Robert Dawson, the first Chief Agent of The Australian Agricultural Company was a man of great vision and perception. His wonderful treatise The Present State of Australia; a description of the country, its adavantages and prospects with reference to emigration: and a particular account of the manners, customs and condition of its aboriginal inhabitants contains his description of the first recorded journey by a European along the route of The Old AAco Road. This description is of a journey beside the Karuah River at a time when the first contacts between aboriginal people and AA Company were being made. Robert Dawson is at times patronising and superior to the aboriginal people with whom he made contact, but his respect and affection for many of them is clear as his understanding of their mastery of their environment.
………… we returned to Soldier’s Point, recalled the schooner on the following morning, and sent her again up the river (Karuah), where we appointed to meet her on a certain day. The next duty was to convey our horses across the harbour to the shore immediately opposite (around North Arm Cove area) which we did with considerable difficulty, by the assistance of the government launch, and we then formed an encampment on that side, from which our whole party departed the next day to join the schooner at the head of the navigable river.
During this journey we passed over about twenty miles of country, some parts of which were of a very inferior description, and others of better quality. The forest every where open and grassy, and free from brushwood; but generally thickly timbered with tall trees, both in the vallies and on the tops of the highest hills.
The natives, Tony and Ben, accompanied us, and also two other natives: the first had his gin, (wife) who carried her little boy, about twelve months old, astride on her shoulders, while the little black urchin fastened his fingers in her hair to prevent himself from falling. They were all three as naked as when they were born, and appeared to suffer no inconvenience from the want of covering – such is the luxurious nature of the climate.
On our journey we fell in with a wild, fierce-looking man, about the middle age, with two slender, interesting looking youths, named Wandoman and Booramee, apparently about twelve years of age. The old man was armed with a long spear; his beard was short and bushy like his hair and his body naked; while he had placed in his girdle of twisted opposssum fur, which he wore around his loins, an iron tomahawk and a large piece of half roasted kangaroo flesh. The trio were wandering in search of the rest of their tribe, who had moved to the beach; and as Tony belonged to the same tribe, I requested him to invite the strangers to join us. This was done in their own language, they being unable to speak a single word of English. The invitation was immediately accepted, and we proceeded together on our journey. I was much pleased to find that every considerable brook and hill had a name; and as the old man was conversant with them all, I made memoranda of their names, shapes and positions, to assist my recollection if I should hereafter examine the country more minutely, or be at any time lost in that quarter of the forest when alone.
After two days’ journey we arrived at the station where we had left the party and found the schooner waiting for us. Pages 15 & 16