Byalla: to Speak | State Library of New South Wales

Byalla: to Speak

Philip Gidley King (1758-1808) was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of the settlement at Norfolk Island in 1788. He was later appointed as the third Governor of New South Wales from 1800 to 1806. In April 1790, Philip Gidley King copied 160 examples from the local vocabulary gathered by David Collins and Governor Phillip. He also documented his own observations on the local community.

This is a copy of King's journal. It has been annotated in another hand and titled 'A narrative of the preparation and equipment of the First Fleet, the voyage to New South Wales in H.M.S. Sirius, events in N.S.W. and Norfolk Is., and the voyage to England in H.M.S. Supply.'

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Transcript: Journal of P.G. King (Pp. 392 - 410), April 1790, by Philip Gidley King

[page 392]

There are now three of the Natives at Port Jackson The Settlement, a Man about 28 Years old, a Girl about 12 or 13 & a boy about 9. The Man was taken by Stratagem by Lieut.t Bradly, who inticed him to the boat, by holding up a fish which drew two of them to the boat when they were both secured, A number of the Natives were on the Shoar, they instantly thew a number of Spears & altho' only made of Wood, one of them went thro' four folds of the boats sail & struck the Apron of the boats stern with such force as to split it; One of these two Natives made his escape, soon after, the other which is now at the Settlement is very well rconciled, he lives with the Governor, & is a very intelligent Man, much information may be got

[page 393]

from him when he can be better understood, Mr. Collins the Judge Advocate is very assiduous in learning the language in which he has made a great progress, this Native whose has 5 names which are 'Bannelon, Wollarewarre' Boinba Bunde-bunda Woge'-trowey' he likes best to be called by the second, he is a Stout well made Man about five feet six inches high & now that the dirt of his Skin is removed, we find his colour is a dark black, his features are large & his nose flatt, the hair of his head is the same as the Assaties but very Coarse & strong, he is a very good natured fellow, & has a great deal of humour, being seldom angry at whatever jokes are passed on him, readily imitating all the actions & Gestures of every person in the Governors family, As he sits at table with the Governor, whom he calls 'Beanga'

[page 394]

Father, & the Governor calls him 'Doorow' Son) he is under no restraint, nor is he the least awkward in Eating, & considering the State of Nature he has been brought up in may be called a polite man As he performs every action of bowing, drinking healths, returning thanks & c with a scrupoulous exactitude. he is fond of Wine but cannot bear the Smell of Spirits, it has often been tried to deceive him by mixing very weak rum or brandy & water, instead of Wine & Water, but he instantly finds the trick out, & on this occasion he is angry, his appetite is not easily satisfied & he began to perceive the difference between full & Short Allowance. As I said before he is perfectly

[page 395]

satisfied with his situation & walk about constantly with the Governor, who to make him sensible of the confidence he places in him always takes off a small sword he generally wears & gives it to [?] Wollare warre' who puts it on & is not a little pleased at this mark of Confidence His dress is a Jacket made of the coarsest red Kersey with a pair of Trowsers; On Sundays he is drest in Nankeen, the Governors reason for making him wear the thick Kersey is that he may be so sensible of the Cold as not to be able to do without Cloaths, he has had a Wife who died some time before he was taken, he sometimes mentions this Circumstance which occasions a momentary Gloom, which his natural Gaiety soon dissipates, When asked he sings which in general is in a mournfull tune, rarely to

[page 396]

which he keeps time by Swinging his arms, he dances when asked with great readyness. the motions at first are very slow which are regulated by a dismal tune which as the dance advances grows quicker, till at length they throw themselves into the posture represented in the drawing striking the Ground with the greatest force & Shaking their arms which gives them the appearance of being in a fit of Madnes, This part of the dance may be probably a War dance or dance of defiance as all the natives which were seen when first we came here alway joined this dance to their vociferations of 'Woroo Woroo' go away. to what I have already mentioned respecting this man more will be added in the Vocabulary

[page 397]

which Mr. Collins permitted me to copy. The Boy lives with Mr. White the Surgeon, who with great humanity (for which his character is very conspicuous) Cured both the Boy & Girl of a Confluent Small pox which swept off hundreds of the Natives in ye winter of the Year 1788. This dreadfull disorder which there is no doubt is a distemper natural to this Country, must with the difficulty of procuring a subsistance, render the situation of those poor wretches truly miserable. The Girl lives with the Chaplains Wife, they are both tractable but the Girl at times is very angry & cannot bear being thwarted. I shall now add a Vocabulary of the language which I got from Mr. Collins+ & Governor Phillip,+ both having been very assiduous in getting words to compose it, which they

[page 398]

compare & as all the doubtfull words are rejected, it is a very Correct Vocabulary -----

[List of words not transcribed]

[page 399]

It is observed that in speaking he Wollarewarre' changes the position of the words as in bado-burra, When walking from Prospect hill to Rose hill it being night, we frequently stumbled against the roots, when he exclaimed We're' Wade', & Wade' We're' bad wood or bad roots.

[List of words not transcribed]

[Page 400-403]

[List of words not transcribed]

[page 404]

Goang-un. A Spear about eight feet long, & which has four Barbs on each side of, this Spear they use when they advance near their adversary & the thrust is made at the side, or rather the Stroke. for the Spear is raised & the Shield is in the left hand, A would from this Spear must be mortal.

The only Colour we have yet discovered that they have any knowledge of are,

Red ------- Morjall
White ------- Taboa
Black ------- Nana
Green ------- Boolga

We have every reason to think they are divided into Tribes. The Chief of which gives names to the tribe & those who rank themselves under him, are said to be

[page 405]

of that name or tribe. We hear much of Camme-ra-gal who lives in land & is a great Warrior. Wolare warree' must have had some severe Conflicts with him, As he shews several Scars of Wounds inflicted by him. The females of each tribe are distinguished by the name word 'leon' added to the name that distinguishes the Man it is imagined the word 'Gal' signifys tribe & the word preceeding it is the workd of Distinction - perhaps it is the place where the tribe resides

[List of words not transcribed]

The Tribe of Camerra, inhabit the North part of Port Jackson which is somewhere named Camerra. The tribe of Cadi

[page 406]

are on the South side extending from the South head to Long Cove, at which place the district of Wanne & the tribe of Wangal commences, extending as far a Par-ra-mata' or Rose hill. The Tgribe of Wallumede, inhabit the North shore opposite Warrane or Sydney Cove & called Walumetta. I before remarked that between rose Hill & Prospect Hill the Ground between is distinguished by eight different names, & the distance is only four miles. Wolarewarre' has made us understand that there are Apparitions in the country which he calls 'Mane'', he describes it as coming up with a strange noise & catching hold of any one by the Throat, he made use of many words on this occasion & pointed up to the Sky, he tells us that they singe their beards & the hair of the privities

[page 407]

The latter is done by Men & Women, he describes it as a painfull operation, rubbing his face after every application of the brand. They burn A.P. their dead, after which they are laid at length in a grave dug very clean out, the bottom being first covered with great care with long grass or fern, the body is then put in, & covered up over with Grass & then filled up with Earth, rising the Mold about it as in England

No signs of any Religion has been observed among them, but they are not ignorant of a future state, as they say the bones are in the Grave & the Body in the Clouds. As those who have had with us, may be misunderstood it may be imagined that they mean the Soul is in the louds. Wolarewarre' once asked the Judge-Advocate if the White men went to the Clouds also?

[page 408]

The Sun, Moon, & Stars they call Were' (Bad) The Girl once went into very violent Convulsions at seeing a falling star, & said ye `everybody would be destroyed'
*some say she particularly alluded to the Murry Nowey ye Sirius

The Emu (Maroang) the Patagorang & ye Menagine (a small animal) Are named 'Goa-long'. It is thought he means animal, he ye Native uses it in contradistinction to Bird or fish he was asked if the Emu was a bird (Binyan) he shook his head & said 'Goa-long'.

Boon-albiey - To kiss which he says the Natives do i.e. ye Men Kiss the Women. He calls the Governor Beanga (Father) and names himself Dooroow (Son & calls the Judge & Commissary Babunna (Brother).

He sings a great deal & with much variety. Yaban or Bouraya (to Sing) The following are some words which were caught 'E eye at wangewah wandeliah chuingo

[page 409]

wandego Mangenny wahey angonl Barreboa lah Barrema'.

He throws the Spear 90 Yards with great exactness & force.

He cannot count beyond four 'One, Wogul or Ya'ole. Two 'Bulla, & Ya-blowse' Three 'Boorooi or Brewe'' Four 'Cal:una-long. On laying down the fifth object he named it with the rest 'Marry diolo'

He names the four Principal Winds.
North ----- Boor-roo-way
South ----- Bain-marree
West ----- Bow-warr
East ----- Gonie-mah

The Natives sing a hymn, or Song of joy, from Day break untill Surise. Fire is procured by infinite labour by fixing the pointed end of a round piece of Stick, into a hole made in a flat piece, the Operation is twirling ye round piece swiftly between both hands, Sliding them upwards & downwards

[page 410]

untill he is fatigued, at which time he is relieved by another of his Companions, who are all seated for this purpose in a Circle, & each one takes his turn untill fire is procured. No wonder this being the process that they are never seen without a lighted piece of Wood in their hand

Link to Early Vocabularies section