"A Cruise in a Queensland Slaver" - George Morrison - The Age
Heavy rain fell again on the evening of the 25th of September, but the country is so rugged and the hills are so steep that the waters rapidly drained away at the bottom of the spurs. Our horses had now had a good rest, and we are therefore determined upon leaving our camp at the deserted village as soon as possible.
Take again the Queensland traffic in human flesh. The true character of it has been notorious for years, but where do we read of a Presbyterian synod waiting upon a Premier of Queensland and asking him to stop it?
To the Editor of The Age
A letter in a contemporary has drawn my attention to the interest taken in Melbourne in the Queensland slave trade. I do not use this word in any claptrap sense, it is the way we always speak of the trade on board the schooners engaged in the trade itself. In one of these schooners I served an apprenticeship; I am, therefore, writing about the labor traffic on the strength of a practical acquaintance with it.
"I have shipped as an ordinary seaman, and I am off to see the way in which the labor trade of Queensland is recruited. . ."
We had to land three boys on one of the most dangerous pieces of the island - dangerous by reason of an inherent propensity of the natives to regard a succulent man as the daintiest of luxuries. The recruiter, Bill and the crews were therefore armed to the teeth, and amid a great excitement the boats set off.
The next morning a crowd of men and women sat on the nearest rocky point and sent over the water the most dismal wailing and howling for the man we had taken the evening before. This, I may say, was a red letter day in my life, for it witnessed the first occasion on which I have sat down to dinner with royalty.
The supposed recruit was put into our boat, and it was found that he merely wished to see the schooner, and had no intention whatever of going to Queensland. When the captain heard of it he was happily in a state past feeling chagrin.
Our voyage was drawing to an end. We left the South-west Bay with 75 on board, we never increased that number. It was a barren, uninteresting coast that we now sailed round, with few inhabitants and these the crankiest. They were so timid that they would not venture out of shelter: a motion as we were looking for a market or a pretense to jump ashore sent them away like wild beasts.