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Land of Contrasts p3

the 1922 disappearance of a man named Kennedy on Tanbar Station…

Ms McFarlane writes: Evidence pointed to foul play and suspicion fell on one particular person who had been known to threaten Kennedy. The trial was held locally but the absence of the body prevented conviction. Many years later the accused, when he was working with Doug [McFarlane, the author’s husband] on Tanbar maintained that although he knew what happened, he did not kill the man. He would not however enlarge on that…

The man held for trial was a man of many parts –one being that of a blacksmith.

In early days when wagons, sulkies were in general use, it was customary to have a blacksmith’s forge on the large properties. The outstation at Tanbar had once been a head station and was equipped with a smithy. Over the years Doug had reorganised the layout and this workplace being no longer required was demolished. At various times he had noticed that one patch of ground differed from that surrounding it and he realised that it was where the smithy had stood. Shortly before we left the place in 1956 he decided to investigate and to his horror discovered burnt smashed bones laid in a trench. He told me of this when he came home and my instant reaction was “Kennedy”.

This had been his idea, too, a gruesome thought indeed, but everything fell into place and when the bones were tested, it was found they were those of a white man, burned approximately 30 years before.

Both men most likely to have been implicated having died, there seemed no point in pursuing the matter further. The whole affair at the time of the murder (1922) led to a rather ludicrous situation as the men who were not frightened from the station by dire threats, refused to camp at the outstation as they vowed it was haunted. They had seen, on numerous occasions, a light wavering towards the waterhole, from a grave on the hillside, and this was supposed to be the ghost of the dead man indicating where the body was to be found. (Incidentally, these lights are frequently seen in marshy areas.)

Land of Contrasts gives a good insight into this unique area and its history. The contrast with the way most Australians live now is profound. It seems like another planet.

-See Land of Contrasts, published 1976, by Edith McFarlane.