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Picture:  The first settlers discover Buckley, 1861. Frederick William Woodhouse

This Blog is for scholars of history who are interested in the story of the English convict William Buckley who arrived in Australia in 1802. He escaped in 1803 and lived with the local Wathaurong tribes for the next 32 years until the first wave of European settlers arrived in 1835. Buckley was then seconded by the English government to become an interpreter and keeper of the peace between the two sides. Buckley, who became known as the Wild White Man was not suited to his role in history. Disillusioned and fearing for his life, he resigned and moved to Tasmania, where he lived out his days as a gate keeper at a children’s nursery in Hobart. He died in 1856.

Buckley participated in founding of the city of Melbourne and watched his aboriginal family being driven to extinction by his English people. Many prominent people sought his favour and met him in those early days. He has always been a man of mystery, an endless source of inspiration for artists, writers and historians. He is thought to be the inspiration for the Aussie saying, “You’ve got Buckley’s” and is a towering figure, although often neglected one, in the history of Melbourne.

Buckley entered my consciousness in 2001 on the shores of Port Phillip Bay while I was living at St Leonards near Geelong. During the next four years I left no stone unturned to find out who was William Buckley? What was this now legendary almost mythical Wild White Man really like? To find out, I turned to the source documents of the time, and found that the paper trail that followed him from the day he walked back into history in 1835 was extensive and fascinating.

Most of the work on this blog has been created by others and I have sought to bring it all into the one place. I think I have most of the writings of the time, and tried to include only those documents by people who met him. Buckley was illiterate and unable to write his own story in his own words. This was left to others, most notably, John Morgan who wrote “The Adventures of William Buckley” with the help of Buckley many years later. There is debate as to authenticity of this book, but it is an interesting and fairly accurate record of his life from his humble beginnings to his untimely end.

There are many art works that I have found in libraries and galleries, that have been sent to me and that I own. I have tried to give credit if I have it. If I didn’t I have included it anyway so that the story is as complete as possible so that others may use it for research purposes. If you want to include other images please send them with references. The blog will be added to in chronological order according to when the document was created.

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