Old Bob

Old Bob was an important informant for Howitt on Wotjobaluk cultural practices and knowledge. He lived around the Wimmera. Howitt wrote in notes, dated February 1884, that he had given old Bob the turndun that had been used to gather the Gunaikurnai men and boys together for a Jeraeil. Old Bob had indicated he would take it to the Wimmera and pass around the appropriate community members. It is not clear what happened or how much of this plan, if any, occurred. There is a record of the death of an Old Bob at Lake Hindmarsh reserve in 1888 from stomach complaints. He was recorded as being 65 years of age, being born around 1823, before colonisation disrupted Wotjobaluk life.
Old Bob was probably have been one of the two men from the Wimmera who visited Howitt at his house. Howitt's wife Liney mentions this in two letters in 1884, noting the 'curious information' old Bob was sharing with Howitt and describing Howitt with a notebook in his hand as he spoke to Bob. It would seem this would be the notebook that is item XM761 in the Museums Victoria collection of the Howitt papers.
See: Liney Howitt to Mary Howitt, 16 January 1884 and 30 January 1884, A. W. Howitt Papers, State Library of Victoria, MS9356, Box 1048/9a, items 1 and 2.
Twenty-fourth report, Board for the Protection of Aborigines, 1888, p. 11.

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