The Wiradjuri Nation (Bathurst Area)

The Wiradjuri Nation ranges from the Great Dividing Range in the east, to the Murrumbidgee River in the south, and a line is drawn through the sites of the present towns of Hay, Nyngan and Gunnedah, forming the west and north boundaries.

Some of the Wiradjuri tribes are: Bularidee, Wompanjee, Kamilaraay, Ngiyampaa and Paakantji.

The most easterly groups of the Wiradjuri Nation were the tribes whom Windradyne became leader. They roamed throughout the O’Connell, Bathurst and Macquarie Plains and along the Wambool (Macquarie) River and one estimate, recorded in 1824, numbered 600 to 700 people.

The Aborigines at Bathurst were noted as being timed, inoffensive and friendly.

White man arrived early December 1813; they reached a point on the Macquarie River near Winburndale Rivulet and reaching a position approximately 7 miles due south of the present town of Hill End, and almost 100 miles from Mt. Blaxland. Due to the rugged terrain and the condition of the packhorses and the party’s footwear, Evans concluded his survey and they began their return journey when Evans accidentally met two women and four children of the Wiradjuri in the vicinity of Mt. Pleasant and about 5 miles down the Macquarie River from the present city of Bathurst.

Relations between the settlers and Aborigines soon deteriorated and there were many battles fought over food and possessions. Windradyne was a survivor of these attacks and such was his grief and bitterness at the death and maiming of his own kin that he became the implacable enemy of the white settlers.

In 1824 the Proclamation of Martial Law was declared in the “Country westward of Mount York”.

To enforce the decree a detachment of the 40th Regiment was rushed to Bathurst to bring a total number of soldiers station there to 75. The soldiers, augmented by the number or armed settlers, began a systematic campaign of terror and murder against the natives.

The proclamation of Martial law remained in force for four months, during which time the authorities made continual efforts to capture Windradyne (who this time was also known as ‘Saturday’).

In December 1824, the Governor repealed the Proclamation of Martial law.

Throughout 1825 and much of 1826 bushranging gangs were extremely active and became a menace in the Bathurst district that the authorities were forced to use Aboriginals as trackers to help in catching them.

Deprived of their traditional hunting grounds, the Aborigines who by this time lost all their associations. Their traditions and mythology, handed down from generation to generation, were centred around all the prominent features and landscape. When the Aborigines were robbed of their ‘Dreaming’, they were robbed of life itself.