January 2, 1912
The Kaalurwonga, cast of the Badu, were a fierce arrogant tribe who pursued fat men, women and girls, and cooked the dead by making a deep hole in the sand, trussing the body and there roasting it, and tossing it about until it cooled sufficient for them to divide it.
The Passing of the Aborigines
Cannibalism had been rife for centuries in these regions and for a thousand miles north and east of them. When I made inquiries regarding the murder of Baxter (who accompanied Eyre in 1843) by the two Port Lincoln boys who stole the stores and fled back to their own country, I was told that they did not get very far before they themselves were killed and eaten. While these blacks had been under the protection of the whites, they were safe enough, but the moment they left them, they were descended upon and killed. Some years before my arrival, two white men, Fairey and Woolley, had mysteriously disappeared in this country, but of this comparatively recent affair, the natives would give me no information. I did hear of one instance of cannibalism at the white man’s expense, a shepherd whose name is known to me, found dead in the country to westward, with his thigh cut away.
Between Eucla and Eyre a group of six-fingered and six-toed natives existed. They had been seen by Helms as late as the ‘sixties, and though they were extinct in my time, I learned both from the natives at Eucla and from Mr. Chichester Beadon, that they had come from the Petermann Ranges, and had intermarried with the five-fingered groups. These six-fingered men were believed to transmit their peculiarity to their off-spring, as were the left-handed groups that I have myself often encountered.
The last manhood ceremony of Eucla was held in 1913, when Gooradoo, a boy of the turkey totem, was initiated at Jeegala Creek, some sixteen miles north. A great crowd of natives straggled in by degrees, remnants from all round the plain’s edge, from Fraser Range, Boundary Dam, Israelite Bay, as far east as Penong, and as far north as Ayer’s Rock, in the very heart of Australia, 700 miles and more of foot-travelling. There were numbers of women among them, as in all these gatherings an exchange of women is an important part of the ceremony. For the ceremony there must have been more than 200 assembled.
In physique these border natives were fine sturdy fellows. In their own country they were cannibals to a man. “We are Koogurda,” they told me, and frankly admitted the hunting and sharing of kangaroo and human meat as frequently as, that of kangaroo and emu. The Baduwonga of Boundary Dam drank the blood of those they had killed. The Kaalurwonga, cast of the Badu, were a fierce arrogant tribe who pursued fat men, women and girls, and cooked the dead by making a deep hole in the sand, trussing the body and there roasting it, and tossing it about until it cooled sufficient for them to divide it. Another group would cut off hand and foot, and partake of these first, to prevent the ghost from following and spearing them spiritually.
Although they camped about me for many days, I was sufficiently acquainted with their disposition and their custom to know that my own position was secure. All knew of kabbarli and her grandmotherly magic, and I look upon this exciting period at Eucla as one of the most illuminating contacts with this primitive race that I have ever made.