Mid-North Coast: Bill Buchan and his grandson Harold McCooey, 1908
‘Billy was … one of the very few surviving natives who saw the first Europeans arrive and settle on the Clarence … The late Mr Hewitt has left on record much that Billy imparted to him … Billy lived to see Grafton a city of 8000 inhabitants arise from a wilderness, and to see their hunting grounds transformed into farms and the wide expanse of grass land where roamed the emu and the kangaroo, into paddocks to feed cattle and horses … With all his friends gone he had little to make him care for life, and he now has passed away at a good old age. “Kooahmatte! Koorahm Nyah-gan!” — “Northern Star”’, from obituary in Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser, 27 August 1915
Bundjalung Elder Billy Buchan was employed as a stockman by the Hewitt family at Newton Boyd Station from the 1850s. He befriended Thomas George Hewitt and shared words from the language spoken at the nearby Aboriginal community Baryulgil. Mr Hewitt was the editor of the local newspaper and an authority on the history of the Clarence region. In 1909, Hewitt compiled a wordlist with information from Billy Buchan and from Jack Freeburn of Clarence Heads. It was later given to Robert Leycester Dawson, who transcribed and published the wordlist in 1922.
Bundjalung country covers the area from the Clarence River on the north coast of New South Wales, to the Gold Coast in Queensland, and west to the hinterland. The Bundjalung language has around 16 dialects.