The report of these murders filled many columns of the Daily Press in the year 1878, including those circulating in the Mudgee district. The murders occurred in the Bearbong area, west of the Castlereagh River, north of Mendooran and on a pastoral lease, of 16,000 acres previously held by George Rouse of Mudgee.
The persons murdered were a young married couple Charlotte Baker, 22 years of age and William Jarvis. Charlotte was an industrious girl. She was living at the Mendooran Hotel for three months prior to her marriage working for Mrs John Burns the wife of the Innkeeper. William Jarvis was a labourer. As times were hard he found it difficult in finding local employment. William heard that Alexander Ferguson of "Youlbung" further north was seeking a station hand. He successfully applied for the position.
Charlotte and William had few possessions. They had no horse and no conveyance so they set out on foot to travel from Mendooran to "Youlbung" pulling a small wooden cart with their meagre belongings. The second night of their journey brought then to Bearbong where they were welcomed by the station overseer. The next morning they were up bright and early and intended to go as far as Bulga on the Bidden-Curban Road. This was the beginning of the mystery.
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However, at Bearbong they met a much respectful and trusted Aboriginal shepherd known as Supple Jack, who lived in a humpy on a property called Mountain View, just down from a small hill, today known as Murdill Hill, part of the Dilly spur of hills, and being portion of the Warrumbungle Mountain Range.
Both Charlotte and William were obviously tired from walking. Supple Jack suggested they go with him on a path through the Dilly Mountains to the old Tooraweenah Road and thence to Youlbung where they were promised employment. Both agreed and they set off with Supple Jack as their guide. Charlotte and William were never seen alive again.
As they did not report at Youlbung the Mendooran police were notified and local constables, and black trackers made a search of the area. During the search a report was received that the body of women, identified as Charlotte had been discovered in the Dilly Mountains. Twenty years later in 1898, a man fossicking for gold in a creek about three miles east of Biddon found the bones of William Jarvis.
Although the mystery of their deaths were never definitely cleared up, it was generally accepted that on the morning that the couple left Bearbong they reached a point half way between Bearbong and Bidden and were murdered at separate locations.
After the body of Charlotte was found Supple Jack was apprehended by Sergt Miles Burns, who was once stationed at Mudgee. Supple Jack was taken to the police station at Gulgong for questioning. He was released because no concrete evidence could be found that he was responsible for the disappearance of either Charlotte or William Jarvis.
Supple Jack soon departed from his humpy on nearby Murdill Hill to live in the Warrumbungle Mountains. The police went looking for him soon after the discovery of the bottom half of William's body. Aware that the police was searching for him he threw himself over a cliff and did not survive. Supple Jack derived his name from the fact that he was shepherd who preferred to graze his flock in an area where the supple vine grew as it was a useful stock fodder.
Further information on the Dilly Murders may be obtained from Betty Barley's 1999 booklet, "The Story of the Murdill Murders. Betty was a noted local historian of the Gilgandra area. Her father was Stan Howard who family settled on The Dillies in 1908.
- Roy Cameron, OAM