The Cobra-Bal, or Bald Pated Blacks [10 July 1858]

[Editor: A “tongue in cheek” article about a newly-discovered tribe of Aborigines, who were said to have goldfields nearby. Published in Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, 10 July 1858. See the related article, “New race of Aboriginals: Gold discovery”.]

The Cobra-Bal, or Bald Pated Blacks.

— A very interesting par appears in the Maitland Mercury authenticating a statement recently made in the Empire, which we attributed to the jocose and facetious Parkesennery, that past the Balonne River, further than the settled limits of the colony, a race of copper colored blacks! (vide our contemporary), has been discovered —

“Who’ve gotten no wool on the top of the head,
The place where the wool used to grow-ow-ow,
The place where the wool used to grow”.

These novel aborigines are described as being tall and handsome, and the women beautiful, save and except that they are entirely bald-headed.

Mr Thompson, the gentleman who made this interesting discovery, also states that he has reason to believe gold exists as plentifully as stones a hundred miles or so further into the interior, as upon shewing one of the darkies a half sov., that individual picked up a stone, and by impressive gestures made known that such metal articles were as abundant as pebbles “a little bit more farther”. The black-fellow did not explain whether the gold was ready coined or not. Our contemporary contemplates a great rush.

Marvels will never cease, nor do travellers cease to see strange things. We understand that the barbers and perruquiers of this city and suburbs are already displaying strong symptoms of vitality, and enormous masses of hair put on the blocks in order to manufacture ample quantities of wigs to barter to the bald-headed aborigines in exchange for gold.

Pleeceman X called at our office just before going to press to inform us of several robberies of barbers’ shops; the ’prentices and journeymen having fled to the Balonne with all the ready made wigs on their establishment; and so scarce will barbers and barbers’ polls speedily become, that it will be a case of “shave qui pent” among us.

We sincerely hope that the intelligence may prove true — anything to break the horrible monotony and stagnation of trade, news, and politics, to which we have been subjected.

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (Sydney, NSW), 10 July 1858, p. 2

Editor’s notes:
Balonne = Balonne River, an inland river located in the south-west of Queensland

jocose = characterised as joking, humorous, playful, or very cheerful

par = an abbreviation of “paragraph” (may also refer to a level or standard, from the Latin “par” meaning “equal” or “equality”)

Parkesennery = a reference to Henry Parkes, who was editor of The Empire (Sydney) newspaper

perruquier = (also spelt “perukier”) someone who makes, styles, or sells perukes (wigs, especially those characterized by long hair on the sides and back, such as those fashionable for use by men in the 1600s and 1700s)

qui pent = (French) smelly (“qui puent”)

sov. = a sovereign, i.e. a gold sovereign coin, equivalent to £1 (one pound)

vide = (French) empty, blank, void

Old spelling in the original text:
shewing (showing)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
pleeceman (policeman)

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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