The convict and colonial era of Australia became a time when parts our heritage became untraceable.

Aboriginal women in colonial Australia led lives that were very different from their ancestors'. Their challenge was to find meaning in a world where their traditional ways and lands were changed when the English colonists arrived in large numbers (1).

Mixed Relations
When the new breed of settler men advanced into new territory there were no white women to settle down with. Mixed relations became the normal way of living. Sadly the authorities could only ever explain a relationship between a white man and black woman in terms of abuse. This explanation was used to create missions governed by a designated white "protector" who prevented whites having any contact with blacks (this even included white men associating with black men). These policies were refined by state governments and continued as recently as in 1962 in South Australia, WA and the Northern Territory. Even though they didn't stop sex across the colour line, they made it very difficult for the parents of mixed race children to form a family. Tens of thousands of mixed-race children ended up in orphanages and missions as a result of their parent's relationships being criminalised. In short, the most enlightened people in the colony were stigmatised and oppressed instead of receiving support. Their children were subsequently raised to believe that they were the bastard offspring of rapists(2).

Naming of Mixed Race Children
Children of mixed Aboriginal and other descent were often named after their employers – and sometimes this, too, was an actual indication of the likelihood that these could be the actual biological fathers. Adults were also commonly named after the stations on which they lived. In various jurisdictions, the local police – many of Irish stock – collected the census data. They allocated their own names to local Aboriginal people for official purposes. Or so they said. Although they did not openly acknowledge or rear them, many such policemen biologically fathered children to Aboriginal casual or long-term partners. Cohabiting with Aboriginal women carried a social stigma amongst the coloniser community (3). "In the bush, as a rule, black boys are known by no more than a single name, such as Jack, Tom or Billy, while half castes invariably have both Christian and surnames, such as Jo Flick" (4).

By the turn of the nineteenth century, and the first half of the twentieth century in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, it was illegal for white men to cohabit with Aboriginal women and they had to seek special permission to marry them. Many of the male partners permitted to marry under state law were not so much prompted by egalitarianism as by the threat of large fines and imprisonment. For many, however, it took courage to openly declare these illicit partnerships and to try to keep families together, which some did (5). Marriage registers had 'Aboriginal' written across where the mothers of the bride & groom were requested (5).

When deciding to allow a marriage great weight was given to the ‘general character and repute of both individuals, the number of years during which there has been cohabitation, and, where children have been born, the manner in which they have been reared, cared for, and schooled (6).

Land & Families
Convicts, with their Certificate of Freedom, were allocated land in northern NSW where new towns and villages were created. The earliest white woman to inhabit those area's was in the 1840s (8) and the first white baby known to be born in the Warrambungle's was 1841(9).

Taphoglyphs (Aboriginal carved trees)
near Dubbo, N.S.W.
White men took up relationships with Aboriginal women from the Kamilaroi or Gamilaroi, an Indigenous Australian Murri people who are from the area which extended from around Singleton in the Hunter Valley through to the Warrumbungle Mountains in the west and up through the present-day centres of Quirindi, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, Moree, Lightning Ridge and Mungindi in New South Wales, to Nindigully in south west Queensland. The Kamilaroi is one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia (7).

A Lost Heritage
John Page Jude (17, 43), convict, sentenced in 1824 for stealing ducks, settled in the Coonamble area and had a family with an unknown Aboriginal woman. 

One of their two daughters was named Eliza, born in 1841. Eliza's life, and death at the age of 18, guaranteed that her descendants would know their ancestral roots. 

The newspapers of the day declared life, as it was, in colonial times.

The Wailwan People
Wailwan People
"Aboriginal inhabitants of Gulargambone prior to European settlement were Wailwan people, whose tribal territory extended to Quambone, near the Macquarie Marshes. The tapestry of early life included intricate ceremonies – ‘Boras’ – often involving the neighboring tribes, the Wiradjuri and Gamilaraay. ‘Scarred’ trees, middens, and other artifacts can be found around Gulargambone, testament to the era. The Castlereagh River, once ‘dotted with campsites’ quickly changed with the advent of European settlement. A way of life that had existed for many thousands of years vanished. Aboriginal people eventually found themselves confined to reserves, where they were split up, losing tribal identity with their ‘dreamtime’ history becoming irreversibly lost (10)".

Click here to read more about the life of John Page Jude

Aboriginal  Births, Deaths & Marriages 1788 - 1945, NSW