The Currency of Kangaroo Hide

As money was scarce in Van Diemen’s Land during Michael Howe’s outlawry, the gang would often use the hide of the Eastern Grey (Forester) Kangaroo as currency, which they exchanged for ammunition and provisions. One such example of this comes from early 1815, when Richard Collyer informed George Nelson, a servant to Mr. Gunning, that the gang had “plenty of ammunition” which had been “procured by selling some kangaroo skins.” Furthermore, gang member George Jones was reported to have been regularly supplied by William Williams with “gunpowder and slugs”, which more than likely was traded for kangaroo hide. When the government became aware of the bushrangers “supplying the inhabitants” with hide and meat, they “entirely discontinued” the “purchasing of this vile sort of meat […] excepting on very urgent occasions of scarcity of other animal food for supplying the stores.”

Illustration by Aidan, showing George Jones with a kangaroo hide. The lump over his eye earned him the nickname “bumpy”.

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