the A H Lennox memoir

ADVENTURES OF A PIONEER MISSION AMONG THE ABORIGINES

IN NORTH WEST AND NORTH AUSTRALIA

From June 1897 to June 1907

Rev A H Lennox

In 1897 Andrew Lennox joined a pioneering Anglican mission on the Forrest River in Western Australia.

In 1899 he walked from Oodnadatta to Kakadu to set up an independent mission near the South Alligator River. With his friend, Alex Gathercole, he established the Northern Territory Native Industrial Mission at Kaparlgoo. After a year, he rode a bicycle from Darwin to Adelaide to raise funds for the mission. The mission closed in 1903.

                 Download the memoir with notes and commentary from this website:                           Andrew Lennox's memoir 

Limited copies of the print version of the memoir (including archival photographs) are available.

Please email me at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

$20 (postage included in NZ and Australia)

Background

Andrew’s memoir describes the progress of two missionary enterprises and his own extraordinary exploits.

When Andrew died in 1962 I received the original typescript of his memoir. The published memoir reproduces the memoir in its entirety along with my commentary.

Andrew completed his memoir in 1958 and sent it to A.H.Reed, founder of the publishing company A. H. and A. W. Reed. A committed Christian, A.H. Reed lived in Dunedin and was becoming noted for a series of remarkable walks. In his eighties he climbed mountains and walked the length of New Zealand. He was a prolific author, writing about New Zealand history and his own walks. Reed returned Andrew’s manuscript with the note: “A wonderful story of heroic adventure. Thanks. A H Reed 30 June 1958”. Andrew was disappointed – he had hoped for a publishing offer – and did nothing more with the manuscript.

The memoir is based on daily diaries Andrew kept throughout his life. The diaries were small enough to fit into his waistcoat pocket and the entries almost entirely factual, recording times, dates and people he met. Andrew died in Adelaide on a visit to his son and when his family cleared out his Dunedin home none of the diaries remained. It is possible he destroyed them after completing the memoir or took them to his son.

The 28-page memoir was typed and duplicated, probably on a Gestetner machine. Copies were sent to family and friends in New Zealand and Australia. The copy in my possession has A.H.Reed’s note on the cover, and emendations handwritten by Andrew - he added the dates in the title, a few words to one sentence, and clarified characters that were either incorrectly typed or unclear in the copying.

There are indications that Andrew dictated parts of the memoir, possibly to a shorthand typist. Many sentences are rambling, paragraph breaks are often erratic (one paragraph covers more than a whole page) and some paragraphs start “Well …”, as if he is picking up the story. Some passages read like simple diary entries (“On March 2nd we sailed up the Red Lilly Lake, got hides, saw Flynn's camp.”), while others are detailed and descriptive. For example, his evocative accounts of cycling to Darwin and sailing on Van Diemans Gulf and up the South Alligator River were probably composed separately.

In its raw state the memoir is a demanding read and far from self-explanatory. His narrative needs clarification in places – his style is often so succinct and cryptic that meaning and chronology are unclear, hence my commentary. I have made very few changes to the memoir itself. Underlined sections of text are as they appear in the manuscript. No words have been changed. I have inserted a few fullstops, generally where extended sentences contained more than one sentence, and paragraph breaks, especially where paragraphs were very long or covered a number of separate topics discussed in my commentary.

My commentary expands on Andrew’s text and provides historical context. I have provided background for most of the places and people named in the memoir, especially where they have wider historical significance.

Andrew’s memoir is printed at the top of each page, with my commentary below. There are no photographs in the online version but in the print version there are photographs adjacent to relevant text.  A map is provided on page 58 and Appendices with full text of selected extracts commence on page 68.

Footnotes provide details of significant resources. Most newspaper extracts are from Australia’s Trove website or New Zealand’s Papers Past.

My thanks to Rev Dr Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Jones of South Australian Museum, Lyall Kupke of Lutheran Archives, Olga Radke, Frank Gathercole, Paul Farren and AudaxAustralia, and staff at Northern Territory Archives Service, Strehlow Research Centre, Rutherglen Historical Society, State Library of South Australia and the Darwin office of National Archives of Australia.

This publication is not intended for commercial distribution. I have made a limited number of paper copies. All rights are reserved. Please contact me if you wish to reproduce text or photographs in commercial publications.

If you'd like a paper copy ($20 NZ or AU) please email me at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it