Lombadina (1911-1975)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter

Before the German Pallottines took on Lombadina it had a ten-year history as a Filipino/Aboriginal community with a solid core of Bardi people. For many years it was an unfunded outrigger station to Beagle Bay.

The Trappists and Lombadina


When the first two French Trappists arrived in the Kimberley with Bishop Gibney in 1890 they were shown Disaster Bay and Lombadina as potential mission sites in a five-months trek around the peninsula. The exploration party consisted of the Bishop, Abbott Ambrose, policeman John Daly and an unnamed Aboriginal guide. Fr. Alphonse Tachon, who was not well, remained in Derby to learn Nyul-Nyul.


Lombadina (most likely named after Lombardina near Milan) was a pastoral lease acquired by pearler and trepanger Sydney Hadley in 1884.1 In February 1892 Harry Hunter (a business partner of Hadley) sold the 100,000-acre pastoral property to Cornelius John Daly acting for Bishop Gibney. It included a homestead and sheds, schooner Jessie, 332 sheep and 50 cattle.2 It was a traditional camping ground for Bardi people but not sheltered enough to be a lay-up base for the pearling luggers.


Daly, the police constable who had accompanied the exploration party, became a novice with the Cistercians as Brother Xavier and donated his herd to the future Trappist mission. After the purchase of the lease he remained at Lombadina ‘awaiting further orders’.3


When the French Trappists arrived in 1892 they selected neither Disaster Bay nor Lombadina, but Beagle Bay. Fr. Jean Marie moved to Disaster Bay in 1897 where Thomas Puertollano had an established property. Although the Bishop had acquired its pastoral lease, no Trappists were at Lombadina. In 1900 the Trappists returned to France and only Fr. Nicholas Emo, who was still quite junior among the Trappists remained in the Kimberley. Fr. Jean Marie Janny also returned to Australia to assist in the sale of the Broome and Beagle Bay property to the Pallottines.


Fr. Jean Marie returned to Disaster Bay and moved this station to Lombadina, Nailon thinks perhaps in 1902. He accompanied a population of Bardi and Nimambor people and Thomas Puertollano and his family from Disaster Bay.4 Perhaps this was the time when Thomas Puertollano acquired the Lombadina pastoral lease, as Durack recollects, from the Pallottines. Janny was still there at Lombadina July 1906, supported by Thomas and Agnes Puertollano.5


Puertollano at Lombadina


At Lombadina Puertollano erected a substantial house and tended a 500-strong cattle herd as well as goats pigs and poultry. He established a garden and sold produce to the lugger crews.


The Chief Protector’s eye fell unfavourably on Asian/Aboriginal communities, and their economic collaboration was interpreted as the unauthorised employment of Aborigines. Lombadina was declared a government feeding depot, but not, as might be expected under Catholic supervision. Instead it was placed in charge of Hadley’s private ‘mission’ at Sunday Island, which was in financial difficulty. Harry Hunter and Frenchy d’Antoine moved to Lombadina to supervise the government feeding depot.


More natives than ever flocked to the site [Lombadina] and Puertollano found that despite the free rations, his vegetables were constantly raided and his stock speared, while Hadley refused to impose any discipline whatever. For a time ill-feeling ran high, those in sympathy with Puertollano contending that a good family man, no matter what his nationality, had more right to control a government depot on his property than a white man who was known to cohabit with Aboriginal women.’6


Along the tidal creeks and coves several Aboriginal/Latino families settled including John Andriasin from Manado (Kupang), Severo Acosta (or Seveiro da Costa), the Filipino Damasco Maagina (or Don Damasco Maagna Trinidad) and Joseph Marcelina from Chile (after whom Chile Creek is named).7 Fr. Emo continued to sanction Asian/Aboriginal marriages and Pallottine superior Fr. Walter began to resent him. Emo obtained naturalisation in 1905, made himself mobile by purchasing the lugger San Salvador, and moved from Broome to Cygnet Bay, where he erected a chapel in 1906. He aided the Benedictines in locating a site for a new mission at the Drysdale River in 1908 and stayed there until 1910.


Meanwhile Hunter and Frenchy d’Antoine established a homestead at Boolgin (or Bulgin) in Pender Bay around 1904, which attracted some people away from the Beagle Bay mission, much to the annoyance of the Pallottines. After Hunter shifted to Boolgin:


the ration station [at Lombadina] was thereafter closed down and the natives grew more and more resentful of Puertollano for failing to provide for them on the government scale. This was the dilemma in which Father Nicholas found his Filipino friend when on his way to Broome early in 1910.8


In September 1910 Harry Hunter was convicted and imprisoned for cohabiting with Aboriginal women and lost his right to supply rations. 9 Joseph Dugal was one of his workers:


everyone at Boolgin worked for old Harry Hunter, pearler. … one day a fleet came from Queensland, Biddle, to lay up at Cygnet Bay for women, Harry Hunter chased them away. Then he got into trouble with Broome, government came and took boats away. … . I like to work for him. He was a good boss. Plenty tucker, he put me at table with his son. … He told us ‘got trouble, big trouble’ he told us to go bush. … Florrie [Dugal’s wife] was taken by police from Bulgin when Harry Hunter had trouble. He came back let the people go and gave up his business altogether.10


As a result the Pallottines were asked to take on Lombadina.11 According to Durack the Pallottines had sold Lombadina (the lease that had been acquired by the Trappists) to Thomas Puertollano, but the government objected to his running of a ration depot, so police corporal Thomas suggested that Fr. Emo could run a small mission there.12 Neville’s later recollections make no reference to this local intervention, only to the conviction of Hunter. It was, at any rate the year in which Chief Protector Gale had visited Beagle Bay and wrote a glowing report about the Pallottine work.


The Lombadina mission started with two setbacks. The newly arrived Fr. Theodore Traub was sent in the spearhead party and set up in June 1910 at Canary Creek but the building was washed away by a tidal wave. This is the first reference to a mission building at Lombadina. Traub and two Brothers were on the mission lugger Pius loaded up with stores for the new mission when it was caught in a cyclone and wrecked on 19 November 1910.


Emo at Lombadina


The Bardi people showed little interest in the Pallottine mission until Fr. Emo took charge in January 1911 and opened a school.13 He was assisted by the Puertollanos and in 1912 Martin Sibosado and Sebastian Damaso arrived at Lombadina. Joseph Dugal:


Fr Traub makem mission on the point but it was wrong place because we work on mission. We worked for the priest making house at Lombadina Point. Theodore Traub was there first. …. when the house was finished Fr Nicholas picked up two boys on the Salvador. 14


Martin Sibosado, born at Marble Bar, had a Filipino Father and a Japanese mother and was ‘adopted’ by Captain Owens, an eccentric master pearler in Broome, who, according to one of the convent girls, had a habit of watering his garden stark naked.15 Martin attended Emo’s boarding school in Broome for a year, and was one of the boys Emo took to Beagle Bay when he left Broome in 1905. On his return from Cygnet Bay to Lombadina, Emo wanted to pick up these boys again and this blew up into a dispute between Emo and the Pallottines. Nailon overlooks this by saying that Fr. Droste asked Martin Sibosado to join Emo at Lombadina. 16


The Filipino Sebastian had become a Cistercian novice like Xavier Daly and assisted Emo while the Trappists left for France (1901). He also assisted Fr. Emo when the latter was living at ‘The Point’ in Broome (1905), and later came to Lombadina when Emo was there (1912). Fr. Droste’s diary frequently mentions him skippering the San Salvador.


The Pallottines welcomed the chance to extend to Lombadina as an opportunity to prevent the Anglicans from penetrating further into ‘their’ Kimberley territory. Their strategic position on the peninsula looked shaky. Within a few years of taking over Beagle Bay from the Trappists in 1901, competition offered from the secular Sunday Island ‘missionaries’ who set up at Pender Bay in 1904, from the Anglicans who were poised to take over Sunday Island mission in 1906, from the Benedictines who began to scout for a site on the Drysdale in 1908, and from Emo who was becoming more and more independent. They devolved the entire responsibility for Lombadina, including how to finance it, to Fr. Nicholas Emo. Fr. Droste wrote:


The Protestants would have liked to elbow their way into our territory years ago so we felt obliged to shut the gate by means of a small outrigger station, 60 miles from Beagle Bay on the coast. But because the term of lease conditions formed an obstacle we handed it over to Father Nicholas, who had received permission from the Trappists to conclude his life among the blacks. … He would have liked to join our congregation but we had to counsel against it. Since Beagle Bay devolved the new foundation entirely into his hands we also conveyed to him that no material support could be expected from there, and that the new mission had to be made absolutely self-supporting.17


           In German

Schon vor Jahren hätten die Protestanten sich gerne in unser Revier eingedrängt, wodurch wir uns verpflichtet fühlten ihnen einen Riegel vor die Türe zu schieben durch eine kleine Nebenstation. Diese Station liegt 60 Meilen von Beagle Bay an der Küste. Da jedoch die Aufhebungsperiode hindernd in den Weg trat, übergaben wir die Station dem Pater Nicholas, welcher von den Trappisten Erlaubnis erhalten hatte sein Leben unter den Schwarzen zu beschließen. …. Er wäre auch gerne der Kongregation beigetreten was wir ihm jedoch abraten mußten. Da BB die Neugründung gänzlich in seine Hände übergab gaben wir ihm zu verstehen daß auch materiell von dort keine Unterstützung erwartet werden dürfe, sondern daß die neue Mission absolut selbständig gemacht werden müßte.18


There were about 100 ‘blacks’ at Lombadina and a school with 25 children, and (unlike Beagle Bay) the station had no debts (and presumably few assets). The Chief Protector had made available a wage of £60 per annum plus the cost of feeding and clothing ‘indigents and children’, and the government had now adopted this arrangement as a model for new establishments, ‘Protestants must abide by it, too’. Realising the heavy burden that had been placed on the aging Fr. Emo by this arrangement, Droste concluded ‘It will be the best day in Emo’s life when the Pallottines take the administration of Lombadina off him again’.19 But Emo remained at Lombadina to his dying day.


Working with the emerging mixed community was Fr. Emo’s recipe for success. A commemorative pamphlet that recounts the founding of Lombadina mission gives credit to the foundational work of Puertollano:


A Filipino goat farmer named Thomas Puertollano built a house or what may have been called a mansion in Lombadina, in which he hoped to spend the remainder of his days in comparative peace and comfort. In 1913 however, the Sisters from Beagle Bay came looking for a home in the wilderness of Lombadina. With true Catholic generosity, he offered his house as a convent and it was accepted.20


Theresa Puertollano tells this from the perspective of her family, who had already given up their property at Disaster Bay to the Trappists:


Another Pallottine priest came, another Fathers wanted to start a mission around that place. They came across my father again. Then he had to give up his place. There already was a lot of people there, Aboriginal people bilong that place in the bush and their community, and they all came to the place where my father was, to work for him. They made gardens and he had goats and cattle, he was well off. It was going already, then he had to give it up to the Fathers and the Sisters and nuns, and he went to Broome. He already had three sons, three brothers I had, they were all born there except me, and another sister of mine, she died. Two girls and three boys were born there. So he had to take them all to Broome and he started a bakery.


The Puertollanos moved to Broome when the first Irish nuns arrived at Lombadina in 1913 and their home became the convent. Fr. Emo died in 1915. Until then the police constable usually dealt with Fr. Emo and Thomas Puertollano at Lombadina, rather than Pallottines, although Fr. Droste and Fr. Bachmair took turns in visiting the new mission from Beagle Bay.


Lombadina convent, original church and presbytery

Copy of an exhibited image of Lombadina convent,
original church and presbytery.

Courtesy Roberta Cowan, Rossmoyne


Dealings with police


The women at Lombadina mission were targets of raids by Aboriginal and white men. The constable recorded in his journal:


28. 10. 1912 Rev Father Nicholas reports that on the night of the 13th instant a native from Derby came to Lombadina mission and took away from the mission a native woman named Caoignor alias Nellie also a girl named Angela Nelmbchono age 13 years and a halfcaste boy named Pablo Chagalab age 6 years and then left for Derby. The native name is Dabadab alias William and is working in Derby. Action will be taken. Rev. Father Nicholas also reports that on the night of the 24th instant three whitemen names unknown went to the natives camps at the mission. Father reports having been called by the natives and on his approach to the camp the three men ran into the bush and was soon lost from sight. Father is unable to identify the men. Enquiries will be made.21


In December 1912 Fr. Emo was called to court at Pender Bay to give evidence against William (Dabadab) together with the girl Angela and witnesses Tommy and Nellie. The man received three months hard labour. 22 In February 1913 Fr. Emo was called to give evidence against the Aboriginal man Ernest accused of ‘evil fame’ (procuring women for prostitution). No conviction is recorded, but Ernest was also required to give evidence against the Filipino pearlers Antonio Gonzales and Pascual Castro and Vassiljo Armaguin who had supplied ‘liquor to natives’. Fr. Emo arrived on a Gonzales lugger for the court proceedings. The three pearlers were fined £20 per lugger and £18 costs and Gonzales’ permit to employ Aborigines was cancelled. His crew was allocated to the luggers of the Singhalese Ellies and Fabian.23 Mrs. Gonzales, incidentally was the first to welcome the Irish nuns to Broome in 190824, and ‘old Gonzales the pearler’ played the violin at the wedding of Bertha and Martin Sibosado in 1915 at Beagle Bay.25 These people inhabited a different world from that of the Department.


Another upsetting episode was when a mission girl got lost in the bush in January 1912. The mission residents did their best to find her but after two weeks the police trackers were called, who found her within four days, by which time she had been dead for perhaps 10 or 12 days.


Rev. Fr. Droste reports that on the 2th instant while out picnicing with other girls, a half-caste girl age 10 years got lost in the pindan. The Rev. Father who was in charge of the picnicing party at once set about to trace the missing girl without success. The Father then returned to the mission and next morning dispatched two natives and three women to find tracks and follow the girl and bring her back. The women returned on the 16th and reports no success. The Rev. Fr. at once dispatched one of the Brothers with several natives to follow the tracks. The Brothers returned on the 18th instant and reports having followed the tracks for about 20 miles and that it was impossible to track any further owing to the heavy rain during night. There are two natives still out looking for the girl.

22.1.1912 Left station at 6am accompanied by Mr Bell Nat. assistants Billy Georgie and Alick to see if there is any chance of finding the missing girl patrolled to Bogue [Boolgin] and there separated the trackers and sending them off in different directions to look for any signs of the missing girl. Trackers returned and reports no success. Thence through Pindan to Yabb. no signs of the girl camped at Yabb Lake at 6.40 pm. covered 30 miles each.

next day continued search at Disaster Bay covered 20 miles

next day continued to search along sand beach native wells

next day searched through pindan

25.1.12 pindan country search boggy, Alick found the girl dead in the pindan. Found the girl to be very much torn about by the wild dogs and several parts of her missing, the only thing left to identify her by was her dress which was made out of blue dungaree, gathered up all that remained of her and buried her leaving her dress hanging a tree close by. By the appearance of her she had been dead 10 or 12 days.


[Note attached by Sub-inspector Houlahan:] It was a sad end for the little halfcaste girl. Yet nothing more could have been done to trace her up.26


If the Aboriginal people had more trust in the police they might have called them earlier. But constant police patrols of Aboriginal camps usually involved shooting pet dogs belonging to indigenous people, and occasionally looting Aboriginal artefacts for sale:


12. 8. 15 During the patrol I gathered up a large number of native weapons and put them in boxes and bundles and forwarded them on schooner Minis for Derby to be sent by state steamer for Museum Perth. Also sent private wire to museum informing them re above being forwarded.27


3. 8. 14. Visited a camp and shot 11 dogs.

4.8. 14 left camp and patrolled on beach near Old Weedong, visted Beagle Bay native camp and destroyed 9 dogs. Cartridges: Rifle 4, gun 6.28


17.10.1912 Left camp at 6am patrolled to Baldwin Creek no signs of any natives about 2 luggers working off Baldwin Creek. Thence through pindan to Red Point came upon several camps of natives arrested a native named Mandabul alias Nipper on warrant charged with Evil Fame (Justices Act 173) shot 15 dogs belonging to natives cartridges expended 18.29


5.10.11 left camp at 6.30 am patrolled to Bogue [Boolgin] visited natives camps made enquiries re a girl name Rope who is about 9 or 10 years of age and ascertained she had gone pindan shot 5 dogs belonging to natives, cartridges expended 5 returned to camp at 11.15 am, horses Salem and Trident, 10 miles each.30


There is no further reference to the girl Rope who was lost in the bush. Aboriginal people were more likely to feel that they needed protecting from the police than to think of them as able to afford protection. This might be why Fr Droste misreported the movements of one group:


5.1.12 Rev Fr. Droste reports that the 4 women and two half caste children belonging to Hunter had left the Mission and was making back to Boolgin.

7. 1. 12 Mr David Bell arrived ... with word from Rev Fr. Doste saying the women and children had returned to mission. [emphasis added]


during my absence nat assist. Billy saw tracks of a native and two women he followed tracks and came upon the natives camped on island in mangroves in Bullabullaman Creek, he brought the natives along to camp at Bullaman Wind Mill until my return. Ordered above natives to Beagle Bay Mission and warned them re camping in creeks used by pearling luggers.

11.2.1912 About noon today two women with half caste children namely Weedia and Marylin arrived on their way to Boolgin they having run away from BBM detained both women at station. [emphasis added]

During the night one of the women named Weedia run away with her child. sent native assists. Billy and Georgie after her to bring her back. returned at 6pm with woman and reports having found her in Chumbulana Creek.

16. 2. 12 Handed the two abovenamed women over to Fr Droste and warned them re running away.31


The police journals also mention that in May 1913 Fr. Emo was at Drysdale River Mission and Fr. Droste replaced him at Lombadina, and in October that year Emo was in Broome and Thomas Puertollano was in charge of Lombadina mission.32 By December everything was back to normal:


31. 12. 13 Saw Fr. Nicholas at Lombadina mission, no boats laying up in Chilli Creek, boats are in Broome, will probably be back at end of January. Left Lombadina, walked over the sandhills, visited native camp, destroyed 3 dogs. …

5.12. 13 …. at Bard Creek some bush natives. These natives were not interfered with except a number of their dogs (five) were destroyed.33


Apart from shooting dogs in the Aboriginal camps, the constable’s main task was to keep Aboriginal and Asian people apart. Aboriginal men found on the creeks were allocated to a station and signed up for employment, and women and children were usually taken to a mission, unless they were found otherwise useful. On 26 February 1914 Constable Rea found five Aboriginal women and three native men hiding in the mangroves near the pearling station at Pender Bay. With his native assistant Charley he caught three of the women and gave chase across the marsh. They got terribly bogged and the constable fell off his horse and injured his leg. The constable and six native assistants detained the three arrested women for nine days before bringing them to Pender Bay police station for trial:


2. 3. 1914 the cutter arrived home [Pender Bay] and brought the three native women prisoners. Barrabarra alias Sarah, Carimoe alias Maude, Winnineet alias Polly charged under Sect 40 of Ab. Act. 1905. Maudie staying at Pender Bay and Polly and Sarah going to Lombadina mission. 34


Despite his conviction for co-habiting, Hunter continued to operate out of Boolgin in Pender Bay, no doubt with Aboriginal workers. He was part of the neighbourhood help network on the peninsula that is reflected in Fr. Droste’s diary. At one time Fr. Emo at Lombadina ran out of flour and


Mr Hunter sent me to bring flower, that was the first time I met [Fr. Nicholas]. He was a little bit old, good father too, no cheeky. He had big tin of lollies. 35


On 29 March 1914 the German Captain Frank on the Bedout brought news to Lombadina that the Benedictine mission at Drysdale River had been destroyed, and the missionaries murdered. Fr. Emo hurried to Broome on the San Salvador to alert the police. Fr. Droste went to Lombadina to stand in for Fr. Emo. On 8 April Constable Rea and native police assistant Louis from Pender Bay called at Lombadina and set out next day to ‘search for the black murderers’. Their police journal is missing. Fr. Emo brought Constable White and they undertook an extended investigation at Drysdale from 10 April to 3 May 1914.36 They put a lid on the reports, claiming that they were false. The error had been by Capt. Frank who had berthed in the wrong bay at an old campsite. Why these two took almost a month to discover that it was a false alarm is curious. Sub-inspector Houlahan from Broome followed up.


The report struck a nervous chord, because previously there were some violent encounters at Drysdale mission resulting in shots being fired and the whaleboat attacked. Read more 


Bischofs reported:


The mission had received a few mixed boys from the government and one of these fired a gun from the kitchen window into the air. The blacks ran away and left the missionaries lying half dead in their blood. Pater Superior P Altimira recovered after a few months, Pater Alcaldi will always suffer from his wounds. A few days ago I had news from Bishop Torres that he will send a new Pater and Bother to the Drysdale mission so that Pater Alcaldi can return south. At the moment the blacks appear quiet. But the missionaries are too few for this dangerous place. … One can only pray for the poor missionaries. It is lucky that among the blacks there is one who has been in service with whites and is looking for a wife among them. He told the missionaries a few days ahead of the attacks. But we cannot understand why the Benedictines didn’t pay more attention to the words of the black assistant. Although the blacks had announced their attack in detail, the missionaries went without protection among them when they begged for provisions. Instead of distributing provisions to a large group one should have told them to come to the mission fence in small groups.37


On 1 February 1915 Martin Sibosado married Bertha from Disaster Bay, and they moved into a small bark hut until Fr. Anthony Helmprecht built them a better house.38 Like the Puertollanos they formed part of the core of the community supporting the mission, with eleven children. Fr. Emo died on 8 March 1915 at age 65. He had only spent five years at Lombadina but imprinted the mission with his easy collaboration with the mixed population.


The Pallottines at Lombadina


By now it was felt that the three Sisters - Superior Mother Joseph, Sr. Patrick and Sr. Therese - were doing most of the work at Lombadina and Fr. Bischofs in Broome decided that Lombadina could be covered by one of the Beagle Bay priests spending four or five weeks every second month. For several years Fr. Bachmair (who died in 1918) and increasingly Fr. Droste took turns in travelling to Lombadina.39


On 23 January 1916 Fr. Droste consecrated the Lourdes grotto at Lombadina. That year there were frequent food shortages. Droste mentioned that McFarlane came from the Cape Leveque lighthouse, because they had nothing left to eat there. McFarlane left next day ‘with 1 bag of rice, 2 tins of jam, 1 tin of butter, 2 lbs dripping, 3 lbs native tea, and from Thomas [Puertollano] 10 lbs meat and two pumpkins’.40 Harry O’Grady returned 10lbs of sugar, and they finished fixing the broken Blessed Virgin statue.


In June 1916 the Lombadina men rescued 19 men from the wrecked pearling schooner Alice.

Read more 


Undeterred by all these calamities, on 14 July 1916 they built a funicular (ropeway) to the top of the sandhill at Lombadina, and on 31 July Fr. Droste held his sermon from the top of the sandhill.


Droste’s diary records that on 9 December 1916 there was another happy wedding at Lombadina between James and Biddy, and baby Thomas Puertollano was born on 14 December and baptised three days later. On the 19th a bullock took off with Biddy’s bridal gown, which must have caused some commotion and entertainment.


During World War I a Fr. Collins was stationed at Lombadina41 and a Redemptorist Superior Fr. Creagh was placed in charge of the Pallottine missions. The Chief Protector wanted to take this opportunity to close down Lombadina. Neville showed great form by arguing that regardless of the ‘excellent training provided’ at the mission


‘what is the good of this training if after growing up these young people are merely kept for the purpose of reproducing the species.’ 42


Fr. Creagh’s lobbying led to a showdown between the Chief Protector and the Premier, who eventually pointed out that ‘the closing of Lombadina and Beagle Bay is a matter for the cabinet’. But the subsidy for Lombadina, payment for indigent Aborigines, and salary of its priest were withdrawn after only five years of funding. Neville objected to Lombadina mission on the grounds that the property was held by Thomas Puertollano, a ‘Manilaman’, and threatened legal action against Puertollano for technically employing Aborigines.


Puertollano saw the writing on the wall. He had already given over his house to the Sisters. He sold 500 head of cattle to Pender Bay station43 and moved with his family to Broome and opened a bakery. Fr. Creagh’s brother Monkton from Darwin purchased Puertollano’s property for £1,100 in late 1917 and transferred the lease to Fr. Creagh. Fr. Creagh made out a will in favour of the Pious Society of Missions44 and assured the Pallottines that they should have use of the lease for as long as they remained in the Kimberley.45


The Salesian Bishop Coppo was placed in charge of the Kimberley vicariate in 1923, and he stationed one of his priests, the Polish Fr. John Siara, at Lombadina in 1924. He also achieved permission to introduce two more Pallottine Fathers in 1925.


Chief Protector Neville practically ignored Lombadina mission. Children removed by police from the neighbourhood like Boolgin and Madana station were sent to Sunday Island. In 1925 there were about 100 Christians in the community and surrounding area and 18 children at school who had been brought by their parents, but such children were not funded by the government. Mother Joseph and Srs. Patrick and Therese conducted school. There was no school building and the mission buildings were all bush huts and by now in a poor state.46 With no government funding and the Puertollanos no longer gardening, food was often scarce. Brother Heinrich Krallmann and Martin Sibosado looked after the cattle herd.


The Lombadina Aboriginal residents were still holding initiation ceremonies, although they did this at secret locations, such as Gullen on the east side of the peninsula or at Boolgin. Fr. Benedikt Püsken arrived at Lombadina in 1925 (until 1927).


‘Fr Benedict said we had to give up blackfella law. I felt sorry for my boys. The others used to go to Bulgin. My boys had it the short way at Lombadina.’47


Growth period


Spangenberg at Lombadina


Fr. August Spangenberg at
Lombadina beach (ca 1927-1937).

Source: Pallottine Archives, Rossmoyne

A paperbark school was finally built under the supervision of Martin Sibosado48, and in 1926 the number of Aboriginal people at Lombadina was given as 160, of whom 40 Christians were fully supported by the mission.49 Fr. August Spangenberg, arrived in 1927 (until 1937) and began a building program to revamp the mission.


Every Sunday and feastdays we go on picnics, every sundays Fr August take us out sometimes we go hunting for kangaroos with Fr or for flying foxes. You wont know Lombadina it has changed a great deal, Fr Augustine has put up some new buildings .... The men are boring a new well in the farm, already they have the surface water, it is going to be called Saint Raphaels well. 50


In 1932 Lombadina got its new timber church (still standing).51 Br. Josef Tautz spent three years at Lombadina building the church, presbytery and convent, and improving the residential buildings. 52


Lombadina Bush Timber church The Lombadina bush timber church

Courtesy Roberta Cowan, Rossmoyne

Malachy Sampi, who lived around Lombadina at the time, remembered that Br. Joseph, in charge of the building operations, could not speak English.

When Monsignor Raible blessed the new church on the feast of Christ the King, Fr. Francis Huegel PSM sang the Missa Nona of Dom Moreno OSB out in the bush with the children’s choir from Beagle Bay.53


The celebrations involved sports competitions in the afternoon and a ‘splendid concert’ in the evening.


When Commissioner Moseley visited in July 1934 he found that the mission provided for 55 adults and 30 children attended school but still had no subsidy. 54 A garden and peanut farm had been established, and Fr. Spangenberg’s building programme tried to bring Lombadina to the same standard as Beagle Bay.


A particularly severe cyclone in 1935 destroyed the pearling fleet off Lacepede Islands with the loss of 140 lives. Both mission luggers were wrecked55 and damages at Lombadina were estimated at £2,200, a big setback for the mission.56 In the course of reconstruction a new school was also erected in 1937. According to Zucker, Sr. Therese had been holding school under a verandah or beneath a shady tree.57


Br. Henry Krallmann was one of the faithful helpers at Lombadina involved in the reconstruction. He was at Lombadina when Fr. Benedikt Püsken and Fr. John Herold were interned in October 1940. Krallmann was already naturalised and remained at the mission. Püsken (63) was allowed to return to Lombadina, but Herold (37) was sent to Melbourne for the duration of the war. In late February 1942 the Aboriginal people of Broome were evacuated to Beagle Bay. Soldiers were posted to the peninsula58 and apparently the Lombadina residents also drifted into Beagle Bay. In March Broome was repeatedly bombed and on 23 March twelve Japanese planes were flying over Beagle Bay, most likely to ascertain other defence positions. Thomas Puertollano died at Beagle Bay that night.59


After the war provisions were still brought on the mission lugger from Broome:


I was captain of the mission boat at one stage, cargo to Broome and Beagle Bay, carrying timber for house with Br Joseph to Lombadina Point, from there by donkey to Lombadina, two bags flour each side. Fr John Herold pay every Saturday in kind from store. 60


Fr. Francis Hügel was at Lombadina from 1945 to 1947, and Fr. Anthony Omasmeier also spent a short period there.


In 1981 Lombadina had about 100 Aboriginal and 13 non-Aboriginal residents, including two St. John of God Sisters teaching, five lay missionaries, and an administrator appointed by the Bishop of Broome. 61




Sunday Times, 5 April 1914 



Has There Been a Massacre?

The Collier Bay tragedy, in which three young fellows, sailing the lugger Wanderer II, between Derby and Wyndham, were foully murdered by treacherous and bloodthirsty natives, occurred nine months ago, but the mystery surrounding it has not yet been cleared up. Word has now been received from the Nor'-West which would lead to the belief that a tragedy of a still more extended, and horrifying nature has occurred - nothing short of the wiping out of existence by blacks of the Drysdale River Mission, in the north of Kimberley.

On Friday morning the Commissioner of Police (Mr. R. Connell) received the following alarming wire from Sub-Inspector Houlahan, of Broome: -            

Franks, master of schooner Bedout, taking supplies to Drysdale   Mission, has reported to Father Nicholas that, on going ashore at Drysdale on March 9, he found no houses or habitation, but saw traces of several fires and some human bones. He gathered up and buried the latter. This would imply that the whole mission has been wiped out. Father Nicholas is leaving by schooner tomorrow for Drysdale River. I am sending Constable White with him to investigate. He may be absent about a month.'    

The Commissioner of Police has decided that he will await a report from Constable White before he authorises further action by the police. The accuracy of the report is questioned by the Chief Protector of Aborigines (Mr. Gale), on the ground that it would be impossible for the natives to obliterate all traces of the settlement, and that it was a spot very difficult to find. A telegram received by the Chief Harbormaster (Captain Irvine) from Captain Gregory, of Broome, also throws discredit on the story, for Captain Gregory states that he feels confident that Captain Franks went to the wrong place. Under the circumstances further information will be anxiously awaited.

The Drysdale River Mission, which was founded by the Benedictine Fathers of New Norcia in 1908, is situated in Napier Broome Bay, near the Drysdale River. Those who formed the mission were - The Rev. Father D. H. Altimira, O.S.B, the Rev. Father D. E. Alcalde, O.S.B, six lay brothers, and some mission natives. The aborigines in the vicinity are very treacherous, and the members of the mission have always had to carry firearms. 62

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25 April 1929

West Australian Mission Rescue.


The Rev. Father Droste, P.S.M., who is paying a visit to Europe, after 21 years with the aborigines at Beagle Bay Mission, was a recent guest of the Archbishop of Perth. He told the following moving story to a representative of the West Australian 'Record':

From Carnarvon to Wyndham (over 1000 miles) there is not a single boat (except pearling boats) that could come to the rescue of a boat shipwrecked along the coast. When in Lombadina Mission (10 miles south of Cape L'Eveque) in 1916, one morning in June, the lighthouse keeper of L'Eveque came and reported that very early on the same morning a whaleboat, with six men, arrived at the lighthouse, saying that their pearling schooner, Alice, had got shipwrecked the previous night, a little after sunset, and that the schooner sank in seven fathoms of water, and that 19 people were clinging to the mast; but they were entirely unable to say where the shipwreck happened. I called the six black crew (who knew the coast, from Broome to Drysdale Mission) of the Mission lugger, and asked them what they thought was the place the shipwreck could be. They all agreed that it could be no other place but 'Broo riff,' about 50 miles off Cape L'Eveque. On account of the tide running from Broo riff towards the lighthouse, it would be impossible, the crew declared, to row against the very strong tides, and so the whaleboat was carried away by the tide towards Cape L'Eveque. The Mission lugger was lying in a creek three miles away from the Mission, and the tide was out. All hands were called to help get the lugger ready to carry provisions, water, and firewood. In three hours the boat was ready for sailing, with a strong headwind and big sea against it. After two and a half days' sailing they found the shipwrecked men, still clinging to the mast, at the point of starvation and utterly exhausted, having been in that position for over 70 hours. There were two whites and 17 coloured crew. Had it not been for the Mission lugger and its brave black crew, all 19 men would have perished.63

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The West Australian (Perth) 22 Sep 1938


Aboriginal Boy's Letter.

An aboriginal boy at the Lombadina Mission has written a letter to the Very Rev. Ernest Worms, who is now rector of the Pallottine Missionary College, Kew, Victoria, which is interesting as a refutation of the contention that the art of letter-writing is declining. The letter reads:

“Dear Father Ernest

This is our first letter to you. How are you? We were glad to see your photo in one book you look more fat this time must be you have plenty of maize that side. Bishop told we fellows that you have big house. Have you nice garden? Who waters it? Are there any happles in your garden or any watermelons? Might be you have sweet potatoes and pumpkins. How many boys you get em for Fathers? When will they come here in this country? What kind they look we will be glad to look them.

"Did you like our books that we sent for Congress? This time we are making other kind drawings for you, they are little bit any kind but you might like them.

"One Thursday the boys went to nother side plain to meet the Bishop [Raible] and Father Francis [Hügel]. We came back because they neber came with car, so for nothing we been go. Then they came after noon time.

"On Trinity Sunday the Bishop confirmed ten of the school children and some of the old people; he blessed our school too. In the afternoon the Bishop took us in the lorry to Tomas Well, we had sweet tea and three tins of jam; it was too good. Do you have picnic that side? When we were in the car we been think of you when you been take us in car; we went quick goes that time. Do you stop with car that side?

"Father Benedict [Püsken] took us for a picnic. We got two kangaroos; we gave one to girls and we got plenty bush fruit.

"Father John [Herold] came up to see us. We was glad to look him after long time.

"I hope you like this little letter. Tell them new Fathers we will be glad to look them. Good-bye Father. Pray for we fellows.

Best wishes from us all--Your boy, Lenard."64






2 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:41.

3 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:20

4 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:40.

5 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:35, 37.

6 Mary Durack The Rock and the Sand, London, Corgi 1971:182-84.

7 Mary Durack The Rock and the Sand, London, Corgi 1971:190.

8 Mary Durack The Rock and the Sand, London, Corgi 1971:182-84.

9 CPA Neville to Colonial Secretary, 11 October 1917, in Zucker:76.

10 Joseph Dugal in Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel, This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990.p. 159.

11 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:41.

12 Mary Durack The Rock and the Sand, London, Corgi 1971.

13 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:41-44.

14 Joseph Dugal in Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel, This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990:159.

15 Interview with Pearl Hamaguchi, Broome

16 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:41.

17 Report about BB for the year 1913 to Kugelmann p.4, Australien: Nachlass Kugelmannn B7d,l(1) ZAPP. Presumably written by Droste.

18 Report about BB for the year 1913 to Kugelmann p.4, Australien: Nachlass Kugelmannn B7d,l(1) ZAPP.

19 Report about BB for the year 1913 to Kugelmann p.4, Australien: Nachlass Kugelmannn B7d,l(1) ZAPP.

20 Centenary of the Catholic Church in Western Australia 1846-1946 (pamphlet), last page (no page numbering).

21 Pender Bay - journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.9.1912 to 30.9.1912 ITEM-1912/6848 SROWA.

22 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.12.1912 to 31.12.1912.

ITEM-1913/0942 SROWA.

23 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902). 5. 2. 1913 - 24. 2. 1913 ITEM-1913/1815 SROWA.

24 Sisters of St John of God – Our Founding Story http://www.ssjg.org.au/story/f_broome.html

25 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:42-43.

26 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.2.1912 to 28.2.1 1912 ITEM-1912/2302 SROWA.

27 Journal of Constable Rea (877), Pender Bay ITEM-1915/5821 SROWA.

28 Journal of Constable Rea 877, Pender Bay, 13 July 1914 to 8 August 1914. From Broome. ITEM-1914/5545 SROWA.

29 Pender Bay - journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.9.1912 to 30.9.1912 ITEM-1912/6848 SROWA.

30 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) for October 1911 ITEM-1911/6557 SROWA.

31 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.2.1912 to 28.2.1912 ITEM-1912/2302 SROWA.

32 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.5.1913 to 31.5.1913. ITEM-1913/3772 SROWA. Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Rea (877) 12.10.1913 to 29.10.1913. ITEM-1913/7062 SROWA.

33 Journal of Constable Rea 877, Pender Bay, 20 November 1913 to 13 January 1914. ITEM-1914/0589 SROWA

34 Journal of Constable Rea 877, Pender Bay, 14 January 1914 to 8 March 1914. ITEM-1914/2285 SROWA.

35 Joseph Dugal in Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel, This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990:159.

37 Bischofs to Kugelmann n.d. 1914, in Australien: Nachlass Kugelmannn B7d, l (1) ZAPP.

38 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:41.

39 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:42-44.

40 Droste diary, 7 and 8 August 1916, ZAPP.

41 Droste diary, 5 January 1918, 21 August 1918, 23-7 September 1918.

42 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:76.

43 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:60

44 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:51.

45 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:76.

46 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:76.

47 Joseph Dugal in Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel, This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990.p. 159.

48 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:77, citing a 1926 report (not referenced).

49 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:77.

50 Agnes Emble to Droste, November 1929, in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

51 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:91.

52 Francis Huegel SAC, ‘A Man was sent - his name was Joseph’, Australische Mitteilungen Nr 4, Sept 1979.

53 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:91.

54 "Care Of Natives." The West Australian (Perth, WA) 3 Jul 1934:17. Web. 12 May 2011.

55 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:107.

56 Centenary of the Catholic Church in Western Australia 1846-1946 (pamphlet) SROWA.

57 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:106.

58 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:153.

59 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994:112.

60 Joseph Dugal in Sr Brigida Nailon and Fr. Francis Huegel, This is your Place – Beagle Bay Mission, Pallottine Centre, Broome, 1990.p. 159.

61 MacFarlane, Helen and John Foley, Kimberley Mission Review – Analysis and Evalution of Church and Government involvement in the Catholic Missions of the Kimberley (n.d., ca. 1981) SROWA.

62 Sensational Report. (1914, April 5). Sunday Times (Perth, WA), p. 1. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57821282

63 "West Australian Mission Rescue." The Catholic Press (NSW) 25 Apr 1929: 22. Web. 30 Sep 2013 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107346492

64 "All The News." The West Australian (Perth, WA) 22 Sep 1938: 17. Web. 11 May 2011.