Personal Archives of A P Elkin
University of Sydney Archives
Box 11, Item 1/3/25
General Notes on Aborigines - Cabbage Tree Island c. 1941
Notes at start of article
1. Almost all the adults are either very light or only slightly dark
in skin colour. Generally speaking, the women are lighter in colour
thanthe men. The darkest on the island are old Cook and his unmarried
sons and old Jack Kapeen. In addition, the two Kelly men and Robert
Moran are dark halfcastes, but incidentally, these three are good
workers and acceptable to the outside world.
2. Apart from two dark children, almost all of the children are very near
white, though a few have noticable Aboriginal features. Occasionally
in one family, eg Robert Bolt's, there are some completely fair and
light haired children together with a couple with some Aboriginal
features and black hair.
3. There is almost a complete absence of Aboriginal intonation in speech on
the island. I have not heard the like elsewhere. Generally speaking,
their English is good.
1. Ben Roberts, 31 years
Eva Bechne, 30 years
Richard Roberts, 21 years
Roy Cameron, 21 years
All good types, work regularly outside and on station if unemployed.
Ben Roberts has 3 1/2 acres land, idle 6 years.
2. Jack Cook, 72 years
Susan Cook, 66 years
Both good types.
Six sons 22 - 46 years quarter-caste.
Ernest, 34 years, cut 4.7 acres last year, land idle since.
Douglas, 26 years, has 6.8 acres cane to cut this year.
These men work when inclined or in need of cash. All inveterate gamblers.
William Monkland, 54 years, full blood
Fair worker, drinks a lot.
3. Frank Marlowe, 36 years, handyman
Roslyn Marlowe, 39 years
Five children 9 months to 15 years.
Fred, 15 years, works satisfactorily on outside employment.
4. Robert Bolt, 36 years
Florence Bolt, 34 years
Good type, 8 children.
Jane, 16 years, has been in employment.
Robert, 15 years, in employment until this month.
Well disciplined children.
Robert Bolt has 5.7 acres land, idle for 6 years.
5. Lizzie Bolt, aged, widow
Five children 18 1/2 - 28 years, 3 good types, 2 lazy.
6. Robert Anderson, 25 years
Winnie Anderson, 24 years
One child aged 18 months.
Minnie Cook, 31 years
Three children 16 months - 7 1/2 years illegitimate by 3 different men.
7. Maurice James, 45 years
Emily James, 39 years
Very poor types, mentally deficient.
Eight children 18 months - 17 years.
Jim Carter, 53 years, fair worker outside.
Edward Walker, 19 years
Mary Walker, 20 years
One child 1 year old.
Walker fair worker outside.
8. George Kapeen, 40 years, served in 2 wars
Alice Kapeen, 40 years
Three children 12 - 19 years.
George Kapeen has 3 1/2 acres land and never worked it.
9. Victor Moran, 26 years
Madge Moran, 20 years
Good types in permanent employment.
One child 7 months.
This couple now parted.
10. Ted Moran, 23 years
Edna Moran, 23 years
Good types. Had regular work until 6 weeks ago.
11. Robert Moran, 46 years
Elizabeth Moran, 45 years
Good types. Three children 2 - 12 years.
Moran has 3.6 acres cane to cut this year, 2 1/2 acres next year.
Duncan Moran, 34 years
12. James Kelly, 36 years
Kathleen Kelly, 27 years
Good types and good workers.
One child 5 years.
Donald Daley, 21 years
Good worker and steady.
13. Oswald Rhodes, 30 years
Ethel Rhodes, 31 years
Very good type. Steady and constant worker and always works here when
no work outside.
Two acres cane to cut this year. Two acres potatoes, corn and vegetables.
Arthur Ferguson, 19 years
Steady and good worker. With cane gang now.
Wife would be a handicap if off station.
14. Colin Caldwell, 24 years
Emily Caldwell, 19 years
Average type and fair worker.
One child 8 months.
15. Ronald Cook, 27 years
Ethel Cook, 24 years
Not fond of work and needs watching.
Two children 9 months - 2 1/2 years.
Henry Cook, 50 years
Two acres ground not used.
16. Chris Bolt, 31 years
Kate Bolt, 24 years
Lazy fellow and worst drinker on island. Worked 9 weeks last year.
Three children 8 months - 4 years.
Phyllis Anderson, sister of Kate.
Kate is ignorant and nervous.
17. Jack Kapeen, 78 years
Charlotte Kapeen, 75 years
Good couple. Two children 28 and 38 years. Elder returned from last
war mentally affected. Younger only fair worker. Lazy also drinks.
Betty Caldwell, 14 years
18. Harry Kelly, 41 years
Gladys Kelly, 39 years
Good worker. Four children 1 - 17 years. Two eldest boys work with father.
19. Leo Bolt, 41 years
Kathleen Bolt, 31 years
Lazy and drinks earnings, never troublesome. Wife works out and supports
home. One child 9 years. Has 6 acres land, idle for some years.
20. Henry Combo, 58 years
Florence Combo, 48 years
Works own land here, 16.2 acres. Will cut 8 1/2 acres cane this year,
2 acres next year. Five acres mixed cultivation, 1.1 idle.
Seven children 8 - 29 years.
William, 29 years, has 3.6 acres cane to cut this year.
Idles on prospect of same.
Stanley, 25 years, has 3.2 acres of cane to cut this year.
Not much better than brother.
Mrs Mavis Davis (daughter of Combo), 17 years
One child aged 8 months.
This family is white. Do not work on Station.
Paying others to work their cane. 'Employers' not 'workers'.
Land allotted but not used
No. Name Size Notes
1. Ben Roberts 3.5 acres idle 6 years
4. Robert Bolt 5.7 acres idle 6 years
8. George Kapeen (ex AIF) 3.5 acres never worked it
15. Ronald Cook 2 acres not used
19. Leo Bolt 6 acres idle for some years
2. Ernest Cook 4.7 acres idle since last year
H Combo 1.1 acres now idle
No. Name Size Notes
2. Ernest Cook 4.7 acres cut last year, now idle
Douglas Cook 6.8 acres to cut this year
11. Robert Moran 3.6 acres to cut this year
Robert Moran 2.5 acres to cut next year
13. Oswald Rhodes 2.0 acres to cut this year
Oswald Rhodes 2.0 acres corn and vegetables
20. H Combo 8.5 acres to cut this year
H Combo 2.0 acres to cut next year
H Combo 5.0 acres mixed cultivation
H Combo 1.1 acres idle
William Combo 3.6 acres to cut this year
Stanley Combo 3.2 acres to cut this year