Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000

Birdsville Track - early map by Police Trooper Samuel Gason

This hand drawn map is thought to be the earliest of the Birdsville Track and surroundings and is therefore an important part of Australia's history.

2024 Gasson Birdsville Track 0002

Samuel Gason (1845-1897) was a keen observer and competent recorder as his map shows. He also wrote a book titled The Dieyerie Tribe of Australian Aborigines, published in 1874, (rga 305.89915 G248) and which discusses their language, customs ceremonies and laws. He was the first European to take an interest in this tribe and information he recorded has proven an excellent source down the years.

The Society was given this map of the Birdsville Track region drawn by police trooper Samuel Gason in 1997. The map incorporates a great deal of detail and sits well with other manuscript map resources in the Society's collection, such as Babbage's map of Lake Gregory (Lake Eyre South).

Samuel Gason joined the mounted police on February 2, 1865 and from then until he retired in April 1876, served on Cooper's Creek, at Barrow Creek Telegraph Station and elsewhere in the Far North. Barrow Creek was probably the most memorable of his stations as he was the resident newly-arrived police trooper at that Telegraph Station when it was attacked by Aboriginals in 1873. Two men were killed in the affray, and it was largely due to Gason's quick response to the attack that the lives of the remaining men were saved. He was authorised to lead a search party to seek those responsible for the attack, but no arrests were made. Gason's bravery was referred to in later years by [Police] Commissioner Hamilton.

Gason was stationed for nine years at Lake Hope, in addition providing police protection to the [Lutheran] missionaries at Kopperamana. In 1871 he led a small party that was sent out to look for some drovers who had been attacked 180 miles to the north of the station. Despite covering over 600 miles of largely unexplored country they were unable to find any trace of the missing men or their cattle.

Following his retirement from the police force, Samuel Gason went into the hotel business at Beltana, later moving to Gibson's Camp near Port Augusta.  It was here that he died suddenly in Ap1il 1897, aged 52.