Troopers after bushrangers
In the early 1840s, when Barak was 19 years old, the influential leader Billibellary, Barak’s uncle, negotiated a recruitment deal that saw 22 clan elders and heirs join the newly formed Native Police Corps. Barak was among them; on joining the Corps, he changed his first name from Beruk to William.
Uniformed and armed, the Native Troopers undertook military training and policed the region on horseback, dealing out rough justice to Koorie and non-Koorie alike. During this time Barak also became known as a skilled tracker. Many years after he hung up his Native Police uniform, he was engaged regularly to track missing children and fugitives from the law – including notorious bush outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang.
Barak was fond of recounting the time he tracked down the Kelly gang hiding in thick scrub, and told the white police: “Robbers in there – go and get them.” But the white police told Barak to go in first, saying they’d follow behind. Barak replied “I have no gun. I track. You are cowards.” The white police then deemed it wise to send for reinforcements.