The Temporary Hut at the Fat Doe River

On the 17th of April 1815, Corporal Thomas Miller and his party of soldiers from the 72nd regiment, came upon one of the Howe Gangs temporary huts at the Fat Doe River. Drawing close to the makeshift shelter, the gangs kangaroo dogs began barking and growling, alerting William Martin and Richard McGwire, the only gang members present, of the approaching party. Richard managed to get away into the scrub, but William was fired upon and quickly surrendered. Interestingly, William Martin had been an assigned servant to Reverend Robert Knopwood before he absconded and joined the gang. However, not before taking from the Reverend “a great quantity of apples, a frying pan, tin pot, spoon and a knife”, as he noted in his diary.

On a search of the camp, the following articles were found by Corporal Miller, “a musket half stocked with the wood of the country, and which has a tin pipe soldered on the barrel to hold the ramrod, and a steel guard for the trigger, a powder horn with about 4 lb. of gunpowder and three tin pots. At a little distance from the hut, deponent found about 30 or 40 kangaroo skins, two rugs made of skins, and three knapsacks, one containing flour, one beef suet rendered, the third contained sundry articles as scissors, a razor, a tomahawk, and a few needles and a thimble.” The large quantity of kangaroo skins was a vital necessity to the gang in trading for ammunition and provisions, as well as being used in the making of cloaks, moccasins, caps and blankets. The application of kangaroo skins in this manner may have been taught to the men by the Aboriginal girls that were in the gang, as well as traditional techniques for using the skin and sinews.

From Historical Record of Australia, Series 3, Volume 2.

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