George Sunter, Buffalo Hunter

Please be aware this is an image of an Aboriginal person of the past, who has passed on, which may cause distress to some people. From Waler Data Base @FaceBook. Image: Horse named Dave being held by its breaker, Frank. The Mail (Adelaide) 2nd September 1933.

Frank worked for George Sunter, a buffalo hunter, for many years. In 1914 they caught a lot of brumbies Frank knew of at Black Jungle N.T. Forty head were for a cattleman, Herbert – in fact George’s partner in Koolpinyah which they took the lease of in 1909, a vast station west of Darwin – and another forty for Sunter for buffalo work (skin trade). Frank and his nephew Samson, both from Alice Springs, did most of the breaking, being experienced breakers. This is when they caught Dave.

The horse in the photo, Dave, became Sunter’s favorite horse. Used for many years and did a heck of a lot of work buffalo hunting and also some cattle work.

In 1917 when Sunter returned from the war feeling a mess, Dave “his old mate” came to greet him which cheered him up. When the horse got old, one day Dave walked toward Sunter and fell down, dead; it was as if he came to say goodbye.

Frank also worked for Sunter in the buffalo trade and like the other men who worked for Sunter, a fair man, he earned good money and was a good friend.

George Sunter joined up in WW1 but was sent home in 1917 (badly wounded). As well as buffalo hunting he also became a lighthouse keeper, mustered cattle and went trepanning – trepang also known as beche de mer, were worth good money hence took over from buffalo as his prime income.

George Sunter also wrote a book “Adventures of a Trepang Fisher” about his life; (and another book, “Koolpunyah” another called “Buffalo Shooting in Northern Australia” and two novels of adventure) he had many wonderful stories and greatly admired the Japanese divers he’d met and worked with, and was outspoken about the government refusal to let these men bring their wives here. He was also a champion for Aboriginal people who he found courageous, intelligent, honest and loyal as friends, and got angry at people who maligned them. He’d gone to the Territory in 1909 as part owner of Koolpinyah station, however there was little money in cattle then so he turned to buffalo in Arnhem Land to make ends meet and thus his adventures began.

George Sunter at time wrote little articles for newspapers, some about adventures with crocs, some about wild horses and Frank was usually the star of these stories of the N.T. Previous to working for Sunter, Frank had been a breaker on VRD. Once, Frank saved Sunter’s life. Sunter usually shot his buff on foot, Frank shot them mounted. In long grass one day in 1914, George shot a bull. It didn’t drop and came for him but George only had a spent shell in his rifle. He stood still to face death then a shot rang out, the bull dropped just before it hit George. Frank had just shot seven buff and spun on his horse to see where George was, saw what was happening and like lightning, fired and saved him.

Posted by Enoch Waler

Waler gelding purpose bred to help educate and advocate for Walers, in person and via Facebook and Instagram.