secured leave to return to Scotland. He sailed from Fremantle via the Eastern Colonies. His condition deteriorated suddenly and he was landed at King George’s Sound and died three days later. He died in the home of his friend George Cheyne. Hi3 last request, that he be buried beside his aboriginal friend Mokare was granted when he was so interred in Albany’s Town Lot S112, today the site of Albany’s Town Hall. Five years later—in 1840, his executor, Surveyor General John Septimus Roe, had his remains exhumed and reinterred in the first grave in a new cemetery on Albany Town Lot 51 on Middleton Road, whether with or without the uncoffined bones of his friend Mokare is unknown.

Collie’s grave, unmarked for over a century, now carries a memorial headstone to the memory of Alexander Collie, erected during 1958 by the W.A. Historical Society.


With the stage now set, its properties in position and the recorders in their places in the wings, the curtain can be raised for the principal actors—the Three Black Brothers—to make their bow. This is a trio of actors of whom neither their parentage, their age, nor their last resting place is known.*


Captain Phillip Parker King, R.N., during his visits to King George’s Sound listed the name of Nakina, among other males of the tribe, without comment.

NOTE—The signs (N), (W), (C), set against the remarks In the three biographies Indicate the source of the particular authority, vis: (N) Nlnd, (W) Wilson, (C) Collie and (H.R.A.) Historical Records of Australia.


(N) “It was a long time before he (Nakina) could be persuaded to visit us, and when he came he was formally introduced by his companions who talked much about him, and seemed to consider him superior to them. He was one of the finest looking and best limbed men among them, wore his hair tied up in a knot behind, bound tightly round with string and his head ornamented on the top with a tuft of white feathers and a similar badge round his left arm. His chest and shoulders were very much marked with gashes and there was much peculiarity in his manner. He talked little, very rarely asked for anything, and for a great length of time, would neither accompany us in our sporting excursions, nor otherwise render us the little assistance we were in the habit of receiving from others of his tribe. After a little time, however, both he and his brother Mokare, became more sociable, and, at last, so partial to our people, as seldom to leave the camp. We had, therefore, a fair opportunity of satisfying ourselves that neither of them possessed any authority over their countrymen.”

(H.R.A.) During June 1829, Captain Joseph Wakefield made an excursion to the Porongrup Range via the Kalgan River. Two of the party were aborigines. As their names are not mentioned one or other of them could have been Nakina, and/or Mokare, or perhaps both.

(J. Cross’ Journals of W.A. Expeditions) During January 1832, Nakina acted as guide to Ensign Robert Dale on his excursion to Mount Toolbrunup in the Stirling Range which Dale ascended to its summit (he estimated its height as 3,000 feet). Of this his Journal recorded that Nakina only managed to ascend halfway. This officer while in Albany, painted a panoramic view of King George’s Sound, which was later lithographed and published in London during 1834, together with a small explanatory booklet. In this picture Nakina appears in the foreground dressed in a military uniform armed with womera and spears, a blend, as it were of the old and the new. His figure relative to the size of the picture is far too small to reveal any detail of either his features or the uniform. Fortunately, so far as the uniform is concerned, these can be supplied from another source. This from the pen of Quartermaster-General Colonel Hanson of the British Army in Madras who was convalescing in Western Australia at the time. On his return to duty he published a pamphlet descriptive of his visit A copy of this later appeared in the "Perth Gazette” from which the following relevant extract is quoted.

“The Native Chief, Nehemiah (meaning Nakina, whether by accident or as a subtle suggestion that an aborigine of so noble mien was worthy to plead for the salvation of his


tribe is not recorded.) was dressed in a most splendid uniform, to be given him as a present after he had accompanied the Governor (Stirling) into the interior upon a journey he was then contemplating. It is a motley dress no doubt, Maude, the first Lieutenant of the “Sulphur” furnished a black coatf, I furnished a red one, with which the black coat was trimmed, collar—cuffs, pockets, etc. The shoulders were then surmounted by a pair of my embroidered epaulettes and every variety of button was used, that could be collected in the ship, “thirty” (Maude said) to represent every Department of state. “The man was delighted when he found that it was to be given to him on his return, that his gestures were ridiculous.”

(C) “Nakina was present on the occasion of his brother Moka re’s death and showed evidence of sorrow as he performed the brotherly service of laying out his remains according to the rites of his tribe. After supervising the burial he left the settlement to avenge his brother’s death in accordance with the dictates of tribal law. He returned in about a month and commenced to gourmandise to such an extent that he became ill and had to be treated for indigestion and rheumatism.”

(C) “At the end of May 1832, Nakina, always indisposed to exertion, being actually indisposed in health I took Mangat with me on an excursion into the interior to the distance of 60 miles from King George’s Sound.”

(C) “Nakina, and every native except Mangat left the settlement in June 1832.”

He never returned probably having journeyed westward to his tribe’s land of No Return. Did he succumb to his rheumatism, or was he too, in turn, the victim of a neighbouring tribe’s obedience to their tribal law.

Perhaps the kangaroos “stamp o’er his head where he lies fast asleep”—Today all that remains is Nakina Street to perpetuate his memory within the Albany Municipality.


Mokare made his debut in recorded history when Captain Dumont D’Urville visited King George’s Sound in October 1826. Two of his officers Quoy and Gaimard, record his name.

As will appear—he always received a much better Press than either of his brothers. The two French officers referred to him— “as quite young with an open face and a more lively manner than any of his companions.”


It will also appear that this aboriginal had a penchant for surgeons and doctors and the charm of manner that made friends of all the whites. (N) His first official post at the Military outpost appears to have been with Assistant Surgeon Scott Nind as interpreter and liaison officer between Nind and the members of Mokare’s tribe. This quite likely to assist Nind in his self-imposed task already mentioned. For this service Mokare was given a ration of 201bs. of flour per month from the Government Store. As will now appear, 110 years after D'Urville's visit in 1826, his Press was still good. What follows is from the pen of Mr. Paul Hasluck the author of “Black Australians'' written before that book's publication, it appeared in the “West Australian" of 19th March, 1936, under Mr. Has-luck’s pen-name “Polygon" entitled “Mokare, The Friend of Dr. Collie.”

“This native Mokare seems to have played a large part in helping the whites to establish settlement on the South Coast. Captain Wakefield, who succeeded Major Lockyer, as commandant in 1827 . . . took Mokare with him on his exploration of the surrounding country. His successor Lieut. Sleeman seems to have formed a friendship with him only less than that formed later by Dr. Collie. The native always slept in his apartments, and when the officer was transferred to Sydney the native had become so devoted that he wished to accompany him there. He was persuaded to stay as likely to be of use to the new Commandant Captain Barker." (As will appear later he was.)

“When the Military Post was removed and the establishment was transferred to the Colony of Western Australia in 1831, Dr. Collie became its first Resident Magistrate and Mokare and his brother Nakina (who also had given much help in exploration) became his right-hand man."

Once again to quote from a naval surgeon Dr. T. B. Wilson, whose book and visit to King George’s Sound for some three weeks during December 1829 has already been mentioned as also the excursion he made westward to Wilson's Inlet and its environs. What follows is from the Doctor's book bearing on that particular excursion to which Mokare acted as guide and interpreter.

(W) “Round the campfire en route westward on the 5th December whilst the kangaroo was being cooked 1 endeavoured to ascertain from Mokare, who understood a little English, whether he, or any of his tribe, had any notion of a future state of existence or of a Supreme Being, but I felt some difficulty in making him comprehend my meaning. I stated to him that man was composed of two parts, one of


which when he died was just like a kangaroo and all other animals . . . that the other part did not die, and if the man were good, he ascends to the sky where he lived happily with his Maker, and the Maker of the Sun, Moon and Stars; whereas, the bad man went down beneath the earth and dwelt with a malignant being named “Devil” whose sole occupation consisted in tormenting. He immediately said that he had the same opinion but I am convinced that he only caught the idea from me. He (Mokare) asked who were bad men? I told him those who killed other without just cause. He answered, “Very Good, bad men go to ‘Devil’”. He admitted it was all right, so far as killing a white man, but I could not persuade him that there was any harm in one black fellow spearing another; which, on the contrary he considered in some cases, meritorious. I then told him that all those who stole were also bad men. He stated in amazement, and repeated with an air of incredulity “Quepel” (to steal). It was evident that he viewed this action in a more favourable light than even the Spartans did ... He knew some of the Stars, but pretended to a knowledge of more of them than he really possessed; however, on cross-examination I was convinced that he was acquainted with Venus and the Atlantic Sisters; likewise with Orion, Canopus and Arch-ernar.”

Captain Collet Barker succeeded Lieutenant Sleeman as Commandant of the military outpost during December, 1829. In the following February he made an excursion to what he called the Western Harbour (the one Dr. Wilson visited already mentioned) and again Mokare acted as guide. (W) In his book he records that following a native dance at the settlement at which both he and Mokare were present (as spectators) the latter introduced him to a sable relation one Eurul a tribal doctor. This because Dr. Wilson had a sprained ankle and Mokare had recommended Eurul’s professional skill. The European doctor was neither impressed nor cured but left this description of Eurul:

“Possessed of a mild and grave aspect, who has highly esteemed and possessed much influence over the members of his tribe."

(C) Surgeon Collie in his “Anecdotes” records in detail the death and burial of his aboriginal friend Mokare who, as he recorded “served him more especially as an interpreter.” As lack of both space and time preclude quotations in full from the source mentioned, the following extracts must suffice:

“Mokare complained of indisposition and was taking some mercurial preparations under injunctions not to expose


himself, when he walked off to the bush on the morning of the 22nd June, 1831—a day which for rain and wind was not surpassed during the whole winter . . . Nakina followed in a few days, and netither returned until the end of July, when Mokare was labouring under such organic disease, and was so much reduced in flesh and strength, as to preclude all hope of recovery. He died on the 9th August, 1831 in a state of delirium.”

Nakina’s reaction to his brother’s death has been mentioned earlier. Mokare was laid to rest with full tribal rites under the direction of Nakina on Albany Town Lot S112 when he was joined a few years later by his white friend, Surgeon Alexander Collie—but not for long—as already told.

Whatever Mokare’s knowledge of the stars the one that controlled his destiny in both life and death proved propitious. What matters the fate of his bones? Amongst other evidences of his life and work, like Cecil Rhodes, he has a large park, some 136 acres of his tribal domain (Reserve 2681) within the Albany Municipality named Mokare to perpetuate his name and memory. From its site on the south eastern slopes of Mount Melville (Mokare would have been more familiar with its aboriginal name Munick Purtinup). From its slopes can be seen vistas of King George's Sound, Princess Royal and Oyster Harbours, whose shores comprise one of the boundaries of what were once Mokare’s tribal domain. Today this castellated hill, clothed still in virgin scrub, could not fail to be recognised if Mokare’s dark wraith ever feels the urge to walk its slopes as in the days of his flesh. While the open face of Mount Melville is open for all to see, another memorial of the open face of Mokare lies hidden in many of the Public Libraries of the world, in Plate 8 of the “Atlas Historique,” a companion volume to those recording the voyages of the Corvette “L’Astrolabe” 1826-1829.


The chronicles of Waiter, the younger member of the triune black brotherhood, are meagre and have been found preserved only in Col lie’s “Anecdotes.” These disclose that in common with other members of his tribe he participated in their walkabouts, those mysterious outgoings and incomings which to Collie seemed so capricious. What follows is from Collie’s “Anecdotes.”

“Waiter returned to the service of, and acquitted himself to the satisfaction of his master, displaying more intellectual qualities and fewer animal propensities than any of his tribe whom I know.”


Apparently also to judge from a further reference in Collie's “Anecdotes," in addition to his intellectual qualities Waiter possessed a kindly nature.

“Waiter endeavoured to conceal his friend’s delinquency by lies, (the said friend being Gyallipert who had wantonly killed two private parrakeets) and to rescue him, was ordered to leave my board and lodging—an order, however, that he was in no haste to obey; and in the evening he planned a scheme that, if successful, might have turned to his double advantage. Several strange natives had arrived during the day, and a little after dark, he came to me with the story that some of them would steal potatoes from the gardens unless prevented, and he had seen them there, but if I would give him a musket he would keep watch and shoot them. This zealous proffer of nocturnal service I took at the time to be a contrivance to regain my favour and his domicile, and I dismissed the application, deferring till next day, the verification of the falsity of the alleged trespass. I was, however, partly, if not altogether mistaken in Waiter’s motive, which I soon learnt to be a cautionary measure of his own safety and the protection of his friends against the newcomers, who in addition to the funeral smearing of countenance, betrayed another, to us less distinctive, but to their own countrymen, more marked and decisive indications of their murderous intent in the ireful eye and frizzling beard. The suspecting and suspected, however, slept, with what anxious watching will be readily imagined, at the same fire, and so sharp must have been the lookout, that no opportunity could have occurred of sacrificing to unrelenting superstition or immemorial custom. In the morning I took Waiter to the garden to confirm or confound his evening's tale by the absence or presence of footsteps on the surface, and to his utter discomfiture, he could not discover the most distant trace in any quarter, and as little did he succeed in, although he showed every inclination to, the passing off of his own tracks, in his second traverse, for those of the pretended depredators."

The utmost endeavour by the author has failed to disclose any references, other than Collie's to Waiter’s association with the settlement, nor, as in the case of his brother Nakina, any record of his death or place of burial.



Of all the Stone Age Tribes who first experienced impact with Europeans in Western Australia, very little record has been preserved of their complicated tribal iaws, intricate marriage regulations, rigorous family laws, exogamy, burial customs, religion, mythology and all the ceremonies associated with them. One exception, generally either unknown or forgotten, exists in the case of a small tribe (now extinct) whose lands bordered these three harbours, King George’s Sound and its two associated, Princess Royal and Oyster harbours. Because of this it became known as the King George’s Sound Tribe.

This study was prompted by its author’s desire to lift the veil from sources which recorded some of the facts of the tribe’s way of life before it became detribalised following, an increasing white civilian population with its right of unrestricted movement over, and use of, the tribal lands. Soon “the ireful eye and frizzling beard’’ of the fellow tribesmen of the “Three Black Brothers” became rarer and finally disappeared; as their women left their native encampments to visit the town.

As mentioned earlier the sources referred to were the writings of Dr. Isaac Scott Nind and Surgeon Alexander Collie, two medical men whose official posts, coupled with their training, gave facility for persona] contact with the tribe over a lengthy period, whose laws were still operative. Last, but by no means least was the scientific urge which prompted their voluntary studies.

This present study covers a period of over three decades during which the male members of the tribe were in contact with Europeans (for the final four of which they were domiciled on their tribal lands). During the whole of the period their laws and customs remained in operation and their womenfolk segregated (by the tribe) from any contact whatever with Europeans.

The only exception which was obtruded was in the case of the female brought to the Cantonment after abduction by sealers already mentioned. This unfortunate woman was rescued from Eclipse Island by Lieutenant Festing R.N., Sailing Master of the brig. “Amity” at Major Lockyer*8 direction. He brought her to the settlement on his return for her wounds to be treated by Assistant Surgeon Scott Nind before she returned to her family. It is true, if remarkable, that up to the time of Surgeon Collie’s return to Perth during 1832, nothing has appeared in the records consulted, not even a veiled suggestion, that any members of the tribe were of mixed blood, although it had been in contact with Europeans for some thirty years. This fact, almost unique, it is suggested, was brought about by the peculiar circumstances of the association and the strict segregation of their womenfolk by the males of the tribe.


What now follows shows that during the three subsequent decades the pattern gradually altered to approximate with that which had generally obtained elsewhere in Australia and Tasmania following any material increase of European civilian settlement on tribal lands. Subsequent to 1835 the alienation of tribal lands in the Plantagenet County grew apace. In 1837, the official records reveal four hotels licensed in the town of Albany; and Excise Duty paid upon 948 gallons of spirits. The following year was notable for increased development in many directions, many new settlers, increased shipping, including whaling vessels, and general trade.

The town’s population was augmented by the crews of the visiting ships. The Government Resident Sir Richard Spencer, R.N., reported that on one occasion there were more than one hundred seamen from the whalers “on liberty” ashore, more or less under the influence of strong drink. The reason for the report was to seek an increase in the number of military guard which comprised one sergeant and nine privates.

The census of 1843 revealed that the European population of the Plantaganet County, including the town of Albany, was 260. The members of the King George’s Sound tribe were the first to feel the impact. The European diseases, such as measles, and pneumonia took heavy toll of the aborigines, as did likewise alcoholism and venereal diseases. Against these their system had not developed any natural resistance and they were scythed from life in ever increasing numbers.

About thirty years after Surgeon Collie had returned to Perth as Colonial Surgeon, Albany’s resident Medical Officer, Dr. J. A. Baesjou, in an official report dated 29th June, 1861, told that for four years or more the aborigines requiring his medical attention, 90% were suffering from syphilis or diseases originating from it, not primary, but secondary or tertiary. It must follow without surprise that in the half century following the termination of the military outpost in March 1831, the whole tribe had ceased to exist, having followed the Three Black Brothers westward to their Land of No Return.

To conclude the writer thanks all those in addition to the acknowledgements made in the text, who have helped in the collection of its basic data, especially the Archivist of the Western Australian State Archives.



A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World. Performed in the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794 and 1795, in the Discovery, Sloop of War and Armed Tender, Chatham, under the command of Captain George Vancouver. In Three Volumes, Published in London, 1798.

Flinders, a Voyage to Terra Australia, in two Volumes. By Matthew Flinders, Commander of the H.M.S. INVESTIGATOR. London, 1814.

Voyage de decouvertes aux terres Australes execute par ordre de sa Majestel Empereur et Roe sur les corvettes le Oeographe, le Naturaliste, et la goelette la Casuarlna, pendant les annees 1801-1804, Paris.Joint Editors M.F. Peron, after death by Louis Freycinet Three Volumes.

Narrative of a Survey of the Intertroplcal and Western Coasts of Australia 1818-1822. By Phillip Parker King Captain R.N. London 1821.

Dumont D’Urville. Voyage de la Corvette L’Astrolabe pendant les annees 1826-1829, sous le commandement de, Paris, 1830.

Isaac Scott Nind. (Lie.Apoth.Co.London, 1820.) Description of the Natives of King George's Sound (Swan River Colony) and adjoining Country. Volume one— Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society. London, 1831.

Anonymous, Anecdotes and Remarks relative to the Aborigines at King George's Sound. From an original Manuscript by a Resident at King George’s Sound. Published in “The Perth Gazzette and Western Australian Journal” 1834. The Anecdotes appeared in five issues, viz. July 5th, 12th and 26th and August 2nd and 16th, 1834. Note: These articles have been identified by Messrs. Malcolm J. L. Uren and Robert Stephens as the writings of Surgeon Alexander Collie, R.N., who became the first Government Resident at King George's Sound following its transfer to the control of Governor Stirling at the Swan River Settlement during March, 1831.)

George Fletcher Moore. Diary of First Ten Years. W.A. 1830-1840 London 1884.

Journals of Several Expeditions in Western Australia, 1829-1832. Published by J. Cross, Holborn, London, 1833.


An address to the members of the King George’s Sound tribe of aborigines in Pidgin-Engllsh by John Lawrence Morley, Government Storekeeper, Albany, during a visit of George Fletcher Moore in February, 1833. Moore’s Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia, (pp 164).

Now now twonk, Gubbernor wonka me wonka black fellow,
Now attend, the Governor desires to tell the black man
black fellow pear white man white man
If the black man spear the white man the white men
poot Black fellow queeple no good. Black fellow
will shoot them. If a black man steal it is not good. If a black man
peer black fellow no good Black fellow
spear a black man it is not good. If the black man plenty shake hand black fellow, no black fellow no queeple
be friendly with the black man, if the black man do not steal, water come here, white man plenty shake hand black man, and bring water, white man will befriend the black man, plenty give it him bikket, plenty ehtah, plenty
and give him plenty of biscuits, plenty to eat, and give him blanket, arrack, tomahawk. Now, now Gubbernor wonka me blankets, rice, tomahawk.
Now the Governor desires me give it him one guy black fellow one guy kniaf
to give each black man one knife

Garry Gillard | New: 8 April, 2021 | Now: 11 October, 2022