Tumut is a town in the Riverina region of New South Wales, situated on the banks of the Tumut River. Tumut sits on the north-west foothills of the Snowy Mountains and is located in the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal aboriginal peoples. Tumut is referred to as the'gateway to the snowy' Snowy Mountains Scheme; the former Tumut Shire was administered from offices located in the town. Tumut is 410 kilometres south-west of Sydney and 525 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. Tumut is home to a number of historic buildings, including an Anglican church designed by Edmund Blacket and a Courthouse designed by James Barnet. Many of the pubs in the town have been in use from the mid to late 1800s. Early settlers established a large number of European deciduous trees throughout the area; the stand of Poplars and Willow, amongst others, create a well renowned display of colour over autumn. Tumut celebrates this with the yearly Festival of the Falling Leaf; the word Tumut is derived from a Wiradjuri indigenous word for the area doo-maaht or doormat, meaning "a quiet resting place by the river".
The area's rivers may have been the boundaries or connection-points of the three traditional owners linked to this'country'. During summertime, the high country was a meeting place for tribes, with Bogong moths being an abundant food source in the warmer months. British pastoralists began acquiring land in the area during the 1830s. In 1840, Tumut was chosen as the headquarters for the section of the paramilitary Border Police based in the Murrumbidgee District; this force aided the colonists suppress both Aboriginal resistance and the raids of bushrangers, was under the command of the local Commissioner of Crown Lands in Henry Bingham. In 1845, a Court of Petty Sessions was established at Tumut with Frederick Walker appointed as the inaugural magistrate. Walker became famous as the first commandant of the brutal Native Police force based in Queensland. Tumut Post Office opened 1 January 1849. A public hospital opened in the town in 1900. After many years of lobbying by the local community, construction of the railway line from Gundagai began in 1901, reaching Tumut by 1903 with the first train arriving on 2 December that year.
A further extension was built to Batlow and Kunama from a junction at Gilmore, a few kilometres southwest of Tumut. Train services were progressively reduced in the early 1980s before the final trains to Cootamundra ran in January 1984 before being suspended when flood damage to the line was deemed not economical to repair. Tumut was one of the ten areas short-listed in 1908 as a site for the Australian Capital Territory. Other locations that were short-listed include Albury, Bombala, Lake George, Tooma and Yass-Canberra. An earlier vote following inspections of potential sites in 1902 saw the new Federal House of Representatives vote in favour of Tumut as the location for the capital, however the Senate favoured Bombala so no consensus was reached; the town's rugby league team competed in the Riverina Maher Cup competition, beginning as a fixture between teams from Gundagai and Tumut under rugby union rules in 1920, before switching to league rules in 1921. Tumut has a number of heritage-listed sites, including: Adelong Falls Gold Workings Cootamundra-Tumut railway: Tumut railway station 46 Russell Street: Montreal Community Theatre Tumut Plains Road: Junction Bridge, Tumut82-84 Wynyard Street: Tumut Post Office Tumut is the centre of a softwood industry based on plantation Pinus radiata.
CarterHoltHarvey Woodproducts Pty Ltd operate a major sawmill on Adelong Road and a chipboard panel factory next door. 8 km further west on the Snowy Mountains Highway at Gilmore the company operates a sawlog processing plant. The Visy pulp and paper mill is located north of the Snowy Mountains Highway at Gadara; the Visy mill is the only paper mill owned by Visy that makes paper from wood, is one of the biggest wood mills in Australia. Tumut is situated on the Snowy Mountains Highway, but is connected by secondary roads to Gundagai as well as alternative routes to Canberra across the Brindabella Range via Brindabella Road and Wee Jasper Road. Despite being more direct, the terrain and road conditions limit traffic via these routes; this has led to calls by the council and local businesses for funding to upgrade the Brindabella Road, as the increased traffic would provide the town greater economic opportunities. The town was served by a railway branch line from Cootamundra, which operated from 1903 until 1984, when services were suspended due to flooding.
Although the line is not formally closed, it is unlikely to see service again with sections of track lifted during upgrades to the Hume Highway near Gundagai. Tumut Shire operates Tumut Airport, a small facility located a few kilometres out of town catering to general aviation. There are no scheduled services to the airport; the Tumut Blues compete in the Group 9 Rugby League competition, winning premierships in 1949, 1973, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Ray Beavan – rugby league player Allan Butler – paralympian Kim Carr – is an Australian politician, a Senator for Victoria and former Minister of several departments Reg Downing – Attorney General of New South Wales Cate Fowler AM – theatre producer, dramaturg David Johnson – former CEO of Campbell Soup Company Tom Kirk – rugby league player Tony McRae – Member and Minister in Western Australian Parliament Timothy Myers – professional skier / event director / ACS cinematographer John Cross – Victoria Cross recipient Sally Shipard – former international soccer pl
William Thomas (Australian settler)
William Thomas represented Aboriginal people in various roles in the Port Phillip district during his lifetime. William Thomas was born on 29 April 1794 in London, his father was an officer in the British army under Sir Ralph Abercrombie and died in the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Thomas's formal education was concluded at 21 with a year on the continent spent in Spain and Gibraltar. With little capital or prospects for patronage, he founded a successful school located in Southwark on the Old Kent Road. There he trained young men for entry to the civil service. Thomas's achievements as an educator and his devout Methodism brought him to the attention of the post-Reform Act government. Thomas was one of four Assistant Protectors of Aborigines appointed by Lord Glenelg, Colonial Secretary of State, in the Port Phillip district part of the New South Wales colony. Under directions from Sir George Grey, Thomas arrived in Sydney with his family on the 3rd of August, 1838. Thomas was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the colony having jurisdiction in both New South Wales and Victoria.
He served as a magistrate for Melbourne and its suburbs. As Assistant Protector, Thomas served under George Augustus Robinson being responsible for the Central Protectorate District Westernport regions that included the Warwoorong and Boonwoorong tribes. During his tenure he learnt the languages of both Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung peoples and translated Psalm 121, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the first chapter of Genesis into Bonurong, he was known by the people of his protectorate as Marminata. The Protectorate ended in 1849. Thomas stayed in government service with his appointment of Guardian of the Aborigines though arrangement with La Trobe for the counties of Bourke and Mornington and Evelyn, his influence and advocacy saw a appointment as Adviser on Aboriginal Affairs which he held until a few months before his death on 1 December 1867. Thomas left an important written record. In the public record this material comprises official reports and submissions to parliamentary enquiries. In addition his private papers give'give a rare insight into the process of cultural continuity and collapse, the agency of Victorian Aboriginal leaders in social and economic interactions with settlers and colonial administrations in a time of great social upheaval'.
The Mitchell Library: official returns. William and Susannah Thomas had nine children. Fels, Marie Hansen. I succeeded once: the Aboriginal Protectorate on the Mornington Peninsula, 1839-1840. ANU. Lakic, Mira. Through Their Eyes. Melbourne: Museum of Victoria. Pp. 13–17. Lester, Alan. Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance: Protecting Aborigines across the Nineteenth-Century British Empire. Cambridge University Press. Mitchell, Jessie. Governing Indigenous Australia through God and Empire, 1825-1855. ANU Press. Sayers, C. E.. Letters from Victorian pioneers: being a series of papers on the early occupation of the colony, the Aborigines, etc. addressed by Victorian pioneers to His Excellency Charles Joseph La Trobe, Lieutenant Governor of the colony of Victoria. Heinemann. Smyth, R. Brough; the Aborigines of Victoria: with notes relating to the habits of the natives of other parts of Australia and Tasmania compiled from various sources for the Government of Victoria 1830-1889. Melbourne: John Currey, O'Neil.
Stephens, Marguerita. The journal of William Thomas: assistant protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & guardian of the Aborigines of Victoria 1839 to 1867. Vol. 1. Melbourne: Victoria Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Stephens, Marguerita; the journal of William Thomas: assistant protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & guardian of the Aborigines of Victoria 1839 to 1867. Vol. 2. Melbourne: Victoria Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Stephens, Marguerita; the journal of William Thomas: assistant protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & guardian of the Aborigines of Victoria 1839 to 1867. Vol. 3. Melbourne: Victoria Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Stephens, Marguerita; the journal of William Thomas: assistant protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip & guardian of the Aborigines of Victoria 1839 to 1867. Vol. 4. Melbourne: Victoria Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Works related to Tanderrum at Wikisource Dictionary of Australian Biography - Thomas, William Black Robinson: Protector of Aborigines.
Vivienne Rae-Ellis. A controversial study of George Robinson, first Chief Protector of Aborigines in Australia Melbourne University Press George Augustus Robinson, was a NSW Chief Protector of Aborigines in the early 1800s, George Augustus Robinson NSW State Library Protector of Aborigines Heritage Collection – the journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson Public Record Office Victoria online catalogue "VPRS 2895 Chief Protector of Aborigines: Outward Letter Book 1848–1850... VPRS 4399 Duplicate Annual Reports for the Chief Protector of Aborigines 1845–..."
Alfred William Howitt
Alfred William Howitt was an Australian anthropologist and naturalist. Howitt was born in Nottingham, the son of authors William Howitt and Mary Botham, he came to the Victorian gold fields in 1852 with his father and brother to visit his uncle, Godfrey Howitt. Howitt was a geologist in Victoria. Howitt went on to be appointed Police Warden Crown Lands Commissioner. In 1861, the Royal Society of Victoria appointed Howitt leader of the Victorian Relief Expedition, with the task of establishing the fate of the Burke and Wills expedition. Howitt was a skilled bushman. There, on 16 September he found sole survivor John King. On a follow-up expedition to Cooper Creek in 1862, Howitt recovered the bodies of Burke and Wills for burial at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Howitt collected botanical specimens during his expeditions in north-eastern South Australia, south-western Queensland and western New South Wales. Howitt researched the culture and society of Indigenous Australians, in particular kinship and marriage.
Howitt's major work was "Kamilaroi and Kurnai", recognised internationally as a landmark in the development of the modern science of anthropology. In 1863 he married Maria Boothby. Maria was the daughter of Chief Justice of the Colony of South Australia. Howitt was Secretary for Mines in Victoria. In 1903 Howitt was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales. A memorial fund established after his death was used to buy rare books on topics such as anthropology and botany for the library of the Royal Society, he was appointed CMG in the 1906 Birthday Honours. Howitt died in 1908 in Victoria; the recreational park named in his honour is located adjacent to the Mitchell River Bridge on the eastern side of Bairnsdale. Howitt's scientific life shared a special irony with that of his longtime friend Lorimer Fison, they were both set in motion by Lewis Henry Morgan. However, Fison gave up his scientific pursuit shortly after Morgan's death, whereas Howitt persevered for many years. Howitt's magnum opus, The Native Tribes of South East Australia, remains one of the only contemporaneous scientific studies of the native institutions of Central Australian Aborigines.
Mount Howitt in Victoria, Howitt Hall, one of Monash University's Halls of Residence are named after him. Howitt Street in Kingston Canberra, a major street in Porsche surburb of Kingston is named after him, it is that Howitt, a locality beside the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, is named after him as many localities in the area are named after those connected to the Burke and Wills expedition. Serle, Percival. "Howitt, Alfred William". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Walker, Mary Howitt. Come wind, come weather. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 978-0-522-83962-3. Howitt, Alfred William, 1870, 15 March 1870. "Experiences in Central Australia". Gippsland Times. Howitt, Alfred William, 1878. "Notes on the Aborigines of Coopers Creek". In R. B. Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria. Howitt, Alfred William, 1889. "Note as to descent in the Dieri tribe". Journal of the Anthropological Institute. Vol. 19, p. 90. Howitt, Alfred William, 1890. "The Dieri and other kindred tribes of Central Australia".
Journal of the Anthropological Institute. Vol. 20, pp. 30–104. Howitt, Alfred William. "The Eucalypts of Gippsland". Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria. 2: 81–120. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2011. Howitt, Alfred William, 1898. "Reminiscences of Central Australia". Alma Mater. Vol. 3. Howitt, Alfred William, The native tribes of south-east Australia, London: Macmillan, OL 24190592M Howitt, Alfred William, 1907. "Personal reminiscences of Central Australia and the Burke and Wills Expedition: Presidents inaugural address". Journal of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. 1907, 43p. Howitt, Alfred William, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, & Siebert Otto, 1904. Legends of the Dieri and kindred tribes of Central Australia. London: Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Works by or about Alfred William Howitt at Internet Archive State Library of Victoria biography Bright Sparcs biographical entry Brief biograph including photo Terra Incognita Burke and Wills online exhibition at the State Library of Victoria.
Burke & Wills Web A comprehensive website containing many of the historical documents relating to the Burke & Wills Expedition. The Burke & Wills Historical Society The Burke & Wills Historical Society. Kamilaroi and Kurnai book details, ISBN 0 85575 222 X
Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers; the earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP. Although there are a number of commonalities between Indigenous Aboriginal Australians, there is a great diversity among different Indigenous communities and societies in Australia, each with its own mixture of cultures and languages.
In present-day Australia these groups are further divided into local communities. At the time of initial European settlement, over 250 languages were spoken. Aboriginal people today speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English; the population of Indigenous Australians at the time of permanent European settlement is contentious and has been estimated at between 318,000 and 1,000,000 with the distribution being similar to that of the current Australian population, the majority living in the south-east, centred along the Murray River. A population collapse principally from disease followed European settlement beginning with a smallpox epidemic spreading three years after the arrival of Europeans. Massacres and war by British settlers contributed to depopulation; the characterisation of this violence as genocide is controversial and disputed. Since 1995, the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag have been among the official flags of Australia.
The word aboriginal has been in the English language since at least the 16th century to mean, "first or earliest known, indigenous". It comes from the Latin word aborigines, derived from origo; the word was used in Australia to describe its indigenous peoples as early as 1789. It soon became employed as the common name to refer to all Indigenous Australians. While the term Indigenous Australians, has grown since the 1980s to be more inclusive of Torres Strait Islander people, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples dislike it, feeling that it is too generic and removes their identity. Being more specific, for example naming the language group, is considered best practice and most respectful. Terms that are considered disrespectful include Aborigine and ATSI The broad term Aboriginal Australians includes many regional groups that identify under names from local Indigenous languages; these include: Murrawarri people -- see Murawari language. Anindilyakwa on Groote Eylandt off Arnhem Land.
These larger groups may be further subdivided. It is estimated that before the arrival of British settlers, the population of Indigenous Australians was 318,000–750,000 across the continent; the Torres Strait Islanders possess a heritage and cultural history distinct from Aboriginal traditions. The eastern Torres Strait Islanders in particular are related to the Papuan peoples of New Guinea, speak a Papuan language. Accordingly, they are not included under the designation "Aboriginal Australians"; this has been another factor in the promotion of the more inclusive term "Indigenous Australians". Six percent of Indigenous Australians identify themselves as Torres Strait Islanders. A further 4% of Indigenous Australians identify themselves as having both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal heritage; the Torres Strait Islands comprise over 100 islands which were annexed by Queensland in 1879. Many Indigenous organisations incorporate the phrase "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" to highlight the distinctiveness and importance of Torres Strait Islanders in Australia's Indigenous population.
Eddie Mabo was from "Mer" or Murray Island in the Torres Strait, which the famous Mabo decision of 1992 involved. The term "black" has been used to refer to Indigenous Australians since European settlement. While related to skin colour, the term is used today to indicate Aboriginal he
Robert Brough Smyth
Robert Brough Smyth was an Australian geologist and social commentator. Smyth was born in Wallsend, England, the son of Edward Smyth, a mining engineer, his wife Ann, née Brough. Smyth was educated at a school at Whickham, afterwards studied geology and natural science. In 1846 Smyth worked at the Derwent Iron Works and in 1851 was employed as a clerk at Consett Iron Works. Smyth arrived in the colony of Victoria on 14 November 1852 and was for a short period on the goldfields before entering the Victorian survey department as a draftsman under the surveyor-general, Andrew Clarke. In 1854 Smyth was placed in charge of the meteorological observations, in 1860 became secretary for the Department of Mines at the height of the Australian gold rushes. Smyth published The Prospector's Handbook, in 1869 a large volume, The Gold Fields and Mineral Districts of Victoria, he was responsible for various pamphlets on the mining resources of the colony including Hints for the Guidance of Surveyors and Others Collecting Specimens of Rocks, which appeared in 1871.
On 1 February 1876 several members of Smyth's staff sent a petition to the minister for mines asking that an inquiry should be held into the despotic conduct of Smyth towards his subordinates. Three members of parliament were appointed to inquire into the matter, after a series of sittings held in February and April 1876, Smyth resigned from the service. Smyth had been working for many years collecting materials for a book on the life of the aborigines, published in 1878 at the expense of the Victorian government in two large volumes, The Aborigines of Victoria: with notes relating to the habits of the Natives of Other Parts of Australia and Tasmania. Smyth visited India in 1879 and made a Report on the Gold Mines of the South-eastern Portion of the Wynaad and the Carcoor Ghat. Smyth died of cancer at his home Medenia in Prahran, a suburb of Melbourne. Smyth was survived by his wife Emma Charlotte, née Hay, whom he had married on 15 August 1856 at St Paul's Church, by a son and daughter, he was buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.
Smyth was an hardworking man, not suited to be the head of a department. He is remembered for his book on Aboriginal people and their cultures in connexion with which he had the assistance of many helpers. A large amount of material was collected and is valuable as a resource for studying Aboriginal cultures today; the beauty of this material is the honesty in which he wrote and the lack of political influence as is the case of many current works. Serle, Percival. "Smyth, Robert Brough". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 3 February 2010. Mennell, Philip. "Smyth, Robert Brough". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource. Works by or about Robert Brough Smyth at Internet Archive
The Murray River is Australia's longest river, at 2,508 kilometres in length. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia, it turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres. The water of the Murray flows through several terminal lakes that fluctuate in salinity including Lake Alexandrina and The Coorong before emptying through the Murray Mouth into the southeastern portion of the Indian Ocean referenced on Australian maps as the Southern Ocean, near Goolwa. Despite discharging considerable volumes of water at times before the advent of largescale river regulation, the mouth has always been comparatively small and shallow; as of 2010, the Murray River system receives 58 percent of its natural flow. It is Australia's most important irrigated region, it is known as the food bowl of the nation.
The Murray River forms part of the 3,750 km long combined Murray–Darling river system which drains most of inland Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland. Overall the catchment area is one seventh of Australia's total land mass; the Murray carries only a small fraction of the water of comparably-sized rivers in other parts of the world, with a great annual variability of its flow. In its natural state it has been known to dry up during extreme droughts, although, rare, with only two or three instances of this occurring since official record keeping began; the Murray River makes up most of the border between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales. Where it does, the border is the top of the bank of the Victorian side of the river; this was determined in a 1980 ruling by the High Court of Australia, which settled the question as to which state had jurisdiction in the unlawful death of a man, fishing by the river's edge on the Victorian side of the river. This boundary definition can be ambiguous, since the river changes its course over time, some of the river banks have been modified.
West of the line of longitude 141°E, the river continues as the border between Victoria and South Australia for 11 km, where this is the only stretch where a state border runs down the middle of the river. This was due to a miscalculation during the 1840s, when the border was surveyed. Past this point, the Murray River is within the state of South Australia; the following major settlements are located along the course of the river, with population figures from the 2011 Census: The Murray River support a variety of river life adapted to its vagaries. This includes a variety of native fish such as the famous Murray cod, trout cod, golden perch, Macquarie perch, silver perch, eel-tailed catfish, Australian smelt, western carp gudgeon, other aquatic species like the Murray short-necked turtle, Murray River crayfish, broad-clawed yabbies, the large clawed Macrobrachium shrimp, as well as aquatic species more distributed through southeastern Australia such as common longnecked turtles, common yabbies, the small claw-less paratya shrimp, water rats, platypus.
The Murray River supports fringing corridors and forests of the river red gum. The health of the Murray River has declined since European settlement due to river regulation, much of its aquatic life including native fish are now declining, rare or endangered. Recent extreme droughts have put significant stress on river red gum forests, with mounting concern over their long-term survival; the Murray has flooded on occasion, the most significant of, the flood of 1956, which inundated many towns on the lower Murray and which lasted for up to six months. Introduced fish species such as carp, weather loach, redfin perch, brown trout, rainbow trout have had serious negative effects on native fish, while carp have contributed to environmental degradation of the Murray River and tributaries by destroying aquatic plants and permanently raising turbidity. In some segments of the Murray River, carp have become the only species found. Between 2.5 and 0.5 million years ago the Murray River terminated in a vast freshwater lake called Lake Bungunnia.
Lake Bungunnia was formed by earth movements that blocked the Murray River near Swan Reach during this period. At its maximum extent Lake Bungunnia covered 33,000 km2, extending to near the Menindee Lakes in the north and to near Boundary Bend on the Murray in the south; the draining of Lake Bungunnia occurred 600,000 years ago. Deep clays deposited by the lake. Higher rainfall would have been required to keep such a lake full. A species of Neoceratodus lungfish existed in Lake Bungunnia; the noted Barmah Red Gum Forests owe their existence to the Cadell Fault. About 25,000 years ago, displacement occurred along the Cadell fault, raising the eastern edge of the fault, which runs north-south, 8 to 12 m above the floodplain; this created a complex series of events. A section of the original Murray River channel immediately
Thomas Wentworth Wills was a sportsman, credited with being Australia's first cricketer of significance and a founder of Australian rules football. Born in the British colony of New South Wales to a wealthy family descended from convicts, Wills grew up in the bush on properties owned by his father, the pastoralist and politician Horatio Wills, in what is now the Australian state of Victoria, he befriended local Aborigines. At the age of 14, Wills went to England to attend Rugby School, where he became captain of its cricket team, played an early version of rugby football. After Rugby, Wills represented the Cambridge University Cricket Club in the annual match against Oxford, played at first-class level for Kent and the Marylebone Cricket Club. An athletic all-rounder with exceptional bowling skills, he was regarded as one of the finest young cricketers in England. Returning to Victoria in 1856, Wills achieved Australia-wide stardom as a cricketer, captaining the Victorian team to repeated victories in intercolonial matches.
He played for, but came to blows with the Melbourne Cricket Club, his larrikin streak and defections to rival clubs straining their relationship. In 1858 he called for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter. After founding the Melbourne Football Club in 1859, Wills co-wrote the first laws of Australian rules football, he and his cousin H. C. A. Harrison spearheaded the sport's development as captains and administrators. In 1861, at the height of his fame, Wills joined his father on an eight-month trek into the Queensland outback to found a new property. Soon after their arrival, Wills' father and 18 others perished in the deadliest massacre of settlers by Aborigines in Australian history. Wills survived and resumed playing sport upon his return to Victoria in 1864, in 1866–67, led an Aboriginal cricket team on an Australian tour as its captain-coach. In a career marked by controversy, Wills challenged cricket's amateur-professional divide, developed a reputation for bending sporting rules to the point of cheating.
In 1872, he became the first bowler to be called for throwing in a top-class Australian match. Dropped from the Victoria XI, he failed in an 1876 comeback attempt, by which time he was considered a relic of a bygone era, his remaining years were characterised by social alienation, flights from creditors, heavy drinking as a means of coping with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms that plagued him after the massacre. In 1880, suffering from delirium tremens, Wills committed suicide by stabbing himself in the heart. Australia's first sporting celebrity, Wills fell into obscurity after his death, but has undergone a revival in Australian culture since the 1980s. Today he is described as an archetypal tragic sports hero and as a symbol of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, he has become the central figure in "football's history wars"—an ongoing dispute over whether features of an Aboriginal game were incorporated into early Australian rules football. According to biographer Greg de Moore, Wills "stands alone in all his absurdity, his cracked egalitarian heroism and his fatal self-destructiveness—the finest cricketer and footballer of the age".
Wills was born on 19 August 1835 on the Molonglo Plain near modern-day Canberra, in the British penal colony of New South Wales, as the elder child of Horatio and Elizabeth Wills. Tom was a third-generation Australian of convict descent: his mother's parents were Irish convicts, his paternal grandfather was Edward Wills, an English highwayman whose death sentence for armed robbery was commuted to transportation, arriving in Botany Bay aboard the "hell ship" Hillsborough in 1799. Granted a conditional pardon in 1803, Edward became rich through mercantile activity in Sydney with his free wife Sarah, he died in 1811, five months before Horatio's birth, Sarah remarried to convict George Howe, owner of Australia's first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette. Self-educated, Horatio worked in the Gazette office from a young age, rising to become editor in 1832, the same year he met Elizabeth, an orphan from Parramatta, they married in December 1833. Seventeen months after his birth, Tom was baptised Thomas Wentworth Wills in St Andrew's, after statesman William Wentworth.
Drawing on Wentworth's pro-currency writings and the emancipist cause, Horatio, in his nationalist journal The Currency Lad, made the first call for an Australian republic. Horatio turned to pastoralism in the mid-1830s and moved with his family to the sheep run Burra Burra on the Molonglo River. Although athletic from an early age, Tom was prone to illness, at one stage in 1839 his parents "almost despaired of his recovery"; the following year, in light of explorer Thomas Mitchell's discovery of "Australia Felix", the Willses, with shepherds and their families, became some of the first settlers to overland south to the Grampians in the colony's Port Phillip District. After squatting on Mount William, they moved a few miles north through the foothills of Mount Ararat, named so by Horatio because "like the Ark, we rested there". Horatio went through a period of intense religiosity while in the Grampians, he implored himself and Tom to base their lives upon the New Testament. Living in tents, the Wills family purchased a large property named Lexington in an area used by Djab wurrung Aboriginal clans as a meeting place.
According to family members, Tom, as an only child, "was thrown much into the companio