TOMMY WINDICH

(circa) 1840 - 1876

 

 

 

 

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Tommy Windich

 

Tommy was a member of the Kokar tribe and came from near Mount Stirling, south of Kellerberrin. He appears to have been brought up in the Bunbury area and worked as a police tracker and constable. He helped in the location and capture of the killers of Edward Clarkson.

By the age of 25, Tommy was working as a tracker for the police in the Albany area. His excellent tracking and bush skills led him to be selected to join Charles Hunt on his 4th expedition to the Kalgoorlie region in 1866.

Tommy's work was so highly regarded that he was recommended to John Forrest who was so impressed that he sought Tommy's help on every expedition he undertook. John even presented Tommy with a gun with his name engraved on it.

Forrest named Windich Spring in Tommy's honour and when the exploration stopped, Tommy went back to working for the police, this time in the Esperance area.

Unfortunately Tommy fell ill and a ship was despatched from Perth to pick him up but it did not arrive in time. John and Alexander Forrest paid for a memorial to be erected over Tommy's grave.

John wrote of his friend:

"I have never known any white man equal as a companion in the bush to Tommy Windich, and I have had a long and varied experience. It is impossible for them [Speaking of Tommy Windich and Tommy Pierre] to lose themselves; a horse could not stray without their being able to find it; they at once noted everything that they saw, such as the flight of birds, track of Aboriginals and wild animals, emu footprints and other minute details with wonderful accuracy, and could readily find water if there was any in existence to be found. My companion was a perfect wonder in many ways, and I cannot speak too highly of him''

 

When Tommy died John Forrest wrote:

"This faithful and intelligent native passed away still in the field of exploration as he had been for so many years. He was still quite a young man and had been intimately connected with every exploration in this Colony for the last ten or twelve years. He accompanied Mr. Hunt, Mr. Alexander Forrest and myself. Twice he crossed with me from Perth to Adelaide and took a very prominent part in these expeditions. He possessed great knowledge of the interior, and I feel that he was the most experienced and best bushman in the colony."

History often forgets to give proper credit to the Aboriginal trackers and Co-explorers. People like Tommy Windich of the Njaki-Njaki people should also be given their rightful place in our history.

Note: One source spells Tommy's surname as 'Winditj'.

 

Chronology

 

1840 - This is only an approximate date as his real birth year is not known.

1865 - In 1865 he tracked and helped to recapture the prison escapee Joseph Johns, better known as Moondyne Joe.

1866 - Joined Charles Hunt on his 4th expedition to the Kalgoorlie area.

1866 - Helped to capture three Aborigines who had murdered Edward Clarkson. Tommy was speared in the arm during the capture.

1869 - Joined John Forrest's expedition to search for Ludwig Leichhardt.

1870 - Joined John Forrest's second expedition to survey Edward Eyre's route along the Great Australian Bight.

1871 - Joined Alexander Forrest's expedition to explore beyond Hampton Plains.

1874 - Joined John Forrest's third expedition to explore the Murchison River area and on to the overland telegraph line.

1876 - Worked as a guide on the construction of the the overland telegraph line from Perth to Adelaide.

1876 - Died February 20 of pneumonia.

 

Links to more information:

 

Tommy Windich

Windich, Tommy (1840-1876)

Tommy Windich

 

 

 

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