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Frederick (Fred) Briggs (1866–1935)

A black tracker of note and a most respected aboriginal of the Nymboida district, Fred Briggs, aged 69 years, died in Grafton Hospital. He was born in a cave near Nymboida.

When he grew to manhood he was employed by Edward Blaxland, one of the early pioneers, who owned Marengo Station at Guy Fawkes. On one occasion Blaxland was lost in rough, mountainous country, and Briggs searched and found him. Briggs later joined the police force as a black tracker, being stationed first at Blick's River. On two occasions he located the bodies of lost persons in a creek densely surrounded by scrub.

He assisted Constable Burns in arresting the outlaw known as "The Hairy Man,"who had bailed up the Royal mail coach between Armidale and Grafton. After his arrest the prisoner was locked in a stable at Nymboida for the night, but he escaped. Briggs picked up his tracks early next morning, and helped the constable to recapture him.

Briggs was the best bushman on the Nymboida, and it was impossible to lose him in rough ranges and scrub lands. As a young man he often swam the Nymboida River at high flood to take back rations to the mission station. He was Nymboida's best fisherman, and made numerous fine catches of cod.

Briggs fought a duel for his wife against another aboriginal in true aboriginal fashion, with boomerang and another weapon called the fighting chopper. Briggs won, and his wife survives him.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Briggs, Frederick (Fred) (1866–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Nymboida, New South Wales, Australia


1935 (aged ~ 69)
Grafton, New South Wales, Australia

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