Last month a man from the aboriginal community is alleged to have murdered his infant child for the crime of being ‘too fair skinned‘. He is said to have thrown the baby into the harbour at Tweed Heads on the border of New South Wales and Queensland before the baby’s body washed up on a Gold Coast beach on 22nd November. The heartless act has been described as a sacrifice. Nowhere is the mainstream media linking this to the inherent racism that exists in the aboriginal community. For the left it damages their ‘noble savage’ narrative, while on the right it’s a taboo subject that would cost too many virtue signalling points. But racism in the aboriginal community has existed from day dot and scores of white settlers learned this the hard way. One such man was the affable English born explorer and surveyor Edmund Besley Court Kennedy.
Edmund Kennedy was killed in the second week of December 1848 (various sources have it as December 13). The 30 year old explorer was trekking through dense swamp land in north Queensland when aborigines attacked with spears. The race motivated killing was one of many committed by isolationist natives whom were unpredictable, with infrequent massacres of unarmed settlers. Kennedy and his team had set out by boat from Sydney with a mission to explore the area between Rockingham Bay and Cape York in north Queensland. They landed at Rockingham Bay on 24th May.
The team of 13 men made little headway in the first two months and Kennedy would no doubt have been frustrated by reports that members of the crew were pilfering the stores. During September, William Carron one of the survivors of the ill fated journey, recorded that the team were being stalked by natives. As the arduous exploration carried on, the men lost horses, sheep and even their guard dog. They became easy targets with the aboriginals constantly setting grass fires to taunt them. On 2nd October Carron wrote of a grass fire that resulted in the men scampering for previously explored safe ground. They were “. . . enveloped in smoke and ashes . . .” he wrote.
By early November Kennedy and the men had been forced to kill and devour more than six of their horses. Along their trek north they were fortunate enough to supplement their stores with the odd wallaby or cassowary. Some of the men were desperately ill with diarrhoea and unable to walk. Upon reaching Weymouth Bay (219km from Cape York) Kennedy determined to leave eight of the weakened men behind and march on with four others. The party were to meet a supply ship at Albany Passage just off the northern most point of the Australian mainland. Carrying only 18 pounds of flour, some dried meat, other necessaries (in the words of Carron) and light firearms, the company set off on 13th November.
Stranded at Weymouth Bay, Carron’s notes tell of the men withering into torturous deaths one by one. At the same time the camp was often visited upon by the natives. On initial contact the local tribe would come bearing gifts of fish (barely edible by reports), and later on 19th November they arrived in numbers of 50-60 bearing arms. “By their gesture and manner it was quite evident they meant to attack us if opportunity offered,” Carron wrote. Being told by Kennedy that he expected to reach his destination within 10-15 days before sending a vessel to rescue the men, the Weymouth Bay camp were ecstatic when Carron sighted a schooner travelling southward on 1st December. But ecstasy turned to “despair and desolation” as the schooner made off the next morning before contact could be made.
The natives became more and more cunning in their efforts to seize upon the weakened men (presumably for purpose of cannibalism which was still practised by top end tribes). By late December the tribe had resorted to waving fish from across a dry creek to isolate the men. Finally on 30th December the men were rescued by the one surviving member of the advance party and crew of the Ariel. The story of Kennedy and the advance party is told by Jackey Jackey their aboriginal tracker.
Jackey -the lone survivor – says the five who set out on 13th November were bogged down and beset by calamity as one of the men shot himself in the foot. Kennedy ordered two others (Dunn and Luff) to remain with the injured Costigan, until a ship was sent for them. Kennedy and Jackey continued on, all the while being stalked by natives according to the tracker. Finally they got to within sight of Albany Island and made their route alongside a river. There they were accosted by a group of natives. Jackey warned Kennedy after an initial interaction that the group would likely visit upon them again. But Kennedy – having gifted one of the men a knife replied, “No Jackey, Those blacks are very friendly.” Kennedy’s bout of ‘know-it-all-ism’ would haunt him as the pair were followed day and night until the tribe struck. From Jackey’s reports, there was a sudden ambush with a volley of spears thrown, one striking Kennedy in the back before the natives cruelly targeted the horses. Kennedy and Jackey limped on with Jackey firing off some buck shot to quell the attackers. But peace did not last long as Jackey recalled, “The blacks sneaked all along the trees, and speared Mr Kennedy again in the right leg . . .” Once more Kennedy was speared in the right side, sealing his fate.
Edmund Kennedy died in the care of Jackey Jackey who was able to make haste to the waiting vessel and escape with his life. But why was he spared? The three men of the advance party that were left behind (Costigan, Luff and Dunn) were never seen again. And Jackey himself was sure they would have met their deaths at the hands of the native aboriginals.
Despite numerous attempts by the explorer team to make peace with the aboriginals, co-operation was never achieved. By today’s standards you could only describe the attitude of the aborigines as xenophobic, racist and inexcusably violent. There was no excuse for killing the men who were merely pioneering a path for a new nation. The fact that Jackey Jackey escaped with his life provides additional evidence of the same white hatred that exists in many xenophobic aboriginals to this day. This was cold blooded, race motivated murder.