Ngadjon Recent History

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Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge

Ngadjon Recent History
Summary of Queensland Acts Affecting the Ngadjon
Protector of Aboriginals - reports lists

Ngadjon Recent History

The Atherton Tableland and the coastal region inland from Cairns was first opened for white settlement about 1880, and after 1890 began to carry a large settled white population engaged in dairy-and-general-farming on the plateau, and sugar-cane farming on the coast. Although large areas remain of uncleared, rough mountain terrain, in large measure the natives have been led to abandon their nomadic habits and their dependence on hunting. Many of them have been compulsorily segregated on mission and government settlements at Yarrabah, Monamona and Palm Island.
 Tindale and Birdsell (1942) p.1

Aboriginal Protection and Restrictions of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (link to .pdf)

From J.Cochran "One House in Malanda" 1993 p21
"Despite an attempt in 1920 by local white residents of Malanda to have the 1897 Act amended to allow their Bama to remain in the district, the Aboriginals Department ignored their request.
Tom English as a school-boy in 1928 at Malanda, remembered two big policemen with big sticks taking Ngadjanji to the railway station, where..."
 '[t]he rest of the tribe would stand by the station waiting and crying as the train left.
When the policemen started removing people, there were 200 Aborigines living in the scrub [rainforest];
when they were finished , there were finished only 12 were left...{and they} had to sign on at the police station'

In the Eacham Weekly News 20 & 29 January 1985 Tom English recorded...
"There were terrifying scenes to witness - about 30 of their near relatives would be milling about trying to rescue their next of kin
 - these people would be weeping; wailing; screaming and pleading, all to no avail. Living next door to a large aboriginal population (editor note: next to Malanda Falls site of the English family's "Jungle" aboriginal show in the 1930's)
I was chosen to read aloud the first letters that came from Palm Island (editor note: many Ngadjon had been sent to Palm Island -  simply exiled together with aboriginals of several different areas and languages ) so they all got the news.
I could then write replies... Each letter I read out would name 3 or 4 people who died - Jacky died - Polly died - Fanny died - Jimmy died - the letters arrived almost weekly.
Each letter pleaded to be rescued - they hated Palm Island."

As the people were forced to retreat to the inaccessible areas they lost the use of their full range of habitats. A local Police Commissioner was to report in 1879 that 'the natives (were) literally starving'. This deprivation no doubt precipitated the desperate actions that by all accounts led to a frontier warfare situation in many districts. Sparse as European settlement was, speakers of Dyirbal were not treated kindly. Tribes were probably reduced to less than 20% of their pre-contact numbers within 20 years. European diseases to which the aborigines had no immunity, such as measles and influenza, were responsible for many deaths, but the major factor in decline in number was wholesale murder by the settlers.
Dixon (1972) p.35

"I was working near the 'Stables' in the scrub at Evelyn. Two policemen came out to me where I was working. They were concerned about the Aborigines. They had been to the big camp at Cressbrook at Evelyn, but had found no one there. The Sergeant asked me to guide them to where the Aborigines camped up in the scrub. This I did. But when we arrived we saw that the whole camp had died, forty of fifty of them, all dead from the Spanish flu."
Les Harrison quoted in Toohey (1990) p18

Ngadjonji elders say their tribe was decimated in numbers by miners and the Native Mounted Police Force before the turn of the century. The Native Mounted Police Force has been described by historian H. Reynolds as "the most violent organisation in Australian History." The Weekend Australian 11-12 March 1989 .
That such decimation occurred can be attested by the statement of William Day, a young Englishman of some education who was a collector of natural specimens for the Australian Museum and lived on the Russell River mining field (Boonji/Topaz) in 1891.
In June 1891, he sent Ramsay (Curator Aust. Museum) "two skulls of Bungee (Russell River) blacks....the last of their tribe as they all got shot,' and wished to know: "What is a perfect skeleton worth of a Russell River black?" Day also tried to meet a request for more specimen skulls, even though, as he informed Ramsay in November 1891, getting them was proving extremely hazardous; 'I do not know when I can get you more black curios as the blacks killed a miner and all are on the war path or whatever you call it in Australia." ( See Massacre for a Ngadjonji story of these events)
Loos (1992) p5 was the rainforest of the Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands that proved most important in the history of Aborigine-European relations in North Queensland. From 1884 to 1888, conflict became intense and the settlers' losses of animals and crops were unbearable. Aboriginal resistance in the rainforest found Queensland frontier policy wanting. In desperation, the selectors near Atherton urged the government to try to conciliate the rainforest Aborigines. In early 1889, a police constable with Aboriginal interpreters, after two months' efforts, made contact with the resisting rainforest Aborigines. He got them to agree to a truce; the Europeans would stop attacking the Aborigines and would supply them with food if the Aborigines ceased to attack.
Loos (1993) p17

Up to 1897, the Queensland Government's policy had been dispossession of Aborigines of their land by force. From 1897 the policy of protection by segregation was adopted.
Loos, (1993) p.29


The Ngadjonji elders thought this may be a band of Ngadjonji and Mamu in one of their camps c. 1921.

Under the provisions of the 1897 'Restriction of the Sale of Opium and Protection of Aboriginals Act' and subsequent Acts operative until 1971, aborigines could be committed to a reserve and detained there against their will, husbands could be separated from wives and children from mothers.

The 1901 Amendment Act gave the Protector of Aborigines the power to control the wages and property of Aborigines and half-castes placed under the control of the Act..... In March 1904, a regulation required that all except threepence or sixpence of the weekly wages of female Aborigines and half-castes be paid to a Protector, normally a police officer. The remainder was to be banked and held in trust for the Aborigines. In 1919, it was ruled that 75% of a single man's wage, and 30-50%of a married man's wage, and 80% of the wages of a boy under 18 had to be paid to the Protector. Aboriginal workers had to apply to the Protector if they wanted to use their own money.
Loos (1992) p26

If one wanted to get an Aboriginal or his wife to work for him, he simply went to the local police with an Aboriginal of his choice who was willing to work for him, signed him up to work for an agreed wage for an agreed period, and thereafter paid the wage, which was very low, to the police monthly, they were supposed to bank it for the worker, and dole out pocket money occasionally.......
They were terrified of being sent to mission stations, and for some reason (sic) Palm Island was regarded as the ultimate hell.
Short (1988) p.63

By the turn of the century some Ngadjonji men were employed on the land, felling the timber and clearing the forest for pastures and farming, fencing and working with stock. Ngadjonji women were often employed by a family to help with domestic chores and the milking. In the 1920's and 30's and again in the 1950's and 60's a tourist display was held in the Malanda Jungle, exhibiting the local skill of tree climbing and some cultural traditions.

(Photograph courtesy of Eacham Historical Society) Ngadjonji Tom Mitchell and Tom Fuller with other timbercutters c. 1920.

During this century up until the 1950's, Ngadjonji people were sent compulsorily to missions at Yarrabah (Cairns), Monamona (near Kuranda), Palm Island (off Townsville) and Woorabinda (Rockhampton). The World Council of Churches admitted in 1980 that although the missions protected some aboriginals from further murderous reprisals they had also largely destroyed the culture, by discouraging language, tribal tradition and, in some instances, family ties.
Less than a handful of families stayed in the Malanda area and some people who were sent away came back here. There are few surviving speakers of Ngadjon.

For the past thirty odd years members of the tribe, and in particular the late Mrs Molly Raymont, have worked with various academics to record some of the tribe's enormous knowledge of the forest and some of their language. In 1997 the Malanda Aboriginal Reserve was presented to the Ngadjonji by the Queensland Government.

 (**webmaster note: the original website had about 80 Ngadjon words, a glossary was added to the site in 2014 currently over 180 words plus origins /  uses and scientific names when species can be  identified **)

Molly RaymontThe late Molly Raymont     Ernie RaymontErnie Raymont  

 Margie RaymontMargie Raymont     Henry RobinsonHenry Robinson

Henry Robinson , Ernie Raymont , Margie Raymont and the late Molly Raymont - Some of the past and present custodians of the tribe's history and traditions.

Summary of Queensland Acts Affecting the Ngadjon

source :
Australia Insitiute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies AIATSIS

note all. pdf links in this section go to an external website at AIATSIS

Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act 1865

Established and regulated industrial and reformatory schools for children under 15 who were 'neglected' or convicted of an offence. Missions were registered as industrial or reformatory schools. A constable may arrest without a warrant any child he considers to be neglected. A court composed of two or more Justices may order a child found to be neglected to be removed from his/her mother and placed in an industrial or reformatory school. Amended by Industrial and Reformatory Schools Amendment Act 1906 - removes reference to Aboriginal children and extends age of child to 17 years. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.

Orphanages Act 1879

A destitute child may be removed to an orphanage declared under this Act. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.

Guardianship and Custody of Infants Act 1891

Where a parent has abandoned or deserted an infant or 'allowed his infant to be brought up by any other person ... as to satisfy the court that the parent was unmindful of his parental duties', the court shall not make an order for the delivery of the infant to the parent unless the parent has satisfied the court 'he is a fit person to have custody'. Repealed by Children's Services Act 1965.

Children's Protection Act 1896

Applies to boys under 14 and girls under 16. An offence to 'ill treat, neglect, abandon or expose a child' in a 'manner likely to cause such child unnecessary suffering or injury to its health'. Court can deal with a child found to be ill treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed as the 'circumstances may admit and require'. Repealed by the Children's Services Act 1965.

Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897

For the 'better protection and care of the aboriginal and half-caste inhabitants of the colony' and 'for restricting the sale and distribution of opium'. Established positions of regional Protectors and later Chief Protector. Repealed by Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939.

Infant Life Protection Act 1905

Any person wishing to adopt a child under the age of 10 may make application to the Director of the State Children Department for permission. The Director must obtain consent in writing of parent, parents or guardian. Repealed by State Children Act 1911.

State Children Act 1911

Replaced the 1865 Act. The Director of State Children Department is the guardian of all State children. The Director may place a State child in a receiving depot; detain him/her in an institution registered under this Act; transfer him/her from one institution to another; place out or apprentice him/her; or place him/her in the custody of some suitable person. This action may be taken without reference to parents or relatives of the child. Amended by State Children Act 1917 - a court may release a child on probation. Repealed by Children's Services Act 1965.

Protection of Aboriginals and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Amendment Act 1934

Extended the provisions of the 1897 Act and the powers of the Chief Protector. Every Aboriginal and 'half-caste' child who is an inmate of an institution registered under the State Children Act 1911 shall be under the control and supervision of the Protector'. 'The Minister may from time to time cause any aboriginal or half-caste ... to be removed to any reserve, institution, or district and kept there, or to be removed from any reserve, institution, or district to any other reserve institution or district, and kept there'. This does not apply to any 'aboriginal or half-caste who is lawfully married to and residing with any person who is not an aboriginal or half caste or otherwise subject to this Act'; or 'a half-caste child living with and supported by a parent of such child who is not subject to this Act'. A 'half-caste' may be exempted from the provisions of this Act (revokable). If the Minister is of the opinion that any 'aboriginal' or 'half-caste' is uncontrollable he may order the 'aboriginal' or 'half-caste' to be kept in an institution. 'Any such order is sufficient authority for the Chief Protector, or any Protector, or any person acting under the authority of the Chief Protector or of a Protector, or any officer of police to arrest such aboriginal or half-caste and remove to an institution'. Any 'aboriginal or half caste' who is convicted of an offence against the 1897 Act or this Act may be detained in an institution. Repealed by Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act 1939.

Adoption of Children Act 1935

Provides for adoption of 'infants' under 21. The Director of the State Children Department is responsible for making an adoption order. Director may dispense with the consent of the child's parents or guardian if satisfied that a parent or guardian has 'abandoned or deserted the infant or cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent; has persistently neglected to contribute to support; or is a person whose consent ought, in the opinion of the Director and in all the circumstances of the case, to be dispensed with'. Repealed by Adoption of Children Act 1964.

Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939

Director of Native Affairs is the 'legal guardian of every aboriginal child under 21'. Director may 'execute agreements between or on the part of aboriginals in the State for the legal custody of aboriginal children by aboriginals or other persons who in his opinion are suitable persons to be given legal custody of such children'. Director may cause any 'aboriginals' who are camped near a town to 'remove their camp to such other place as he may direct'. Director may cause any 'aboriginals' to be 'removed from any district to a reserve and kept there for such time as may be ordered' or to be removed from one reserve to another. This power does not apply to 'a half-blood child living with and supported by a parent of such child who is not subject to this Act'. Regulations made be made for the 'care, custody and education of the children of aboriginals' and prescribing the conditions on which 'aboriginal' children may be apprenticed or placed in service. Repealed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 1965.

Adoption of Children Act 1964

The Supreme Court is responsible for making an order for adoption. The welfare and interests of the child are the paramount consideration in making an order for adoption. Grounds for dispensing with consent similar to those in 1935 Act and include 'special circumstances by reason of which the consent may properly be dispensed with'. Amended by Adoption of Children Act 1983 - to dispense with consent the court must also be satisfied that the welfare and interests of the child will be promoted if the order is made.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Act 1965

Established position of Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in place of Director of Native Welfare. Director is no longer the legal guardian of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Director may order an assisted Aborigine or Islander who is not residing on a reserve 'to be transferred from any district to a reserve'; and upon the recommendation of an Aboriginal Court of a reserve on which the assisted Aborigine is residing, order the assisted Aborigine to be transferred from such reserve to another reserve for Aborigines. Similar provisions in relation to Islanders. Regulations may be made for the preservation, development, assimilation, integration, education, training and employment of assisted Aborigines and assisted Islanders; the care of children of assisted Aborigines or assisted Islanders other than such children who are in the care, protection or control of the Director of the State Children Department; and the employment and apprenticeship of children of assisted Aborigines or Islanders other than such children who are in the care, protection or control of the Director of the State Children Department. Repealed by Aborigines Act 1971 & Torres Strait Islander Act 1971.

Children's Services Act 1965

Replaced the 1911 Act. Established Department of Children's Services. Missions and government settlements were licensed as institutions. A child found to be in need of care and protection may be admitted to the 'care and protection' of the director of the department if a court is satisfied that the child's care and protection cannot be secured by any other order it could make such as ordering a parent or guardian to enter into a recognizance or ordering the director to have 'protective supervision' over the child. The director has guardianship of a child admitted to his/her care and protection. Similar powers in relation to a child in 'need of care and control'. Once admitted to the care and protection of the director the child may be placed, in the best interests of the child, with the child's parents, a relative or friend, in an institution licensed under the Act or in a hostel. The director may grant financial assistance to a family to help care for a child.

Aborigines Act 1971

Abolished status of 'assisted Aborigine'. Established Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. An offence to be on a reserve unless entitled under the Act to be there. A permit may be revoked by the Aboriginal council established for that reserve or by the Director. Regulations may be made with respect to the development, assimilation, integration, education, training and preservation of Aborigines; the care of children (being Aborigines) other than those who are in the care and protection or control of the Director of Children's Services. Repealed by Community Services (Aborigines) Act 1984.

Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act 1987

Amended the Adoption of Children Act 1965 to provide that the Director 'shall have regard to the indigenous or ethnic background and cultural background of the child'.

Protector of Aboriginals -  reports lists

Annual Report of the Northern Protector of Aboriginals

Annual Report of the Chief Protector of Aboriginals

Reports upon the Operations of certain Sub-Departments of the Home Secretary's Department - Aboriginals Department - Information contained in Report for the year ended 31st December

Native Affairs - Information contained in Reports of Director of Native Affairs for the Twelve months ended 30th June

Commissions, Committees