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BUNDLE (c.1781 - c.1844)

(also spelt Bon-del, Bundal, Bundell or Burreach)

A colourful and important figure among the Aborigines of the Cowpastures area. Originally referred to as 'Young Bundle.'

'Young Bundle' was an orphan who attached himself to Captain William Hill of the NSW Corps. He accompanied Hill to Norfolk Island on board the brig Supply on 22 March 1791 and returned to Sydney in September 1791 on the transport Mary Ann.

Watkin Tench [Journal: 1791] records that:

"A little native boy, named Bon-del, who had long particularly attached himself to Captain Hill, accompanied him, [to Norfolk Island] at his own request. His father had been killed in battle, and his mother bitten in two by a shark: so that he was an orphan, dependant on the humanity of his tribe for Protection. His disappearance seemed to make no impression on the rest of his countrymen, who were apprized of his resolution to go. On the return of the Supply they enquired eagerly for him; and on being told he was gone to [a place] afforded plenty of birds and other good fare, innumerable volunteers presented themselves to follow him; so great was their confidence in us, and so little hold of them had the amor patriae."

Similarly, David Collins records [Journal: September 1791]:

"Bondel, a native boy, who went thither with Captain Hill, to whom he was attached, in the month of March last, came back by this conveyance to his friends and relations at Port Jackson. During his residence on the Island, which Mr. Monroe said he quitted reluctantly, he seemed to have gained some smattering of our language, certain words of which he occasionally blended with his own."

Then the historical record appears to fall silent until 1809 when there is a report in the Sydney Gazette of 3 September 1809 that:

"A man of the name of Tunks in company with another was attacked near Parramatta by three Blacks, among whom was young Bundle and Tedbury, the son of Pemulwoy, who was shot some years since on account of his murders, and the barbarities he had exercised on many solitary travellers."

David Dickinson Mann, was a successful emancipist settler who had first arrived in the colony in July 1799 on board the convict transport Hillsborough, having been convicted of fraud. He received an absolute pardon on 18 January 1802 and returned to Britain in March 1809 on board the Admiral Gambier. In 1811 he published an account of life in the NSW in the period 1799-1808 in the book The Present Picture of New South Wales 1811. The work (completed in October 1810) presents an illuminating description of the colony prior to the arrival of the Macquaries. It also includes a brief reference to Bundle and his activities as a sailor:

"Yet there are many of the natives who feel no disinclination to mix with the inhabitants occasionally - to take their share in the labours and the reward of those who toil. amongst these there are five in particular, to whom our countrymen have given the names of Bull Dog, Bidgy Bidgy, Bundell, Bloody Jack, and another whose name I cannot call to recollection, but who had a farm of four acres and upwards, planted with maize, at Hawkesbury, which he held by permission of governor King; and the other four made themselves extremely useful on board colonial vessels employed in the fishing and sealing, for which they are in regular receipt of wages. They strive, by every means in their power, to make themselves appear like the sailors with whom they associate, by copying their customs, and imitating their manners; such as swearing, using a great quantity of tobacco, drinking grog, and other similar habits. These natives are the only ones, I believe, who are inclined to industrious behaviour, and they have most certainly rendered more esssential services to the colony than any others of their countrymen, who, in general, content themselves with assisting to draw nets for fish, for the purpose of coming in for a share of the produce of others toil."

[The Present Picture of New South Wales 1811 p.47]

When he first met Macquarie in 1810 'Young Bundle' must have been in his mid-twenties, perhaps even as old as twenty-nine years of age. Keith Vincent Smith has suggested a biographical framework of c.1781-1844 for Bundle, but this must be considered as remaining an open question.

There is a report in the Sydney Gazette for 21 July 1810 in which Bundle is recorded as assisting James Squire, the district constable at Kissing Point, in tracking the robbers who had broken into the house of Richard Jenner. Three men were subsequently arrested and punished on the strength of Bundle's skills as a tracker; he had identified that the footprints left by two nails in the sole of a shoe led to a nearby hut whose owner had lent the shoes to a labourer by the name of Kean [Patrick McKane]. He was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 100 lashes and two years hard labour, whilst his accomplices each received 50 lashes each.

In late March 1812 Bundle accompanied Surveyor George William Evans on board the Lady Nelson in the party sent to explore Jervis Bay, on the southern coat of NSW, and to determine a possible inland route back to Port Jackson. After surveying the southern and western shores of Jervis Bay Evans prepared, on 3 April, to return overland to Appin - a distance of approximately 90 miles. The crossing the Shoalhaven River at Cabbage Tree Flat (west of present-day Nowra), presented logistical difficulties and it would appear the Bundle assisted in constructing a bark canoe to ferry Evans, his party, and their baggage across the river. It took 6 hours to prepare the canoe and make the multiple crossings to the northern side of the Shoalhaven.

The steep mountainous terrain forced Evans and and his party to travel northward along the coast, passing present-day Port Kembla and Wollongong, before finally turning inland on 13 April and ascending a ridge close by Mount Kiera and along the watershed dividing the catchment areas of the Cordeaux and Cataract reservoirs. They reached the area near Wilton, and turned N.E. towards Appin. Eventually they reached William Broughton's hut at Lachlan Vale on 15 April. It had been a hard and arduous journey, with limited food, equipment, and means of conveyance. This journey was never publicised by Macquarie, perhaps because it almost ended in disaster for the members of the exploration party. Furthermore, Bundle's efforts and contibution to the journey were not recorded in any detail.

In 1816 Bundle and his kinsman, Bootbarrie, were with the guide John Warby when Captain Wallis (46th. Regiment) was mounting an expedition in the Appin region to take Aboriginal prisoners. Both Bundle and Bootbarrie absconded on the night of 11 April when the nature of the military expedition became apparent to them, while Warby refused to assist in the mission.

Two years later (in March 1818) Bundle, with another Aboriginal named 'Broughton,' accompanied Charles Throsby on his exploratory expedition into the southern region. Bundle acted as interpreter between Throsby and the Gundungurra people.

On 26 May 1821 Bundle/Bundell sailed on board H.M. Brig Bathurst, (formerly the India-built merchant brig Haldane) under the command of Phillip Parker King, on a surveying voyage to the northern coast of Australia. Bundle replaced, at short notice, Bungaree, who had sailed with Flinders. For, despite having agreed to sail on the Bathurst, Bungaree disappeared into the bush a few days before departure. Bundell was accustomed to sea life after having sailed on a number of colonial vessels, and despite having lost one eye to a spear wound, he was an active and quick-witted seaman. However, he had no head for heights and never ventured up the ship's mast above the lower ratlines. Similarly he proved to be a failure as a go-between with the tribes on the north-west and south-west coasts of Australia, much to King's frustration.

After surveying the northern and north-western coastline of Australia, King sailed the Bathurst to Mauritius for repairs and an essential refit; thereby making Bundle perhaps the first Australian Aborigine to visit the island in modern times. The Bathurst departed from Mauritius on 14 November 1821, and finally completed her survey work of the western coast of Australia in the months January-March 1822, returning to Sydney on 25 April 1822.

For a short period in 1822 Bundle (now spelt 'Bundal') was a constable at Upper Minto (Narellan) and received half a pound of tobacco per month as his pay; later, in 1825, James and William Macarthur tried, unsuccessfully, to have him (and another young Aborigine named 'Johnny') appointed as constables on the Camden side of the Nepean (on full pay and rations). At this stage Bundal was said to have been 35 years of age.

There were at least three occasions in the period 1825-26 when Bundal assisted the authorities in the capture of thieves and runaway convicts; and in 1826 he was given a blanket as a reward for his services.

By 1838 he had been given a brass plate, as his badge of office, and he was the last individual to be nominated as 'chief' at the Cowpastures. An 1842 listing refers to 'Old Bundal', or 'Burreach' (or 'Burryatt') and records his age as being about 50. At this stage he was also described as possessing two wives, three young sons and a daughter.

Bundal was still alive in 1843, when there is a record of him attending one of James Macarthur's election meetings; and there is also a reference in the same year to 'Bundle' and his wife applying to the magistrate William Howe for the issue of blankets (though it is unclear whether this man is the original Bundle, as his Aboriginal name was said to be 'Cuddeban').

Primary Sources:
Sydney Gazette. 3 September, 1809; 21 July 1810 p.2a.

COLLINS, David. An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales. Vol. 1 Sydney: Reed, 1975 p.147 [Orig. publ. 1798].

MANN, David Dickinson. The Present Picture of New South Wales 1811. London: John Booth, 1811 pp.46-48.

TENCH, Watkin. Sydney's First Four Years. Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1979 p.218.

Secondary Sources:
ATKINSON, Alan. Camden. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1988.

HORDERN, Marsden. King of the Australian Coast: the work of Phillip Parker King in the Mermaid and Bathurst 1817-1822. Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 1997 pp. 275, 333, and 335.

KOHEN, James. The Darug and Their Neighbours. Blacktown, Darug Link, 1993.

LISTON, Carol. "The Dharawal and Gandangara in Colonial Campbelltown, New South Wales, 1788-1830." Aboriginal History Vol.12 Part 1: 1988 pp.58-59.

SMITH, Keith Vincent. Wallumedegal: an Aboriginal history of Ryde. Ryde: City of Ryde, 2005 p.23.

WEATHERBURN, A. K. George William Evans: Explorer. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1966 pp.23-25.

WEATHERBURN, A. K. "Exploration of the Jervis Bay, Shoalhaven and Illawarra District." Royal Australian Historical Society: Journal. Vol. 46 Part 2 June 1960.

WEATHERBURN, A. K. "The Exploration and Surveys of James Meehan between the Cowpastures, Wingecarribee River, Goulburn Plains, Shoalhaven River and Jervis Bay 1805, 1818 and 1819." Royal Australian Historical Society: Journal. Vol. 64 Part 3 December 1978 pp.167-181.

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