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Australia 1820 - 1910. Joseph Bradshaw et al.

TitleAustralia 1820 - 1910. Joseph Bradshaw et al.
Publication TypePersonal
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsClement C, Cusack M
Refereed DesignationDoes Not Apply
DescriptionReport following a talk given by Michael Cusack to the Kimberley Society on 1st October 2008
Short TitleJoseph Bradshaw – Getting Lost in the Kimberley and the Art Named After Him
Full Text

On 1 October 2008, Michael Cusack, a foundi ng member of the Kimberley Society,
spoke about his keen interest in rock art and the late Joseph Bradshaw. Michael
has been on numerous bushwa l k i ng t r i p s l ooking for Kimberley rock art, and, afte r
extensive research, he and hi s companions discovered the l o cat i o n o f the paintings
o r i g i n a l l y r ecorded by Bradshaw. Those pai n t i n gs were among the numerous images
o f a r t , p l a c es and documents shown during the t a l k .
By way of background, Michael mentioned that Phi l l i p Parker King made four
voyages to parts of the west coast. The voyage in HMC Mermaid in 1820 was
signi f i c a n t , where Joseph Bradshaw was concerned, as King sighted and named
features mentioned in the talk – the Roe River in Prince Frederick Harbour, the
Prince Regen t R i v e r i n the St George Basin, and Mt Waterloo and Mt Trafalgar.
Lt George Grey, supported by Britain’s Royal Geographical Soc i e t y, arrived to
explore the north-west in 1839. He was the first European to describe the Wandjina
art. His glowing report and recommendation of the area was later used to entice
s e t t l e r s t o p a r t i c i p a t e in t h e i l l - f a t ed Camden Harbour venture of the 1860s.
Alexander Forrest, sent north by the WA government, traversed the Kimberl ey
region in 1879. He sen t r e p o r t s t o t h e government, settlers and specu l a t o r s , t e l l i ng
of large areas of good pastoral land. The pas t o r a l i s t s who arrived included the
Duracks and the MacDona l d s .
Who was Joseph Bradshaw? One of seven children born to a Melbourne landown e r ,
he was young and ambi tious when the 1890s Depression was l ooming. Looki n g f o r
opportunities elsewhere, he read glowing reports on the Kimberley and formed a
small syndicate to take up land on the Prince Regent River. Michael thinks i t was
mainly King’ s i n f l u e n c e that persuaded Bradshaw t o f o c u s o n t h a t l o cal i t y . He would
have imagi ned prime pas t o r a l l a n d e i t h e r side o f a l a r ge r i v e r , t h i n k i ng o f i t a s such
because King had sailed up the river and said how good it w a s .
In June 1890, aged 35, Bradshaw sailed on a coastal steamer via Adelaide and
Fremantle to Derby where, going out east of the town, he visited Lillmaloora
Station. No vessel was available to take him to the Prince Regent. Going by land
was also out of the question as few Europeans knew of a way through the rugged
King Leopold Ranges. On 31 October 1890, he received approval for 20 block s , o f
50,000 acres each—one million acres of land a l l t o l d—sight unseen, along bot h
sides of the river. The tenure on the leases ran from 1 January 1890 to 31
December 1907.
On 31 January 1891, Bradshaw left Melbourne for Wyndham, in ant i c i pat i o n of
checking the Prince Regent River pas t o r a l l ease s . S a i l i ng by steamer wi t h h i s o l der
brother Fred and a Victorian sheep farmer, Wi l l i a m Al l en, he spent three weeks i n
Palmerston (Darwin), waiting for a steamer to take them further. While there,
Bradshaw was introduced to Mrs Durack, and he added two of the local Lar r a k i a
Aborigines, Harry Pinadhy and Slocum, to his group. He later added another young
man, Hugh Young, who had been a fellow passenger from Melbourne.
On reaching Wyndham on 9 March, they found much of the town flattened by a
severe gal e. As there was no accommodation, they camped at the Six Mile (on
wat e r t h a t d istance out o f t own) whi l e t h e y got t h e l a s t o f the exp e d i t i on together.
They had brought most of the necessary pack saddles and equipment with them but
they had to get horses and further essenti al supplies. The eleven horses they
needed for the expedition were extremely expensive, and hard to obtain in such a
remote locality. They used six horses f o r r i d i n g a n d f i v e f o r t h e i r p a c k s .
On 14 March the party l e f t t h e S i x Mile, whi ch had a sma l l hotel dating from the
Halls Creek gold rush of 1886. Bradshaw had his own hand drawn map, whi c h i s
now i n t h e hands of John Bradshaw, a great nephew, from Sydney, a n d i t looks t o
follow Charles Burrowes’ survey map of 1886, drawn for the Victorian Squatting
Company, another syndicate. Michael used an image of the hand drawn map t o
show where Bradshaw’ s p a r t y rode after leaving the Six Mile; south and wes t t o g e t
around tidal flats and past Mt Cockburn, then north-west and west; very heavy
going i n t h e “ W e t ” .
Other Europeans, including Harry Stockdal e, Alexander Woodhouse and Bob Button,
had already been into the area, looking for pastoral land and gold. Burrowes had
shown the course of the Woodhouse River on his map, entering the Drysdale River
from the west, and he probabl y gave it that name because Woodhouse was in
charge of the company’s sheep. Woodhouse had camped between the Forrest and
Durack Rivers in 1885, wai t i n g f o r Burrowes t o locate the company’ s l e a s e s .
On the map Bradshaw was following, he marked his expedition’ s camp sites onl y
u n t i l he reached Yellow Creek near Mt Horace (north of where the Woodhouse j o i ns
the Drysdale). He noted in his journal that his next camp was on the Woodhouse
Rive r . A n o l d V i c t o r i a n Squatting Company camp there had been burnt out but some
watermelons remained. Michael t h i nks Bradshaw had lost his bearings by t h a t s t a g e
and was rea l l y on Buffalo Flat Creek, a tributary of Meelarrie Creek, which runs
parallel with the Woodhouse. From there Bradshaw went due wes t for three days
and described the trave l i n h i s journ a l . I f h e had been on the Woodhouse, further
south, his des c r i p t i o n of t h e l and passed over would have been quite d i f f e r e n t . W i t h
Bradshaw having lost his bearings, it becomes important to note that, with the
Prince Regent and the then unnamed Moran Rive r f o l l o wi n g s i m i l a r d i r e ctions northwest,
Bradshaw presumed too soon that he was near his blocks of land on the
Prince Regen t . I n h i s j ournal, he sta r t e d c a l l i ng the river (the one we know as the
Moran) the Prince Regent, although he l a t e r cal l e d i t t h e Eastern Regen t a n d , l a t e r
s t i l l , cal l e d the lower port i o n the Mar i g u i .
After a difficult few days on the plateau, they eventual l y found a way down,
t r a v e l l i n g along Boa Creek to the ri v e r ( the Moran, but the one they thought of as
the Prince Regent). Bradshaw and Allen rode out and climbed a smal l mountain tha t
he named Mt Allen. On r i d ing back he found a ceremonial stone arrangement and
vendetta site. He made a depot camp on the river and then, riding northward onto a
t r i b u t a ry, he saw some lovel y cascade falls, 95ft. high, which are now named
Pinadhy Falls. In thi s vici n i t y (according to a paper he gave to the Royal
Geographical Society of Australasia on 10 September 1891) they took an
observation o f t h e i r p o s i t i o n wi th a reading of latitude approximately 1 5 ° 5 0 ' . A l s o ,
by dead reckoning and t r i a n g u l a t i on, they estimated their longi t u d e a t 125° 40'. No
readings appear in t h e j o u r n a l . Bradshaw was carrying an aneroid barome t e r , whi c h
enabled him to record heights of h i l l s and campsites, but he probably had no
equipment to f i x posi t i ons. He mentioned having made another map, on which he
marked good country green, east of what he was c a l l i ng the Prince Regent River ,
but that map has not been found.
The posi t i o n Bradshaw recorded i s on t h e Prince Regent River, between Pitta Creek
and Wulunge Chasm, well south of where the expedition actually t r avelled. From
where they wer e , a f t e r s t r i k i n g a sandstone barr i e r t o t h e nor t h , t h ey went west and
came onto another river. That discovery prompted Bradshaw to start using the
names Western Regent ( a c t u a l l y t he Roe River, i n t o which the Moran flows) and th e
Eastern Regent (the Moran). On Friday 10 April 1891, they camped at what he
described as a roaring cataract, 80 yards wide. They then went north and saw
mangroves growing on the tidal port i o n o f the river (where the Moran enters the
Roe). He described seeing many Aborigines there and he named the area Nigger
Gorge. (Michael has since had it renamed Marigui Gorge, because Bradshaw heard
t h e l o c a l Aborigines using the wor d Marigui t o d e s c r i b e t h e river and the local i t y . )
Returning south along the east side of the Roe River, which is bas a l t count ry,
compared to the sandstone on the wes t s ide, Bradshaw camped near a very large
boab (where the surveyor Fred Brockman also camped in 1901). After this, he
continued along the river u n t i l h e w a s s topped by a sandstone gorge. Here he rode
o u t , wes t o f t h e r i v e r , and came across a site with exq u i s i t e a r t i n a great pile of
immense rocks in a secluded chasm. The next day, he did four sketches of the art,
which he described as being of great a n t i q ui t y. Today Aboriginal peopl e c a l l t h e a r t
“Gwion Gwi on” but in 1938 the Frobenius I n s t i t u t e s t a r t e d c a l l ing it after Bradshaw.
For the talk, Michael c a l l e d the paintings “Bradshaw a r t ” .
Bradshaw decided t h ey could go no further south so they headed east, passing what
they named L a l i rimir Glen, where they p l a n ted some seeds, and then went over the
watershed to their depot camp (on the Moran River). There they camped for two
days, and Fred and Joseph rode out , went up a mountain, and blazed a tree B91.
(Brockman found this tree in 1901, named the peak Mt Bradshaw, and proved they
were on the Moran River and not the Prince Regent.) From depot camp, Bradshaw
and his part y followed their outward tracks as they were running out of rations.
They reached the Six Mile on 6 May.
Back i n Melbourne, Bradshaw’ s r e por t r e c ommended that a l l b locks on the wes t s i de
of the Prince Regent be abandoned and that land be taken up between that river
and the Roe River. He was t h i n k i ng t h a t t h i s was the good basal t l a nd seen i n t h e i r
travels. Bradshaw decide d t o s e t t l e on the new leases straight away and, wi t h t h a t
in mind, he purchased a schooner cal l ed The Twins ( a l s o known as the Gemin i ). On
5 August 1891, he married Mary Guy i n Melbourne and, almost simultaneousl y , the
schooner sai l e d o u t o f Port Phi l l i p Bay c a r rying his cousi n Aeneas Gunn and other s
wi th supplies and equipme n t f o r t h e s t a t i o n .
In September, Bradshaw gave a paper to the Royal Geographical Society, V i c t o r i a n
Branch, called “Notes on a recent tr i p t o Pri n ce Regent’ s River” , descr i b i n g the ar t
and other features. Then, in October, he and his wi f e s a i l ed from Melbourne to join
the others in Darwin. The whole party then went on to the Prince Regent Rive r , t o
s e t t l e o n t he station, which they c a l l e d “Mar i g ui ” , a t t h e base of Mt Waterloo. Owi ng
t o t h e i s ol a tion and unsui t a b i l i t y o f the area, and the impos i t i o n o f a s t at e l i v estock
tax, they never fully stocked the station. It was abandoned in May 1894 after
Bradshaw took up land on the V i c to r i a River, in the Northern Ter r i t o ry. He settled
on the new station, “Bradshaw’s Run” and, in 1898, his brother Fred joined him
After keeping the audience enthralled with his summary of Joseph Bradshaw’ s l i f e
up to that point, Michael then commented bri e f l y on more of his photographs, whi c h
included a wide range of “Bradshaw” art and a sel e c ti o n o f o t h e r t ypes of Abori g i n a l
a r t . There were also plant s , wi l d l i f e , scenes and camps photographed during wal k s
in a bea u t i ful and i n t e res t i n g p a r t of the Kimberley. The talk proved very popular ,
attracting an audience o f 9 6 .
Cathie Clement (using Michael Cusack’s notes)
Further reading
Bradshaw, Joseph. Journal of Joseph Bradshaw from January 31st 1891 to June
6th 1891, Mitchell Library, B967, microfilm copy held by J S Battye L i b r a r y of West
Australian History, Perth , Acc 1271A.
Bradshaw, Joseph. 'Notes on a rec e n t t r i p t o Prince Regen t ' s R i ve r ' . Proceedi n g s
of the Victorian Branch of the Royal Geographical Soci e ty of Australasia, v o l . 9,
part 2, 1892, pp. 90–120.
Parker, Adrian and Bradshaw, John and Done, Chris. A Kimberl ey Adventure:
Rediscovering the Bradshaw Figures. Gecko Books, Marleston (SA), 2007.
Willing, Tim and Kenneally, Kevin (eds). Under a Regent Moon: A hi s t o r i cal
account of pioneer past o r a l i s t s Joseph Bradshaw and Aeneas Gunn at Mar i g u i
Settlement, Prince Regent River, Kimberley, Western Australia, 1891–1892.
Department of Conservation and Land Manageme n t , P e r t h , 2002.

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