State Records Archive
Title: Aborigines – Employment of people requiring natives
Keywords: William Pickering, John Atkinson, Jeremiah McClune, labour
“I have heard indirectly that labor of this description is to be obtained and that if properly treated also good results. If you can supply you might be able to advise as to the best way to handle these boys as I understand the wilder they are the better.” [William Pickering, farmer]
“They [will] be well treated while in our possession” [John Atkinson, pastoralist]
From: W Geo Pickering, Kaloorup, via Busselton
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
18th Dec 1908
I have the honor to request that you will be kind enough to advise me as :-
1. Will your Department supply labor in the shape of two young aboriginal boys from the North?
2. If so, upon what terms and conditions.
I have heard indirectly that labor of this description is to be obtained and that if properly treated also good results. If you can supply you might be able to advise as to the best way to handle these boys as I understand the wilder they are the better.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
W Geo Pickering
To Director, Aborigines Department, Perth
21 Dec 08
We being in need of 2 natives for station work, at and around Mount Jackson, Southern Cross, and being willing to pay all expenses in connection with the obtaining same then deck passage down the coast, also to guarantee that they be well treated while in our possession, further that when no longer required by us to put them onto that portion of the Colony from whence they came – beg that you will give us any necessary permission in order that our friends in the North from whom we expect to obtain the natives may know that the requirements of your Department have been complied with.
[Memo at base of letter]
Acknowledged – informed none at present in Perth – would write again when one turned up
To Mr Gale, Chief Protector of Aborigines
18th Jan 09
I will feel very much obliged if you can procure me two Aboriginals for shepherding. I will give good wages also usual supply rations free and will pay their fare up to Mogumber. I prefer married men as they are more content to tend their flocks. Please reply at your earliest disposal as I want them at once. By doing so you will greatly oblige me.
Thanking you in anticipation.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
Subject: Aborigines – employment of – people requiring Natives
1) Pickering (file 33/09) Kaloorup via Busselton
2) Atkinson (file 34/09) Mount Jackson, Southern Cross
3) McClune, Canterbury, New Norcia
Question: What made the colonisers specifically request aboriginal workers from the North? What made them believe that the Chief Protector would “be able to advise as to the best way to handle these boys” and that “the wilder they are the better”?
Question: Who were the “friends friends in the North from whom we expect to obtain the natives”?
Question: Why were farmers at Southern Cross and New Norcia seeking the employment only of aboriginal workers from the North? Why not local labour?
Note: The choice of the term “possession,” rather than “employment” – “They [will] be well treated while in our possession” [John Atkinson, pastoralist] – is indicative of slavery.
William George Pickering (1869-1953)
Born in England, William Pickering was an architect who tried his hand at farming near Busselton between 1905 and 1918, before giving up and returning to his profession. He designed many hotels and buildings in the southern wheatbelt region. Pickering was the Country member for Vasse in WA Legislative Assembly 1917-1924.