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Hippai, Peter (c. 1835–1904)

Peter Hippai, or, as he preferred to call himself, Peter Forrester, died in Angledool on Tuesday, the 11th inst., He used to describe himself as a good sized boy, fishing with some of his tribe at the Six-Mile Point, when Major Mitchell's party struck the Narran — and how, horses being then unknown creatures and therefore fearsome objects, he and the rest of the blacks never stopped going until they reached the ridges at the back of where Angledool township now stands, having put some thirty miles between themselves and the scene of their scare.

Peter was first yarded on the Mooney, together with two of his mates, by Bagot's men, who secured them in a hut and for some days supplied them with "white man's tucker" — but the blacks, fearing a trap, refused it, until Mr. Bagot himself came in, broke a piece off the damper, and started eating. Peter watched him closely for a while, then, seeing no evil effects and being ravenously hungry, tackled a bit, found it a great improvement on his aboriginal cuisine — reflection followed repletion. Peter resigned himself to the inevitable, and "came to his milk." He accompanied George Forrester when the latter took up Cumblegubin, on the Narran river (now Bangate), and made it his headquarters ever since. Peter may have been the original of "Warrigal" in "Robbery Under Arms." He was with the celebrated trip up the Mount Cornish cattle to Adelaide. A part of his duty was to keep a stage behind the mob and cover their tracks with those of other stock which he could drop across.

Thoroughly to be depended on, a magnificent bushman, game and resourceful above his fellows, "Red Bill" would have given Peter a mob of horses with orders to meet him on the other side of the Continent, Shark's Bay, Cambridge Gulf, or anywhere else, on a given day, and on his arrival would have Peter sitting waiting and smoking, an emu egg or iguana roasting on the coals, and the horses handy on a good patch of feed.

He was a splendid horseman, and, unlike most blackfellows, would "nurse" his mount, once riding in a day from Coonamble to Cumblegubin, reaching home in time for a fresh messenger to get to Goodooga telegraph office (25 miles), before closing time (8 p.m.). Of course, he had a spare horse with him, came as the crow flies, swimming the Barwon at Boorooma, and the Forrester's horses in those days were amongst the best in Australia.

Peter was mustering on Bangate up to a few days prior to his death, still active, with a figure as straight as a gun-barrel; and he will be missed by all who knew him. Why is it that none of the present generation of aborigines are fit to hold a candle to the men of the past?

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'Hippai, Peter (c. 1835–1904)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 October 2020.

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